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Off-road rambles and stomach rumbles by the Narayani

Friday, March 26th, 2010

Narayanghat is little more than a highway town, and a weekend on its outskirts, skirting the Narayani River, left me with few impressions of the city itself. Of course I remember the river, cityside of Chitwan National Park. We camped on the beach, failed to hook a single fish, and drowned our sorrows in the local produce. Gorkha Brewery’s generator thrummed night and day downstream from where we were, and I couldn’t help wondering what the rhinos (whose pugmarks were clearly visible in the sand around where we’d sheltered) made of it. We made the best of it.

In the road: bogged down on the banks of the Narayani

In the road: bogged down on the banks of the Narayani

Narayanghat is the highway town the brewery came to. But there was one thing that made an impression on all of us. Who’d have thought it would be the dhido? Pate Dhido may appear humble from the outside, but its clean and cheerful riverside tables, and superlative corn mash with chicken curry — all washed down with plenty of cold beer, naturally — were a real find. Time and again we summoned the waiter for another ladle of dhido, and if the kitchen seemed a little taken aback (“ajhai re?”) after a fifth serving for one of the lads (not me, no), they were more than obliging. A bandh the following day gave us the opportunity to revisit, and when yet another angle yielded no more than a tangle, we headed over to the fish market.


More than meets the eye: Pate Dhido and its trademark dish

More than meets the eye: Pate Dhido and its trademark dish


Perhaps our methods were fundamentally unsound. Why while away a weekend with a solitary rod at your disposal if you can commandeer a bulldozer to divert a channel of the river just outside the national park, spread a mahajal across the breadth of it, and scoop out between 400 to 500 kilograms of fish in one fell swoop? This, according to a witness, is exactly what happened the weekend after we visited, where we’d cast our lines.

But this how fishing is done in Nepal these days – along with the time-tested strategies of electrocuting or poisoning with fungicide whole stretches of water. Never mind the law, never mind the tragedy of the commons. At this rate, our rivers are due to be transformed into dead conduits from the Himalaya to the Ganges, only enlivened by sewage as they pass through our blighted cities.

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