Everything's better with art.
7 Days in Nepal
Chandragiri, Patan, and Italian
In Search of Eggs
I awake at 5am and feverishly get back to sleep before Joe can convince me to join him for AM mass with the Mother Teresa sisters (which sounds like an experience, but I need sleep!). I awake again at 7:15 and no one is up, so I pace a bit then suddenly decide to go out and buy eggs to make breakfast. The man nearby doesn’t have any today. So I decide to go for a walk along the river (through some sad neighborhoods where I see people living in a makeshift tent who Joe later says have lived there for years) and happen upon a small stand, which looks like a garden shed, with a little girl selling small items…including eggs. I buy 8 which she puts inside a plastic bag for me to carry home. I stop at a cafe for coffee where I get lots of looks from the locals.
Chandra Giri Mountain View
Jayanti calls parents and they are coming with us to Chandragiri. We are out the door at 10am and on our way through the usually dusty streets. where it takes almost 1.5 hours to travel 10 miles. After parking and Joe buying tickets, we take the cable car to the top of the long steep climb. The higher we go the more we rise above the dust of Kathmandu and the mountains become clear to us. We take photos and walk around for about an hour. The air is clear and crisp. The view is spectacular. We part and stop in a tiny cafe in the small town of Chandragiri. I have a staple Nepali lunch: dry, spicy, crunchy, and occasionally unexplainable flavors make for an interesting and very filling meal every time. Joe avoids anything suspicious and orders mo mos (steamed dumplings) and a Coke.
Patan Durbar Square
On the way to Patan Durbar Square, it is again extremely dusty. It seems worse than usual and I wonder if it’s because we just saw crisp mountain air. Patan is another Durbar Square like Kathmandu and Bhaktapur, and is likewise devastated by the 2015 earthquake and slowly being rebuilt. I decide to check out the shops here for some “artisan” gifts (mostly items claiming to be handmade in the store but are cast in a factory nearby). I haggle a small wooden frame resembling the Kumari window, but Jayanti feels I paid too much after she tries to get the man down from 4000 rupees to 3000 rupees ($30). I’m ok with it, and Joe says all that matters is i feel I got a fair price (though he was pushing me to pay only 1000 rupees).
We pass a shop with metal bowls and Joe asks if I would like a singing bowl. Not sure what it is, he asks the man to show me. The shopowner picks up a small wooden mallet and runs it around the top of the bowl and it lets out a low hum. Not now, thanks. The man really wants me to buy one. We walk for a while more. Not much to see. More temples, kids playing in the narrow streets and alleys. We come into a very congested section of consume-like shopping. Back into Durbar Square I want to see more shops and return to the singing bowl shop to look at small statues but the man is very excited to get me to buy a bowl. I peruse the store for about 10 minutes with him occasionally showing me one singing bowl after the next: a bowl that is two feet wide and filled with water that ripples and spits when he runs the mallet around; another that fits on your head that supposedly cures headaches. I finally ask to see a handmade one (thinking he doesn’t have any) and he opens a chest behind the counter to retrieve a much nicer one than the stacks on display. He tells me the others have a circular divot in the bottom where they sat on the machine. The handmade one is legit, he insists, but he wants $50 for it. After several minutes playing the haggle game, I get 2 small statues of Ganesh and Buddha (800 rupees asking price) and the bowl (5000 asking price) for 3000 rupees total ($27.50). I get my shot at haggling…the shop owner is not pleased.
We head out and spend 20 minutes driving about 4 blocks to get out of Patan. I help Joe navigate a few side roads to avoid traffic, using Google maps on my phone. At one point, he and another car meet face to face in a very narrow alley with no way around one another–and neither is willing to budge for the other. Soon, a hoard of pedestrians and scooters are jammed tightly around us. Nobody is moving, but there’s lots of honking and yellling. I encourage Joe to backup a hair but he insists he has nowhere to go and the “asshole” in front of us needs to move. He caves after a little persuasion and we slowly start reversing down the alley, ever pushing all the traffic behind us to a point the car in front can pass, all the scooters fly out around us and the pedestrians escape, and we can forge ahead. Phew!!
We head into the “American” neighborhood for Joe’s favorite Italian restaurant, but we arrive to see it is closed Sundays. Jayanti’s mom and dad are tired and hungry. We are all tired. We start heading back toward the truck when I suggest a place called Utopia. After inspecting the menu, Joe approves. We sit inside rather than out because it is getting cold (even through there is no heat inside and there are propane heaters out on the patio). Everyone seems a bit on edge and cranky. The menu is not appealing to Jayanti or her parents, I can assume. Joe insists on what to order. I step away from the awkwardness to use the toilet and return to help the only way I can…entertain. I get everyone laughing and joking to forget our frustrations–from ordering a rum and coke by drawing it on the server’s pad (language barrier), to trying my hand at more Nepali words and phrases ala Jayanti and Ama. Jayanti’s parents are cracking up…such fun people!
Dinner is very good. Similar to Joe playing it safe, Ama orders mo mos from the menu rather than try any suspicious Italian food…to find they use a green dough. She is weary at first, but then enjoys them heartily on Jayanti’s encouragement. Everyone leaves full and happy.
We drop off mom and dad at 8:30 (feels like midnight after such a long day) and head back to Sukedhara. I decide to finish my wine from my first night there, and offer Jayanti some. She asks Joe and he says “Jayanti choice.” Joe plays guitar while I draw a quick portrait sketch of each of them (Jayanti was sad I didn’t draw her the night before at grandma’s house.) Joe and I play guitar awhile; Jayanti shares more wine with me. Everyone is fading. They head up around 10:00pm and I call home to chat with Jamin and the boys for a bit. Grady loves the time difference: I am going to bed and they just ate lunch! Wyatt asks if he can go to Nepal and Ireland soon; you sure can, buddy. I hit the bed hard at 11pm.