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Hurried Trip to Avoid a Bad Star - Summary | The Heritage of Words

M. Lilla and C. Bishop Berry

Hurried Trip to Avoid a Bad Star - Summary | The Heritage of Words

Hurried Trip to Avoid a Bad Star

American geographers M. Lilla and C. Bishop Barry in their essay Hurried trip to avoid a Bad Star present an exploration of Karnali zone of western Nepal on foot for 15 months. This essay was published as a visit report in The National Geographic as Karnali, The road less World of Western Nepal in 1971. The writers in this essay describe the life account of Karnali zone people, their daily life, their tradition and culture, their lack of awareness about environmental preservation and Karnali zone’s economic dependency with the plain region of southern Nepal.

With a view to studying above mentioned aspects, the writers move to the plain of south Nepal with the peasants (farmers) who were going towards Nepalgunj for their daily provisions. They were carrying medicinal herbs, hand-knitted sweaters and blankets etc. to sell in Nepalgunj while climbing the steep hill near Hari Lekh a Chhetri women of about 30 requested them to send her husband back home who left the house 15 years ago in search of a job in the Terai. For this request revealed the concept of Karnali zone people about the parameter of the world. In a Sal forest slope, the writers noticed the chopping down trees from several directions which indicated the possibility of rapid deforestation in the region. On inquiry, the people explained their compulsion to chop down the trees to feed their animals which exposed their lack of education and ignorance about the importance of preservation of the environment. The writers noticed a group of 8 or 9 men in a forest processingSilajit in order to sell in Nepalgunj. This superstitious person made a hurried trip from their home valley to avoid the evil influence of the bad star. On arrival in Nepalgunj, the writers watched the hill people buying their daily provisions; one of them spent all his money buying distillery equipment with a hope to earn money by selling alcohol. The writers concluded their journey at Jumla. They expressed their concern on lack of awareness on Karnali zone people about protection of nature and about the need of educating people regarding this vital aspect. They expressed that Karnali zone people were living in a very difficult place with a very low agricultural production. The writers suggested them to involve themselves in the trade with the Terai region in order to make their life easy with satisfactory earning.

Important Question :

1. How is Karnali linked economically with the low land regions to the south?
Ans. Geographically, Karnali lies to the northern part of our kingdom. As it is made up of very sloppy hills, there are many problems. People do not have transportation and other facilities for their better survival. There is no sufficient cultivable land. So, they have to depend on the lowland regions to the south. People of Karnali cannot sell their products in their localities. To sell their items like medicinal herbs, silajit, hashish, hand-knit sweaters, and blankets, they have to go to Nepalgunj. Similarly, they cannot buy goods in their places. For this purpose also, they have to depend upon lowland regions. People of Karnali have to depend upon lowland region for their jobs also. Being an undeveloped part, it does not have factories. To earn a livelihood, young people have no better options than leaving their places and working in the lowland region.

2. What did the two writers learn about the life and culture of the people of the Karnali region during their journey on foot?
Ans. ‘Hurried Trip to Avoid a Bad Star” is written by American geographers M. Lilla and C. Bishop Barry. Their essay presents social, economic and educational aspects of Karnali region. To present these aspects, they have brought four events in the text- their meeting with a Chhetri woman and the people processing silajit, and their encounter cutting down trees and the people of Karnali buying and selling things. The two writers learned that the people of Karnali are innocent, simple, laborious and uneducated. Their world is narrow and limited. The Chhetri woman asks the travelers to find her husband and send him to the village. They live in geographically difficult part completely depending on their own or animal strength. They are ignorant about soil erosion and deforestation. Not only that, alcohol consumption in the Karnali region is high because one of the porters buys distillery equipment in the bazaar of Nepalgunj. He hopes that he would sell liqueur and earn enough money to buy goods in Karnali.

Questions for Practice :

  1. Write a paragraph or two to show how Karnali is linked economically with the lowland regions to the south.
  2. What does the skeletal looking sal trees indicate about the exploitation of nature?
  3. What does the reply “What can we do? The animals must eat today” Signify?
  4. Give s short account of the life of the people of Karnali.

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