On arrival in Nepal we were held up an hour at the airport, with the exception of the Tibetan who magically walked through customs as though he were invisible. The holdup was we weren’t offering a bribe, essentially daring customs to shake us down. Jasper® & Socket™ had departed separately from the group and were coming to Nepal overland, by bus. Apparently there were some issues with them getting into the country in any straightforward way, which by the way, in south Asia includes bribes. If Jasper® & Socket™ had been with us, there’s no doubt in my mind we’d have had all of our luggage gone through with a fine toothed comb. Maybe that’s why the sisters had sent them packing on a different route. The officers looked totally annoyed at us all, as we pretended to be too stupid to understand the custom of offering a gratuity to speed our entry into the country. Finally they let us in, sans tip. When I asked the Tibetan about his magic act entry, he explained he had no proper passport and could not get a visa. Therefore he’d pressed a 100 Rupee note into a customs officer’s hand with the remark “Here is the better identity” and was waved through without a problem. Bummer John had to leave his dope in India, as he’d been advised he wouldn’t want to risk the hospitality of a Nepali jail trying to bring it into the country via the airport. Now, at the hotel in Katmandu, he looked even more bummed out. I was relaxed on a 2nd level veranda and noticed what looked like potted marijuana plants on the adjacent building’s rooftop, actually within easy reach. I’d inquired and discovered they were hemp of a variety for making nutritional oil. It was not the cannabis variety that gets you high but more similar to a feral cannabis variety known to dopers in the American mid-west as ‘headache weed.’ Bummer John was too depressed to notice horns had sprouted on my forehead as I went back into the hotel and told him of a discovery he’d no doubt be interested in. Desperate, he took the bait and filched some cannabis flowers off the hotel neighbor’s plants; to my visceral satisfaction when I noticed several hours later his perennial expression of stressed helplessness had degenerated into something more resembling a Van Gogh painting, or perhaps a modern work titled ‘The Scream.’ Old Babette, who to now seemed a perfectly reasonable person, with the singular habit of avoiding Jasper® like the plague, was coming a bit more into the conversation in the absence of Our English Lord Ram Giri. The Montana dyke had been nearly invisible throughout our trip, usually wandering a bit behind everyone else when the group was together, to solo sight-see, with relaxed demeanor and pleasant smile belying eyes that never missed a thing. Sensible Sue managed to adroitly negotiate all of the cliques by now, demonstrating a real cross-cultural talent with an infallible instinct to know when and how to discreetly make herself vanish with upcoming scene not to her taste. Bummer John had the occasional extended downer (with assists from myself), between consistent lows. The Tibetan and myself took off into the city to get a sense of things more along the lines of Nepal’s authentic culture than the hashish dens the city is famous for in counter-culture lore, ZZ Top reputedly frequenting these locations notwithstanding. I’d a glance inside the Yin & Yang Café at the western burnouts therein and decided leave that to Jasper®’s ‘alternative’ city tours & interested parties, when he’d caught up with us. Katmandu is an interesting city reflecting Nepal’s makeup; proper Nepalese Hindus, others speaking a Hindi dialect my Tibetan friend understood, a Tibetan subculture that was interesting, as well, many proper Tibetans. My friend looked up someone he knew, a Tibetan ‘Foxy’ and had a good visit. After, we visited the temple of the living virgin goddess, a Hindu site where a young girl lives as an immortal until puberty and then is married off and replaced with a new virgin. We visited an open market where I found, and this amazed me, a package of authentic American Camel non-filter cigarettes, and stumbled onto a !Mexican restaurant! precisely on the other side of the planet from Mexico. I sat down and enjoyed a quite reasonable bean & cheese burrito, quite reasonable, that is, if you didn’t mind the Italian red sauce.
The ‘Tibetan’ (L) and myself (R)
My Madcap Adventure (all episodes)