Hurried Trip To Avoid a Bad Star

Writer: M. Lilla and C. Bishop Barry


This is an essay written by the two American geographers M. Lilla and C. Bishop Barry present an exploration of the Karnali region which they did on foot for 15 adventurous months. After Christmas, the two authors start their trip to know how Karnali is economically linked with Nepalgunj. Their fellow travellers bring medicinal herbs, hashish hand-knit sweaters and blankets in their baskets ~ to sell them in Nepalgunj.

During their trip on foot, the two geographers see and learn many things about the life and culture of the people of Karnali region. On their way, a Chhetri woman of 30 asks them whether they are going to Nepalgunj. According to her, her husband left her 15 years ago to find a job in the plains the woman requests the authors to send him back if they find him. In a forest at 9,000 feet, they see some people processing Silajit sell it in Nepalgunj. Instead of processing it in their homes, they do it on the way because they have made a hurried trip to avoid a bad start. The people of the Karnali regions are superstitious as they believe that a bad star may have an evil influence on them.

They continue their journey and notice some women cutting the branches of the ‘Sal’ trees to feed their goats. Almost all the trees have become bare. This shows that the people of Karnali zone are not aware of the possible environmental damage. They are ignorant about landslides, soil erosion, droughts etc. in the future. When the authors reach terai, they sit beside a campfire and listen to the night sounds of jackals, bats, mules and bullock carts. They walk on the paved streets and see the vehicles. Their fellow travellers or the people of Karnali region buy cotton clothes, spice, jewellery, ironware, aluminium and sweets to sell them in Karnali. The authors complete their exploration in Jumla.

While they got back to the Terai region, the two American geographers learn a lot about the geographical condition and the life of people of the Karnali region. The authors observe all the seasons and the people who have been living in harmony with nature. They have been living a very difficult life. As their cultivation can not support them, they have to involve them in trade. Some people go to the plains in search of a job. Thus, the people of Karnali zone are uneducated, conservative and they earn their living by the various traditional works.

Important Questions and Answers:

1. Give a short account of the life of Karnali zone people.
Two American geographers have depicted (painted) and described the state and lifestyle of Karnali zone. The life of Karnali zone people is extremely hard because the Karnali zone is a remote, not well connected with other parts of the country by road and economically backwards. Because of the lack of education, they are very superstitious and believe that a bad star may have an evil influence on them and try to avoid it. They are lacking the awareness about the need for preservation of nature. Due to lack of this aspect, they indiscriminately chopped down the trees thereby speeding of the deforestation putting their own life’s in great risk because the entire slopes became bare and prone (possible) of landslide and soil erosion. Although the people of this region are living in harmony with nature in a very difficult location with very bad weather, they are not ready to leave their place. The writer found that a hill place is very optimistic and cheerful despite the hardship in life with low agricultural production. The writers felt the need of the hill people to farm with other activities to live with satisfactory earning. Many of them are involved in the business. They carry their local products including Silajit to sell in Nepalgunj whenever they go down to the Terai. When they return home they bring necessary goods like aluminium and iron wares, cotton clothes, jewellery items and spices to sell in their locality to earn a living.

2. What does skeletal looking SAL trees indicate about the exploitation of nature? What does the reply “What we can do? The animals must eat today” signify?
The scene they are indifferently cutting down the trees and they are not worried about the jungle and their own future. They are doing just to solve their current problem. They are not conscious of the future. They are not realizing their mistakes may have disastrous consequences.

3. In the description of Karnali, written in 1971,….
Gradually, there are some changes in the grip of twenty-five years in Karnali. There were no post offices, no high schools and no health post and a health clinic at the centre of the villages. Development pace is very slow. The geographical structure is responsible for the development because in hilly areas it is difficult to apply the developmental projects. So, Karnali is still under development. In the past, people were uneducated but now they are educated. Only a few people are involved in education and most of the people, in Karnali, are involved in agriculture. They are still following the porter job. There are no facilities. People do not go to the clinic in a general case which shows they are not conscious about health and they don’t believe in science but educated people use the clinic well. In conclusion, the people in Karnali are being developed although they are not developing as the writer thinks. But they have understood the benefit of education and development.

4. Why did Karma buy only distiller equipment?
Karma is the representative character of the Karnali zone. Like him, many people from the Karnali region come to Nepalgunj to trade woollen clothes and medical herbs. After selling their products, they buy different things which are not available in their place. So, Karma also bought distiller equipment because he wanted to make alcohol for his business in his locality.

5. What is Silajit? What are its uses? Explain.
Silajit is tarlike deposit that leaks from the hard rocks in the valley of Sinja. It is believed that if it is drunk with milk or water. It cleans insides and makes people pure and strong. It purifies the blood and cures heart disease as well as other skin diseases.

6. Explain in brief a sad tale of Karnali zone. [2073]
Write a few paragraphs to show the Karnali zone is economically linked to the regions of the low land. Explain if any changes have taken place in the Karnali zone since the text was written. [2072 Sup]
Give a short account of the life of the people of Karnali.[2069, 2066, 2074 Partial, 2075]
Describe briefly how Karnali is economically linked with the low land Terai. [2068, 2063, 2071 partial , 2057]
How is the Karnali zone economically linked with the lowlands of southern Nepal? [2061]
Present a short account of Karnali zone explaining how it is economically linked to the low land region. Include if some changes have taken place there since the essay was written. [2072 partial]
How is Karnali linked economically with the regions of the low land to the south? [2075 Partial]
M. Lilla and C. Bishop Barry are two American geographers. They have presented an exploration of Karnali zone which they visited on foot for fifteen months after Christmas. The life of people of Karnali zone is very difficult due to its geography. The food lasts only for two or three months. They are not educated. Illiteracy is pushing them backwards. They live a conservative and superstitions life. However, they are kind and helpful. They are living in harmony, Many people frequently visit lowland Terai for jobs and business because the Karnali zone is economically linked with Terai. They go to Terai and sell their products such as woollen clothes, medical herbs, hashish, blankets, silajit etc. After selling their products, they buy the things in the markets of Terai which are not available in their places. In this way the Karnali zone is economically linked with lowland Terai. Since the essay was written, we can see some changes in Karnali. People are sending their children to school. The facilities of electricity, communication, hospitals, and road are reached in some places in Karnali zone.

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