Monday 31st August
Raining again. Our last full day in Nepal. Time for a last look around the town; a last opportunity for souvenirs and photographs. I bought a couple of rice paper notebooks for my dairy. I'll write it up from these notes when I get home (I didn't, this is the first transcript after 25 years!!!!).
Still fascinated by the daily life. Wandering around more back streets I saw animals "waiting" outside the grimy butchers' shops. Did they know what was in store for them, they must be able to smell the blood and carcasses. Apparently the meat keeps only a few hours after it is slaughtered. Someone told me that any left at the end of the day is thrown away. That probably explains the many dogs; it must be a feast for them.
I have never seen anywhere else with so many dogs. Fierce dogs too. At first they alarmed me; the growling, snarling, fighting, teeth; but then I realised they fought only each other or anyone foolish enough to get in the way.
Dog with bicycle
Ben stopped to sketch a buffalo in a muddy lane. The streets, apart from the few paved squares, were now almost ankle deep in mud; there had been a lot of rain. Still overcast it was too dark for my slow film. Not wanting to stand idly by while Ben sketched, Jane and I went off to buy toilet rolls and shampoo, not quite so boring as it sounds. We also bought throat pastilles to fend of developing sore throats, which although unpleasant were not enough to stop us eating large pieces of apple strudel and downing large mugs of hot chocolate. Our daily visits to the "pie shops" had been a pleasure. These shops, although often drab and dingy looking from the outside with the mesh covered windows and low doorways, offered wonderful selections of cakes, pies and tarts, as well as, in many cases, less innocent produce. Many of the customers were western students and many were either trying to buy or sell drugs.
By early afternoon the rain had stopped and the sun was winning in its struggle to shining through once again. Enough light for a few more street scene photographs.
Heavy work transporting crates - pushing by hand
We walked towards the Monkey Temple to a shop where Jane had seen a coat she liked. She thought, at Rs140/- it was cheap enough for her to afford but she had been told the "wrong" price and she couldn't afford the Rs250/- they were now asking. Undeterred she and Ben began to haggle and eventually bought it for Rs220/-, I think a possible victory for the storekeeper.
As we were leaving the store, Jane's camera fell out of her bag and smashed to the floor. The sunlight filter was smashed and dented so that we could not remove it. Jane panicked. She was doing a photography degree and the pictures she was taking were part of her coursework. We headed back towards the town centre looking for something that might help. We found a workshop where the owner had a collection of tools including vices and pliers. We asked if we could use his tools to try to mend the camera, but we couldn't make ourselves understood. We showed him the camera and pointed to his tools, miming . He understood. We used the pliers to straighten the bent rim of the filter and with a little effort managed to remove the broken pieces. The camera itself looked OK.
Jane and Ben must have discovered they had more money as they went off to buy a pullover. I went to a book shop. All the books were many hands old and originated from all over the world. I wondered about the travelers who had sold them to the shop owner, I wondered how much he had paid. He was charging prices higher than the original book price, but then each of these books, if they could speak, could probably have told many more stories than the one contained in their printed words. I bought "Suffer, Little Children" by Greenaway.
For tea we had enormous American style pizzas and then went for a final visit to a pie shop for pie and coffee. Our last evening in Kathmandu was drawing to a close. We returned to our hotel to pack, the electricity failed and we packed by candle light. The manager came to chat. he wanted to know about England. I think he thought it is paradise!