Monday, October 31, 2005

A Peaceful Birthday, Transport Strike, New Moon, Halloween, Samhain, Diwali, Eid-El-Fitr & Kali Puja

Sorry for the brevity of this update; just typing a few lines to thank you all for your emails, concern and birthday wishes. I am in the midst of a 3-day Kathmandu Valley rural walkabout, so email access is sporadic. Today was a wonderful, sunny fall day full of villagers harvesting rice and potatos, snowcapped distant Himalayan views, Buddhist and Hindu shrines and temples, a Tibetan monastery, dusty roads, terraced green fields, aching ankles and many, many glasses of scalding tea at roadside stands. The crisp fall weather means that even four hours of walking daily produces only a hint of sweat. (Why, oh why, did I spend so long in South India?) In response to the omnipresent "which country"?" questions, I had fun alternating answers of "USA," "New Zealand," "India," and "Canada." (New Zealand has a special status here because of the first Everest summiteer was a Kiwi, Sir Edmund Hillary.) However, things close very early here and I have yet to eat my rice-and-dal dinner so I must scram soon, or go to bed hungry (as I'm afraid more than a few Nepalis do).

Today had the added intrigue of receiving an email from the "Warden" of Kathmandu warning all American citizens that there was a political strike today, supposedly with the result of no public transportation and possible violence. As usual, the US government was erroneous and it was a peaceful day concluding with not one, but 2 public bus rides.

Thanks again to everyone for remembering me. In a few days there will be photos up here. Just catching my stop, back to Kathmandu to do laundry, download photos, catch up on mail and replenish for the next outing (probably Pokhara and the Jomsom trek). Halloween seems strangely redundant in a nation where bloody animal sacrifice is a daily occurence and all the temples have delightfully macabre skulls and skeleton decor. The plastic ghosts and jack o'lanterns in the local American-run restaurant literally pale in comparison.

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