Tuesday, 22 June 2010

Double Homicide and Holy Vegetables

Something unusual happened on my walk home yesterday. When you go from Thamel to my house you go through a hectic intersection called Paknajol and then down a short road before turning right down a sharp slope that leads to the main road and into Naya Bazaar.

About halfway down the slope there is a water collection point. It is probably about 4x3 metres and there is invariably at least one person either getting water for home or having a wash. It was this area that is the focus of yesterday’s episode.

I was wandering down the slope, daydreaming as I often do, when I noticed a large group of people gathered around it and a woman walking in my direction. I vaguely heard somebody shout something from behind me but took little notice of it, until the woman replied. The words that came out of her mouth were: “shooting, shooting.”

As you can imagine, this caught me a little off guard. There were no police around and I was about five seconds away from walking into a murder scene. What the hell was I going to do? My mind was fairly blank and as I approached the spot morbid curiosity took over and I could not help but glance in. I saw another woman standing there, not looking too upset which seemed odd, but couldn’t see the bottom. Then I glanced left.

Standing among the crowd was a bloke with a rather large camera who I can only assume was “shooting, shooting” a movie of some kind. I smirked and reminded myself that this is Kathmandu not Kosovo before continuing home

On Friday night there was a murder of a different kind, the mysterious type. All week I had been mildly stressed out about what sort of fancy dress I could find and being that my character was some French poet I had the intention of shaving my beard into a dirty little moustache and creating some kind of stupid hat. However, I lost my temper with the beard earlier in the week and hacked it off completely, so I was relieved when I went to Dan’s house beforehand and saw that his girlfriend has already drawn a massive handlebar on his face and for some reason made his eyebrows enormous. The little twirly effort that was then drawn on me was quite a delight.

I had bought some red trousers and borrowed an ill-fitting blue shirt from Dan and fashioned a beret out of a white plastic bag and some gaffer tape (Blue Peter awaits) with the idea of being decked out in red, white and blue. The coup de grace was to be provided by a French flag attached to my shoulders with hair clips. The flag itself had been obtained after some extremely lengthy discussions with a bar owner who had one hanging outside for the World Cup and I had to convince him to let me have it. At the end of the evening I was left mortified when host Vikki asked me why I had an Italian flag on my back and argued that it was green and not blue. It’s f*+king blue dammit! I was really rather upset! A picture of said flag is below, you decide.

The evening however was suitably ridiculous and there was a good mix of people I’d met before and new folks (one of which has previously written episodes of Sesame Street and is now helping write the new Constitution for Nepal – rumours that it will include a musical alphabet are as yet unconfirmed) and everyone had a good laugh despite the standard power cuts and generally stifling heat. Afterwards I watched that disastrous game of football in my strangest venue yet – with about 70 other Nepali’s with the picture being projected from the other side of the road, over a wall and onto the side of a temple. Dan left at halftime so I was on my own for the last 45 minutes and all in all it was pretty strange.

Finally, every morning I am awoken by a variety of noises, one of which is a strange chanting type sound from a woman outside my window. She repeats a single word over and over and for two months now I have been wondering what it was. At first I thought she was calling someone’s name, but soon decided it wasn’t that, then just figured she was praying.

I had been meaning to ask Nir about it but by the time I actually crawled out of bed my mind was usually on other things, but I finally got round to it yesterday and discovered that she is in fact a lady from outside of Kathmandu who come to down every morning to sell her products. Vegetables. She walks up and down the road at 7am simply shouting the word vegetables over and over again. I have now nicknamed her the Vegetable Nun, purely for my own amusement.

Two weeks to go.

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