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October 24th, 2006

Folks who’ve traveled to Nepal and trekked the Annapurna Circuit have passed through the town of Besisahar, where the eastern trail around the Annapurnas begins. The road to Besisahar is gorgeous, running parallel to the Marsyangdi River as it churns from the Himalayas down through the wide valleys of Lamjung.

We stop the minivan just before Besisahar and follow Buddhiman across the bridge to a wide apron below a series of ridges that lead to the Annapurnas and a snowy peak known simply as Boddha Himal. An hour hike through rice fields and we reach Pipal Tari, Buddhiman’s village. Pipal refers to a tree which is often planted in pairs when a couple gets married. It’s also the holy tree under which Buddha reached enlightenment. They make great shade for a traveler, and not a bad spot to play a little music.

Buddhiman’s wife greets us and we spend the evening with the village kids, Tara teaching them how to Hambone and Buddhiman’s neighbor showing us how to make a sarangi from the Kirra tree. We sleep in a simple mudbrick huts, just above the water buffalo stable.

Next afternoon we walk down to a village school where Tara and Danny play Appalachian tunes for the students. Sitaram, an old man I recorded last time I was here, shows up and leads the kids in a few Nepali songs, with Danny playing along on fiddle. We continue back down to the river to watch Tek, Buddhiman’s neighbor, fishing and we take a dip in the chilly Marsyangdi. We spend the evening singing on Buddhiman’s porch under a brilliant canopy of stars.

Next day we follow Buddhiman up the steep hillside to a village called Moria, where we film Buddhiman playing music for the locals and Danny playing atop the ridge. The clouds swallow the Himal to the north but we catch a few minutes of it on time-lapse video before heading back down into the heat of the valley.

Before leaving Lamjung, we record Sitaram, who knows many old Hindu religious songs, mostly retelling stories from the Ramayana. Sitaram’s brother Hiralal has moved to Ireland, where he works as a cook, but makes more money than anyone in his village. They have a new style toilet; high class. I’m content to stay in the village a few more days, in spite of the dust and heat, but we’ve got to make tracks to Pokhara.

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