Day 107 - 109
I love Dashain. It is just like a Western Christmas with its simmering inter-familial hostilities and huge overblown and resentful gestures of generosity and consumerism. But generally these things appear to be put aside and it is joviality and good will all the way while they receive their blessings and partake in the feasting and merry making. I have obviously done nothing as I don't really understand what they are all on about in this weird, ancient, mystical, fabled Himalayan Kingdom so I just join in when I can with a nice Sauvignon Blanc and a big smile - it seems to go a long way. Hari and I hang about Kathmandu after I have finished work and it is very handy having a guide, a translator and someone who loves my daughters almost as much as I do. The girls are building real attachments to people and I worry it will be really hard for them to leave. Clover had a swollen sore eye and after a few days of it not getting better I worked myself up that she would go blind and had some terrible disease, resulting in my decision to spend $55 for an American doctor to tell me she had a stye. Well two styes actually. Apart from being hideously unsightly they cause her no pain or discomfort and will disappear with regular hot water. I think I overreacted a tad but I don't like making all these decisions alone and in a foreign city. She's a lot better today, one of them has gone completely.
Rufus keeps phoning from precarious altitudes sounding slightly delirious but hugely thrilled. He tells me Everest is the best thing he has ever seen, and I believe him. He has a new Spanish best friend who is with him some of the time and yesterday he watched a mad and ill-prepared Scottish bloke with altitude sickness being taken back down the mountain on a horse. We like to think the summit of Everest is full of whippet-thin topless neds drinking Irn Bru out of glass bottles and dancing to trance on a ghettoblaster, shouting 'whit kept yeeze?' to all the exhausted oxygen-clad climbers. Nothing and nobody has more stamina or strength than a Glasgow ned - except this one. I kind of wish I was a better person and had the will, the motivation, the stamina or the inclination to join Rufus - it sounds like an amazing experience and something I know I am hugely missing out on as I sit in my apartment every night. But Auntie Kirsty has now arrived and life is picking up! I nearly passed out at the airport with excitment and it was reminiscent of the time I arrived in Shanghai, a year or so after she had emigrated. It is very emotional having any kind of family reunion a zillion miles from home, as all my expat friends will know. The pressure is on to show your loved ones the joys of your new life, how well you have managed and how wonderful life is - as well as managing the familiar, overwhelming feelings of seeing an old face (especially hers). So she arrived safely having been stuck for a couple of hours in Bangladesh in a thunderstorm, unloaded gifts for us all and then went straight to bed. The only problem with taking Auntie Kirsty around Kathmandu is that she needs a 40 minute nap every 20 minutes so it is a bit like having sole caring responsibility for a slightly dazed narcoleptic.
Today we are going to Nagarkot, a lovely wee village to stay in a mountain resort where you can see Everest. Am getting slightly anxious about Rufus now so will maybe catch a glimpse of him on the mountain with a pair of good binoculars. We have to manage an hour's drive climbing over 1000km which is making us all feel very anxious. We can all bury our heads in Auntie Kirsty's new powder blue pashmina. Our driver is Buddhist so am pretty sure he isn't bothered about careering off a mountain, life is suffering after all and reincarnation is his ultimate aim. I am however, bothered and hope to stay alive at least until Rufus comes home. Can't get a Hindu driver due to the bloody festival which is going on FOREVER. The streets are awash with goat and chicken blood so 'bloody' is meant as a perfectly appropriate adjective. After 2 days Auntie Kirsty has decided she has had enough and needs to get out of Kathmandu for the night so is treating us all to a night in a lovely hotel. Hurrah! I'm having the lobster. And a pudding.