I. The rats infesting Kathmandu Airport Appear to co-exist in peace with man And have, it seems, since local time began, Been treated each like some great Juggernaut. Their teeming numbers give no pause for thought To thwart the airport staff: it seems they can Induce distinct responses other than Our atavistic dread and fears self-taught. For no-one here will blench at sight of them, They take these lowly creatures in their stride, Perhaps admire them for their stolid phlegm, Insouciance, and valiance. Beside The threat of warfarin or shotgun blast Their nonchalance you’ll find is unsurpassed. II. Around the airport lounge in Kathmandu The tourist in his fake designer gear Is scoffed at by the pukka mountaineer, While those with more street cred than sense make do With Gucci handbags, shoes by Jimmy Choo. Much less well-dressed and less impressed each year The rats have neither boots nor socks to wear But they could teach us all a thing or two About survival, self-denial and What truly matters in our petty lives. It’s very difficult to understand Why one who climbs, and doesn’t need to, strives To stay alive through self-imposed ordeal, Achieving goals both pointless and unreal. Peter Hartley is a retired painting restorer. He was born in Liverpool and lives in Manchester, UK.