Day 8: Walk to Bhaktapur

Trip Start May 20, 2008
Trip End Aug 19, 2008

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Friday, May 30, 2008

Whew, long day. The kids barged into my room after the morning dal bhat for some camera time resulting in mucho funny footage of us pouncing on each other. Sari (one of the sisters, 10ish years old) asked if she could sing for the camera and broke out into a flawless, perfect-English solo of "Boulevard of Broken Dreams." I was floored... beeyotch can sing! She dreams of becoming an artist one day, but hitting #1 on the Nepali music charts would be just as well warranted. In a vain attempt to steal Sari's thunder, Sushaan busted out some gibberish blend of "Twinkle Twinkle Little Star" and "You Brush Your Teeth, You Was Your Hands, You Shampoo Your Hair, Ev-ry-DAY!" Eh, vain attempt? Who am I kidding; nobody could resist giving that magic their undivided attention.

At around 11ish I rendezvoused with Norman and Suganda for a quasi-business meeting regarding the design and construction of a rain canopy to shelter the VSN school's students when they're outside eating lunch and playing. Norman is leaving Nepal on Sunday, so Suganda handed leadership of the project over to me. I probably should've rejected due to my complete lack of experience constructing (bamboo) buildings, but there was no one else to take the job. I shall henceforth be known as Lead Engineer & Contractor Charles. This will turn out well. Ye-ah.

The OCRC Orphanage was my next port of call, dropped in there for about a half hour to introduce myself to the workers and the kiddies - figured doing so would be a good idea before starting work there full time. Getting to there was quite the trek though, about a half hour on foot through farmland from the nearest bus stop. Since the orphanage sits midway on the journey between Kathmandu and Bhaktapur, the rest of the day was used to take a patient stroll through the valley and sightsee Bhaktapur old town. One of the worst sunburns in Charles-history was inflicted during this walk, next time I'll remember to wear sun block.

In the old town ticket office was a gang of four French college kids about a year younger than me who were also here doing the volunteer thing. I liked their reasoning for coming: "Why not?" All of them were quite cool and invited me out to find this one French-owned café who-knows-where in the town. After about an hour of good chit chat and aimless wandering through medieval alleys, we arrived at "Sunny Café," a quaint little rooftop establishment overlooking one of the main temples. Thinking it would be a sweet, refreshing milkshake type concoction like those at the 23rd St Cafe, I ordered an apple lassi for my drink. Oops. The lassi tasted like rotten egg + cottage cheese + juice and took its place alongside the fermented candied matzo ball from a couple days ago in the category of "just a bit too different." I passed it around for the rest to try, and many giggles were shared over our reactions to its taste. Shortly thereafter, one of the girls mistakingly popped a whole chili pepper into her mouth resulting in even more comedy. Thomas (the guy Frenchie) and I each took a stab at the chili afterwards, and the sting took about ten minutes and two swigs of Evil Lassi to be vanquished. They all had a meeting to attend and I was already an hour overdue for another volunteer's birthday shindig, so we parted ways after lunch and exchanged contact info. Hopefully we'll see each other again.

I (unsurprisingly) hopped on the completely wrong bus heading back, but recovered my way after a decent tally of "Pepsikola? Pepsikola? You go to Pepsikola?" shouts at the bus drivers. What remained of the birthday shindig was short, sweet, and featured "Indian Masala" flavored Lays chips. Not much else to say about it though. I got back home around 8:30 and met a visiting relative of the family who is, coincidentally, an aspiring documentary filmmaker (after he completes his MBA and makes money etc.) When I told him I went to one of the top American film schools, his eyes lid up and he poured out all his epic documentary plans and ideas. They were all cool, and I'd be glad to help him out, but I hope I didn't lead him on too much... he seemed to think that I'd be able to wield great power in Hollywood just because I'm an American film student. Little did he know that being such only means I can do "shite" as opposed to the worser "jack-shite," but his optimism and enthusiasm was inspiring. Who knows, maybe we'll pioneer and jumpstart a new Nepali film industry together. Hee.

End of Day 8. Been here for over a week now, wow... seems like it's been only a few days. I'll be going trekking through the Annapurna mountains above Pokhara starting Saturday so this might have to be the last entry for a whole week (ie if there's no entry for the next few days, it means I'm camping, not that I'm dead) Oh, tried to give Jeff a Taiwan sendoff call but the SIM card ran out of dough 2 minutes in. I guess the outgoing-call rate was steeper than I thought (would be $1 a minute considering how fast it ran out.) Bahumbug. Have fun Jrrreff. & enjoy LA, Matt. Oh, double-also, there's been no more political ickiness so no worries about that.

-----Vital Signs-----
Mosquito Bites = 12
Athlete's Foot = 1
Time Elapsed Since Last Opportunity to Shower = 4.5 days
Clif Bars Remaining = 0/8
% of Wallet Depleted = 230%
Tibetans Freed = 0/2.5mil
Maoist Insurgencies Thwarted = 0
Sunburns = 4
Bad Sunburns = 1
Food Poisonings = 0
Happiness Meter = 93%
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