Wednesday, October 14, 2009

Kathmandu - January 9, 2009

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A beautiful day today. We flew from Pokhara to Kathmandu, through the Himalayas, in a little prop plane. Security at the Pokhara airport was strictly by hand and very lax--they didn't even ask to see an I.D.!

On the other hand, they would not let Lois or me take our walking sticks on board, and they stuck nasty vinyl stickers on them with something like crazy glue. They ruined the finish on both our canes, and because mine is collapsible they stuck the stickers over the hinges, trying to prevent me from ever opening it again. I was able to cut the tape and open the cane, but it was not possible to get it completely off and preserve the finish. Fortunately mine is a cheap one from Wal-Mart, replaceable for fifteen bucks, but Lois's is an expensive therapeutic model. Apparently this is an indication that Nepalese culture shares with Indian culture a rule that women are not allowed to use walking sticks.

Kathmandu is another incredibly crowded city, the first we have seen in Nepal that reminds us of India. At the moment it is dirty, because the garbage men are on strike. Strikes, strikes everywhere! But unlike India, where the filth was accepted and ignored by the local populace, here we received apologies and explanations everywhere we went.

More power outages, too. Flying over the mountains we had just seen the absence of snow for runoff to fuel the hydroelectric plants. Power was cut off to the city at 1pm, and restored at 8pm. The hours of power per day are being reduced from 12 to 8.

Our hotel has a generator, so the only effect of the outages is that bright lights can only be used when the power is on. Everyone with a generator or battery setup has dim energy-saving lighting the rest of the time, and many small shops simply rely on daylight.

Oh, yes--while we've been in Nepal, India had an oil strike! When I found an Indian English-language station on the TV here in Kathmandu, India was in crisis with 70% of gas stations out of petrol and all of them expected to be empty by midnight. It was an illegal strike (the strikes here in Nepal are apparently legal), but talks had broken down. Jet fuel was starting to be affected and flights delayed.

Just what we needed to hear when we're leaving for home via New Delhi tomorrow night! Well, there was nothing we could do, so we went out for lunch, grabbed half an hour for email before the power went off, and came back to meet the rest of the tour for a 3pm orientation walk.

By that time the strike in India was over! One less thing to worry about.

We walked through the old part of the city, wall to wall people, cars, bicycles, motorcycles, and dogs, dogs, dogs! Then we went to the monkey temple, where I found a game for Clay. There are indeed monkeys all over the temple, but again, just as many dogs. I couldn't resist taking a picture of this puppy mandala:

We saw prayer wheels, which Lois had to try:

This evening the whole group went out went out to a Japanese restaurant--and that's it. People will be departing all day tomorrow, as we will be in the afternoon.

It's been a very hard journey for me, and I'm not sure how I feel about ending it.
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