Tuesday, March 16, 2010

Time to explain Kathmandu

Most of you probably have no idea what life in Kathmandu is like for longer term stayers like me, as opposed to tourists who often stay only 1 or 2 nights before and after trekking.
I stay near a temple, so about 4am the temple bell starts being dinged (or donged) by the faithful on their way to work. This is usually rapidly followed by dog fights and tooting horns (the horns continue pretty much ALL DAY). Then the cargo van from across the street arrives to load up before peak hour, and the lady next door starts her pressure cooker about 6am (kitchen window is right under mine). I don't know what the meat item she cooks is but it sure smells bad some mornings! From about 7am the shutters on shops all along the street start going up, and it is almost impossible to get back to sleep then.
Depending on the power schedule, I might be able to get a hot shower, or make a bucket of hot water with my excellent kettle, or I just don't bother. Then time for bed tea - which is a tray of tea items delivered to the room. The only way to start the day.
After a spot of laundry I wander out for breakfast somewhere with my block of Coon cheese - I can't take the yak and nak cheese they have here and the expense is well worth it. Then it's time for 'internetverke' as we call it. Most of my girlfriends here are busy on the net most of the day, and it is always a challenge finding somewhere with a generator and wi fi. Or I just hang out gossiping, arranging meetings, shopping for trekking food, arranging plane tickets, embassy do's and my niece's upcoming wedding. Now that I am no longer an associate member of the American Club (which had all day power, internet plus a lovely pool and gym) I have to be a bit more creative.
Yesterday I somehow managed 9 hours straight internetverke, impressive in a place with rolling 12 hr power cuts. Tourists can just go to the local internet cafe for their 15 minutes of email, but I have so much to do I couldn't afford it!
How am I here organising a niece's wedding? Well many years ago we were adopted into a Nepali family - I am big sister (didi) and Robin is brother (dai). This girl is the daughter of our Nepali brother and so as big sister I get to help in the planning - which is causing more than its fair share of headaches. You see, wedding dates are chosen by the priest for their auspiciousness according to the religious calendar, so it isn't just a matter of pick a date and off you go. The happy couple keep trying to pick a date where Robin and I will be in town, but then that date is never a 'good' one. I can see this taking some more time...
Evenings usually start at about 6pm at my 'after hours office' where I do more networking and gossiping washed down with a refresher before heading out for dinner with whoever I can drag out the door. Now that so many evenings in Thamel are without power till quite late it is pretty tempting to stay out till the power comes back at midnight - but not really a good idea in the long run.
Because I am here so often, many friends (local or foreign) ask me to help them out with something - English for an email or website, helping someone out with sightseeing or trekking stuff, plus of course I have 3 emails, 2 websites, a facebook page and blog to try to keep up to date.
Even when I think I have a fairly free day something springs up, but this afternoon I am really hoping to sneak off for a quick nanna nap.
This Friday I am off to a production at the Sterling Club (British Embassy) of 'The Importance of Being Earnest'. That is my culture for the week..
Well time to hit save now before something happens to the power.
I have given up trying to upload a photo for you today - better luck next time!

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