Thursday, February 22, 2007

Birthday Wishes

How do you celebrate 31 years of life, love and fun in one day?
By living every day, enjoying every day and celebrating every day on your one "special" day.

Well at least that's what I did anyway.

The kids greeted me in their usual boisterous manner when I went into their rooms to say "Good Morning". Some shyly offering me their birthday cards, others thrusting them into my hands and running away giggling, but all of them wishing me "Happy Birthday" and receiving their hug and kiss in return. I mean how cool is that? Before 7am in the morning, 29 laughing, smiling kids wishing you a happy birthday and some breaking into song as well. Kids rock man!

After the kids left for school, I had my birthday dhal bat with didi (the older lady who cooks and helps round the orphanage) and Prakash (the manager) in the sun and enjoying the quiet.
It was a beautiful morning and once in Thamel, after a hot shower, myself and Anna headed out to find some new bars to venture into in the evening. We had no plan, we were just strolling. So we strolled into a book shop that had hidden depths. At the back of Pilgrim's, behind the books, was (is) a restaurant and a whole lot of Nepali crafty things. But don't you hate it when the interesting things are on the lower shelves and you have to stoop to get to them? Not this Maori. Stooping be damned! I (we) plonked ourselves on the floor in front of said shelves and took off anything that took our fancy. And when this involved buckets of jewellery being tipped on the floor, the staff seemed to get a bit nervous. Turned out tho' that the interesting stuff wasn't really that interesting so we moved on. The "mood" music inspired us. So we danced our way around the shop. Again the staff seemed uncertain about what to do. In the end they opted for the best defence- to laugh at the foreigners. Funnily enough the other foreigners in the shop behaved as if we weren't there. Sigh.

After purchasing two garish felt rings (one for Anna, one for me) we headed back into the bustling metropolis to resume our search. And we were justly rewarded. Huzzah! We found a garden bar down a little alleyway that had cheap beer and a good pozzie to enjoy the waning sun. We enjoyed our beer and the music (which again inspired dancing, much to the amusement of the staff and fellow patrons) and congratulated ourselves on a job well done.

Dancing was to be the theme of the evening. We went back to the same garden bar for dinner with the rest of the crew, then headed to a less frequented establishment on the main strip. We commandeered the raised seated platform, and again inspired by the (this time cheesy) music, all seven of us broke into dance. It was a short lived moment of revelry . The management complaining that our combined weight dancing in an energetic manner on his floor would break it. He asked us to stop. We didn't. He turned down the music. We complained, as did other patrons. But we couldn't be bothered with the hoha, so we buggered off. And into another "chill-out" bar, (cushions on the floor, short tables etc.) where I was shouted some very strong cocktails and we danced some more. With all the dancing fueled by very little alcohol, it was unanimously decided we should head to the local club and I should receive a lap dance from everyone present. Fate, however, had a different plan. She wanted to keep my birthday PG rated, and had the club closed early due to some poor bastard getting shot. So we headed back to the previous bar where we met some Nepali chaps who insisted we help them polish off their fourth bottle of Vodka for the evening, then wandered home past the sandwich shop, had our sammies in the courtyard of the hotel where we got yelled out by a guest who we woke up, had a night cap beer and wandered off to bed.

A relaxing end to a fantastic day. Begin as you mean to go on huh? Love on ya.

Monday, February 19, 2007

An excuse to smoke pot

Shivaratri. It's a Hindu festival. There's a visit to the temple, there's special food, there's dancing, there's fire and there's weed. Its the only day of the year when smoking "electric puha" is legal in Nepal. I mean its readily available on any given day but not necessarily "legal" to indulge.

Before the youngsters toddled off to bed we shared a fire and some kheer (Nepali rice pudding), and some sugar cane with them. The sugar cane was heated in the fire for awhile, and then slammed into the ground making a noise not unlike that of an exploding fire cracker. Once "exploded" the kids were rushing up and grabbing at the still hot and sweet treat. I didn't think much of it myself but apparently it was wonderful!

Living with 29 kids can make indulging in the herbal side of this festival difficult, but as luck would have it, we had "load-shedding" (a set time for a blackout) that night, so after the little blighters were off to bed, we snuck away with some locals and had a bit of fun.
The fun did not only include the herbal indulgence. Some locals preferring a local beverage. But all willing and eager for a bit of a boogie, Nepali style, around a fire. It was a good laugh and a helluva lot of fun.

Sunday, February 18, 2007

Flight of the Bumblebee

A funked up version that is. In a teeny tiny van that is doubling as a people mover.

Picture it would ya...

A van the size of those little Suzuki things that flip when you sneeze too hard next to them, filled with a haphazard crew of passengers. Sardines. Human ones. Packed into a disposable moving object. With what sounds like a funked up Nepali version of "Flight of the Bumblebee" playing over the speakers. I would like to say "deck" or "radio" but maybe that's being overly generous. Hurtling (no embellishment here) towards our destination, weaving in and out of bigger disposable moving objects also carrying people and or inanimate objects. A constant sing-song from the open door as the young conductor is yelling his stops at people on the side of the road. The occasional whistle or a frantic banging which is his signal to the driver to stop. However, I still haven't figured out when he's whistling to stop or just vocalizing his admiration for a female passer-by. Its a credit to his vocal chords I tell ya. I've only been on one "bus" where the conductor who looked like he was 12 started out with a high voice, and ended up with something a baritone would be proud to own.

This day tho' it wasn't the conductor who brought everything to a halt- it was the driver. He interrupted his hurtling to bring us to a screeching halt to pay a social visit to some chicky on the side of the road. We were sat there for bout ten minutes while he (I imagine) tried to charm this lucky lady. Fair dues to the passengers, no one got mad or yelled or sighed or gave any indication that they were miffed. Me, I thought it was bloody hilarious! And couldn't stop giggling to myself.

Ah. Nay-pal.