I’m getting used to the idea that I may never sleep through the night, so I prepare myself by stocking up on 50 rupee (75 cents) DVDs and some fruit. At 3am I’m up watching the director version of Runaway Bride and munching on bananas. The movie is impossible fluffy but I don’t care, its non-stop English and very predictable.
In the morning Ganga from Nepal Hiking Team comes by on his motorbike to take me to his office. Normally, I rather like riding on the back of a motorcycle, but here in Katmandu riding a motorbike is just plain stressful. Ganga puts on his helmet, (passengers are not required to wear helmets) and we set off. The street is packed with motorbikes and for most of the 10-minute ride we were knee to knee with other bikes, inhaling fumes and funneling our way into smaller streets. Many bikes have full families on them; mom riding side saddle baby in her lap, behind the helmeted father often sitting behind a happy 3 year old in the drivers position in the front. Once past the traffic jam we sped through small lanes onto the sidewalks, swerving for the occasional cow and finally to his office.
In Ganga’s office I paid the balance of the money for the trip, and then asked him for some clarification. The past few days he has been avoiding my questions and I was worried.
“How many people are going on this trip?
“Well.” Ganga said in a very sweet voice “We are not actually running the trip. I called today and there are 48 people coming, mostly Indian”“I thought the max was 25?”
I said also in a sweet voice trying not to seem upset
“Don’t worry Madam”.
“Ok” realizing I wasn’t going to get an answer. “Ganga, I’m worried I’m not going to be able to do the trek, it may be too difficult.”
‘Madam no need to worry, Indian people are doing the trek and they never walk or do exercise, don’t worry.”I got the distinct idea that he didn’t like Indians. I pulled out my notes
“I heard that here are parts that are dangerous including boulder hopping after the summit. How many people will be there to assist on the trek? You know,.. if something should happen? I’d like to know the trip is well staffed”
“No, it’s a big BIG road,” he said in even a sweeter voice “no need to worry. I did the trek myself its no problem take the diamox and you will be fine”
I was upset with what I heard. I had done my homework about the trip and it didn’t match with Ganga’s description. Also I felt I needed to go with a smaller group for my own safety and 48 people is NOT a small group. But I really REALLY wanted to go to Kailash, I had spent a lot of money and preparation to get here and now it was only a couple of days away.
I was also worried because it was an Indian tour and I had been warned against signing up for an India run trip because their reputation of running cheap trips that are under staffed and frequently had problems with accidents. Clearly Ganga had sold my trip to an Indian company.
Ganga must of noticed my concerned look when he said “Don’t worry Madam, We will give you a certificate at the end”
As I was riding back to the guesthouse, I was thinking about the warning that Mr. Thanasukolwit the Mor Doo in Bangkok gave me. Don’t trust anyone. People are going to try to trick you. I thought he was being paranoid but now it now seemed like he was dead on.
In the afternoon I set out to find my favorite tailor in Katmandu and have a salwar kameez made. I thought the tailor was in the Lazapat neighborhood, took a taxi there and after roaming around for a while I realized that I had never been to the neighborhood and that I was officially having a bad day. I couldn’t even find a taxi to take me back at a reasonable fare, so I decided to walk. After 10 minutes a taxi pulls up and the driver says
“Do you remember me?”
It was Raju! The taxi driver I was sure I wouldn’t find. We were both so happy! He told me that sometimes he dreams of me. He drove me to the guesthouse and make plans to see each other in a couple of days and go find my fried Tam’s Nepali family and have me come over for dal bhat (traditional Nepali dinner) and meet his family. Having Raju appear felt like a miracle.