Dogster: Kinda Kathmandu

Jan 19th, 2010, 01:11 AM
  #41  
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‘Oh my god, I ha-a-ated trekking…’

Princess Paris Hilton lasted just four days. Altitude sickness, food poisoning, fatigue, near-death by car, sherpa and local tour company led to her subsequent delivery to the Hotel Courtyard. Dale dragged his trekking dreams and her dresses into the foyer.

‘Can I help you?’ said the owner.

‘I hope so,’ sighed Dale, ‘look at her.’

Samina was in a terrible state.

‘What do you need?’ asked the host in that soothing Nepali way.

‘A steak!’ she gasped and fell, sobbing, onto a couch.

They arrived in their Goa flip-flops and six weeks later, had neither left the compound nor bought warm clothes, socks or shoes. They woke up and stumbled down to breakfast around lunchtime, then retired to the Courtyard Home Cinema, dedicated to their task of watching every one of the giant pile of DVD’s that towered over the guests in the library. They busily watched movies all day, pausing for a late lunch in the hotel restaurant, only venturing out for dinner with the other guests, always dressed for Goa. December slid into January, the temperature fell to zero, villagers froze to death in the hills - yet still those flip-flops stayed on.

There are a thousand shops in Thamel, all selling the same knock-off North Face items, there are ten thousand pairs of gloves and socks and stupid Peruvian woolen hats all selling for a dollar just a few feet down the street.

‘Why don’t you just buy some warm clothes and throw them away?’ I asked.

‘Oh, I hate to throw clothes away,’ she said blithely.

‘She collects them instead.’

Secretly, Dale was full of rage.

‘Who carries the forty-two dresses?’ I asked.

‘He’s the man,’ she purred and stroked his arm.
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Jan 19th, 2010, 01:14 AM
  #42  
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That'll give you something to read while I fly. Since writing the above, I’ve found Rommy's website:

http://tuktukgoose.com/the-story-of-...pal-and-india/

http://tuktukgoose.com/the-visa-saga-finale/

He made it.
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Jan 19th, 2010, 04:28 AM
  #43  
 
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A very, very interesting man walked into the Hotel Courtyard; he was on a mission. It was not something monumental like to circumambulate Mt. Kailash or climb Mt. Everest or to prostrate his way to Muktinath…but it was his mission; just an idea that occurred to him after he had paid a visit to TripAdvisor looking for a hotel. This man was coming to Nepal. He had not been here in decades but the ride that he started in 1971 during a visit to Nepal had forever shaped his life. He had left Nepal years ago with his adventures (and memories?) and moved on to do bigger and better things with his life. He became a modest success in the theatre. So as he sat back happily collecting his royalties, an idea came to him. “I don’t need to work anymore so I’ll travel around the world! In fact, I’ll buy a big house, decorate it beautifully with things that I acquire in my travels and only stay there one or two months a year. Why you ask? Well because I’ll be travelling of course!” So there it was – he would travel. Again…

Back to his mission… Since he was already a proficient traveler and had visited many places, he felt it was time to return to Nepal. Perhaps it was because he was finally ready; or perhaps it was because Nepal was finally ready for him. Whichever it may be, he had visited TripAdvisor to see where he should stay. As he queried up Kathmandu hotels, who did he see ranked as No. 1? Why, non-other than the Hotel Courtyard! The Hotel Courtyard, a family run, 18 room, boutique hotel in Thamel? How could this be? How could they garner so many positive reviews and gushing guests? Well…he decided that this was to be his mission in Kathmandu. Was the Hotel Courtyard for real? Or, was there something fishy going on? He was the man for this mission and he would find out. But honestly, did he really know what he was in for?
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Jan 19th, 2010, 04:40 AM
  #44  
 
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Dr Who or The Who as in the music group from the 70s? Dogster in the theatre business? An actor or a playwriter?
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Jan 19th, 2010, 05:32 AM
  #45  
 
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Interesting... Is dogster getting ready to out himself for those who haven't figured it out yet, or is one of his fellow Courtyard guests cooking sauce for the gander? I think I'd be rather nervous about staying in the same hotel.
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Jan 19th, 2010, 05:44 AM
  #46  
 
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OK now i am confused!
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Jan 19th, 2010, 05:54 AM
  #47  
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I think 'The Who' as in the co-owner of the Hotel Courtyard! lol lol lol. I knew you'd appear, Michelle.

A few of her facts are a bit skew-whiff - but no matter, I reckon the right of reply is allowed - welcomed, in fact. Once I was sprung I knew there'd be a price to pay. lol lol lol. Fair 'nuff. We are all graced with such a clever response.

Actually my only mission was to smoke as much charas as I possibly could. Detective Dogster was a disguise.

I've been to Nepal half-a-dozen times in the last five years, but sometimes it seems like I'm still in the Inn Eden, lost in my hashish grilled cheese slices. What happened to that young man? What happened to those grilled-cheese-slicey dreams? What made him into the grizzled, pathetic old mongrel who appears in Fodors?

It's a dog's life.

A 'modest success'? I've never been a modest success at anything. I can't chew gum and walk at the same time. Theatre? Show-biz? lol. I don't anything about the theatre - only the constant spectacle of the Hotel Courtyard. That's all the performance I need. What a show!

I'm in Bangkok now.

I'll finish this first Kathmandu episode soon. I know it doesn't remotely resemble a proper trip report - but, if you stop to think about it, it's a report of what happened on my trip, so... lol. In the second epistle, if we get to that, there may even be a little bit of sight-seeing.
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Jan 19th, 2010, 05:56 AM
  #48  
 
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Dogster wrote: [There'll be a secret lurker looking in, too. The management of Hotel Courtyard worked out I was the fabulous dogster within hours of my arrival - so much for anonymity.]
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Jan 19th, 2010, 07:17 AM
  #49  
 
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And I thought that you are some kind of stage actor like the Phantom from the Phantom of the Opera(Michael Crawford of course)
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Jan 19th, 2010, 07:22 AM
  #50  
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Now that the Courtyard Cat is out of the bag, in case we get diverted - here's the last part of the first part.
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Jan 19th, 2010, 07:22 AM
  #51  
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January in Kathmandu is bitterly cold. Only the vampire prickles of Thamel bother with the tourists, rearing out of the damp like half-dead wraiths; hooded, shriveled, petrol-sniffing children; junkie youths hissing ‘smoke?’ ‘we-e-e-eed?’ ‘what you want?’, incanting the same carnivorous Om-m-m-m to indulgence as their long-dead, frozen forefathers did forty years ago.

January days are crisp, warm and clear. There’s a window of opportunity during the daylight hours. All fine, provided you wake up before 1.00 p.m., something Dogster consistently failed to do for the entire time he was there. He slept like a dead log, encased in a burrow of squash-you-flat doonas, suddenly in winter hibernation.

My window of opportunity became rather small. Dogster never made it out of the hotel before two - by five p.m. it’s damn cold and when the last rays of the sun disappear the temperature plummets; by six it’s bitter, by seven I’m either somewhere warm or dead.

Better eat dinner early. Even on a weekend the restaurants in Thamel are shuttered by ten, the streets empty by ten-fifteen, just the last drunk tourist shouting their last drunk goodbyes. By ten-thirty Thamel is virtually deserted, only glue babies left shivering in the dark.
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Jan 19th, 2010, 07:23 AM
  #52  
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Even in arctic January, rust never sleeps in Nepal.

[b-awN-dh] adj.:
Bandh, also a Nepali word meaning 'closed', is a form of protest. While often means the closing down of markets of a city for the day, but there have been instances of the entire nation coming to a standstill.

Don’t make a stand in a bandh - you’ll get your nose chopped off.

http://www.myrepublica.com/portal/pr...?news_id=13863
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Jan 19th, 2010, 07:26 AM
  #53  
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BANDH DISRUPTS LIFE IN KATHMANDU

‘…In Nepal, normal life remained disrupted in Kathmandu valley today following a day-long bandh called by Rashtriya Janmorcha protesting against federalism. Major shops and business establishments remained closed and public transport were off the roads, affecting road communication between Kathmandu valley and other parts of the country. Cadres of RJN vandalised half a dozen vehicles including taxis, motorbikes and buses in Bhaktapur, Chabahil and Gongabu, New Bus Park and Putalisadak for defying the bandh call. Police have made tight security arrangements to maintain law and order…’.

Kathmandu Jan 10
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Jan 19th, 2010, 07:32 AM
  #54  
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As bandhs go, Sunday’s was very calm. Somehow, I missed the cadres of RJN youth vandalizing cars. The media certainly didn’t – you’d think the whole of Nepal was ablaze. Quite the reverse – except for the missing nose, it was all rather dull.

You can always tell when there’s a bandh, you wake up late to something missing; the hum, that buzz of business – all gone. Look out the window - nobody. Information for a non-Nepali speaking tourist? None.

You can always check your diary:
www.nepalbandh.com
which will tell you what happened yesterday.

Actually, nobody wants to tell you that you’re stuffed - because if you want to go anywhere, you are. A pre-dawn dash out of the capital has been known to work; backpackers recently reported colorful scenes hiking overland through the deserted streets to the airport - the wise tourist just changes plans, gives up and moves to Thamel.

Thamel has an invisible cordon around it, rarely broken even at the worst of times. Even an enraged Nepali Maoist knows not to bite the hand that indirectly feeds him – be it criminal or tourist. Layers of Nepali sub-Mafia run Thamel – no matter what the politics, business will out. In a way, it’s probably the best place to be in a bandh.
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Jan 19th, 2010, 07:42 AM
  #55  
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There was a small green sign on a large blue bus parked on the edge of Thamel. It read:

TOURST SUTTELE BUS
ONLY for TOURIST

Then it said the same thing again, hopefully in Nepali.

The 'suttele' bus was straining with locals, intent on a lift out of town. How real tourists suttele to the airport during a bandh remains a mystery. There is no transport. Cycle rickshaws work in the Thamel area with trepidation, motorbikes zoom through, a rare, rare taxi cruises by – but that’s all. The shops are shuttered, every door, every window – not a chai, not a coffee, not a scrambled egg to be had. Some find it refreshing. I was hungry.

Generally, bandhs are most ferocious in the morning when the RJN cadres are fresh, enthusiastic, all primed to beat the bejeezus out of any errant shopkeeper, any greedy taxi-driver they see. They get a bit tired by mid-afternoon.

Everybody else just stands around, waiting for something to happen. I saw many bored policemen; they are just sick of it - a bandh is a bandh is a bandh in Kathmandu. As the day wears on the marauding cadres get too tired or drunk to continue, the shutters slither open, renegade chai appears in the street; by three p.m. you can buy bananas or hashish, by four a sticky bun. The Latest, Greatest Bandh of Kathmandu passed with barely a whimper.

It was a dangerous silence, just the same.
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Jan 19th, 2010, 07:51 AM
  #56  
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Aunty Esme’s hair carried her across the courtyard. Two men laden with boxes followed. She’d slept in a warm bed for two nights with a heater and a television that worked, talked in English with strangers, bathed in a hot shower; Esme had even been to the Charm Beauty Parlour [Ladies Only] – she was glowing. Her hair was clean for the first time in four months and had taken on a life of its own. It swept out either side of her face like two grey wings ready to lift her back to the lonely place on the border that starts with a ‘B’.

She stopped for a moment, stared at me with those crinkled, gentle eyes and sighed.

‘Oh well,’ she said wistfully, ‘back to the real world…’
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Jan 19th, 2010, 07:55 AM
  #57  
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Me too.

The multiple characters of the hotel were so gripping I had to force my own way out the door. I was living in an endless Andy Warhol movie with no plot, set nowhere, achieving nothing; engrossed in the Big Brother house with a rotating cast of Fabulous Nobodies – including, most definitely, me.

The Courtyard Cabaret will never close; the show will run forever. For the Diva Dog, it was time to go. I'd had my time on the slippery silver stage. It’s always best to leave before you’re voted out.
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Jan 19th, 2010, 08:02 AM
  #58  
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Done. More in a few days if you want it.
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Jan 19th, 2010, 08:32 AM
  #59  
 
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YES PLEASE BRAVOOOOOOOOOOOOOOO!
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Jan 19th, 2010, 08:35 AM
  #60  
 
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Man, Dogster...you sure can write! If you are not a professional writer already...you should be! Despite sounding at times like you are sampling something strange your descriptions of people are sheer poetry! Impressive report.
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