Sean On Leave

Changing the World…One Vacation At A Time.

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July 24th, 2007 by Sean

Last week, it was late in the evening, as I ended up taking an unscheduled nap when I got back to the hotel, and I was wandering Thamel, looking for a place to have dinner. This was the evening I realized that almost every menu in Thamel is the same <grin>. The standard offering is Indian, Chinese and Continental – with almost the same list of dishes on each menu, such as aloo gobi (curried potatoes and cauliflower), dahl bhat (lentils and rice), chow mein, chicken cordon bleu and pizza. After about 45 minutes of meandering about and comparing menus, I was hungry enough to just choose the next restaurant I found. This turned out to the Northfield Cafe.

The Northfield Cafe has a very nice patio, and is nestled in a corner along with a spa, a bookstore, a bar and the hotel to which its attached. After confirming that the menu was standard issue, I chose to order a plate of chicken chow mein and mineral water (in Nepal bottled water is referred to as mineral water. I haven’t seen Perrier or anything that is what is considered mineral water in Canada). After ordering, I noticed I was pretty much the only patron in the place, when a young woman came in was seated herself. Her English sounded North American, so once she had ordered, as politely as possible, I asked if she would like some company for dinner. She very graciously accepted and that is how I met Arun.

Arun was born in Kathmandu, but was adopted as an infant by an American family. She now lives in Oregon, but is currently an undergraduate at Yale. She has returned to Kathmandu many times with her family, and this year is summering here on her own. She is spending her time visiting friends, trekking, and volunteering at the orphanage from which she herself was adopted. Arun is in the ethnicity and cultural studies program at Yale and is also pursuing some theatre courses there as well. As I’m wrapping my MA in English and Theatre studies we had plenty to talk about (never ask an MA candidate about their research…not unless you have a lot of time…trust me <grin>).

Arun is also an entrepreneur and is looking to start a fashion company which uses fair trade textiles! I was so excited to learn this and after dinner we headed back to my hotel so I could give her the Fair Trade Group Nepal catalogue and contact information. Several FTG Nepal member organizations work in textiles, with a great deal of woolen products being made, as well as pashmina scarves and items made with Aloo, a unique textile from Nepal made with the fibres of a local thistle. And all of these products are certified Fair Trade.

As it was quite late at this point, I walked Arun back to her hotel – and very nearly got lost on the way back <smile> I’m am still a bit amazed at the serendipity of this seemingly random encounter in Kathmandu. It was a delight to meet Arun, and I hope she and FTG Nepal have the opportunity to work together. And am I ever glad I didn’t want to eat alone <grin>


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