Mar-a-Lago of the East

Where am I Issue 202 Sep, 2018

Once upon a time (about three decades ago, to be more specific), the valley of Kathmandu was a veritable Shangri-La. Flights were few and far between, and most tourists were backpackers who traveled through India and made their way here on diesel fume-spouting buses via the old Tribhuwan Highway that climbed up and up and up, traversing many hairpin bends on the way. I remember consoling a long-haired hippy while traveling on one such journey by saying, “You know, the road to heaven is a rough one, so too is the road to Shangri-La!”

Well, the other month I traveled to another place, not far from the city, that is also a sort of Shangri-La, and yes, reaching there was also a pretty hectic affair. I went there on my trusty Honda bike, and I can tell you, although it has seen me through many trials and tribulations through the six years it has been with me, this time around, even its sturdiness did not seem up to the task it was put through. However, it did not let me down (Japanese machines are the best!), and I arrived at my destination safe and sound.

And, once I started up the gently climbing private road to this modern-day Shangri-La and beheld all that lay before my eyes, I knew I would be willing to make many more such trips anytime I had the opportunity. In other words, the vista was simply wonderful. It’s actually a famous forest that’s been tamed by the hands of man. Once upon a time (again, some three decades ago, to be more precise), I had come here with a few friends in a taxi. At the time, armed guards stood at the gate and the road led to a lodge that was mostly used by folks to conduct amorous activities. In fact, I had heard that the protection offered to amorous adventurers was royal courtesy of the youngest prince of the time. We had spent the night at this lodge, and I still remember the crisp and refreshing water that was served to us in a large jug. And, oh yes, there was even a tiger, a Royal Bengal, no less, in a fenced-off area in the jungle.

Perhaps the lodge is still there (the tiger is definitely not!), a part of the current modern resort that is world famous not only for its scenic location, but also for its great golf course. This resort is one of the few such resorts so close to the capital, and given a better road (it has been repaired to some degree, even as I write this), many more will flock here for a great weekend or two. Fact is, the road was just fine before, and plenty of weekenders made their way to this bit of heaven on Earth.

The verdant surroundings and the vast green fields give this site a truly reinvigorating air. Stay a night or two in the resort’s well-furnished rooms, and in the evening, as dusk falls, you may see deer grazing and monkeys come out of the forest, prowling for any edibles around. There’s an outdoor seating area overlooking the lovely golf course where you can sit comfortably sipping wine or beer or scotch and snacking on some of the resort’s many scrumptious delicacies. Cooler days, it’s ideal for basking in the sun in the afternoon, and warm evenings, it’s just great for catching the breeze with a chiller to help you along.

If golf is your big thing, then this is where you’ll find paradise. What if golf is little more than just a four-letter word for you? Fear not, my friend, the resort not only has enough golf equipment, it will also arrange lessons for you by well-versed professionals. There are stories of guests staying far beyond their planned stay because they got so infatuated with the sport, and you may, too. I’m fibbing, of course, but couldn’t resist it! Actually, being a man of action myself, I would love to spend a month or two in this wonderful resort, and say adieu only after I’m ready to swing the iron with at least as much swagger as Mr. Trump when in Mar-a-Lago.