Bhoj Raj Ghimire
While Hindu folks in Nepal were busy playing with colors - celebrating Holi, the festival of colors, to mark the victory of good over evil - Deerwalkers had a different plan for the day - a cultural tour of Nagarkot Tower via Changunarayan. Jeff Gasser, president of Deerwalk, all the way from Florida, was challenging and inspiring the youths to join the hike. As usual, the presence of Rudra Pandey, chairman of the company and a tough hiker, added to the enthusiasm of the hikers - KapilP, ManishS, ArjunA, SarojN, LaxmanA, LavaK and myself (BhojG). As planned, we started our journey from Deerwalk office at 9:00 AM in the morning. KedarK, the driver, was all set with a tank full of fuel. We reached Hotel Del’ Annapurna at 9:20 to pick up RudraP and JeffG. LaxmanA also joined us from the gate of the hotel and we headed towards Changunarayan. We reached Koteshwor at 9:35 only to find that one of the fellow hikers, who we were supposed to pick up from there, had not shown up yet. The team decided not to wait for the tardy guy and moved on. At Changunarayan, a world heritage cultural Hindu temple, we got a chance to view the biggest rice grain we had ever seen - which was at least the size of a papaya fruit! We visited a private museum, which had collection of ancient and typical Nepali weapons, coins etc. There we got a chance to see the world’s smallest coin (Nepali, of course). After we had our breakfast, we collected our baggage and set off on the trek. It was already eleven when we started, and the sun was right on top of our head when we started climbing the rural road. A passer by hiker joined us up to a temple, which has the tallest Trishul (trident) of Nepal. The hiker asked a sadhu (hermit) of the temple of his wellness - Kaise ho baba aap? (How are you doing, baba?), and the sadhu replied - aapna puchho (Ask of yourself [this question]!). We talked about this line long after the incident on our way. We were on a hike, away from our workplace, but we could not completely detach ourselves from our work life. We kept talking about the office - discussing ways to make Deerwalk a better place to work. RudraP was making instant decisions - giving instructions to the operations team directly from his cell phone at times. We talked about a range of topics, such as - celebrating a monthly birthday (combined) of the employees, installing showers in the office, inviting family members of the employees in annual festivals etc. It was all about a not-so-common corporate culture, where the Chairman and the President of a company were hiking with the employees and talking about personal and personnel stuff - a custom which is a rarity in Nepal or in many parts of the world for that matter! Not surprisingly, JeffG was leading the hike most of the time. He is a tough guy. Despite his age, the place of origin (USA), and his knee problem, he never thought of giving up. His ever-smiling face was inducing encouragement in the rest of us. When we reached Telkot, probably half way through our hike, we were served warm soda (coca cola), as the refrigerator was not on due to the all-too-common power outage problem in Nepal. Legs getting heavier with every step, heartbeat getting faster, we plodded on, as we were targeting for the view tower. ManishS was trying hard to take the best snaps he could, clicking from various angles. We finally reached the destination of the day - Nagarkot View Tower. Having stayed there for some 20 minutes and taken some group photos, we started our descent downhill. It was a great sense of relief when we finally saw KedarK with the van to greet us – the tired folks. It was about four in the evening when we started our journey back in the van. The ultimate prize of the hike was yet to be distributed. What better prize would there be than chilled beer? We started drinking and ended up with seventeen bottles of beer and a can of a fruit juice (for a new father SarojN). We had ordered a local chicken, which was served with rice (and ghee as well) and that was really yummy. Driving downhill in a full moon night after a really wonderful hike with fellow Deerwalkers was an experience of a kind. Hike with Deerwalkers is, of course, a virtual office of Deerwalk away from the typical workplace with computers and chairs. I love that and so does every Deerwalker, I bet.