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Kathmandu diaries - day 1 (20 Aug 2008)

I have decided to do this to provide my cousin Mita her “vicarious” fix of Nepal. She might be a bit disappointed as its going to be a lot of work on the charity stuff.
I love journeys -and this one is no different and yet it is. I love the Nepalese - I grew up with Nepalese people around me, my father conversing fluently in the language. My grandmother’s house was full of Nepalese, and when we were small we had Nepali Ayahs who we adored. I have met a few on my trips to Darjeeling of course and find them, as my cousin Mita says, gentle people, very soft and courteous. I am sure there are the thugs among them but I haven’t met any - so far.
Anyway, it was an early morning start for me. 4.30am to get ready to reach Sharjah airport for 5.45 to get the flight. My (not so) baby brother offered to drive me to the airport. Of course 10 mins out - he forgets his wallet and we have to go back for it. But we manage to make up for time and get to the airport on time. Carol (poor thing) had a two hour drive from KF to get to Sharjah and by all accounts had no sleep.
We had a “vacuum-head” check us in who had to double check everything - visas, seat allocation, British passports, you name it. We were desperate to get our caffeine fix and of course, whenever we travel - Carol and I are constantly taking the mickey. To someone without a sense of humour it might be unamusing. I was quite prepared to find that she had checked my baggage into the flight to Beirut or Kuwait that were leaving around the same time. We had to stop and pick up a bottle of Jamieson, two lattes from Costa and the dubious distinction of having our names announced as the last passengers to board the flight!
An empty, uneventful flight (surprisingly a lot of leg room for a budget airline), we landed in humid Kathmandu where for a change I was just one of the Nepalese (for an Indian passport holder there are very few countries - perhaps its only Nepal - where you do not need a visa). We checked around for taxi rates and then were informed of the pre-paid taxi counter. They quoted NRS 550 for the journey to Summit Hotel (stunning place but more later). We scoffed. They laughed and said, “Now you leave and then you come back.” He was right. We did. Smart Alec!
The hotel was stunning and, of course, by this time we were hungry (hardly any food on the flight) and quite tired. So we had our first Nepali thali (delicious) and went for a short nap. At least Carol had the nap and I just caught up with some work. Some tea and then we plotted what we were going to do that evening. Before I called anyone we decided we had to meet the intrepid Nurse Ella who had left a lucrative job in Dubai to devote herself to sorting out the orphans here.
We met Ella at Nanglo’s in the bar - tried some of the house wine. That set the bar and as is our wont we carried on in the Chinese room next door. Though the food was average, we had a lot of catching up to do and were the last to leave. Carol and I just came back (after a round tour of Kathmandu) and made inroads into the Jamieson. We sat outside the verandah of my room facing the lush gardens of the hotel and I guess we got more than a bit tiddly and a bit noisy - enough for one of the guests to ask us to “keep it down”. We were in a giggly mood.
All in all a good day and a great start to the trip.

Kathmandu diaries Day 2 (21 Aug)

Verbal diarrhoea