Sean On Leave

Changing the World…One Vacation At A Time.

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Guilty Pleasures in Kathmandu

July 24th, 2007 by Sean

I’ve been quite busy since I’ve arrived in Kathmandu – and the rest of this week looks to be just as busy or busier. However, I have been enjoying myself every step of the way. I’m very happy I’ve had a chance for a little bit of sightseeing and just being out and about in Kathmandu is an adventure everyday. Adjusting to life in Nepal has had some challenges, but I’m coping very well.

But more than just coping, I must admit to a few guilty pleasures.

These indulgences never fail to put a smile on my face every day, while I at the same time I feel a twinge of guilt at the my opulence. My first guilty pleasure is Star World. Star World is a satellite channel from India, and it’s piped right to my room. Star World should really be called Star Hollywood because it shows, almost exclusively, American TV. (To be fair it isn’t all American TV – they do show Falcon Beach, which is a Canadian show try very, very hard to be an American show <grin>.) What sort of American TV? How about the Simpsons. And Boston Legal. And Law and Order SVU. And even in Kathmandu, it seems every time you turn on the TV, Friends is on <grin>. And everytime I end up watching TV instead of exploring the city or even reading one of the great books by Nepali authors I’ve found, I feel that twinge of guilt…and think that this should be the last time. And then the next day, I’m watching again. D’oh!

My second guilty pleasure is the air conditioner in my hotel. I am, in the end, a soft man, a man of comfort and among my chief comforts is air conditioning. I did not expect to have air conditioning here in Nepal, and my hotel room is one of the very few places I’ve encountered it. I’ve been to stores and restaurants, other hotels and offices and airports, been in cars and trucks and almost none of them have had air conditioning. Fans abound in Nepal, but air conditioning, at least in my experience, is a rare luxury. More over, the temperature these days is considered slightly cool by local standards. Some of my colleagues put on sweaters and drink hot water in the afternoon to warm up. It is still warm for me – but I’m actually quite comfortable most of the time. Still, the wash of cold air as I walk into my hotel room is a singular pleasure that look forward to everyday on the drive home.

That would bring me to my other guilty pleasure. At the end of my first week, I had come to the conclusion I had horrible taxi luck. I had endured hours of pointless meandering in Kathmandu, mostly due to the fact that taxis here rely on passengers to know where they are going as it would be almost impossible to know every part of Kathmandu. And in my first week, I most certainly did not know where I was going. I have remedied this, and can now navigate reasonably well between my hotel and my office, if nowhere else <grin>. Still, I was done explaining where I wanted to go, getting lost, not recognizing a shabby taxi and getting more than a little dirty on my ride, not to mention bargaining over the fare. So when one of the security guards at the hotel offered to arrange a taxi for me for Sunday morning, I was relieved. However, when Sunday morning came around I was surprised – because what showed up was a private car.

Taxi’s in Kathmandu a tiny, little compact cars made by Maruni (who is partnered with Suzuki). They are small and agile, but honestly a bit of a challenge for me to squeeze into. This private car is not small. I’m not sure of the make, but it is a mid-size sedan by Canadian standards, and comfy to boot. The driver speaks English very well and he know exactly where my office and my hotel is. Thus, my third guilty pleasure is that I have a private car that takes me to and from work every day. He costs about twice as much as a taxi, but I’ve had no hassles with my transportation since I switched to the private car.

I have to admit, I feel more guilty about the private car than the air conditioning <grin> However, most days I’m able to take 1 or 2 people with me and give them a drive on the way to work or to home. This helps me assuage my guilt…mostly :)

So there you have it – even with rushing around Kathmandu, working with FTG Nepal and jetting off to see Everest and the jungle, I’m not too busy for a couple of guilty pleasures. Well, maybe I should admit to one more, little, guilty pleasure.

I present a photo of a “No Photo” sign of a certain unamed embassy in Kathmandu. <grin>


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