I walked for three days through the impossibly steep mid-hills of Eastern Nepal to reach this tiny hole-in-the-wall in the upper reaches of the Hongku river. The predominantly Kulung Rai village of Cheskam was saturated in late afternoon sun and the promise of millet. My feet felt like chhoila.
We were quickly given a seat at the only table in the smoky dining room-cum-kitchen. The walls were roughly yet elegantly dusted with creosote and cobwebs. There was an old photograph of the royal family touched up with lipne stains and graffiti. The overall atmosphere was one of tooth decay.
I ordered a lemon soda, and was given a cloudy glass of local raksi. The raksi was clean – the lovechild of saké and snow-melt – with a finish of kerosene. The second course came, fittingly, after the second bottle of the local nectar. An elephantine portion of rice with the traditional metal bowl of rough daal was placed before me. My tin mug of raksi kept somehow fading then finding itself full once again. The next thing I remember is brushing my teeth in a freshly planted potato field, arm-in-arm with one of the local astronauts, mighty Orion, losing his balance across the steep sky.