Day 7: The King Deposed
Trip Start May 20, 2008
77Trip End Aug 19, 2008
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The political madness expected in central Kathmandu wasn't taking place, so following the school work eight of the volunteers including myself hitched taxis into Thamel to run some urgent errands that could only be accomplished there. I needed to exchange more money, five needed to arrange a rafting/trekking trip, and the two Frenchies just tagged along to hangout. The Frenchies crack me up. A celebratory *peaceful* march blocked the main road into the city, so the taxi driver (after asking for 200 extra rupees to do this) did some evasive maneuvering and dovetailed through the adjacent maze of side alleys to get us there. I feared for the lives of any pedestrian unfortunate enough to be walking near us. The police got more and more heavily armed the closer we got to the center of the city, clad in full soldier gear by the end. Not to worry, as Thamel was full of tourists and perfectly tranquil - the soldiers just chilled on the curbs either napping or looking bored out of their minds.
I had about a half hour to kill while the rest were arranging their tour (budget shortfalls kept me from signing up), so I chatted up a Tibetan shop owner about general get-to-know-you stuff. I should've asked him how he felt about the Olympics but didn't want to be nosey and offensive. It didn't take long for the conversation to turn into him trying to sign me up for his $600 two week trek up to the Mt Everest Base Camp (most convos with locals here will turn into money requests at some point, can't say I blame them.) I rejected but he was quite a cool guy. I'd be down for climbing Everest with him if I wasn't a broke toothpick.
When it came time to leave, poor Christine fell victim to "each clique thinks you're going with the other" syndrome and was somehow left behind. I felt bad about it but she got home okay. Jesse and Kris grew ambitious and rather than heading home ordered their taxi to go "where the action is!" They were let out at a seemingly benevolent Maoist rally taking place in New Baneswar about twenty minutes from here, and surely enough found themselves in the middle of ickiness. Jesse said he was innocently exploring the chaos when hundreds of people turned and started running towards him. These people were in fact running away from the sticks and chunks of concrete being thrown in every direction by angry peeps, as well as the two-block deep army of police moving in to clear the erupting riot. Jesse showed us CNN-worthy pictures he took of the event, describing it as "some pretty gnarly shit. It was f$#%ing awesome." Me: "Haha yeah." Me in my Head: "You're a wreckless idiot." Now, if I had been thinking, I would've given them my video camera (managed to get one for cheap in Singapore's airport) and had film the riot for me & endanger themselves which they were set on doing anyway, while I could take the footage back to LA and claim it for my own, but alas I wasn't thinking. Oh well.
The day ended with a group shindig in The Hut + a bottle of Everest for everyone. After hearing he worked on its set, Norman and I spent about twenty minutes geeking out over LOTR. He was a lead errand runner, making sure all the right supplies were bought and transported to the right locations. Two years of his life were sucked dry by the production and it clearly aged him by about a decade (he has dark hair in his driver's license photo), but he wouldn't trade the experience for anything. Oh, it also turns out the goofier looking Frenchie loves the Russian Red Army Choir's recordings. I shared a geek-out with him as well. I've decided to take up French because listening to these two guys and their accents is like hearing a fine bottle of wine talk.
So ended another good day, good for both me and the country. Nepalis officially a free country! The King has been given fifteen days to get out of Dodge. Yay for Nepal. I'd muse about this a bit more but someone needs the computer. Toodles.