*Days 40-43: Obama & The Search for Interpol

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

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Flag of Nepal  ,
Thursday, July 3, 2008

In addition to the usual playtime fun, Monday's orphanage shift featured a long meeting between me, HT, and Nepali-Dave regarding the disorganization plaguing OCRC & lack of discipline among the kids. Two new female Dutch volunteers whose names I've forgot observed. Dave & I knew it was a problem, but HT, with his 15 years of teaching experience, knew how to solve it. We both (with Dave kind of nodding his head at random intervals) decided that in addition to the daily "class, lunch, TV" schedule already posted on the wall, a chore schedule should be set up & each child given a designated area of the facility to keep clean. That's how Buddhist monasteries work, and they're shockingly well maintained & organized. The one monastery I've visited here included the only time in a month that I've seen a public rubbish bin. If OCRC is kept sanitary, the kids won't get sick as often and will learn responsibility. Right now they just spend their ample down time with no designated chores, just playing this or that game to keep themselves from growing bored while Ebola grows in the bathroom. HT fears that such a lifestyle will leave the kids with a bad work ethic, lower self-esteem than they'd otherwise have, and possibly result in them opting to become a street kid begging tourists for change in Thamel. The new routine will start on Friday, hopefully without us becoming known as "those two American cleanliness Nazis who come & tell us what to do," heh. Following this meeting, HT & the Dutch girls left while Emily & Lindsey arrived. The three of us gathered as many children as were paying attention together and took them on a little walk up to a nearby temple. The temple itself was just a little crumbling stone stupa but the walk and view were pleasant, and the kids appreciated the fresh air.

On Tuesday I joined Emily & Lindsey on their errand to the JET Airways office, as Lindsey needed to change her flight date. All this involved for Singapore Air was a quick five minute phone call and no additional flight changing fee. For Lindsey, a half hour meeting with an airways rep did nothing, and if it did something she would have to pay a $100 fee. Singapore Air rocks. The first of two souvenir runs followed, though only one was purchased in the end. I clamored for Cody's mad bargaining skillz, but my limited experience in the field sufficed for snagging (barely) respectable prices. Around 2pm, following a yummy falafel lunch in a very out-of-place Israeli restaurant, I broke off from the two girls and began a long circuitous trek to find the Interpol office. Having never dealt with insurance before, it didn't dawn on me until very recently that I'd need an official police report to file the claim for my pick-pocketed camera from way back when on day 3. Lonely Planet said the local Nepali police probably wouldn't be of much help and that Interpol, allegedly located inside the central police HQ, was my best bet. Thus began an hour and a half walk around the Royal Palace & Ratna Park trying to find said police HQ. It was found after much sweat, though the surrounding neighborhood (Naxal) was a surprisingly pleasant and peaceful walk.

Unlike police stations in America, this one was surrounded by a gigantic brick wall, barbed wire, and sandbagged armed guard posts, I couldn't just stroll in. I approached the guarded gate and asked if I could visit Interpol. He, slightly puzzled, directed me around the South side of the compound to another, apparently larger entrance. I rounded the block, passing a large, modern, heavily fortified gas station. Armed soldiers were beckoning a line of civilian cars in one at a time to refuel their tanks, with sandbagged guard posts on both driveways. It was a surreal sight, one of those "you're not in Kansas anymore" moments. Just beyond the gas station was the other HQ entrance. I approached these guards, asked for Interpol, and was told "Ah no, you go down block, make right, and..." "Okay." I turned around and walked back to the original guard post. After I politely informed them of their mistake, the original guards went "oohh! Keep going, and just past temple you see it." I walked North, passed a small temple, and found the "Europe-Nepal Tourism Cooperative" or something to that effect. There was no way this was what I was looking for, but I popped my head in anyway. I told the guy at the desk I was looking for Interpol and had no idea why I was directed here, but if he knew, t'would be great help. He directed me back to the gas station guard post. Argh. Now on lap 3 around the massive brick wall, I walked straight up to the gas station side gate, and told the officers that they had to let me in, I needed to visit the Interpol office inside. A plainclothes man flanked by two uniforms approached, asked what I needed, I told him, and the following exchange took place:
- "I need to see Interpol."
- "I'm sorry, what?"
- "In-ter-pol. International Police."
- "Ah yes I am he."
- "0_o... Oh. Well then. Yeah, I was pick-pocketed and need a police report for the insurance."
- "Ahh yes we don't give police reports to foreigners, it is not comfortable. Only Nepali."
- "Yes I know that, that's why I need the INTERNATIONAL Police. Innntteeernaatioonall."
- "Yes."
- "Yes, they're in there, can I please enter?"
- "Ah yes, umm no. Nepali police report."
- "Okay, thanks, bye." (grumbles)

The afternoon wasted, I slowly but surely made my way back to the bus park & Pepsikola. A divine, ice cold bottle of Slice provided fuel for this journey. Nepali Slice is much different than American Slice. Rather than being a lemon soda, it's instead this amazingly delicious coconut/mango juice thing without any carbonation. I shall miss it dearly when I leave here.

Wednesday was another orphanage day, complete with a health class taught by HT and and English class taught by me. It's taken me a while to get the knack of being a teacher, but I think I'm doin a half-decent job now. HT is certainly much better at it though. The usual pseudo-football game and playtime followed. I noticed that Dave was picking/cleaning up the toys after the kids... I suggested he not do that and make everyone clean up their own messes. Twas good idea, and a productive orphanage shift overall. At the end of it, HT and I took nearly an hour walking the normally 20min walk back to the main road and slowly let the atmosphere soak in. The countryside here doesn't pack an immediate "OMG!" beauty punch... the pace of life is slow, the lifestyles and culture complex, and as such it takes a long time for its true majesty to sink in. This was at least my two-dozenth time on this same walk, but only now did it dawn on me that wow... this valley is magical. HT understood the feeling. We also passed an outrageously overcrowded bus, nearly tipping over due to the shear weight of the dozen people on its roof and sixth dangling off the back. I tried and almost failed to snap a picture of it.

Yesterday, armed with updated knowledge about Interpol's whereabouts, involved a trip to the Durbar Square police station. One cop misdirected me to another station on the other side of the city, but rightfully assuming he didn't know what he was talking about, I pressed on and sure enough found Interpol on the other end of the square. The report was filed quickly and smoothly. Hunger hit soon after, so I popped into one of the few major grocery stores to look for some nibbles. There, on a shelf, I found it... Alongside the usual varieties of Indian mashed rice cereal stood a gleaming blue and orange gem... a gift of the gods... a treasure to dwarf all treasures... A single, probably expired but who cares, gorgeous box of... Kellogg's. FROSTED. FLAKES. Between me & the other volunteers, it didn't survive the night. Speaking of the night, at around 1am I had the most interesting bowel movement of the trip thus far, so interesting in fact that I immediately tore open my yet unused bottle of Pepto-Bismal and deployed half a shot's worth. No further ickiness has occurred, so I'm not going to call it food poisoning.

Oh, also, one more Thursday story... I was in the local Internet cafe calling home, and an old Nepali man stopped me on the way out to make chit chat. He told me of his recent trip to America where he "paid tribute to the Prince John Kennedy, in what is that city, Dallas! Also tribute to Obama's grandfather Martin Luther King!" I thanked him for paying tribute, whatever paying tribute entailed.

And thus, the blog is fully updated, I'll try not to let it fall this far behind again.

---Vital Signs---
Foot = Fully healed
Hygiene = Dire need of shave
Food Poisonings = 0
Tonight = OCRC Sleepover
Tues 7/08 = Bye bye Nepal, hello orangutans, satay, coconut jam, and emerald beaches.
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