Thursday, 29 April 2010
Sunday, 25 April 2010
Thursday and Friday were not quite so satisfying. The power situation in this place is enough to drive the most chilled person up the wall. Generally the power is off between the hours of 12-6pm, so yeah, the entire working day. Given that I am trying to re-do a website and upload various bits and pieces online, this is somewhat frustrating. On Thursday I basically read my book all day refusing to give in to the growing fury of failed uploads, but on Friday I could take it no more.
When midday hit and the power was cut just seconds before an upload completed, that had taken four hours, I had to take myself for a walk in case I threw all my toys out of the pram in front of my Nepali hosts, which probably wouldn't have been the best. Their day of course was largely untroubled as they sat drinking tea and reading the papers...
Still, a quiet bar with a roof-top terrace was discovered and I then had a text from a girl I was put in touch with by northern monkey Phil Deacon who is also living out here, so I joined her and a mate for a beer before getting back to work at 6pm, without killing anyone.
They “work” a six-day week here with Saturday being the only day off. Nir and I were up at 7am as we planned to visit the Monkey Temple (perhaps a subconscious tribute to my northern friends?) which is a major sight in Kathmandu but I had as yet failed to go and see it, although the top can be seen from my house.
We walked over and it was already damn hot, and as predicted the place was full of monkeys. And dogs. Wild, hairy, flea-ridden dogs, which made me a tad uneasy, especially when I saw one chasing a child probably no older than eight. Still, you get good views from up there, as I had hoped after the several hundred-step climb up, and as we strolled back down it was actually quite peaceful.
Then it was a full day with the family. During the last week I've been getting on pretty well with them all, particularly the little fella who I have recently decided looks uncannily like Kim Jong Il, especially when he puts on my glasses. He has a habit of repeating everything I say and then running around in a circle before he falls over, which is always quite entertaining. He did offend me slightly the other day when asking why I was so much larger than his DaDa, and so I politely pointed out that if he kept stuffing his face with lolly-pops he'd be much larger soon too. That told him.
Not really sure what's going to happen next week, I had a rather odd call from Aamir today saying that we may be off to Pokhara, although I have no idea how long for and I sure as hell hope he doesn't expect me to pay for any of it! I guess I'll keep you posted on that one.
In signing off I hope everyone who was stuck overseas has made it home, from what I've heard the weather in England has been unseasonably warm. It's much the same over here but with an added dose of mosquito's. I even managed to get a bite on my eyelid the other day, which left me looking a little frightening. Ah well.
Wednesday, 21 April 2010
So, a year ago it was that a group of us had a little jolly up a mountain. A hell of a lot seems to have happened since then, and I do sometimes wonder how on earth we managed it. Still, we did and it's always rather nice to look back with pride on something you did and it leaves me feeling rather misty-eyed when I think back to the day itself, how thoroughly crap a lot of us felt, and how we all grabbed a couple of beers afterwards and celebrated. Frankly, I'd do it again in a heartbeat.
Sunday, 18 April 2010
Now I know what some of you are thinking – Nepal is a landlocked country. However, they have lots of rivers and some pretty big beaches by some of them, so this is where the event was held. The intention was I would just write about it and try to get it posted on Cricinfo and Cricket World while maybe doing a bit of commentating, which I was a tad unsure about. Upon arrival however, after a rather bumpy four hour bus ride, I was informed that I would be playing for the Nepal Police Health Club, run by the previously mentioned Don.
I should mention at this point that it was hot. Unbearably hot in fact. So hot that during the weekend I went though no less than six different tops, probably a record of some sort. I was pretty grateful I had whipped off all my hair before flying out at this point, and wished I'd ditched the beard too.
The tournament five-a-side and five overs with everyone bowling and there was an inter-bank competition with eight teams, and a corporate one with six, taking place over two days with a piss up thrown in the middle. The standard of cricket was patchy at best, but it was a great laugh. Towards the end of the first day they thrust a microphone at me and demanded I commentate like Geoffrey Boycott. Unable to do that I seemed to morph into a combination of David Lloyd and Ferris Bueller, which went down rather well as it turned out, and I had a much longer stint on Saturday.
Anyway, during the two days most of the chaps were scared stiff of this girl, Nepali men being famous for their shyness around people they don't know, which was all rather amusing. What makes it even funnier is that these same guys are absolutely relentless when it comes to taking the piss out of each other and making fools out of themselves when they are around people they know, so I fitted in relatively well with my own brand of humour (stealing security guard hats and throwing a few shapes on the dance-floor).
The bus ride back today was something of a highlight as well. We left around 4:30 and I was expecting a quiet journey with my iPod, as had been the ride over, but one of the lads called Abhaya had other ideas. This guy plays occasionally for the national side (when he can get the time off work) and chose to lead the bus in song for more than half of the four-hour ride home. For those on Everest a year ago, the Milky Tea song featured heavily.
Needless to say it was insisted that I contribute, so what else could I perform other than 10cc's classic 'Dreadlock Holiday'. Clearly nobody knew the song, which isn't surprising since I sang the Drovers CC version, but they all got involved with lots of clapping and shouting in the necessary places, which was marvellous. I considered a full rendition of Bohemian Rhapsody, but felt a nine-minute epic was not quite what they were after!
As I left the bus there were rumours going around that I had made the headlines in a few local papers thanks to my performance on the pitch on Friday (the Saturday hangover meant we tumbled out in the semi-finals) and this morning I have discovered this which is quite entertaining.
On Wednesday I met up with Aamir, he of the cricket related projects, and while they have clearly stalled enormously he still believes that he will get it up and running again. We went for lunch at a “traditional” Nepali restaurant (dusty floors, no cutlery) and ate a curry, which was probably a little foolish of me but everyone else ordered one and I didn't want to be rude!
Aamir told me that he has arranged for a cricket match between some Indian celebrities and some Nepali ones to take place in about three weeks time and wants me to help out with some of the organisation. It is also part of the launch of Visit Nepal Year 2011 when the government are trying to attract a million visitors to the country. Aamir has been placed in charge of the sports side of the event, which is rather convenient for me. He then took me to the proposed site of the new stadium (he and the guys with me really took the piss when I tried to put my seatbelt on – my protests of “I want to live” and “I've seen how you guys drive” fell on deaf ears and I was the butt of all jokes for several hours).
Next we visited a particularly fancy resort called Gokarna where there is a great looking Golf Course and hotel, before heading to his mates health/social club for a considerable amount of booze and food to see in the New Year (2067 apparently – they work off a different calendar here, something to do with the birth of Bhudda). His mate, known simply as “The Don” then hooked up a big screen and projector so we could watch the IPL while sitting on the roof terrace eating and drinking. To top it off I also managed to win R1000 courtesy of a little bet with the proprietor – thank you KP.
Thursday morning I had my first ride on the back of a Nepali motorbike, while feeling a little worse for wear, and I'll leave you with the fact that all my limbs are still intact, but only just. I then had to go home and prepare myself for a weekend at the beach...
I am living with a Nepali family, of which only one of the five speaks English, so beyond saying Namaste a lot and nodding I've not really cracked the conversation, will keep at it though.
My number over here is +977 9849144720, despite the fact that I am six hours ahead of the UK sleeping has so far been kept to a mimimum thanks largely to mooing cows, which start off the barking dogs, who in turn wake the roosters.
Thankfully I am a big fan of rice, as it looks as though I am going to be eating a lot of that in the coming weeks, awesome.
OK, I guess first I should explain why on earth I am currently living in Nepal, which is harder than it sounds.
I first visited the place on Christmas Day 2008, as part of the planning for The Everest Test, which by now I am sure most of you know all about/are bored to tears with. That was when I first met guys like Nir, Bil, Sataya, Prem and Dharma. Kirt and I were only there for a week but by that stage I was already thinking about what I was going to do after we had got the expedition out of the way and living abroad had always appealed. Admittedly I was thinking more about somewhere like Sydney or Queenstown, but this was a different(all right, very different) option.
It was three months on from then that we were back for the trip itself and I got to see a totally different part of Nepal, the Himalayas themselves. You shouldn't really need me to tell you that they are awesome and I immediately wanted to return and see/do more in the region.
In the time between Christmas and April Kirt and I received many emails from a chap called Aamir Akhtar, a former international cricketer in Nepal who was educated in India and England and was very excited about what we were doing. We met him a couple of times and Team Hillary all went along to his cricket academy on the first day and taught the kids there a few things and donated a load of kit.
In the months after the expedition Aamir was in touch again asking if Kirt and I wanted to help him on his project of building a new stadium in Kathmandu. By now I had quit my job at Flight Centre and was back home writing a book on the past 18 months (which I'm sure will get mentioned again some time). He basically wanted some westerners to lend credibility and professionalism to the project and I agreed to it, so back I went to Kathmandu in September, this time for a month, to find out a little more.
On this third trip as well as planning for a new career I got to see even more of Nepal, Nir's village in the hills, the Langtang trekking region, Chitwan National Park (which is full of elephants, crocs, rhinos and even a few tigers), as well as finally visiting Pokhara, a truly beautiful town, and doing some white water rafting. Aamir and I discussed my role in his business and it was agreed that I would come out to live.
I was originally due back in January but things got delayed for a while, then a longer while and longer still until I eventually decided to write off Aamir for the time being. I had however, decided I would go to Nepal and not being one to back out of a decision I flew back on April 11th 2010.
The intention now is primarily to help Nir gain more business for his trekking company, www.peacenepaltreks.com, who took us up the mountain for the cricket and have not received the publicity or future business that we hoped it would generate. For such a wonderfully happy people all the boys I have got to know seem distinctly down in the dumps, and I really feel a little duty bound to try and help them out. How I am going to do that I don't really know, but I owe it to them to try.
So here I am, flying totally by the seat of my pants and wondering where this little jaunt will take me. I arrived on a 90-day visa with my return date booked for July 8th, however should things go according to plan I intend to stay as long as I need to in order to feel I have achieved something tangible. I hope you enjoy reading about it....and have not yet dozed off at your desk!