Wandering by Hermann Hesse
Thanksgiving 24th November 1977……. Nepal/India border en route to Darjeeling.
The bus arrived very late at the border. It had already closed for the night, so Normi (Burke) and I decided to find a guest house for the night. Wandering aimlessly down the road, as you do when first arriving in an unknown destination, towards the only light we could see and away from the busy border market, we met an ex-gurkha who invited us to stop over at his guest house.
After depositing our backpacks in the room we hurried back to the market for something to eat and as it was ” Thanksgiving” and a special evening for Normi,( she is from the USA) we talked about having a special meal to celebrate. Little did we know as we were walking the mile back to the market how special it was to be !!!!
Goodbye, small farmhouse and my native country. I leave you as a young man leaves his mother: he knows it is time for him to leave her, and he knows, too, he can never leave her completely, even though he wants to.
As we drew closer to the market along the unlit road we noticed that there didn’t seem to be the same amount of activity there as when we had alighted from the bus just an hour before. The stall holders had either closed or were closing much to our dismay. We were determined to find a meal and started wandering and visiting each stall that had signs of life with no luck.
Then we noticed one last light and made for that. The stall owner was very surprised to see us. When we explained that we were looking for a bowl of food he told us that all he had left was boiled rice, which at that moment sounded great.
In the end our Thanksgiving meal did become a truly Thanksgiving meal in the literal sense of the word. We really were Thankful for that simple meal of boiled rice that became our Special meal.
A few months later back in England a parcel came through the letterbox from the USA.
In it was a book. Wandering by Hermann Hesse. Inscribed inside the front cover are the words:- “Dave, In memory of Thanksgiving dinner 1977. Love Normi “
There were no digital cameras in those days to record every moment of life, so this is one of those special memories that will stay with me forever.
We wanderers are very cunning— we develop those feelings which are impossible to fulfill; and the love which actually should belong to a woman, we lightly scatter among small towns and mountains, lakes and valleys, children by the side of the road, beggars on the bridge, cows in the pasture, birds and butterflies.
We separate love from its object, love alone is enough for us, in the same way that, in wandering, we don’t look for a goal, we only look for the happiness of wandering, only the wandering.
Excerpt from Wandering by Hermann Hesse
SBP Book Club
Wandering by Hermann Hesse
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