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Let the Music Carry You Across the Sky


9:17 p.m. Guangzhou, China. On the way to Katmandu, via South China Airlines after departing from Han oi, Vietnam this morning. And so, it begins—my adventure through Katmandu, Lassi, Nepal and one of the base camps at Mt. Everest (there are four). I’m wearing a t-shirt that, after its first hand-washing in the bathroom sink (room 303 at the Artisan Boutique Hotel) and sun dried on the balcony railing, looks like it was destroyed by Bailey, World Famous Fiber Artist, (our cat who shreds the furniture and the door frame to our kitchen). In another life, minced-shirt was frizzy hair enraged by this formidable humidity in 96-degree heat.

Fly Like an American Coot. Somewhere on this flight that seems like it will never end I am watching part 2 or 3 or 4 of a captive audience’s Worst Movie unless you’re on LSD Premiere. Loads of wind chimes punctuate every bit of dialogue which is incomprehensible because I don’t speak Mandarin Chinese. Hero is smoking. Ping. Stubbing out cigarettes. Ping. Ping. Ping. Lighting new cigarette. More urgent pinging. Cut to the ubiquitous voyeurism: taking-a-leak-in-the-toilet followed by lots of hand scrubbing as if he has just jerked-off or discovered a deadly fungus. Flops on bed. Long-haired female returns home without acknowledging him in any way interspersed with ukulele lone plinks and plunks to intensify their nonexistent dialogue. She goes outside. We have no idea why. He watches her brush her teeth. Finally, she says something to him that indicates, “We need to talk.” He looks unhappy. He is not going to get any.

Passionate, furious ukulele plinking, plunking and wind chimes—a real scene stealer. Have they ever heard of SAG? Call Tiny Tim! She yells one word. He shouts another. Cut to badly mic’d out-of-focus disco scene, head shots. Interminable strobe lights blinking on and off, music fading in and out, crowd shouting at each other. Not-getting-any-guy is now on a roof talking to a guy. Ping! Torrid closing moments of Toothbrush-girl in bikini speeding across water on a jet-ski interspersed with three plinks/plunks on a piano trailed by ten-second intervals of 1930’s jazz music culminating in too-shy-to-mosh-pit mob clustered in lounge chairs with voiceovers of roosters crowing and hens cackling. A phone rings! Ping! Stay tuned!

Throw in some “Fasten your seatbelts” announcements from the pilot amid turbulence, an expansive ten-inch TV screen 4 rows ahead of you, earphones designed to drill a hole through your skull that don’t work 90% of the time and you’re in for the cinematic sky-ride of your life. Who says sitting in the cheap seats can’t be fun?! They’re roomy and the fish pasta and fresh fruit was delicious!

Oh, no!!! They’re replaying the movie in English! I don’t want to hear it!!! Ping!!!!!

(When you shot a commercial, it used to be a good rule of thumb that you turned the sound off. If you still understood it, you had a good ad. This isn’t going to make the cut.)

The Journey is the Destination. Due to a monsoon, we’re circling the drain. Flight scheduled to arrive over an hour ago. People are sprawled on their tray tables trying to sleep. At times, looking out the window, it seems like we’re flying backwards. With electrical grids in short supply, we’re descending into darkness as well as madness. Cue the screaming baby. She’s been good most of the flight but now she’s fed up. Doing what we’d all like to do. I’ve been up since 5 a.m. packing to leave Han oi.

WTF! We are dropping precipitously in pure blackness, swaying from side to side. Our ship’s lights are on but none for the city, airport or runway. Banshee crosswinds claw at our approach; torrential rain jackhammers our windows. Yay! City lights came back on! The stewardess makes the following announcement: “Welcome to Nepal! Please don’t get off the plane before you piss on the Captain. Goodbye.” Really?! We just touched down—one helluva short runway!!! Great pilot!!! (This must be old hat for him.) 22 degrees Celsius or 72 F. Last flight of the night. We got here (Katmandu) but not our luggage. Stood in separate entry lines for Nepal passport and Tibet passport. I am so spent I’ve used up all my nine lives and yours too!

June 4, 2018 – Janice S. Urbsaitis –

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