Oof, that last post was emo, huh. Well, I am a bit embarrassed about laying all that out there. What a funk I was in! But it was real and raw and for that I do not apologize. Friends' perspectives have helped me see the situation in a variety of different lights. I am feeling much better. It feels weird to say thank you, but thank you.
In fact I've been having a very interesting time in Kathmandu, so I am glad to have had the extra time. One day, I made a morning journey to Harati Devi Temple, which is the tallest point in Kathmandu and is lovingly nicknamed Monkey Temple for all its primate inhabitants. It is reached by a steep set of stairs set into the side of the mountain. It was a long, complicated walk from my guest house and I cheated and used Google Maps, which -- surprisingly -- correctly led me down a series of dirt roads and right to the entrance of Harati Devi. (Cannot believe those paths were on Google Maps! PS how are we all liking Google's new logo... I'm down...).
When I got to the top of Harati Devi, it was like a light switch was flipped on Kathmandu. For the first time in my five or six days here, I could see that the city was massive! Buildings and buildings as far as I could see, with the mountain backdrop, as always. I hadn't realized or felt like Kathmandu was a huge city. I had been staying in a neighborhood called Thamel (which felt like a tiny Times Square, except the buildings are only five stories high and the roads are really windy) and it felt like I was passing the same things every day. Shop | Shop | Shop | Shop | Shop . No I do not want taxi. No I do not want rickshaw. No I do not want banana. No I do not want marijuana. Same faces and places. But seeing Kathmandu from above, I realized how expansive it was. Swarming with the potential for adventure. Whereas from Thamel it felt more like I'd been posted up in one neighborhood of Manhattan. Maybe Saint Marks. Not hating on Saint Marks. But you know, 24/7 after a week...
So I spent the next few days in a new neighborhood called Kaldhara, just next to Thamel. I have met the most interesting people here. They are farmers and volunteers and managers and builders. I've gotta hand it to my fellow backpackers. They're pretty incredible and I decided to cheese out in their honor here.
Some other odds and ends from in and around Kathmandu:
1. While at the Monkey Temple, a monkey snatched my water bottle right out of my hands. It was half full and super humid so I didn't really want my water stolen. Like okay cute you're a monkey, but you can't just have my water...
He gnawned at it ferociously and couldn't get it open for 10 minutes and never did end up getting it open.
2. Berto was my Spanish room mate in my guest house in Thamel and we had the best time. We had this hilarious joke where he couldn't get on WiFi and was getting so frustrated and like, probing his phone in the air to find signal, so I was being a news reporter (news reporter voice now), reporting live from the rooftop of Yeti Guest House ladies and gentlemen, where a 29 year old Berto from Valencia, Spain has been unable to get WiFi for a full ten minutes! Ladies and gentlemen Berto is what we call a WiFi addict - he'll do anything for that WiFi! BERTO, show us how you're searching for the WiFi! -- Cut to Berto waving his phone under the bed and up to the fan and pretending to be the WiFi version of a metal-detecting beachcomber with his phone, glancing up from the (imaginary) beach floor to look at the (imaginary) news camera like a starved WiFi junkie.......
(Reporter voice) Ladies and gentleman he just cannot find that WiFi!
...Oh wait, I forgot the best part of the joke! It was all in Spanish!!!
3. There are some solo female travelers, but it's more rarely that I encounter them. Sure, sometimes. But much harder to find. I've met so many great guys, but I'm missin my girls.
4. There are people who have everything and give nothing.
There are people who have nothing and give everything.
Somehow, with as little as they have, they offer food, they offer shelter... they offer up a chair for you to sit in -- you should be comfortable.
5. Our first night of the trek on the mountain, before I had to come down, I allowed a 60-something year old man named Bardo perform reflexology on my feet. First time doing Reflexology. What an odd sensation! It was extremely relaxing though. Later that night we also danced around with the family that runs the guest house. The fifteen year old daughter was so good, she was schooling me! Traditional Nepali music but this girl had moves. And then Gangnam Style came on out of nowhere and she knew the entire dance.
6. It seems that mens' relationships with each other are very similar in both India and Nepal. Men are very openly affectionate with one another. Almost a proud, childlike affection. Men of all ages, nestling their heads in each others' necks. Walking with their arms around each other. Laying on each other's shoulders. It's quite sweet, really. I've also seen them bicker like hell ;) But the sweetness always comes back.
7. Not earning money is beginning to get to me. Just a teensy bit, but I can feel it. There are many options for bartering. For example, I could work in a guest house in exchange for my accommodation and potentially sometimes free food. But that feels more like saving money, to me. I am getting the itch to earn spendable capital. Not because I am strapped for cash. But because it feels good to earn.
8. The simple comfort and convenience of having even a tiny ledge in the bathroom to rest my soap on while I wash my face has been sorely missed over the past few weeks.
9. I think I need to learn Hindi. When I'm done reading The Goldfinch, which should be in the next day or two, I'm going to pick up a beginner Hindi language book.
10. I'm learning English. While reading The Goldfinch, I wrote down 13 words to look up and then looked each one up on my Dictionary app while I was waiting to see the doctor at Teku Hospital this morning. I think the monkey may have scratched me when he grabbed my water bottle and I wanted to get the little cut checked out. Turned out to be nothing. But I did get to experience the local bus... which again reinforced how big a city Kathmandu is. Did you know there are one million people in Kathmandu? It is 29 square miles.
I'm going to have to jet in the next couple of days to get back to India. My visa is ready, 3 months granted. I'll apply for the ten-year from the U.S. :)
Psyched to get back to India is an understatement. I'm like a flower floating through Nepal and India. I plant roots via the people I meet and the contexts in which I meet them. And as those relationships grow, so deeper do my roots in that city. Here in Kathmandu, I feel like I've only just started planting... speaking of which, I need to be watered, as it's one hundred degrees and I'm schvitzing.