Friday, January 26, 2007

Kathmandu Married

I have come to Kathamandu--to this land of the haves, the haves "who have just enough-to-get-by subsisting on a couple of bowls of lentils and rice per day" and the haves who have no hope (still if they have anything at all it is dick), in what appears to be in accordance to a systematic pattern, one possibly designed by a higher authority--maybe even the Master Designer Himself, or I have come here regularly not by design but by the accident of breaks between school terms.

I have come to this valley, choked with diesel tuk tuk fumes for the first time when I was married then I came unmarried then later married--then unmarried now married.

This coincidence has been going now for eight years, interlaced with visits as a married--both without spouse in tow--or not--as per my most recent visit.

The staff at the Excelsior Hotel (round the corner fron the New Orleans cafe and two doors down from the Maya Restaurant) know of both wives and I've no doubt that listed on their registers somewhere in the hotel's dank basement, in its damp, archival recesses, in one of those ubiquitious black third world three ring binders, the wife of 1998 and the wife of summer 2002 have their names and passport numbers on file along with their room service bills of fare.

Wife One--walked with a strict, unsmiling purposefulness. She drank for breakfast, lunch and dinner milk tea and spent half our time in the valley in bed with some amorphous (for lack of a better word) weather beaten illness of the common sort brought on by a three week first class coach vagabondaging train ride throughout the Sub Continent, subsisting on "chai, chai, chai," and "puri,puri,puri" and "dosa, dosa, dosa" hawked by the grubby Dickensian orphan Char Wallahs who run the breadth and depth of the box cars as the trains pull into whistle stops.

While In Kathmandu, Wife One lay in bed for three days in a codeine cough syrup stupor while I explored this Durbar Square and that Durbar Square and set us up for a ten day trek.

Wife Two. Trouble that one. Oh, she smiled and it was a smile that evoked the gifts of the heavens sent down to scatter the little flowers of Jesus throughout the land. Hers was the smile of the savior, of your ship having come in. Hers was the smile of white wine for breakfast, red wine for lunch, saki for dinner, martinis for nightcaps. Hers was the smile of a withering booze hag.

Remember, the devil was indigenous to heaven in the beginning too.

Wife Three could not get off from work or she would have come along. . .or not. Wife Three, you see, is from Iran. Iran had its own revolution in recent memory and still suffers economically as a result. Nepal has just wrapped up its revolution. Economically, it has always suffered. I don't think Wife Three has a taste for third world shit holes--since her own country--once one of the two great empires of Asia--has fallen on the slag heap of once great civilizations and is now in its own right a third world shit hole.

Cyprus would be more her speed.

Still, I had a week off, and truth be told, once one takes in the Amsterdam of the East and leaves Kathmandu behind then heads into the hills--and by the hills I mean "THE HILLS", The Himilayas, one sees a beauty so brilliant, so great, so immaculate, so exquisitely designed and profoundly beautiful that no one yet nor will ever be able to distill its essence on a t-shirt.

So I hired my guide--his name is Lama--I shit you not--and he negotiated the best micro-bus fares to Pokhara, found us a nice room with a view by the lake there and the following morning he knocked on my door, then we rucked up, and he pushed my fat ass up the first hill--2,200 meters--to Sarangkot. We did what people do in those parts. Climbed. Walked. Ate rice and lentils. Slept with the chill of the evening in the tea houses. When all was said and done and my bowels gave out on me from nastiberry microbes, we took a microbus back to Kathmandu and I went back to Abu Dhabi.

I don't know if I will ever go back there. When the exotic is no longer exotic maybe all that's left is Cyprus. Or rafting down the Grand Canyon. Or DisneyWorld. Or finding the world's largest ball of string in Idaho. You know, I've never been inside the Statue of Liberty.