Yesterday was another day of formatting in the sun, followed by flathunting. The latter began with a really grimy place with Himalayan views, moving on to a nice little house in the right location, with a terrace, and also a small temple in the kitchen where the landlady would come to pray twice a day, and finally a nice little flat which was laid out in a long thin configuration, was safe and clean and had a (very small) balcony, but you had to go outside to get to the kitchen. So all of these were, yet again, not moved into. It seems like everywhere we have seen so far is good, except for one glaring oddness or failure which disqualifies it from being our future home. I did, however, meet a chap called Jez who told me about living in one of the flats, and then we met on the street soon afterwards and he showed me his friend’s place, and gave me a lift up to Thamel. So not a wasted journey after all.
Last night was Kelly’s last before she leaves for Bangladesh for a week, as well as being our last night in the Shanker, so we had intended to finish up early and spend the evening together. However, this proved somewhat difficult as the requisite thesis work was not complete, and also we had yet to pack, so we managed to walk to the end of the road, decide their wasn’t enough time to find somewhere for dinner, and then come home again and eat in the hotel. Not quite the opulent farewell we had in mind, but it had to do.
Today I awoke at 6 with Kelly, saw her off, and promptly fell asleep until half past ten, completely missing breakfast and causing a bit of a rush to make checkout. Enormously heavy backpack donned, I moved on to my home for the next week, Tings Tea Lounge. It is really, really nice – full of little, well, lounges and cubby holes and comfy nooks to settle down in, and I was given a welcome glass of ice tea as I settled in to…the Cupboard. That is the actual name of my room, which consists of just enough floorspace for a gas heater, then a step with just enough space for two cushions to sit on, and then a platform with two single mattresses. It is actually quite cosy and nice, just big enough for me for the time being.
I decided to walk as far as I could towards Patan, where I was viewing even more flats today. I started off in the right direction, making it as far as Exhibition road before I decided the dust was a bit much and I should get a taxi. You can see the previous post for what was necessary due to the dust.
On the way I saw the above banner, which is ( I assume) showing the communist lineage of Mao. I see him as a bit of an odd one out there, purely on facial hair grounds. I also encountered an enormous outdoor market selling (among other things I am sure) lots of dusty clothes. It had a bit of an impromptu feel to it, despite there being literally hundreds of people buying, selling, sitting and eating. This lively scene was in direct contrast to the military parade ground next door, in which I have both sat and eaten a sandwich and seen cows wandering about, which was guarded by a lot of stern armed police and soldiers. Guarding against overspill, I suppose.
Yet again, I saw two inappropriate houses, one of which I was very keen on, possibly mostly because it overlooked the zoo and I could see a tiger and a rhino from the terrace. I would add a picture, but the only one I took of the view had a small orange smudge in it which I doubt I could persuade you was a tiger. I also bumped into the chap who showed me round the flat with the temple in it yesterday – Patan seems like a small place.
Now. There is something I have not mentioned before, as I was not sure if I would succeed. Since leaving the UK I have not consumed any meat at all. This may not seem that remarkable, but 8 days of vegetarianism is quite remarkable considering that I genuinely don’t think I gave ever gone 24 hours without meat before in my life. As I had managed a week, I thought it was time to celebrate with a meaty meal, so I headed to Brian’s Grill House. I had read about this place in the UK, it is on the 9th floor of an as yet unfinished office building, and promised to do burgers and ribs and wings and cocktails and loads more besides. I settled in with a beer, had a chat with Kelly and Clare, and then sat near the gas heater and feigned interest in the American Football games that were being screened.
Being near the heater drew a crowd, and before too long I had met three American students from a small Christian university (which apparently is a thing) in Indiana, who were out working with a street children NGO for a month. They seemed nice enough, and earnest and hopeful, and they had 14 other classmates sitting outside on the balcony. After they went to join them I devoured a pound of enormous chicken wings, and then had a BBQ pork roll (not the “Mother & Daughter Reunion sandwich”, which was chicken with an egg and made me feel odd inside). During the eating of the roll I was joined by the titular Brian, who I quizzed about the reasons and practicalities of setting up an American grill in Kathmandu. It sounded like a logistical nightmare, but he assured me that it was easier than setting one up back in the US, as well as considerably cheaper. Whatever e reasons, he seemed content.
Anyway, after the second football game had ended (I honestly couldn’t tell who was winning or losing until the final whistle of both games), I headed back to Tings, and had a chat with Kelly who was in the fanciest hotel imaginable in Dhaka – the Ruposhi Bangla hotel, I believe. I, on the other hand, got under all my blankets in my freezing cupboard, turned the gas heater on for a bit to warm my toes, and went to bed in all my clothes. The Shanker had such good heating that we actually had to sleep with the window open, while I think it is colder in the room than it is outside. I wore a hat to sleep.
I needn’t have worried about warming the room up, however, as I awoke feeling dreadful at about half 12 and proceeded to be very ill all through the night, finally getting to sleep at about 6am, just in time for Kathmandu to wake up and start ringing bells, clattering and shouting. I think that, unfortunately, I am going to have to blame the wings – I thought they seemed a tiny bit pink, almost undetectably so, but I let the shiny clean surroundings at Brian’s lull me into a false sense of security. I guess this means I am back to vegetarianism. Damn.