Dogster: Kinda Kathmandu

Jan 18th, 2010, 07:30 AM
Join Date: Apr 2007
Posts: 1,110
I was getting worried about you --- glad you're back

MP pisses in the sink, too. How does this marriage survive?
indianapearl is offline  
Jan 18th, 2010, 07:36 AM
Join Date: Oct 2004
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I'm enjoying reading and looking forward to more...
dreaming is offline  
Jan 18th, 2010, 07:47 AM
Join Date: Jan 2003
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I don't think I have to tell you that I am following along here and waiting for the next installment...
Craig is offline  
Jan 18th, 2010, 08:02 AM
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Oh, good! I've been awaiting your report from Kathmandu. You've opted for a different group of fellow travelers this time.
Kathie is offline  
Jan 18th, 2010, 08:12 AM
Join Date: Feb 2006
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Wow, I go off to grocery shop, and look what I find when I get home! At least you should have had plenty of amusement during the strike. And for some places tripadvisor is totally a snare and a delusion - Marrakesh for instance...
thursdaysd is offline  
Jan 18th, 2010, 10:17 AM
Join Date: Apr 2005
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LOVING the report, cant wait to hear more.
Dear Doggy if you are back in BKK between 21st-23rd of Feb i would LOVE to catch up with you, if you could bear it? (can we tempt you to join our GTG on the 23rd... small select crowd!)
Smeagol is offline  
Jan 18th, 2010, 10:37 AM
Join Date: Aug 2003
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Ah yes, the Courtyard. We liked it there, but also experienced the bitter cold and lack of power when we were there. I guess they haven't yet been able to procure a generator for the place. Otherwise, it seemed kinda fun. Where are you now dogster? Back in India yet?
travelaw is offline  
Jan 18th, 2010, 04:22 PM
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Better get this to the top or he won't write anymore...
Marija is offline  
Jan 18th, 2010, 08:06 PM
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where is he?? broke the plate glass window and is being treated on the 3rd floor in the operating room manned by the woman with the wild hair??
rhkkmk is offline  
Jan 18th, 2010, 08:15 PM
Join Date: Jan 2003
Posts: 6,630
Dogster, dear dogster? Are you coming back? Your readers (some of whom are currently spending time at candle-burning-at-both-ends jobs in order to get back on the streets...of Oz, in my case) anxiously await their vicarious escape.
Amy is online now  
Jan 18th, 2010, 11:55 PM
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It’s difficult to imagine Dogster having a youth, a time where he was not wise and perfect - but there was once a brief moment when he did not know it all.

In December 1971, to his utter confusion, Dog found himself in Kathmandu, barely twenty-one years old. He was a lost puppy deep on the hippy trail – of course, he behaved accordingly.
dogster is offline  
Jan 18th, 2010, 11:56 PM
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The Inn Eden was painted blood red. Outside, just by the door was a reassuring sign: HOME MADE BROWN BREAD.

Over the window, printed in large red letters on a blue background, were these words: INN EDEN HOTEL. Each letter had white edging, as if it had recently snowed. Below this a darker blue sign: HASHISH GANJA SHOP 1st FLOOR, above the door a long thin sign, white letters on blue: EDEN HASHISH CENTRE. Just in case you couldn’t read, each word was separated by little painted chillums.

Little Dog had found what he was looking for.

Once inside he had an immediate choice; stumble up the stairs to the Hashish Emporium or take a left into the Coffee Shop, a dungeon with wooden benches and what appeared to be a pig-run under the stairs.

Wee Doggie took a left, eased himself into a cubicle and ordered the hashish grilled cheese slices.

He woke up nearly forty years later and stumbled outside. Things had changed.
dogster is offline  
Jan 18th, 2010, 11:58 PM
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‘…The Eden Hashish Centre was the largest of several legal storefronts in Kathmandu that provided quality hash and grass to the tourists. Mr. Sharma, the owner, opened two shops. The original location was at 5/1 Basantpur in the famous "Freak Street" hippy district, a location that ironically now is occupied by a bank. The second shop was located at 5/259 Ombahal, said to be in the Thamel area.

In late 1973, soon after the second Eden hash shop opened, threats of the loss of foreign aid from the American administration of Richard Nixon forced Nepal to outlaw hashish and marijuana. The two Eden Hashish Centres, the Central Hashish Centre and the others closed their doors and the pot and hashish business moved underground…’

Business shifted to some empty fields, mid-way on a bicycle ride between Durbar Square and the Monkey Temple. They called the area Thamel.
dogster is offline  
Jan 18th, 2010, 11:59 PM
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There are only three kinds of people in Thamel – travelers, dumb tourists and those who make their living from the first two. Don’t look any further – that’s it. It’s a backpacker crap-hole and getting worse – but we’d better take it seriously; for way too many travelers, Thamel is Kathmandu.

Thamel is a construct, built up around the backpacker brigade during the late-seventies and eighties to service their every need; cheap hotels, fresh coffee, donuts and German cakes, spaghetti and hamburgers, draught beer and easy, underground dope, just like Goa. The tourists created Thamel - now Thamel creates the tourists.

Things have been horribly out of control ever since; building piled upon building, burrowing, arching, searching for that elusive door to the street, all boasting a haphazard kamikaze of signage overgrowing alleys in a last desperate attempt to be noticed. In season the streets are chock-a-block - somebody’s making money. Every building is a shop; every doorway leads to a restaurant, a bar, a massage parlor, a barber, a jeweler and fake Adidas shoes. There’s more - mystery doors into mystery places filled with ‘cool Nepali dudes’ trading whispers with craggy trekkers; a thriving sex industry; hustlers galore.

In a perverse way I quite like the place; it’s precisely what you want Kathmandu to be – a little bit of Bali, the tang of Amsterdam, a strangled Nepali Marrakech overlaid with sweet Tibet. Thamel is no more ‘real’ Kathmandu than I am. It’s a distorted snapshot of what somebody once thought Kathmandu should be - long after it wasn’t.

And it’s all Richard Nixon’s fault.
dogster is offline  
Jan 19th, 2010, 12:38 AM
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More later.

Those interested in a glimpse of the Inn Eden culture might like to click here:

I'm off to Bangkok, suitcases full of Tibetocrap, including two eight foot trumpets. Mercifully, they fold.
dogster is offline  
Jan 19th, 2010, 12:46 AM
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I'm here and enjoying too!
MaryW is offline  
Jan 19th, 2010, 01:06 AM
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Ahh.. the lost dog is coming home! You're in for good weather here mate.
Hanuman is offline  
Jan 19th, 2010, 01:08 AM
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Dale was dressed in a T-shirt and beanie with a delicate golden pair of women’s flip-flops dangling from his big New Zilland toes.

‘Forty-two dresses,’ he said, jerking his head at the woman beside him, ‘she’s bought forty-two dresses - all like that…’

She sat with her breasts tied up in Rajasthani bundles of beads held up by a shoelace round her neck. Her shoulders were bare, her back naked right down to the small. Her feet were graced with a lattice of string and the merest slither of leather. Samina was a stunning Pakistani/Bangladeshi/Aussie creature with olive skin and black Bollywood eyes. Her neck reached out like a tortoise, framed in flashing long dark hair.

‘I like to be a woman,’ she purred, ‘I like girly things…’

Just one problem with this idyllic scene - it was the dead of a Nepali winter. They were surrounded by a table-full of tourists in hats, scarves, overcoats, stupid Nepali ear hats with bobbles on top, gloves and running noses, hot breath steaming out in clouds around them. We were huddled around a table over a candle, waiting till the power came back on.
dogster is offline  
Jan 19th, 2010, 01:09 AM
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‘We’ve been traveling for five months,’ Samina said gorgeously, ‘India-a-ahh… Nepaw-w-w-w-ll…’

Dale the dress-adder was stony-faced.

‘We went to Goa,’ he said dryly, ‘flew in direct - never left. Three months.’

In my youth, the verb ‘to party’ had not yet been coined - having fun was something you did accidentally on the way to work. Dale and Samina gave new meaning to a new verb, perfect Goa-fodder; young, gorgeous and wonderfully dumb. Three months went by in a snap.

‘Well, we were in New Delhi!’ she protested.

Eventually, lugging her forty-two dresses, they left Goa and caught the overnight train to Delhi. After three months on the sub-continent spent partying in a charmless tourist enclave, it was their first actual exposure to India.

‘We walked straight into it,’ Dale mumbled.

She’d imploded, burst into tears amid a welter of vexatious taxi drivers, gleeful porters, beggars, pickpockets and all the other low-life who love a scene, then folded loudly into a neat, limp, Princess heap in the arms of big Dale from New Zild who had no idea what to do either.

‘Oh my god, I ha-a-ated India,’ she gushed, ‘we were stuck in Delhi Railway Station for four hours, oh my god, those people surrounding us, screaming at me…’

‘Does she cry a lot?’ I asked, not very innocently.

She didn’t stop weeping till they and the forty-two dresses got to Nepal. On arrival, in a fit of madness, the intrepid couple and her wardrobe went trekking in flip-flops.
dogster is offline  
Jan 19th, 2010, 01:10 AM
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The Tuk-tuk Goose was from Egypt, in the prime of his energetic thirtieth year.

Rommy arrived in Delhi two weeks ago, transited to Kathmandu at that unfamiliar airport in a suitably reasonable period of time, pausing only to be directed out through immigration where his single-entry visa was stamped, then ushered back in through a different immigration to check onwards to Nepal. He didn’t know why, either, but he was. His single entry visa was used up in a two hour lay-over.

Not that he noticed. His great enthusiasm of the moment was some epic idiocy involving a tuk-tuk, eighty other idiots and a race from Pokhara to Cochin. So he and his team located each other, their tuk-tuk, their fellow racers and the whole traveling madness, prepared, stumbled to the starting line, drove across razorback ridges from Kathmandu all the way, overnight on hell roads, then overnight again into Sunauli, the exit point at the foot of the mountains, where Nepal bleeds into India.

He and his companions cruised up to immigration waving their tuk-tuks, madness and visas. Rommy was stamped out of Nepal and crossed no-man’s land to the Indian side where he learnt, in the middle of a tuk-tuk race, that a single–entry visa is just that. He had no visa, no options and that was that.

Enraged, in a fit of madness, he leapt into the tuk-tuk and tried to run the border. He was jumped on by five Indian police, arrested, talked down, eventually make friends with the border cops, was scolded and turned back, un-shot, to make his lonely way all the way back to Kathmandu. As he’d been arrested on the border he was in Nepal illegally so first he had to wait and, after a groveling letter of apology to everybody, apply for a Nepali visa.

Then he could get an Indian visa.

Then he could get a flight. He just wasn’t quite sure where.

All this time his tuk-tuk buddies were heading down, down, ever onwards into India – linked only by technology. He was aiming for a moving tuk-tuk target when I last saw him. I hope he hit dead centre. If there was a more determined man in Kathmandu, I didn’t meet him.
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