Disclaimer: I am writing this on my phone (or is it “from” my phone?) – either way, this is a first for me, since I didn’t bring my iPad or laptop on this trip, & so this is probably going to be an interesting experiment, shall we just say ?
So yes, as the blog title suggests, I’m in Kathmandu & heading out on the 19th to Lobuche East, a 6119m peak about which I am wildly excited.
I haven’t been back in Kathmandu since my Mera Peak climb in the autumn of 2019, so it’s fun reconnecting with a city that is packed to the gills with visitors, many of them trekkers and climbers.
Kathmandu is bustling, dusty as hell, but as fascinating as ever.
It is also pretty darn hot, so I took it easy today, walking about 8k to the wonderful Bodnath stupa but cabbing it back in the mid-day heat. I had a charming cabbie who (a) didn’t know where my hotel was, (b) logged onto a website to prove to me his (unmetered) rare was correct & (c) wanted to know how come I spoke Hindi but not Nepali.
Bodnath was as impressive as ever, but one change from previous visits is that you can no longer climb up to the higher levels of the stupa. I read online that these levels have been closed off because of the antics of TikTokers, but who knows? So the visit was a little more subdued in that respect, because I could only walk around the base of the stupa, but that is always such an amazing experience in any case.
On my way to the stupa I called in to another tiny temple complex that I had remembered from my last trip here. Back in 2019, I had prayed for safety and success there, so thought I would do the same this time. In the courtyard of the sweet little temple I had one of those slightly dotty experiences that make travelling such fun.
The man in the photo above (who may well have been the temple caretaker) came out of one of the temples and greeted me politely with “Namaste” & then continued in English “Do you want a banana?”
I replied in Hindi that thank you, no, I already had a banana (which I did), so then he wanted to know my life history & where was I from & how come I speak Hindi. He asked me how long I’d lived in India, so I told him 20 years. It’s actually more than that, but 20 is a decent figure.
Oh, he says, if you’ve lived for 20 years in India how cone you’re not a Hindu?
“My husband is a Sikh” I replied helpfully.
Ah, says he, a “pagriwala” (literally a turban-wearer) & did a twirly gesture with his fingers sketching out an imaginary turban.
That seemed to satisfy him & we parted on friendly terms, each of us with a banana.