Wednesday, October 8, 2014

This Post Is Much Longer Than I Intended It To Be

I have decided to write a short accounting of Caitlin’s final weekend in Kathmandu, or at least, an accounting of the times when nobody was napping.

As I mentioned in my birthday post, all three of the girls visited KTM from Gorkha, although unfortunately Emily could only stay for one full day. Nevertheless, we tried to make the most of our time together. This, of course, meant a lot of eating, shopping, and running around the city.

Food – I’ll start with this before I get to the gross stuff. Oh yes. Wait ‘til you see what’s coming. Don’t try and anticipate it. Enjoy the food talk. Anyway. We split up our time between eating at our apartment and eating out. We (and by we, I mainly mean Lisa and Ellen [and Elsie, when she’s there]) have become proficient chefs when it comes to cooking with the fresh ingredients available from produce stalls. Our first night, Lisa and Ellen whipped up some delicious concoction using cabbage, olive oil, garlic, and strange soy sauce. It was like pasta, but crunchy and low-calorie. The second night was mine to shine. The girls had acquired what they called an avocado. Now, picture an avocado. Size of your fist, right? Now magnify that by five or six. That was our avocado. It was a monster. But I made guacamole out of it, all the same, and we ate it on toasted cheesy bread. 

That is a monstrous amount of guacamole, but we courageously powered through it.
We also made several trips to restaurants. One was called Mahaaja, which we had been informed was a Japanese restaurant in Thamel (the tourist district). It wasn’t really a Japanese restaurant, but they had chicken Caesar wraps (yum!) and sushi! Now, eating sushi in a landlocked country is a bit of a gamble, but I figured since it was river-prawn tempura, I would be okay. Plus it was only 300 rupees. Can’t beat that deal. We also went to our favorite restaurant, Tushita, for our final group dinner with Caitlin. Lisa and I split momos and macaroni and cheese. We all ate too much. 

Pictured: pure awesomeness.

Can you get this kind of $3 sushi deal in America without ending up with food poisoning? Nope, I don't think so.

Charming old hippie-days decor. (KTM was a big hippie destination in the sixties)

On the left, macs&cheese. On the right, momos&sinusclearingsauce.

The group at our favorite table of our favorite restaurant.
Shopping – Caitlin was on a mission to buy gifts for all of her friends and family back home, and we were more than happy to accompany her. Our mission took us from Bhat Bateni (a super-market which I’m not sure I spelled right but I can’t be bothered to check), the dangerous tourist-ensnaring streets of Thamel, and the relaxing, familiar fair trade stores of Lazimpat. I lost track of what the other girls bought, but they bought some cool stuff. I remember joining Ellen on a very important trip to find a plastic soap box. I found lots of things I didn’t need but bought anyway: a Michael Palin travel book (more on him in a later post), a leather-bound collection of G.K. Chesterton essays (because I need to be a good PC alumna), Twizzlers, Mickey Mouse ink & stamps, a new journal, and a rather pretty fair trade ring. I also found Dassain gifts for my host family, including a matching pair of tea mugs for my aamaa to replace the set that my poor bai broke. 

Shopping is not without its dangers. When waiting to cross a street in Thamel, we ran across one of the sketchy young men who had accosted us on our second day in KTM. He remembered us. We remembered him. And Caitlin, who is normally the most polite young lady, told him: “Yep, we remember you. Leave us alone. We’re not interested. Go away.” I also royally p*ssed off (sorry, no better term) a jewelry store owner by telling him that silver wasn’t worth enough to justify the cost of his wares. Then I got my butt out of there. 

Running around Kathmandu – And by running around, I mean we took taxis everywhere. Just because, you know, Caitlin was sick and all. It was a worthy sacrifice, really, not having to powerwalk everywhere. 

Other nice things – On Sunday night, Caitlin stayed over at the apartment with us, ostensibly for a movie night. She slept through the entire thing, but it was still nice that she was there. We watched Morning Glory, which Lisa sold to me as being similar to The Devil Wears Prada, which sounded fine. And then I saw the DVD case, and told her: “Lisa, the best way to get me to watch a movie is to tell me Harrison Ford is in it.” Because he was, and he was great. The next morning, Lisa and Ellen had to leave early for Gorkha. First, though, we divided up Caitlin’s school supplies and candy among ourselves. I couldn’t help mentally comparing it to the Roman soldiers dividing Jesus’ stuff at the foot of the Cross, but that’s a horribly morbid metaphor. Anyway, I walked away with peanut butter, which was really all I needed. Later in the morning, Caitlin and I went to Himalayan Java (the Starbucks of Nepal), followed by a trip back to the apartment for Caitlin to nap and for me to burn popcorn beyond recognition. Good thing Nepali homes don’t seem to have smoke alarms… After she woke up, we had an early dinner at Saigon Pho, where I ordered two entrees because my first one wasn’t enough food for me. 
Necessary preparations for waiting out Caitlin's nap. I was supposed to wake her up after an hour. But good friends let good friends nap unless they have class or their wedding or something.
Then, we said goodbye, and got into separate taxis. It was very sad. And the next night, my bai and I watched her plane take off from our roof, and we pointed a flashlight beam into the sky to bid her farewell.

The Gross Stuff (with a picture!)– Prepare your stomachs if you don’t like bugs. Because here are some bug stories. First, lice. I swear I don’t have lice—my aamaa checked for me. But one member of our friends did, and oh boy, was that an adventure. We decided that we really must be descended from apes, because for some reason, picking lice and nits out of someone’s hair is oddly satisfying (as is drowning them [the lice] in a bowl of water, and then counting how many there are). I really hope I don’t acquire lice, but seeing as most of my students have them, that will require being very careful. Second, cockroaches. Those of you who know me well know that roaches are my second least favorite bug. Lucky me. Standing outside a stationary store one afternoon, I felt a tickle on my ankle. A few minutes later, a tickle on my butt. I swatted at my skirt, and what fell out? A huge cockroach. EWWW. And if that was not enough, later, in our apartment bathroom, an equally large roach came running out of the drain, which sent me yelling for Lisa. She rescued me from the roach, just as I once saved her from Ruhmal, the giant moth. 
Here's your proof. I was gonna put a coin next to it for scale, but I didn't want to put my fingers near it.
Bonus gross story: While walking along the treacherous streets, we discussed what kind of bug we would rather hold or eat than be hit by a motorcycle. I declared that I would rather be hit by a motor vehicle than have to eat or hold a cojuro (the Nepali word for the hundred-legged creeper). Everything else, though, was fair game. Even arachnophobic Lisa said she would eat a spider if it were already dead rather than tango with a motorbike. She’s braver than me, that’s for certain.

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