Category Archives: Kathmandu

Felt up in Kathmandu…


New Delhi

Recently the Nepalese army and the Tribhuvan Airport suffered a huge embarrassment on the international front. It seems that some enterprising persons snuck on to the tarmac late at night and stole the landing gear of a Boeing 737-800. The army and the airport have no idea who the thief is (although the guy driving the auto-rickshaw with the 14 foot high wheels might be a suspect).

I think that this embarrassment might have something to do with the vigilant Tribhuvan security team.

Upon arriving at the airport via “Roller Coaster Taxi”, the same entrepreneurs are there to “help” with my bags. This time, the guy shows me where to go to jump the entire queue, saving me a good 30 minutes in line. I give him almost all of the Nepalese rupees that I have left (about a dollars worth) and show my passport and ticket to the nice army man with the very large gun.

Then I enter a queue for a checkpoint. They X-ray all of my bags, put me through a metal detector, frisk me, and put stickers on my luggage. Next I queue up to check in. A nice man beside a different nice man with a gun issues me my boarding pass, takes my checked bag, and stamps my luggage and boarding pass.

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Next I enter a queue to gain entrance to the departures lounge. A very nice man with a large gun checks my boarding pass and stamps my carry on luggage. Then I fill out some paper work about why I’m leaving under a sign that says “The taking of photographs will result in you being shot”.

Then I enter a long queue to clear customs. A very grumpy man with no gun stamps my passport and boarding pass while a very nice woman with a big gun stamps her feet. Then I enter another long queue where my bags are X-rayed and stamped, and I am frisked again. Then a nice man with a really small gun stamps my boarding pass.

Then I enter a queue to board a bus. A really small man with a nice gun frisks my bags and buys some stamps. The bus drives about 15 feet to an outdoor stairwell that leads to the plane. Outside there is a table where a really big man with no gun opens my bags and stamps me. Then a man in a Stamps jersey frisks me and my boarding pass and gives me a really nice gun.

The plane waits on the tarmac for an extra hour before take off just to make sure everything is stamped.

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This flight is during the day, so on the way I get a glimpse of the Himalayas poking up through the clouds. I risk taking a bullet and snap off a few shots.

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I arrive at the Indira Gandhi International Airport in New Delhi an hour and a half late and totally disheveled. After getting my bags, filling out a form, and queing up to clear customs, a man with a bazooka gives me a really nice stamp. Then I queue up to leave the arrivals level and a really nice man with a really nice gun stamps my luggage as I walk by a really big man in a tank.

I then decide to take advantage of a service in the airport to pamper myself. This little place called the Shower an Go offers a 30 minute hot shower, then a two hour sit down in their lounge with a comfy chair, ottoman, coffee and bottled water and Wi-Fi Internet or 1000 IRS (about 20 bucks).

While I was in Nepal, I had 1 Luke warm shower and all the rest were from icy cold to hypothermia inducing, so the hot shower was invigorating. Then I sat with my feet up and did some research on my next stop. Bengaluru, or Bangalore…

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Language barriers and involuntary vowel movements…


Last days in Nepal.

Before leaving for this trip, I was attempting to learn Hindi through a language program called Pimsleur. I now have a rudimentary understanding of some basic sentences like: “Do you speak English?” or “How much does this cost?” or “Where have you hidden the cheese?”

Nepali is very similar to Hindi, in fact a lot of languages in this area are similar enough that people can understand each other. The problem that I am having is with pronunciation. English gets by with 5 vowels that roughly make up 20 or so vowel sounds. Hindi has 12 vowels that make up over 100 sounds. My harsh Calgary accent makes it really hard for people over here to understand me some times.

Think about the words lose and loose. The difference between the two word sounds is very subtle, but the meanings are quite different. You could say to somebody “My stool is loose” while you are sitting on a tall chair, but the if the person hears “My stool is lose”, he may think that you are a loser with a screw loose and will be at a loss on how you could lose your shit… Or at the very least he will offer you an Imodium.

An example for me happened on my first few days in Nepal trying to hire a car. They completely understood that I needed a ride, but they had no idea where I wanted to go because I was butchering the pronunciation of Panauti. I kept on asking for a lift to “Pan-aw-tee” where the correct pronunciation is closer to “Po-know-tee” (and that still isn’t right but at least they can understand what I’m saying). To their ear, what I was originally saying sounded more like “Could you please take me to scrhangdeepgibber” for what it was worth.

It does, however, go both ways. A lot of the children in Panauti are taught English at school, and some of them are very good at speaking it. Some, not so much. There was one child of about 12 who came up to me and said “Ai aroo hare”, to which I replied “maiN nepalī nahīN samajhtā hūN” (which means I don’t understand Nepali).

The boy repeated “Ai aroo hare, Ai aroo hare” and I said again “maiN nepalī nahīN samajhtā hūN”. This went on for a few minutes with each of us repeating the same phrases over and over again until a passerby finally said to me “The boy is speaking English, he is asking “Why are you here?”. He then turned to the boy and said “vaha nepalī nahīN samajhtī” (vaha means he, maiN means I). To my ear, what the passer by said and what I said sounded pretty much the same, but the subtle differences made it so the boy couldn’t understand. He probably heard something like “My squirrel plays the pomegranate in the dark with a big hunk of cheese” or something like that.

Now that we had a translation, both the boy and I nodded with an “ohhhh that’s what he was saying” kind of look, and we laughed.

Another example came from a sign for a cafe in Panauti. The sign reads “Coffee and Bekari Shop” and I kept wondering what kind of Asian sweet a Bekari was, the picture looked like a mini doughnut so I kept on wondering about nepalese bekaris and wondering if they had a chocolate glazed one with sprinkles.

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It wasn’t until the last day that I figured out the sign. What they meant when they put down Bekari, was Bakery.

My ride back to Kathmandu was great, and I stayed at the same hotel there when I arrived. The Peak Point Hotel.

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Located in the tourist district of Thamel, it is really close to the shopping district and a few nice restaurants. One place called The Gaia Restaurant and Coffee shop is really nice and close to the hotel. The vegetable curry was awesome… And I had some fries and a beer.

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I spent my last day in Nepal exploring the streets of Thamel and even trying my hand at haggling. I saw a really nice shirt hanging outside a shop and stopped to take a look. The clerk then said “If you like this you can have it for 2000 rupee” (about $25). I said no thanks and started to walk away “Ok, 1500…. 1200…” I returned to look at it again, felt the fabric, and said no thanks again, “Ok, ok, ok, ok, 800…. 650?”

I ended up paying NPr 650 ($8) for an embroidered polo shirt, and probably still got ripped off, but it was fun anyway.

Back to India tomorrow, and a continuation of the adventures.

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