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Kathmandu diaries Day 2 (21 Aug)

An extremely satisfying day.
The day started off early - for some reason I was up at daybreak. Perhaps it was the birds. Perhaps it was the sunlight in my room. It could have been the excitement of being in Nepal. It wasn’t unpleasant whatever it was. Carol was up early too. We went in search for breakfast. It took a while.
The hotel is a rambling place with gorgeous gardens swinging between manicured bits to unruly segments where the garden has been allowed to ramble - lovely. After the aridity of Dubai, it was the green that thrilled me. So we wandered around the garden - me asking questions and Carol answering them - she is a fount of knowledge when it comes to plants. I know some of the plants from my childhood when my mother was a keen gardener and, like Carol, collected plants wherever she went.
We planned our day at breakfast - a trip to the orphanage was on the cards, lunch and then meeting the kids who would be back from school at 4pm. Most of the morning was spent doing a little work - my laptop goes with me everywhere. I finished a few bits and pieces that I promised to complete and surprisingly Carol had some urgent bit of work that she needed to complete as well. We booked a car for 11. Carol’s friend Tina who is the head of the kindergarten section of the FPA school in Fujairah had sent some toys over for the kids. In all our liquid sessions in Fujairah, we would be chatting about all the stuff that needs to be done at the orphanage and she would say don’t forget toys and fun. We ignored her. She was so right to give us the toys for them.
We picked up Ella and drove to the orphanage. My first trip there and Ella gave us a tour of the place, highlighting the problems she was facing and what has been done and what has not been done, her plans for the place etc. As a nurse, her main concerns were the health of the children. So health and nutrition played a great part of some of the problems she faced and she (being the Scotswoman she is) has plunged herself headlong into a battle. Since she has adopted this orphanage as her own personal crusade, I think she had a hard week the week before and was very chuffed to have us there. Every visit she makes, she counts and checks that everything she has brought in to make it easy to care for the children are still there.
Anyway - at lunch we focused our energies on what we could do to make the lives of the children better. Carol and I wanted to make sure that the funds that we were raising were making a real difference to the children. So we worked out what we could do to help Ella in her crusade. So we have worked out that we need to make sure that there is at least Dirhams 3000 (US$ 815) every month to pay for one egg, one glass of milk, one fruit a day, the salary of a nanny who would be dedicated to clean and care for the children, a dhobi for clean clothes (the children were so grubby - it was unbelievable). Ella says that cleanliness would solve a lot of the children’s malaises and a balanced meal would help with the rest.
We went back in time so Ella could be there when the children arrived from school. She wanted us to see this. They were so happy to see her at the gate greeting every single one of them. They were a bit shy because Carol and I were there. They were polite, well behaved and courteous. They went straight in, changed out of their uniforms to a boring beige pajama suit that was another kind of uniform that basically said - just in case you forget - these are orphans. How sad. Even sadder - they changed and went straight in to do their homework. No time to play or relax. I came out and said lets bring the toys out. Wow - what a difference. There was something for every one. They went wild over the simplest of toys. Their joy made us so happy. Ella of course was mother hen and nurse mode - checking the kids to make sure they were well, checking bruises, cuts etc. Carol and I played with the kids and took photographs.
We left after a bit - dropped Ella off and Carol and I went off hunting for a Korean restaurant she had found the last time she was there. We wandered around Thamel while the shops were closing all around us and the dance bars were coming to life. I discovered the many touristy pleasures of Thamel. I have a ritual. My brother Bish gets a T-shirt from every place I visit (I still owe him Amsterdam), and I get fridge magnets. I haven’t seen magnets yet but there are choices of T-shirts for Bish.
We could not find the Korean restaurant but ended up on Durbar Marg in the Nepal Thali place - where we tried some local Gurkha beer and rice wine - sampling of course.
All in all a very eventful and satisfying day.

Kathmandu Diaries Day 3 (22 Aug 08)

Kathmandu diaries - day 1 (20 Aug 2008)