Monday, December 28, 2009


Yesterday was a half day off and our full day off there was going to be a bandh. So we really wanted to get out of here. You know, a day off is a day off; a half day off is a half day off. So off we went to Mandipul, 6 volunteers and one monk all to see Avatar. Not my choice but I love to people watch so I was game. We took a bus and then walked a while through Old Town; finally arrived at the cinema.

Found out that the movie was dubbed in Hindi; not our style, so we declined and our group split up.

Lucca and I headed off, thinking of the Gurkha museum. But Lucca wanted to get her hair cut, so we did that. It took an hour; cut dirty hair, wash with head massage then dry. Totally different style of cutting; mostly letting hair lay against the head and trim. Turned out fine. Total cost: 2 NR, about 3 bucks and no tip.

I stopped at shop selling fabric; quilters always stash. Found some rich reds and turquoise shades of blue.

Later as we were on the street looking at DVD's I heard a "Ms. Foster" ring out. It was one of the monks who came up to say hello and he asked if I knew of such and such a store which had an excellent selection of DVDs and CDs. He led us to it; I bought 5 DVDs, average cost, $1.10. I was able to purchase two foreign films; one Iranian and one Mongolian, with subtitles. 'Course these are all pirated through China.

Before he left I asked him if he knew of a restaurant in town that served western food. He walked me out to the street up half a block and pointed out a restaurant on the 3rd floor call "Almond". Thanks, I responded and returned to the video store.

Later Lucca and I went to Almond. It has a nice view of the town square, but the air in the room was definitely 'smokey', not from smoking but from the pollution rising from the street below. We played it safe and each ordered a cheese pizza. I also ordered a green salad. Conspicuously missing any greens it was good to get some raw vegetables, a commodity not available at the monastery. Those five servings of fruits/vegetables are simply impossible to fulfill. Yes, my body does notice the difference.

While eating next to a window there appeared to be a commotion outside round the square. A huge truck full of Maoist police was going by totally out fitted in riot gear. Mm... A few minutes later a group of marchers passed along with lit torches chanting something. Even the wait staff went to the windows to look. I asked the waiter 'what's happening'? He confirmed that they were the Maoists, evidently making a show of arms to communicate to the populace that tomorrow everything would be closed for the bandh, or else shop-keepers, street vendors, restaurateurs, taxi cab drivers, kids trying to go to school would answer to them. Of course the poor rural farmers are not affected; so again that communist attitude that anyone owning anything, businesses, cars, or products is the enemy. I did not take my camera to the window for this one; traveler survivor skills kicked in.

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