On a stoop in Kathmandu

It’s holiday season in Kathmandu. Specifically, Dashain. I have two weeks off. In the past, I’ve used holiday time to get as far away as humanly and fiscally possible. In Lebanon, I fled to Syria. Bali, it was off to Jakarta. Beijing had me bolting to every opposite corner of China, as well as Vietnam, Malaysia, and Spain for good measure. From Malmö, Sweden it was off to Denmark and Germany, and from Spartanburg we got up to Nashville (thanks, DH) and plenty of points in between.

So here we are, two weeks ahead of us. And to what exotic locale shall we venture?

Our back yard. It’s pretty nice this time of year. The marigolds are in full bloom. The herb and vegetable gardens beg for exploitation. Our cooking fuel reserves are plentiful, I have at least three books that need finishing, and damn, haven’t I neglected my writing lately? There’s also a petrol crisis underway that has many a friend and colleague wondering if they’ll have available transport home once their holiday travel adventures come to an end, so really, there seems no better a time to stick close to home.

I mean really. Every time we’ve had time, we spend it bouncing off someplace, exhausted from the experience, rather than reveling in the present situation. A comfortable home, hobbies to maintain, unexplored local experiences to experience… and plenty of mornings to sleep in. Honestly, why’ve we not done this more often?

Oh yeah… we aged.

This weekend was our first venture into the unknown: a true stay-cation. It’s been quite the adventure.

Our friend from way back, the indomitable Doreen, who single handedly founded and  coordinates the Book Reach charity, recruited us to help organize boxes of books that had been — long story short — mutilated by a mix of many a customs officer, as well as a certain well-publicized earthquake. It was a full day. These books will go to public schools around Nepal, and Doreen, in addition to making that distribution happen, also checks in with each school to make sure the books are being used sensibly, in order to make Nepal a country that loves to read. If that sounds like an odd thing to say, spend some time living in a country where books are not appreciated beyond basic utility value (e.g. instruction manuals, math textbooks, etc). If you’d like to be a part of making her work easier, donate! Even a few dollars helps tremendously.

We came home exhausted. Moving books from one end of a government building to another is hard, as it turns out. Which brings me to the stoop. By the time we arrived home this evening, we still had yet to walk our dogs, and they were predictably frantic about that. So off we went into the night.

We passed Uncle Shop. Uncle was out there, as per usual. A gang of fellows guffawed with him outside. It seemed like the kind of night that a beer on Uncle Shop stoop would be good. I’ve come to learn that this is the preferred way to enjoy a beer in the evening. In America, we call it “loitering” or “open container violation.” Here, it’s just what’s done. Why drink at a bar when you can instead sit on a stoop and have a beer for a fraction of the price? Uncle periodically makes his rounds to see who needs a refill or some peanuts or something. After all, it’s Dashain, a time where everyone in Nepal celebrates the night. The crowd, a mix of locals and foreigners, watches the night pass by.

I think I found the right kind of country in which to spend a holiday.

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