Thursday 27th August: Shopping and eating in Kathmandu
Visa photos secured, Ben went off to sketch dilapidated temple courtyards. Jane and I explored a fruit and vegetable market and quite back streets taking more photographs. Jane needed them for her university photography project.
On our wanderings we came across a restaurant, Aunt Jane's, which we had read about in one of our many guide books. We decided to return later. We browsed the market stalls and shops, looking for bargains. Jane bought a bag and I bought a yak's wool coat. Sleeves a bit too long, but I liked it and I needed a new coat anyway and 160/- Rs seemed like a bargain. 25 years later I still have it but it has hardly ever been worn. Back in the UK it looked out of place and it is itchy! I bought another (also itchy) coat from Debenhams!!!
In one of the markets I looked at musical instruments. There was a primitive wooden flute and a strange Tibetan string instrument but I thought it was spoiled by its cheap looking nylon strings. I wasn't interested in buying either of them but I was pestered by the stall holder:
"Rs150/- madam", this for the stringed instrument.
"No thank you".
"Rs100/- just for you madam"
"No thank you".
And down and down went the price, but I didn't want it and so didn't buy it.
It was beginning to get dark. We walked down more side streets and in one I found a charming musical instrument shop. The drums were superb, but unfortunately far too bulky to carry home. I tried a quaint looking reed instrument but could make no sound. No one could get a sound out of it. I left without buying anything.
We went back to Aunt Jane's for our meal. It was nothing special and they didn't have the puddings we wanted so we left and headed back to Durbar Square. We passed a coffee and pie shop. It was tempting. We went in and pigged ourselves. We were eating far too much food. Why this contrast with India where we had eaten almost nothing? What would it be like when we returned?
Between the restaurant and the pie shop Jane and Ben has taken more photos (for their project). It was dark, pitch black, and they snapped (should I say that about student photographers?) multi coloured lights adorning the shops. I knew my film would not be up to it so, sorry no photos here.
While they were busy with their cameras I was pestered (am I using that word a lot?) by a young boy who asked how much my coat had cost. I wouldn't tell him and he kept grabbing my arm and following me. He was telling me of places to visit. He wanted money. Later I found the side pocket on my money pouch was undone - but nothing missing.
After the pie shop, tired it was time to retire to our room. We headed back across Durbar Square. Power cut. Sudden blackness, common here, and soon candles and oil lamps twinkled to life. Sudden panic. Jane had left her camera in the pie shop. We ran back. A Frenchman who had sat at our table as we left had found it. All was well. Camera retrieved. She was lucky and relieved.
Now 8:00pm. We called to collect Jane's sandals from the cobbler. He was still crouching at his work - by candle light. Rs20/- for the excellent repairs. Maybe English cobblers could learn a few things from him.
Return to room and rest.