Thursday 27th August: Kathmandu
Woke early at about 5:30. The mosquitoes hadn't attacked - thank goodness! Went for walk before breakfast. First morning in Nepal. Returned to hotel and ordered toast for breakfast. It took ages. I think they went out to buy the bread. At about 9:00 we set out to explore the town. Jane bought some chocolate - Cadbury's - but it hadn't survived the heat and goodness knows how old it was. It was not very nice.
From Durbar Square
A young lad tried to sell coins to Ben. Ben made the mistake of being interested but none of us had money with which to purchase any. We just about had enough for a map from the local tourist office. Undeterred the coin seller followed us to the bank where we changed $70, far more than usual. Next to the Nepalese airline office to buy tickets from Kathmandu to Patna for our return to India. They checked our passports and visas and said we could leave on Tuesday 1st September although we thought our visas expired on 31st. The tickets were $27 each and I paid for all three. Outside the airline office the coin seller was waiting - Ben relented and bought some. Next stop the pharmacist for something to treat our bites. Jane was still in a bad way. The assistant was interested in Ben's recently acquired coins.
Still frustrated with my slow film I went in search of faster film. Jane and I still needed photos for our visas, but due to a power failure none of the photographers could do it. We bought eggs, bread, butter a pineapple and some petrol (for the stove) and returned to hotel for lunch and session of post card writing. Jane needed her sandals mending. She took them to a cobbler we had seen squatting under his umbrella at the edge of the road.
The cobbler worked with just a few hand tools and a small last but seemed to be doing a brisk trade. We left the sandals with him and continued into town. Traffic and pedestrians vied for the road space. At one point a group of young boys was filling in pot holes with tarmac. They were working out in the road, exposed to the quite fast traffic with no protection. Life here looked hard and cheap. We found the post office. Rs1/75 to send international postcard.
Soaking up the sites, sounds and smells. Taking photographs. I was interested in the people and their ordinary daily activities , but most did not like to be snapped. To me the place was the people set against the backdrop of the grand but crumbling buildings. There seemed to be so much history and so many stories behind each wall. I wondered at the strength of the men, the human donkeys, carrying their loads around the town, strap around forehead, back bent, spindle legs of solid muscle flexing beneath the weight, bare feet apparently unfeeling of the shards and debris in the road.
The bare footed kids in the vegetable market, the flee ridden dogs, the cows wandering the streets, the tradesmen, the road menders, the mothers picking nits from their children's hair. All life appeared to be on display .
The photographer's shop was open and the power was on. Finally we got our visa photos. The photographer was learning English and eager to practice. He showed us his text book. It was very advanced.