Armchair Adventures: See the Himalayas on Buddha Air

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Buddha Air flight

By Evelyn Kelly, PhD 

My daughter and I are in Kathmandu, the mysterious capital of Nepal. Later, we have a sightseeing trip on Buddha Air planned, but for now, the crowded marketplace is alive with wafting smells from rich Asian spices, incense, and vehicle exhaust. We watch the people as they push the massive bells for prayer. 

Our guide Kamil tells us we are in luck. The healer is here today, and we join to watch. A long line of people with different kinds of infirmities are crowded around an area that has numerous bed-like concrete slabs. The healer or doctor, the Dhami Jhankrior, is dressed in a long back overcoat with huge laden pockets. 

According to Kamil, the young man we are observing has terrible headaches. As he reclines on one of the concrete slabs, the healer passes something over his head as he closes his eyes and prays for him and calls out evil spirits. He snaps his fingers, and the man jumps up and sees a great light. He pays the healer, who is already getting ready for his next patient. 

Related: Armchair Adventures: Cats of the Acropolis

We move on to our next adventure: the Himalayas from the skies. At 6 the next morning, we fly “Buddha Air” in the smallest plane I have ever seen. Everyone is guaranteed a window because there is only one seat on each side of the aisle. 

If one could ever wish for a close encounter of a mountain kind, this is it. Nepal contains most of the highest mountain ranges and shares eight of the world’s ten highest peaks. Taking off from Kathmandu airport, which has the most rigorous security, we hold our breath at the sound of the loud motor. As we approach the mountains, the Buddha Air plane follows majestic ranges up and down. We fly between sparkling peaks; yes, we think we can almost touch them. Mountains create unforgiving winds. Is it our imagination that we were suddenly pushed upward? Flying between these mountains can be quite scary. 

We then emerge to glimpse lakes and glaciers with clear water flowing down. Suddenly Mount Everest is in front of us. Breathtaking. We are above the clouds. Viewing the mountains from the top of the world is a sobering experience. How humbling: we have experienced an exercise in perspective, capable of making two small humans feel much smaller and even less significant. 

The hour passes rapidly. Somehow our fears subside too. We are now retracing our flight and will land in the airport soon. We had to say this was quite an encounter of a mountain kind. And to remind us, we were given a tee shirt proclaiming, “I flew over the Himalayas on Buddha Air.”