26 April 2013

Down In A Hole - An Inevitable Accident

 Not even Courtney Love could save me.

This is a little tale about how I fell down into a hole.

Now, I don't mean a metaphorical hole of despair and depression, although there certainly were a few weeks in the harsh chill of February that I was a despondent mess. No, I mean I literally fell down into a sewage ditch on the side of Lazimpath Road. 

The city of Kathmandu undergoes constant roadwork, and is littered with pits in the road and sidewalk that are dug and then filled at an alarming rate. Uncovered manholes, open sewers, trenches and big random pits are commonplace, and they appear and disappear daily. No caution tape or pylons - just a bigass open hole. Combine these unpredictable chasms with loadshedding - the scheduled power cuts that leave this city pitch black for most of the night - and you have a recipe for disaster. 

Two weeks ago I was walking through Sanepa with my friend Gemma and we passed a series of deep, narrow holes in the road. I clung to her arm and hissed, "I have always been afraid to fall into one of those." She recounted a story of nearly tumbling into one herself, and I had to get her to stop. "No," I said, "my knees are weak just thinking about it." 


Last Friday I was heading home at midnight (which in Kathmandu might as well be 4am) after a few vodka sodas (always has been my drank), and my taxi overshot my lane, pulling to a stop about 50 metres too far up Lazimpath Road. I crossed the street toward my flat and then, whoooooosh. 

I disappeared down a sewage-filled rabbit hole. 

The first thing I remember thinking was, "thank god I do not appear to have broken my pelvis" because I had been mid-stride when I dropped into the trench, my legs were splayed akimbo and I was now down in it to my ribcage (thank god for yoga, man). My knee instantly throbbed and my right foot was strangely warm. And slimey. And oh my god what was that smell?

There was a flurry of panicked voices and a fleet of Nepali soldiers ran over to me. This was the most surreal part of an already surreal experience - the Army conducts drills at night along Lazimpath Road, and they just happened to be marching past. Within seconds, two men had my arms and had hoisted me out of the muck.

"Ma'am! Are you ok?"

"THIS HOLE IS NEW! WHY IS THIS HOLE HERE?" I shrieked in surprise. I stood on the edge of the pit and tried to parse what had just happened, and began to thank the soldiers for their well-timed assistance. At this point they noticed that I was shoe-less, and one brave man went down into the hole to retrieve my Steve Madden flats, a very kind action considering most Hindu castes will not ever touch others' shoes.

The soldiers insisted on walking me up the lane as I sloshed my way to my apartment, asking my name and what country I was from and trying to introduce themselves. The absurdity of what had just happened started to sink in - I kept groaning, "ewwwwww" and then laughing in a sort of resigned way, like a person who realizes they have been beaten and has.just.given.up.  It is hard to have any ego at all when you are covered from your knees down in shit.

For the next few days, whenever I would run into my Kathmandu expat pals they were absolutely horrified when I told them I had fallen into one of "the holes."

"Oh God! I've always been afraid of that!" They would exclaim in horror.

"Yeah. I know the feeling."

1 comment:

Pat said...

Ewww. Just Ewww. Well, the silver lining is....wait. Is there REALLY a silver lining here? Oh yeah, that there was a whole SLEW of soldiers to pull you out of that muck. It COULD have been worse. You could STILL be wallowing in shit, right? Glad you are okay, although you may stink to high hell!