I’ve not commented much on anyone’s blogs, recently, as I’ve rather gone into my shell for a bit. I do this at times, I’m afraid…engagement feels difficult…
And I’m fed up with having to sit around all the time with my foot in plaster and bandages. Even reading and writing is becoming a bit boring. Probably those two things are connected.
For my previous post, I revived my spirits somewhat by taking a virtual train journey in Sri lanka, so perhaps I should try something a little more adventurous this time, and put my virtually healed foot to a bit of a virtual test.
What about a trek up to Everest base Camp, then? That’d certainly test it out. And since I’ve got all of this virtual time at my disposal, perhaps I’ll do it the hard way.
But to start with, I’ll have a few days in Kathmandu; I always feel better for that. Just walking around Thamel and browsing in the shops there, stopping occasionally for tea or a snack or a beer at the Rum Doodle, ending up with armfuls of books I didn’t really intend to buy, handmade paper to paint on, handmade notebooks with beautiful cloth covers, some wood carvings…
Luckily, this is a virtual journey, so I don’t have to carry them around with me. I’ll send them back home in a virtual package. But before I do that, I’ll just nip into this inviting looking restaurant for some lunch.
Oh, hell’s bells! Here’s Bob! ‘What on earth are you doing here, Bob?’
‘I heard you were a bit bored, so I thought I’d come along to cheer you up.’
‘Oh, that’s most, er, kind of you, Bob. Where are you staying?’
‘Kathmandu Guest House, Mick. Same place as you. In fact, I got the room next to yours.’
‘Ah. How…nice. Um, have you eaten, yet?’
‘I was just going to order. Oh, they don’t seem to have pizza here.’
‘No, they don’t. there’s a restaurant nearby where you can get one, though. Would you like me to show you where it is?’
‘No, that’s okay. Tell you what, I’ll try whatever you’re having. I’ll have the same.’
‘Really?’ Bob is probably the last person I’d describe as adventurous. I’ve never known him try anything new, and I just can’t believe he’s actually come to Nepal. I’ll ask him why once we’ve ordered some lunch. ‘I’m having the thugpa*, Bob. And a lemon and ginger tea.’
I order, still slightly shocked, then turn back to Bob.
‘What on earth brought you to Nepal, Bob?’ He looks down at the tablecloth, and seems a little embarrassed by my question.
‘Ah, there was a little, um, confusion, there.’ I wait, but he seems reluctant to continue.
‘I was planning to go to Naples. I think the travel agent must have misheard me.’ He looks up. ‘But it was great to bump into you. We’re going to have a brilliant time!’
‘So it was nothing to do with me being bored, then.’ He looks hurt.
‘Oh, it was! I just thought you’d gone to Naples, too. That’s where your wife told me you’d gone.’ My wife is, indeed, under strict instructions not to tell Bob where I am, and Naples must have been the first place she thought of.
Such is life, though. We chat a little, and the food arrives. Bob looks down at his with an expression best described as ‘disappointed’.
‘They’ve brought us soup.’
‘It’s thugpa, Bob. What we ordered.’
‘You said you’d have what I’m having,’ I say, firmly. ‘I’m having thugpa.’
‘Oh, okay.’ He watches me eat for a few moments, then asks ‘Can I have bread with it?’
‘You can ask.’
He asks. The waiter shakes his head. Bob argues. He doesn’t want rolls. He doesn’t want brown bread. The waiter disappears, and moments later a boy dashes out of the kitchen and out of the front door of the cafe. A few minutes later he is back with a small package wrapped in newspaper. He runs into the kitchen. After another minute the waiter is out again with a plate, holding two slices of white bread, a knife, and a small mountain of oily butter, which he places down in front of Bob. Then he gives Bob a look that I can only describe as ‘withering’ and returns to the kitchen.
‘See, I knew they’d have it,’ Bob says, triumphantly.
Afterwards, he suggests we go sightseeing. ‘Let’s go to Swayambunath,’ I say, ‘You’ll find that interesting, I’m sure.’
‘Oh, what’s that, is it a castle?’
‘They don’t have any castles here, Bob.’
‘None?’ Sightseeing for Bob means castles. Or gardens. ‘I’ve got my phone with me. Let me take a look.’
‘Oh, I was rather hoping you’d have left that at home.’
‘No fear! I don’t want to get lost in a strange place! Now, what was that name again?’
‘Don’t worry about that, Bob. We’ll get a taxi.’
‘Oh, great!’ His eyes seemed to light up at the thought. ‘I know all about that! You have to haggle, right? For everything. I’ll do that, Mick. leave it to me!’
Well, although I seem to be saddled with a virtual Bob, I’m not going to let that put me off. Although I am painfully aware of the potential for him to offend people left, right, and centre, and possibly cause an international incident.
I suppose we’d better find a taxi.
*thugpa is a Tibetan dish, usually a clear soup of noodles and vegetables