Sunday, August 21, 2011

I can hear the sea calling......

Having loads of fun trying to pack for Sri Lanka - snorkels (I knew I carried them here for a reason), swimmers and lots of clothes of course, because I am a girl and I must have at least 3 possible outfits per day. I hope the fish and water there are more exciting than the fish pond at Northfield.....
The British Embassy has closed their British Council offices here, and so a whole load of furniture was up for auction on Friday. I went up there with some mates, and Buddhi from the hotel, on the lookout for mattresses, beds and wardrobes. There were some rather swish dining tables a friend of mine wanted, because all the stuff had been imported from the UK (the labels said British Foreign Service) and weren't the usual crappy plywood junk you can buy here. We all missed out but it was lots of fun - and one of the few times I have seen Nepali people queueing to get in (only 2 at a time were allowed through the front gate) and there were a few cartels operating and pooling their resources.Which probably kept a lot of people happy.

And now you see why I get such a good sleep every night on my very expensive Yusirong Pillow which contains 3 different sorts of swan feather if the advertising is to be believed. And yes, I do 'Feeling the natural and enjoy the health'. Thanks very much for asking.
We haven't had too much rain the last few days and when the sun comes out it is SOOO hot. It's been great for getting some laundry done before the trip - Brave Sir Robin thinks I am insane for doing all my own laundry when I am 'supposed to be on holiday'. But who is one shirt down since the laundry ripped a sleeve last week??? That's right, not me.
Yesterday I was Skyping a neighbour back home and giving them a tour of my balcony when they spotted my laundry drying in the sun and STEVE, yes you know who you are, asked if we were very high up because we could use the undies to parachute to safety if there was a fire. There's names for people like that. And they aren't very nice. Remember Steve, I know where you live.
Just to prove that some things never change here, the government recently introduced uniforms for all civil servants (who are often anything but civil) but of course most people pocketed the money (about $100) and carried on wearing whatever... as you see. I particularly like paragraph 2 about trying to bring uniformity into the uniforms. Whatever that means. I think my brain hurts.

Only 2 more sleeps till Colombo (assuming we make the very tight connection in Delhi). I'm really looking forward to the beach time, and having a day at the First Test Australia v Sri Lanka in Galle. There will be NO TREKKING and no CAMPING. But there will be a lot of relaxing. 

Thursday, August 18, 2011

More crazee news

Well for starters today is day 1 of the indefinite nationwide transport strike because transport 'entrepreneurs' (as they are so inaptly called) have a 41 point demand that has not been met. I don't know what they want. Let's hope it ends by Monday as we have to get to the airport first thing Tuesday so we can go to Sri Lanka. And I am still waiting for my contact lenses which are somewhere on the Indian border no doubt caught in this strike.
Taxi drivers are also 'miffed' about something or other, I have forgotten what, and so joined in the strike action.
We are once again in Prime Minister limbo here in Nepal, with the last bloke resigning on Monday and the parties now have until Saturday (I think) to pick someone. The main candidates seem to be Sher Bahadur Deuba (who has already had 3 turns and was even sacked for incompetence) and Babu Ram Bhattarai (the Maoist number 2) who did a sterling job as Finance Minister and would have to be better than the other boofhead.
And of course the monsoon rains continues to fall as you can see. I bet this chap hadn't bargained on such a riverfront property when he built.

 And you thought public transport was bad.....
And this just because it's unfortunate.

Sunday, August 14, 2011

And from charming Thamel

Where the streets are paved with this. Isn't it lovely. You need to have your wits about you at all times. Good thing I finally have my glasses and can avoid such hazards. Not everyone is so lucky, and of course when you jump out of a taxi it can be very tricky. But the rivers are full and we have electricity. And mould.
Robin, Jamie and I went for lunch to the Sterling Club and now they are sitting around playing Techno Kitty on the iPad - how stupid! Both over 40 and should know better - but it is such fun.
We booked our flights for Sri Lanka yesterday so are looking forward to  making the tight connection in Delhi on 23rd. Fingers crossed. Otherwise it will be a seriously tedious 24 hours sitting in the airport waiting for the next flight.
Today is Gai Jatra (Cow Festival) where the family of anyone who has died in the last year can dress up as a cow or a hermit and groups of them wander around town beating drums. Of course.
And just so you know I didn't forget, I offer this to you from yesterday's paper (you guessed, The Kathmandu Post) to explain the dire state of politics in Nepal. Five points, seven points, no bloody point at all! Enjoy.

Thursday, August 11, 2011

wish I was drip dry

I just got caught in a huge downpour that my poor brolly couldn't cope with. Robin, Puru and I had been down to Indra Chowk to get some 100% cotton for sir to get some shirts made and Puru and I were heading back when the skies opened and we tried to shelter under the brolly with limited success. So we hid in a pashmina shop, then a khukri knife outlet before we finally gave up and Puru jumped in a rickshaw to go back to work. While I sploshed my way thru the puddles and got drowned by passing vehicles.
Despite the poor weather, a shopkeeper who was standing outside his Kashmiri emporium said to me "Hello madam would you like to spend your money in my shop?" When I said no, not right now thanks, he said "I take American Express, Visa, Mastercard.". Never miss a money making opportunity!
Met a lovely chap from Darjeeling last night who has worked as a trekking guide for some years and has done part of the India GHT and is now in Nepal to start his west to east traverse next Monday. A delightful fellow called Dhendup Lama. Hope it all works out well for him as he will be trekking right through December in the high passes where it can get extremely cold.
Went to Miss Juni's hairdo shop this morning to get rid of the hair beanie that has been on my head and making me sweat so profusely.I now plan to enjoy the afternoon movie - yesterday it was Octopussy with Roger Moore and lots of baddies with foreign accents. Who knows what delight awaits me today?

Wednesday, August 10, 2011

full steam ahead

Kathmandu has become very muggy the last few days and everyone is getting frustrated with it. No deodorant seems able to cope. Sadly.
Had another visit to Tilganga and was told by Dr Ruit to go off and enjoy my new life. Excellent. I now need specs for distance (as opposed to everything else I needed them for) so I ordered 3 pairs today - 1 pair with transition lenses that change from dark to clear when you go inside, one lot plain for inside, and one dark for sunnies, and it cost me Rs 3000 (not even 50 bucks). And I can collect them on Friday and not in a week or so like at home. God love them they even gave me a discount!
So that means that soon I will be able to: see the TV, read signs across the road, find streets when I'm driving, spot UFOs heading straight for me, and avoid wild animals. All of which will be useful.
Rather glad to be here in the muggy old 'du as opposed to being mugged in London. Those people need a damn good thrashing. Mind you if you want to rob a bank in Wales now would be the time since all their coppers have gone to London. Not that I am suggesting anyone should do that. Just an observation.
Statistics released yesterday re civil aviation in this wonderful country reveal that 35% of the plane crashes in the last 20 years resulted in fatalities...What marvellous news! And the Ministry of Tourism has the worst record for fixing 'irregularities' - only managing 10%. Like the runway presumably.
I'm off to stand in front of the fan and disperse my aroma.

Monday, August 8, 2011

And in the news right now

So I plan to apply for a job at this newly opened Ministry as soon as possible. I think it would be a great place to work....
You will be thrilled to know that my eye is improving every day - I even crossed the deadly Kantipath intersection 4 times today without my guide dog and I'm still alive. And speaking of pedestrians, the big investments for Nepal Tourism Year 2011 have been some green wheelie bins in Thamel (donated by the Chinese) and some rather randomly placed pedestrian crossings. I've not been brave enough to use them myself - they seem to give drivers an unfair advantage in lining you up in their sights. I prefer the duck out and stay on target method. Even with limited distance vision.

Meanwhile it looks as though I may have left it too late to get a Nepali drivers licence, if today's newspaper is anything to go by. As I mentioned the other week, the journalism in this country goes from bad to worse and this item in today's Post is a classic. Do enjoy.
The weather now is very muggy with big storms most afternoons and evenings. We gave up on trying to join the Hotel Malla pool and gym as it was too expensive, so we are now having a go at joining the American Club, Phora Durbar, where I was a temp member a few years ago. It has a great pool, gym, tennis, squash and is building a sauna too apparently (not that you need one in this weather!). The cafe is pretty good as well, and their wi-fi always works. Now we just have to wait and see.
The foreigners in Thamel at the moment seem to consist of: Hindu pilgrims off to Mt Kailash in Tibet or Muktinath in the Annapurnas, Japanese groups in matching vinyl vests taking the same photos of everything on the street (do not get stuck behind them!), and the gap year students full of good intentions and not a lot else. Until Friday night when the bars do a roaring trade via shots of Tequila. How very classy. Saw one last Friday night before 9pm on the ground in her white shorts and boob tube - such sensible attire...ERK!
Yesterday we had the pleasure of meeting a lovely chap called Sunil Tamang who walked a huge chunk of the GHT all by himself earlier this year. He's 20 and very self motivated - he started with only Rs 28,000 (about $375 Aussie) and got all the way to Rara Lake in the west. A fine example of what you can achieve even with very little assistance.
And in news from the travel insurance department:  2 foreigners here required urgent assistance: one a male paranoid schizophrenic who had stopped taking his tablets, the other a female nymphomaniac who I'm not sure what happened to her. They were shipped off to the same secure facility, in separate vehicles, but the bloke jumped out of the ambulance on the way, the cops pursued him and he was finally bundled into a taxi. It is to be hoped they make a beautiful friendship together. Who knows how long the poor sods will be there before someone comes to rescue them.
I had better hand the laptop back to Brave Sir Robin who is champing at the bit to do some more work. I'm back to Tilganga tomorrow for another check up and more eyedrops - hopefully I can reduce it from the current 8 times a day I am on at present.

Thursday, August 4, 2011

Eye eye Captain

At last I can see. Out of both eyes. Properly. Only took 52 years! Thank heavens for Tilganga and the Fred Hollows gang. I had my initial appointment there on Monday and they managed to squeeze me in yesterday (Wednesday) which was great.
Here I am in my gorgeous operation outfit - which fits so well in all the right places! Obviously I was smiling as I had little idea what was in store for me.. last year's op went very smoothly but this time I wasn't quite so lucky. The cataract was reluctant to leave my eyeball, and I suspect that the local anaesthetic in my eye didn't work because I could feel everything - like the slice, the crochet hook thing to pull it out and all sorts of other stuff. But it finally relented and I am now enjoying a life of relaxation for a bit.
If you are keen to see my cataract op, you will find it here: I don't think I'll be tuning in any time soon....
And in other news, had a charming lunch at the embassy on Tuesday and our favourite bar reopens tonight HOORAY. No more having to make do with the sheer incompetence at Delima Garden (not known as Dilemma Garden for nothing).
Friends are gradually making their way back into Kathmandu, crappy runway notwithstanding. The TIA runway has been closed I think 5 times in the last few months because the firm who got the tender to repair the one runway had to spend so much money in bribes (for what, I have yet to find out) that they don't have any money for materials. So, they fill the cracks at night (in monsoon, so very wet) with a bit of sand, rubbish or whatever and a light icing of bitumen which of course doesn't set. And it is right at the point where planes touch down.
All aboard for a thrilling landing at TIA. Fasten seats belts and assume crash position!
Robin and I have joined the Hotel Malla pool and gym so once I get the all clear I can splash about a bit. And we are planning to take a short trip to Sri Lanka in a few weeks to help with Robin's visa situation in South Asia - he can't go back to India yet and can't spend much more time in Nepal right now. Tibet is now open again but has no beaches, Thailand is on the way home, Clifton Beach in Karachi is not really a sun lovers paradise so Sri Lanka it is. We've never been there so we are really looking forward to that. If it happens.....
Right, I'm going to recline now and look pathetic in case anyone comes to visit.
And I'll wait for the STAR movies James Bond festival which is on every afternoon.