Friday 28th August
Ben couldn't afford the Tibetan rugs that he liked. They were between Rs1200/- and Rs1500/- (£60-75). If he'd bought one it would have meant that he, and Jane, would be broke. Uncharacteristically Jane told him he "must cut his garment according to his cloth". I don't think she wanted to be poor. I can't say I blame her. I saw more musical instruments (why was I so interested in them?) but they were too expensive. Maybe there will be cheaper ones back in India (why was I so bothered? Did I want one for a present? Must have!).
Jane and Ben returned to the hotel for lunch. I continued to explore alone, mainly taking photographs, but also looking at Saris for one of my friends back home who had expressed an interest. The costs of the saris varied enormously and all were quite nice, but she had specific requirements and none of these matched them.
I posted the mugshots to the immigration post.
Busy square with post boxes (centre left behind the rickshaw)
Wandering around alone was quite refreshing. I could take as long as I liked over a photograph (I liked photographing the people, they were very photogenic, and their ordinary daily activities ) and go where I wanted. On the other hand, it was nice to have company - it felt a little safer, not that I had had any reason, yet, to feel unsafe alone. I discovered new areas of the city I hadn't seen before. Numerous cloth and tailor's shops full of people buying cotton and silk (presumably for saris) or being measured for suits. On other street gift shops with rice paper paintings, paintings on silk or parchment, but no musical instruments. I was fascinated by the contrasts of old and modern, the noises, smells, colour and general activities of the local community. And of course the cows which seemed so relaxed and content whether lying in the main street
Cow lying in the main street
or investigating a car.
Calf and car
Thirsty I drifted back to a more familiar area of town looking for somewhere to get refreshments. I found a shop selling homemade bread and cheese. It was expensive, and although the cheese had a rubbery texture, it tasted fine. A man had followed me. He was trying to sell me drugs. Cocaine. I was tired of the dope pedlars. They seemed to expect Westerners to jump at the chance of purchasing drugs and some got nasty when refused.
One of the many cafes
I came across Jane and Ben, at a carpet shop. Ben was haggling over the price of the carpets. He wasn't doing so well as in India. But is isn't quite the same. Haggling here seems to be reserved for the market stalls and the street pedlars. The shops appear to have fixed prices, and there is noticeable similarity in the prices between shops. Maybe there are standard prices. Anyway, I think Ben is a little optimistic with his haggling. The price is low anyway. One rug takes two and a half man weeks to make and uses 6 kilos of wool, so by our standards Rs1200/- is not expensive (but then what is a reasonable price in this economy, Ben may be right).
We went for an evening meal. Jane and Ben had fish and chips! The sweets were nice and I got a cup of tea WITHOUT any sugar. Amazing!!!
I took Jane and Ben to see the places I had "discovered" during the afternoon. They were taken by a collection of puppets hanging in one of the stalls. The smaller, cheaper ones were made from clay, but they were colourful and cheerful. The cheapest was Rs15/- but Ben reckoned the stall holder would sell for Rs10/- and began to haggle. The haggling was engaged enthusiastically by both parties. Eventually Ben bought 6 puppets for Rs13/- (approximately 60p) each. I wasn't sure who got the better bargain. The seller claimed he made no profit on the deal ( I was skeptical, why would he have sold?), but then would Ben manage to carry the puppets home in one piece? They looked very fragile.
Happy with their purchase Jane and Ben returned to the hotel, but, it being only about 8:00pm I decided to stay out longer, it was a bit early to return and I hadn't come all this way to spend every evening as a gooseberry in a cheap hotel room.
Kathmandu is a very fascinating, colourful and picturesque place. At night it looks quite delightful. The many and frequent power cuts give rise to mirriads of candles and lanterns which twinkle and look quaint, if a little (a lot?) dangerous. I continued to explore the "far side" It was full of surprises. Little alters and temples everywhere. Narrow entries opened onto courtyards with shrines and small temples. In the dark the temples are colourfully lit and the central feature, the Buddah is always brightly lit, colourful and surrounded with offerings and incense.
Temple scene at dusk
I came across a bakery. I bought one each of about five different breads and cakes. At another stall I bought dates. Then I returned to the hotel. Just in time as it started to rain heavily.
It rained almost everyday, often it seemed to be at about 5:00pm. The dark clouds rolled in and the lightening, thunder and heavy rain came almost as regularly as clockwork. Usually we managed to shelter, but once or twice we were caught out doors.
Storm clouds gathering as Ben heads back to hotel