Friday, 5 October 2012

Sleepless in Thamel

(4/10/12, 3.30am Nepal time)

I know I should try to fight it, and to get some more sleep, but I figured I may as well write for a while.  Yesterday was my first real day in Kathmandu, so naturally I spent half of it asleep.  I woke up around 12.30pm, which is about 3 hours past an indulgent lie-in here! Still, I’m blaming jetlag.  I got up, got dressed and was due to meet my supervisor Khem at 2pm, when I was given a message from the front desk that he would be late and that I should meet him at 3pm instead.  I decided to sit for a while in the lobby, making use of the free wifi, before heading out into the busy streets of Thamel.  Everywhere you turn, there are beautiful things to look at and buy; intricately carved elephants, bright and colourful pashminas, tiny wooden violins that sellers play at you as you pass.  It takes a lot of restraint to not stop and look closer, but I learned two years ago here that if you stop, you are a potential customer and therefore the stall-holders and shop-owners will pounce.  Some are friendly, some are bordering on clingy. So I wandered around a few streets, only stopping to buy something small (and, it goes without saying, useless) for my dad which made me instantly think of him (not because it’s useless, just to clarify). 

After some carefree browsing, I returned to the hotel.  I was on time to meet Khem, but I was reminded that Nepali time is a somewhat fluid concept and as such, 3pm could mean anywhere between 3pm and 4pm.  Still, I was happy to sit and wait, as it gave me more time to send messages home via the internet. 

When he arrived, we went for momos across the street.  Now these are a local delicacy, yet I hadn’t been brave enough to try them the last time I was in the country.  They can be fried or steamed, and are basically little parcels, usually filled with chicken, ‘buff’ or buffalo meat, or vegetables.  We had some steamed chicken ones with a fairly spicy sauce, and I have to say, they were delicious.  I may have to learn how they are made to make myself some at home.

After a walking tour of the tourist area, around by Queen’s Pond and King’s Way (Nepal used to have a monarchy), we headed back to the hotel.  I ordered dinner (chicken korma and rice) for 8pm in my room, and decided to brave the shower.  Now I knew from experience that a hot shower in Kathmandu is something worthy of praise and adulation, and I was expecting mine to be cold.  However, I was surprised to find it was warm and clean, and helped get the day’s dust away.

So here I am, at 3.48am, writing a blog and listening to the intermittent cacophony of dogs barking/howling/chattering.  Time to put away the technology, grab my ear plugs and give that old Sleep thing another go. Up at 6.30am to meet my host family and move into my new room.  I can’t wait! 

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