Archive for backpack

No Need to Worry

Posted in Global Travel, Lucerne Village with tags , , , , , , , , , , , , on October 16, 2012 by javedbabar

Adam had heard that professional jobs were available in Lucerne. Things were pretty slow in the city so it seemed like a good idea to try his luck elsewhere.

In days gone by he would have just taken off abroad. Living in developing countries was cheaper than staying in Arcadia. When he wasn’t working here, living in India or Ethiopia or Peru was a way to save money, provided he went for at least a month to amortize the airfare.

A month in the city was about three thousand bucks all in, a hundred a day. A month in Varanasi, Lalibela or Cuzco was two thousand, flights included, and the longer he stayed there, the better the notional day-rate – going from sixty dollars to half that. But now that he had a wife and three step-children, he had to handle the situation carefully.

He did some day trips initially. Lucerne was a pretty village with a white mountain standing guard above it, and surrounded by forests, rivers and lakes. It was filled with old families of farmers, loggers and hunters, but also a new crowd of artists, musicians and yoga teachers. He checked with Village Hall, and yes, they said, they needed professional people desperately. If he moved here, he could have his pick of jobs.

“When can I have an interview?” he asked the receptionist.

“This is it,” she said. “You’ve got the job, or more than one if you like.”

“More than one?”

“Yes, we have numerous positions available, and funds from the Authority gathering dust. We want to use them for the benefit of Lucerne’s citizens.” She explained the strange situation here. There was mass unemployment of unskilled people, but a shortage of skilled ones. They desperately needed his expertise.

Adam was assigned the job of CPM: Chief Project Manager, and asked to start as soon as possible. He was also given a house to live in with a nocturnal security guard.

“Is that necessary?” he asked. “It seems like a peaceful place.”

“Just in case,” said the receptionist. “You never know.”

Adam’s wife agreed that he should follow the work, and they moved immediately. On the first evening, they dined outdoors, and were so moved by beauty that they could hardly speak. Adam had seen such beauty before, in the Himalayas, Lasta Mountains, and the Andes, but always alone. He was now seeing it with his family, through the eyes of his beloved, and her children.

As the sun set, the security guard, David, suggested they go indoors.

“What’s the hurry?” said Adam. “Let’s enjoy the stars appearing and tonight’s full moon.” He knew it would be impossible to get the kids early to bed tonight. They may as well stay out.

“You don’t know this place well, do you. Have you stayed here overnight before? No? Okay, trust me. You’re better off indoors. That’s what I’m here for, to stay outdoors to ensure your safety. There’s no need to worry though. I am a professional too. I will keep you safe.”

“Safe from what?”

“You’ll see.”

“Do you have a gun?” Adam recoiled when he realized what he’d said. Had he brought his family to a place where you need a gun to survive?

“No, I won’t need a gun. Just go inside and take it easy. No need to worry.”

That night they heard glass smashing somewhere, screeching tires, and flashes like firecrackers, followed by a chorus of sirens – ambulances, fire trucks, and cops. They slept eventually but were disturbed from their slumber by smashing and shouting. Adam went to the window to see. There was David, covered in blood, either grimacing or grinning.

“What happened?” he called. “Are you okay?”

“I told you not to worry. I have taken care of it.” He wiped his machete, swigged some beer and sat down. He looked at the horrified children and said, “Nothing to see. Now go to bed.”

He wanted them to leave before there was another assault on the house. More of the poor would come.


Monkey Business

Posted in Lucerne Village, Mystical Experience, World Myths with tags , , , , , , , , , , , on October 15, 2012 by javedbabar

Adil shouldn’t have gone hiking.  He had never gone by himself before. His friend Steve was supposed to take him, but domestic issues had caused him to drop out. He said, “Monkey! Let’s go next weekend instead.” Monkey was Adil’s nickname, on account of his hairy body and climbing skills, and he was also called “link”, as in the missing link.

Adil was feeling stressed by life in general, and its romantic and financial aspects in particular. He needed to get away.

He packed his backpack, hitched a couple of rides up the valley, and headed into the forests at the base of Mt Negra. Four days would be enough to reach the top of the mountain, spend a day there, and come back down. It was irresponsible to climb alone, but it wasn’t really climbing. Steve had said no technical ascent was involved.

The first day was great. Adil estimated that he was about halfway up, which wasn’t bad seeing as he had only started climbing at midday. Maybe he was better off without Steve after all. He travelled faster alone.

He found a good spot to set up camp, a small meadow with red, gold and green wildflowers. He hadn’t known there were such things as green flowers. He picked one and smelled its rich, coffee-like perfume.

His tent was up in five minutes, and a three course meal under way in fifteen. He cooked it in four stages on his camp stove. First was beef soup, then pasta, then tomato sauce for it, and then tea. Nice warm liquids, nourishing and hydrating, so much better than the junk he consumed daily – burgers, pizza and beer.

Adil threw a rope over a branch and hauled his supplies up into the tree. He’d probably be OK, but why take the chance?

This didn’t stop a hungry black bear though, which must have climbed the tree, jumped on the backpack, and gnawed away the rope. By the time Adil emerged from his tent, it was already gone, leaving only quivering bushes.

No food was an issue, as was no water, but most pressing was no map or compass, which he had foolishly left in the pocket of the backpack, which was now elsewhere. The thought of the compass guiding the bear around the province amused him briefly, but quickly seemed less funny.

Adil could make out his general position but not get an accurate bearing. Should he continue to the top or turn back now?

He wandered around a bit, looking for his bag. Maybe it could still be recovered. It became dark unexpectedly, too quickly, so he set up his tent again. In the night he dreamed of fur brushing against his skin and something dark biting him, but upon waking found no tooth marks. The smell of rich coffee must still be on his breath from the night before.

Adil navigated by the sun’s position and made progress downwards, but became less sure of his orientation. He saw a strange jumble above his head. Was it a huge nest? Or some kind of aerial beaver’s lodge? It seemed a rough tree house, but who would build that here?

If he stayed up there he would be safe from the bear though. He collected nuts, fruits, berries and herbs and spent the third night of his hike in the tree house. He didn’t feel safe on the forest floor, so stayed there the next night too, coming down only to gather foods.

A week later, Search & Rescue teams came looking for Adil. One of them saw his shelter and what seemed to be a large monkey within it. He pushed the speak button on his radio. He must inform his team that he’d found a new species of primate in the forest, that built green flower nests. But before he said anything, he smelled rich coffee, sensed something above him, and everything went black.