The arrival of Ste

Kathmandu Travel Blog

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The bus ride back from Pokhara is just as beautiful as the ride there, though not as dramatic. No storm this time, just the view of the hills from the minibus roof and the most beautiful golden sunset. The clouds hang low and fluffy and turn the most surreal shades of pink in the fading light, like enormous balls of candifloss in the sky. We lie on our backs on the roofrack and sing - "picture yourself on a bus by a river, with tangerine trees and marmalade skies..."

We get back into Thamel about 9pm and head to Thirdpole Guest House. We're in luck - the room next to Charlie's on the roof terrace is still free. Except Charlie is now in Chris's old room, and it's Charlie's old room that is free. The staff assure us that Charlie is still there, he just decided to move. We inquire why. "He wanted to", apparently. It's not until we've moved in that we realise our water supply is bright orange. Mystery solved. But hey, we're budget travellers, we've suffered worse than a little orange water. And for me, orange water is a small price to pay for the great view and the great vibe from this place.

We dump our bags and head out for some proper nightlife. We meet up with Alison's friends Liz and Raju and go to OR2K for a drink with them. Shaun and some others are there as well, and I end up having a really interesting conversation with them about the origins of the Arian race. Apparently the Germans and North Indians all originated from the same place, somewhere around the Ural mountains, but some moved west into Europe, some east into Asia. This supposedly explains all sorts of things, like the similarities between Sanskrit and German, (not speaking either I had no idea that there were similarities between them but apparently there are), the use of the swastika symbol, the fact that a suprising number of north Indians and Nepalis have blue eyes, the fact that the Tamils in south India have a completely different language and look completely different from the north Indians... I get quite excited about the idea.

But this is Friday night, and no time for intensive history lessons, so after a while we move on to Funky Buddha. It feels fucking good to dance to trance music again. Silke is there, and Sagun, Ouppa... all the old crowd. I'm surprised to find myself really happy to be back in Thamel. It may have its dark side, but if the people are good, that's surely what counts. When the trance finishes, we move on to Electric Pagoda, a new place just opened. The music's not as good and it's not as lively, but it's a cool place - definite potential there. Kishan's there and we sit in the garden smoking and catching up for a couple of hours before going inside to dance. Yes, it is strangely good to be back.

We're up early the next morning as Alison needs to go to the airport and pick up Ste. This is her ex-boyfriend and future member of the British police force. Why he is coming I have no fucking idea. I kill time waiting for them by drawing a large picture of a saddhu smoking a chillum, blowing out clouds of psycadelic patterned smoke. The guy might as well know what we're like from day one.

They're back about 11 and I finally get to meet him. He seems like a nice enough guy, if a little bland. We go to a cute little garden restaurant and he sits in almost total silence while me and Alison try and convince him of the magic of Nepal. But I suppose with a combination of jetlag, culture shock and heartbreak I can hardly expect the poor guy to be the life and soul of the party.

We head back to Thirdpole after breakfast and find Charlie finally up. I'm really happy to see him again, especially as he seems a lot more chilled than usual. Still mad as a fucking badger, but definitely less highly strung. Not once does he tell any of us to fuck off and die, and he even says he missed us while we were gone. I am strangely touched.

Alison and Ste, both having both been awake all night, go for an afternoon nap, so Charlie and I decide to celebrate our return with another of our rooftop vodka drinking sessions. We drag the Tree of Sound out, blast psytrance, and work our way through a whole bottle of vodka and another load of ridiculous stories. I thought I had a good collection, but as always mine are nothing compared to Charlie's. He tells me how he worked on the docks in Canada when he was a teenager and ended up being roped into helping a Lebanese sheikh import and distribute large quantities of hash, before finding out that the money he was helping to make was going towards buying arms for the war on Israel. If it was anyone but Charlie, I wouldn't believe it. But it is Charlie. His life is one great catalogue of madness where absolutely anything is possible. He tells me story after story until I can't breathe from laughing so hard.

Later, Kishan shows up, and we decide it's time for another bottle of vodka. We drink and laugh and dance around the rooftop for hours. 

In the evening, when Alison and Ste are up, Kishan takes us to one of the only genuine Nepali places in Thamel - a dark little shack where you can get cheap daal bhaat and roxy for 10 rupees a glass. Roxy is the lethal Nepali local alcohol, which is distilled from rice and tastes like a cross between sherry and paint stripper. After a couple of glasses of that, on top of the two bottles of vodka, I can barely see. Somehow, we end up in Tongues and Tales. I see the people I met in De La Soul before we went up to Kodari and try to talk to them for a bit, but I'm not sure if I make much sense. And I try to dance but my legs aren't quite working in the normal way. Alison and Ste leave at about 12, so I chat to Kishan and Silke, which is easier as they're pretty trashed themselves, so at least are roughly on my level. Then I pass out on a sofa. At 2 we're getting kicked out and people try to persuade me to go to 1905, but I am exhausted and desperately need to get to bed. It's all I can do just to drag myself up the 5 bloody flights of stairs to our room. Damn alcohol.

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Kathmandu
photo by: sharonburgher