Home > Happiness, Kathmandu, Nepal > Wellness and being.

Wellness and being.


So I left Karachi on June 14, 2010, and came to Kathmandu. While both places start with the same letter of the alphabet and have some similarities, for the most part, they’re very different. In the 24 hours that I’ve been here, I’ve found Kathmandu to be immensely welcoming and very, very beautiful. Hello, pretty place!

I’ve “arrived” (the pervies among you will laugh here) in Kathmandu. I flew through a rainbow and saw my first lama (the human version, not the ‘ll’ version), complete with saffron robes and all. I tried not to stare, but I couldn’t help it – I was fascinated. :-P

The people at the Karachi airport drove me up the wall. My luggage – everything – was unpacked and repacked four times. They saw ‘non-religionism’ on my passport, and asked me all sorts of stupid-ass questions about my religion. One woman who was checking my luggage asked me if I was Christian. I said I wasn’t. She asked me why I wore a cross. I asked her how that was any business of hers. “Aap ko Allah waalah pendant pehenna chahiyay (you should wear a pendant which says Allah),” was her response. I asked her if she was Muslim. She said she was. Then she said she was Christian and people like me have made a mockery of religion (“Mazhab ka mazaaq banaya hua hai”). The people in my head were furious, but miraculously, I kept my mouth shut. Seriously, how dare she reduce my beliefs to her mindless stupidity! How dare she!

PIA charged me PKR5,000-something for excess baggage, earning my eternal hatred (yes, even more than before). They were mean to me too. I didn’t have enough cash on me – I’d kept Rs2,000 for excess baggage, and got the rest converted into dollars ($70) – so I called up Ahmed who, bless him, was waiting outside. While I was waiting for the call to go through, the PIA people kept haranguing me about the cash, until I almost burst into tears. Ditto for while Ahmed went to the ATM and got the money. I finally paid them, got my luggage checked in (they forced me to check my backpack in too, probably so they could charge me more money for excess baggage – no wonder I hate them).

So I checked my luggage in, got my boarding pass, and moved to the next counter where two women were supposed to stamp my passport for exit. Ahmed called during this time, and one of the women screamed at me to “put [my] phone away” even though I was using handsfree and wasn’t disturbing anyone. I told Ahmed she was screaming at me, disconnected the call, and screamed right back at her. Well okay, I didn’t scream but I told her off. By this time, I’d had it with these idiots. Two counters later, there was another baggage check (right before the boarding lounge). They made me take off my shoes, watch and bangles. I asked them if they wanted me to take off my jeans and shirt too, because that is all that was left. They stared – I’m not quite sure why – but let me go.

Also, at every goddamned counter, they made me take my netbook out of my bag and place it in a separate tray, which, incidentally, went through the same xray-machine-thingummajjig as my bag. I don’t understand what this is about, but I’m told these are “international standards.” I’m pissed at all this. I mean, seriously, I didn’t create the fundo-monsters. Why should I be made to suffer? Meanwhile, the people who did create them, breeze through security checks. Infuriating. But I digress. The lounge was a non-smoking area so I suffered in silence and tried not to cry. I had some moments of panic – “OMYFUCKINGGOD I DON’T WANT TO GO AWAY!” – but they went away eventually. After boarding the plane and before it took off, I had to fight off wild urges to scream and make them stop and then jump off and go running home. Sanity prevailed, however. There were two ‘haree pagree’ (green turban) waaley fundos on the flight, who scared the shit out of me. Midway through the flight, the copilot left the cockpit and took a walk down the aisles. He saw the fundos, and patted them on the back – I don’t know which scared me more: seeing the two men on the flight, or the fact that the copilot seemed impressed by them.

My seatmate was a really sweet Nepali guy. I think I drove him up the wall because I was hanging at the edge of my seat, my nose stuck to the window, waiting to catch a glimpse of “the mountains”. Shah ji and everyone had told me that we can see the mountains before we land – and well, I thought we were going to land an hour before we actually did. :-D I saw a plane take off (Emirates) while we were in the air. All of a sudden it shot out of the clouds like a little bullet, a couple of kilometres to our right. Surreal. We passed over Nawabshah, Rahim Yar Khan, Chandigarh, Delhi, etc, to get here. How nice to be able to mention the names of all these cities without having to attach the names of separate countries with them – wish that could happen in real life too. I wonder if it will, during my lifetime. I wish it does…

There were lots of DARK black clouds on the way. We went into them – was kind of an amazing feeling – and through them. I saw a HUGE rainbow between two mountains… and then! WE PASSED RIGHT THROUGH IT! I FLEW THROUGH A RAINBOW OMYGOD! No, I don’t think I’ll ever get over that. EVER! It! Was! AWESOME! I squeeled and clapped and pointed out of the window. My Nepali seatmate looked at me inquiringly. “LOOK! RAINBOW!” I said. He smiled – with me, not at me, like – and asked me if this was the first time I was coming to Nepal. “Of course,” I said. “Can’t you tell!”

Ooooh the food on the flight was good too (yes, I know many of you were wondering why perpetually-hungry-me hadn’t mentioned that yet). Rice with chicken and veggies, etc. Was yum. Or maybe I was too hungry – the last meal I’d had was dinner the night before with Ahmed at Rangoli.

Oh I just looked up outside the window, and wondered why it was dawn already (not dawn-dawn, but the light in the sky right before it – false dawn). My computer and cellphone clocks said it was only 3:52 a.m. Then I remembered that that was PST, and Kathmandu is 45 minutes ahead, so I changed the time. It now reads 4:39 a.m. Better. Light-in-the-sky is more acceptable close to 5:00 a.m. than 4:00 a.m. :-)

I’m in a guesthouse in the Patan Dabar Square. Easily-excitable me has been finding a lot to squeel over. I heard conch shells around puja time in the evening – the first time I heard those live. They sounded beautiful – more so than I had imagined. :-)

The driver had picked me up at the airport. He was nice too, as was everybody else at the airport here. They gave me a one-month visa for free, and said I would be charged some amount when I renewed it. I said okay. The guy at the visa counter wasn’t very fluent with English, and he didn’t speak Urdu/Hindi, and I don’t speak Nepali (yet). He managed to get his point across though, while his colleagues watched, extremely amused. But he was very sweet. It felt nice to be treated as “one of our own” because I was from a SAARC country. I don’t know why, but it felt VERY nice – very welcoming, especially for someone who 1) was travelling abroad alone for the first time, and 2) gets very homesick. :-) My luggage was checked once on the way out. I’m not sure why. It went through the scanner, and they kind of panicked and asked me where I was from. “Pakistan,” I said. They asked me to unlock both suitcases, which I did one by one. They opened them and were kinda disappointed because all that was there were clothes, bags, shoes and books. Oh LOTS of books! Then they laughed and closed both bags.

OH I HEAR PUJA SOUNDS OUTSIDE!

Khair, they helped me put the luggage back on the trolley. I changed my $70 into Nepali rupees, and also got a Nepal Telecom SIM on the way out. The guy at the SIM counter told me I “looked like a Nepali girl.” He also gave me a discount, because I “had [his] country’s currency.” Awww! :-)

The driver asked me if we have “aisa mountains” in Pakistan. I told him we do, in Quetta, but not in Karachi. The part of Kathmandu near the airport did remind me of Quetta, by the way, sans the FC checkposts. It is equally pretty, and surrounded by mountains. Oh and WOMEN SELL CIGARETTES HERE HOW COOL IS THAT! The Himal office is in Patan, and this area is EXQUISITELY BEAUTIFUL! Met everyone. S, A, D and I went to drop my luggage off at the guesthouse. The boys carried the suitcases (hats off to them). The guesthouse is owned by a woman. She’s sweet. She has this huge-ass dog, which is surprisingly skittish, given its size.

The Patan Darbar Square is awesome. There’s a large temple in the middle. It is a heritage site which is also used as a collective ‘meeting ground’ of sorts by people. It was filled with people by the time we got here but surprisingly, I didn’t feel claustrophobic – perhaps because of the atmosphere of camaraderie. The four of us went for food to a nearby dhaba. I had buffalo meat! Contrary to A’s claims, it didn’t taste like beef at all – it was very good. We shared a table with two women who were already sitting there. They were very friendly, and while they didn’t smoke, they had no issues with S and I smoking. Oooooh and we also had this local beer which is made from rice. It was very good – tasted kinda like lemonade. Tangy and yummy. It came in a large pitcher (like water at dhaabas in Pakistan). I stopped counting after I’d had, like, seven glasses. :-D After a couple of hours, I really needed to pee, so we came back to the guesthouse. I called home. Tried to call Ahmed but it wouldn’t go through. Then I went to sleep / passed out. Woke up a couple of hours ago. There’s daylight outside now. My room is very cosy. Will post pictures later on Facebook. I wonder if I can get breakfast – I’m bery bery hungry.

The best thing about Kathmandu is that women own and operate small businesses (cigarette stalls, guesthouses, etc), and aren’t referred to as “prostitutes” because they do. They wear what they want, ride bikes, etc. All of this, I think, is true liberation. Women operate businesses in Karachi too, but those are large, well-heeled affairs; and those opportunities are only available to women with means and resources. True liberation is when women from poorer backgrounds have financial independence and mobility, methinks – like in Kathmandu. There are issues of course – more cultural than anything else – but the way I see it, women’s lib-wise, Kathmandu is on the right track and far ahead of even Karachi.

I can see the top part of the temple outside my window.

Update: So I’d gone out around 6:30 a.m. to look for food. Nothing was open. I got chips and ciggies and waited for some cafes to open. They didn’t, but a dog stole my chips. It came up to me and bugged me until I shared my chips with it. After it had eaten, it ran off. Hmph! :-P I went back to the guesthouse and somehow fell asleep. Woke up at 11:30 a.m. when A called. Got to work by 12:30 p.m., instead of 10:00 a.m. Trust me to oversleep and be late on my first day at work. :-P

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  1. D
    June 16, 2010 at 03:39

    :-D

  2. Danish
    June 15, 2010 at 13:10

    Waiting for the pics of khatmandu and surroundings and also of your room … Other than nice depiction of what happened to you at Pakistan Airport

    at last best of luck keep blogging

    • Bolshevik
      June 15, 2010 at 14:17

      :-D Soon soon! I forgot to get batteries for my camera in the morning. Will do that on my way back after work.

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