Saturday, January 20, 2007

Lost and Found

I managed to sleep until 5:30a this morning. About 7:30 I decided to go for a walk around town. I like getting off the main roads in KTM because there's hundreds of smaller streets and paths that don't show up on any maps. You can wander about for hours and pass lots of interesting domestic scenes as the towns wakes up.

This morning it was very cold, I'm guessing about 40. There was heavy fog and overcast skies as well. I was walking around with my camera, stopping to take pictures every so often. I pride myself on a good sense of direction and the whole time I kept an eye on the direction of Hotel Tibet. After a mile or so, knowing where I was, or so I thought, I imagined writing a post later in the day, like this one, about how I had gained the ability to walk anywhere in this town without getting lost. Why don't I know any better?

I decided to turn back and I began taking the steps I thought would lead me back to a main road. I couldn't find it and suddenly I was in Nayabazaar, an area I couldn't remember seeing on a map. Then I crossed the Bishnumati River, which in my mind's GPS should have been far away to the south. I decided to hail a cab but strangely there were none to be found. Just as I finished the thought, I saw three young men stop a private car coming down the road. Apparently, some group (the Maoists, the taxi drivers, I don't know) had called a bandh and there were to be no vehicles on the road.

I stopped a young guy dressed in a suit and tie who was crossing the Bishnumati heading west. I asked him to point in the direction of Lazimpat. He said he would show me because he was going there too, but then he reversed direction on the bridge and we started walking back from where he had come. I thought about asking him why he had been going the other way but I didn't. Instead I said I hoped I wouldn't make him late for his interview and he assured me that wouldn't happen. He said again that he had been going to Lazimpat. Totally confused, I just walked alongside.

The man's name was Amar Gurung and he had just come back from Dubai where he, like many Nepalis, was working construction. He said he quit his job, which I thought was unlikely since so many Nepalis are leaving for the UAE every day. We made pleasant conversation until I realized we had found Leknath Marg, a road not far from Hotel Tibet. As we drew near, I bid Amar goodbye and he continued on. I felt a short bit of uncertainty because I am not used to that kind of assistance. Did Amar expect a tip or payment? Not that I could tell. But then how often does someone walk you 15 minutes out of his way to show you the way home?



John said...

Just a safety tip for the future which will lower the probability of your getting lost: contiuously videotape the places that you're going to. Just keep the video recorder going the entire time. That way, you'll have footage to review should you need to retrace your footsteps. How do I know this works? Well, for one thing, it's the reason our family home movies include 37,000 feet of film of the 1/4 mile walk from the ferry to the base of the Statue of Liberty. Glad you made it there safe--wish I could have joined you--and sorry I missed your call from NYC as well. Love, JB

Carole said...

I am so happy your trip was safe and fairly uneventful. Don't talk to any more strangers though! Keep up the good work getting the news out on the blog. AML, Mom

Irwin and Ruth said...

Thinking of you! Hopefully, all problems will be at the beginning of the trip and the rest will go well! Feel better, stay warm, and get those taxis moving! By the way, the carmel rolls were awesome. Enjoying the time with Jen. Love, Ruth