Hotel Courtyard Bar

2012-03 Kathmandu nights: Too many ideas, Steak & Slides and Holi on the Horizon.

It’s 3:20am in the morning and I am up writing e-mails at my desk. I decided to try and get an early night in fact but sank into an early coma of sleep for about 1 hour only to rise with my head buzzing full of ideas. So…I decided instead to power on through and take an early nap tomorrow afternoon. You may think I’m crazy but with the little sleep I get anyway this is not such a deprivation for me…. In any case my mind is too full of ideas at the moment to allow me quiescent slumber. It seems these days that the more time I spend in Kathmandu the more ideas are coming to me about what would be a good thing to do in the future in so many different domains. The trouble with these is the conceptions on how actually they would be able to be created and also straightforward limitations on my time that all these ideas mushrooming inside my already crowded headspace generates. Already here in Kathmandu I have many many projects still to finish. It is for this that I am keen to avoid the rest of the human race for large portions of the day… things just seem to start happening as soon as I get into social situations and within 5minutes another potential project has surfaced. There is a serious risk that I could spread myself so thin as to become non-existent. You might laugh at me saying this but those of you who know me well know that this is really a true possibility. In any case the important point is that there are some very exciting ventures for the future here in Nepal and I should wish to focus on those which really are important in achieving the ultimate goals. Requires concentration and exercising the use of the word “no”.

Kanti children's Hospital
My commitments at both Kanti, MIRA and many others will consume all of my time until I leave the country in 17 days.

Sorry to be cryptic for now but hopefully in time things will come a bit clearer. Besides it is 3:30 in the morning so apologies if I am not fully lucid. Meanwhile my clinical studies are ticking along somehow, partly it is headspace & partly it is forming a commitment to sitting down to a couple hours each day… but now the ball has started rolling things have become a little easier…Overall I really have to worked my butt off until I leave Kathmandu if I’m going to get this long list finished. But If I do things have real the potential to be quite spectacular in the future.

In other news, I attended an incredibly interesting slideshow presentation of photos and stories of the Everest region this evening as well as one of the great Pujan’s legendary Hotel Courtyard steak dinners. It really was quite the sophisticated evening – and I can be proud of myself in not drinking also. The first night of my abstinence until June 16th. I will try to be honest on updates in this regard!

Boots were made for walking
There is a reason I brought hiking boots to the country…

Anyway – the gentleman giving the presentation this evening, Chris, is an expatriate who has lived in Nepal on and off for 28 years and makes a living as a trekking guide, photographer and writer. His slides consisted of the photographs he has taken over his long stint in Nepal. Accompanied with these crystalline images his speech was commanding, informative and grandiose… I found that the oration accompanied by these stunning images of mountains really set my mind to a loftier plane in consideration of these high-climes… There is something about the Himalayas that is so epically resplendent. Chris’ presentation couldn’t fail to capture this but what I found most impressive was the way he conveyed the human side of life in the Himalayas which is so often lost amidst the grandeur of the peaks. I envy his ability to have such a lengthy insight into the country and also having been here in times when tourism was not so rife and things were far more virgin than they are now. I’m sure a future me will reflect on my visits to certain places in the world and think just in the same fashion “oh how things have changed!”, but I believe also that as development reaches a certain point there undergoes a certain transition at which traditional culture moves aside to a large extent. These changes have been led largely by increases in mountaineering tourism in the Himalayas but in a wider sense communications and the spread and development of new technologies affects a wider change across the face of the country. Thus whilst many of the essential components of the culture of these regions is maintained a wholly new concept is evolving around the these new intrusions in such a way as to change the face of many hundreds of years of societal development within a generation or less. Overall the presentation was an acute insight into what I’m missing down here in the valley. I really must at least get to one viewpoint before I leave! — Even if it means running up the nearest peak as to complete at least one “trek” before I leave… Watch this space.

Steak's not typically on the menu here in Nepal
The Cow is very much sacred here so good quality beef is extremely hard to find.

As regards the steak, I write with genuine sincerity when I say that on the two happy occasions that I have enjoyed this experience it really does rank amongst one of the finest that I have experienced in my entire life. Pujan, Michelle and their wonderful staff must receive some kind of award for mustering such consistently good food show the courtyard. I hail the Dal Bhatt which I have ordered on several occasions to my room as absolutely delicious (and this is coming from someone who has this as a long staple in Janakpur) and the Steaks…the steaks are amongst the very finest across the whole of Asia. Fact. You might wish to lable me a fool simply because I crave a meat which is not widely available here in Nepal (most people here are Hindu after all – (and to be absolutely explicit the cow is one of the most sacred animals in the Hindu religion)), but discussions with a great number of people who have experienced this culinary delicacy really do add weight to my statements. All are agreed on the above and would, I’m sure, willingly swear blind. Altogether they are just out of this world and certainly have to be tasted to be believed….but steaks aside If you ever get the chance to visit Nepal and are looking for “the perfect place to stay” I cannot more thoroughly recommend the Hotel Courtyard. The steaks of course, play some small part in my suggestion here but more widely I have never felt more at ease in a place. The gamut of the clinment, curiosity and intrigue. There is never a dull moment (partly why I choose to keep myself away – distraction factor) but there in the same breath there exists an enduring sense of calm and serenity about the place, not to mention Chic. Something of the air of the place here so strongly reminds me of ….’s “In the mood for Love”. I am certainly going to miss it here when I head back to the maelstrom of clamour and chaos that is my existence in London.

Pujan the Wizard
Pujan, here cooking up a magical night outside by the fire, makes some of the best steaks in the world – I’d swear that he imports them from some other heavenly plane of existence.

As a final thought, Holi is happening on Wednesday. Of course it will be a national holiday and therefore another day off…. and I think I should choose this day wisely as a chance to really engage with the local culture rather than sitting in my room. What this directly means is that the next 48 hours are going to be incredibly work filled but hopefully on Wednesday I can take some respite in a bit of fun and games. If you’ve every heard of this more famous of Hindu festivals you’ll be aware of the need to throw at your fellow man coloured paints and perfume. Whole streets descend into coloured chaos. This has a great photographic as well purely perceptual pleasure in its potential form (providing I and my camera survives).

Hotel Courtyard Bar
…the bar lit up during load shedding

I will of course find more detailed information about this (hopefully through empirical experience ) but as far as I understand it this “festival of colours” hails the arrival of spring as well as referring backwards to various aspects of the Hindu mythology. The story goes, and I’m summarising from Wikipedia here, that Hiranyakashipu a great Demon King – who could not die – kept trying to kill off his son, Prahlada, who was enamoured of the great Lord Vishnu, rather than worshipping his Demonic Dad as he was supposed to do. Ultimately Hiranyakashipu tried one too many times and in his final attempt, ordering his son to climb onto a pyre which was set burning in the lap of his demon sister Holika in order to get the deed done, his plan backfired (literally). In the event it was Holika not Prahlada that burned to death and thus everybody cheered and celebrated the wicked sister’s burning with a brand new festival – Holi… all good and proper but the celebratory aspects referring to spring seem to make a bit more sense to me and happily in many places the festival is also associated with harvest and positive seasonal prospect variations. It is certainly a festival which I become aware of over the years, not least because of the paint stains which are left in the UCL Quad when British Hindus (and non-Hindus granted) celebrate this event so it will be a great pleasure to see at first hand here in Nepal.

Reports as soon as I can muster after Wednesday’s events then!

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One thought on “2012-03 Kathmandu nights: Too many ideas, Steak & Slides and Holi on the Horizon.”

  1. I briefly stayed at the Hotel Courtyard and found that the relative luxury was exactly what was needed after a stint in Janakpur! The honest bar policy is a lovely touch. YOU MUST GET OUT DURING HOLI. Possibly the most fun I’ve ever had. Be prepared!

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