Tuesday, 3 July 2007


Didn't feel too awake this morning thanks to the 22 hours travel time from the UK to Kathmandu.

After washing down a breakfast of parathas and sambal with loads of juice and coffee, I still didn't feel too special. Jetlag maybe, but I don't usually suffer from it at all.

The guest relations manager started giving me the spanish inquisition as I waited in the lobby, she was asking too many questions so I lied and told her I was on holiday, like my visa says, meeting friends in Nepal. Then going on to Bangladesh with my big tripod to do some work.

"what are you going to do while you're here?"

"Oh y'know... see people."

"What? You mean casually?" She sounded surprised that a sex tourist would be so honest. I blushed when I realised what she thought I'd meant.

"No, no... see people, people I already know, who live in Kathmandu."

S showed up and off we went to his office which is also the home he shares with extended family. His father is 96 and the mother looks 30 years younger but is 89. Nice people.

The garden is filled with reflective solar cookers of different designs and briquette making equipment, presses and drying racks.

S is lovely and shows me around, explaining his mission to make Nepalese people self sufficient in energy and not dependent on LPG and kerosene.

One of the solar cookers has a clear lid and some sweaty looking chicken kebabs in it (it's not very sunny). When S explains that's lunch, I start to work out if I'll still be sick for the 10 hour road trip on Saturday. I'm sure it's fine and I'm being old fashioned but I'm not sure about eating chicken that's never been near a flame...

He fires up a briquette stove, it turns out the chicken was just pre cooking in the solar box, my stomach relaxes as the chicken lands in hot oil and sizzles.

It's delicious.

I was warned this guy wanted to show me a powerpoint thing and the dreaded moment came after lunch. He left the room and I made a call to the managing agents of my block of flats where the tenants have been without gas for three days. It crosses my mind to offer to bring them back a stove next time the girl calls... on second thoughts... no.

A taxi took us around KTM to film rubbish dumped at the side of the road. The highlight was a big pile of cow legs by the river. No hassle from the authorities. As S said, the politicians are too busy with politics to do anything else, I reassured him it was the same elsewhere too. Thank God.

Back at the hotel to do some more phone calls about the flat... it only happens when I'm away. Last time it was a blocked toilet and I was under a mosquito net in a hut somewhere in Sri Lanka.

I'm not a worrier... but since a friend caught cerebral malaria on one of these trips and ended up nearly dying in the London Hospital for Tropical Medicine, I've been careful to take anti-malaria tablets. I thought I had loads left, so I didn't bother going to see the travel clinic this time. I have about 8 one a day tablets and a 14 day trip. I need a strategy.

I could wait to see if I get malaria then blitz it with 4 pills a day for two days, but instead I think I'll do a risk assessment as I go and take them when I'll need them most. It's OK in the city, I'm sure. But tomorrow we're driving out of town to a leper colony so I just know I'm going to feel itchy on the way back.

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