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  • Greetings from Kathmandu!

    by Sunny
    30th September, 2008 at 10:16 pm    

    Hello all! Happy Jewish new year and Eid Mubarak! I’ve got one final day in Kathmandu left, a town I’ve fallen in love with, before I head back.

    Hanging out with the backpackers, is probably how I’d describe my trip so far. In Delhi I stayed at a cheap and cheerful hotel called Ajay’s Guest House, which is right in the middle of the densely populated Paharganj market. The place is backpacker central, and more specifically Israeli backpackers central. According to some, there are over 20,000 Israeli travellers in India at any one time. The first night I struck up a friendship with a guy from near Manchester, who was also planning to come up to Kathmandu. We left together two days after, having spent much of that time hanging out with two Israeli women, who were great fun and were planning to visit north India. Another one we met the first night had spent a year back-packing India. Now that is serious stamina and was only around 22. There are so many Israelis here that I’ve had touts approach me with Hebrew. These touts certainly are entrepreneurial, heh.

    Anyway, the travel to Kathmandu took around 24 hours (of continuous travel), and the final stretch involved sharing a 8-seater with 7 other backpackers. Two of us from England, an Italian couple, an Israeli couple, one American guy and one dutch. We got on so well we all stayed at the same hotel for the first few nights in Kathmandu and hung out together. The Italians were full of crazy stories about how Silvio Berlusconi has basically stitched up Italian politics. It’s actually mind-boggling.

    Last night we went to a massive Jewish New Years party at the Radisson, and once that finished early (I told them that Jews had nothing on Sikhs for partying), we went to the casino downstairs after for free food and alcohol. I’m savouring my time away from the computer as you can tell.

    I’m leaving my fellow back-packers behind in Kathmandu - which is full of them - and moving on Thursday morning to north India, and then to Lahore and Karachi (I doubt I’ll see any Israelis there) a few days after. Kathmandu has charm and character in spades, and its no wonder so many people want to come here to travel, stay or volunteer. I haven’t read as much this time as last time, primarily because I’ve had more company and partied more. But hey, its supposed to be a holiday! Once I get to the US in a few weeks time I’ll be in politics hell (or heaven, depending on how you see it). Adios!

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    1. leon — on 30th September, 2008 at 11:15 pm  

      Hey Sunny!! Good to hear from you! As you can see PP is running well, me and Rumbold haven’t got round to putting up the ‘Leon & Rumbold’s Pickled Politics’ banner just yet but it’s coming. Mwa haw haw etc.;)

      Your journey sounds fecking cool man, very cool indeed. Look forward to hearing more and maybe a photo or two?

    2. Amrit — on 1st October, 2008 at 12:04 am  

      I second what Leon says (hahaha). Glad to hear that you’re actually kicking back and having fun, you most definitely deserve it!

      I’ll be keeping an eye on your FB page for further updates… :D

    3. John Lilburne — on 1st October, 2008 at 12:43 am  

      Is there much in the news there about the Gurkhas finally getting a fair deal from the UK govt?

      I spent six months in Nepal in ’78/79 and it was a great place then. I wonder how much it has changed and I wonder if some of the restaurants are still playing the punk cassettes we gave them. Most only had a solitary Bob Dylan tape endlessly rewound and replayed :)

    4. leon — on 1st October, 2008 at 2:39 am  

      There is:

      It’s not over yet but it’s a step in the right direction, was meaning to blog about it all day but work kinda didn’t allow it today (it’s 2.38am and I’m still working…):

      A group of retired Gurkhas fighting for the right to settle in Britain have won their immigration test case at London’s High Court.
      They were challenging immigration rules which said that those who retired from the British Army before 1997 did not have an automatic right to stay.
      Prominent supporter actress Joanna Lumley said it was a “chance to right a great wrong”.
      The government said it would now review all Gurkhas’ cases.

    5. Aaron Heath — on 1st October, 2008 at 12:12 pm  

      Thanks for the update, Sunny.

      Sounds like you’re having a ball. :o )

    6. douglas clark — on 1st October, 2008 at 12:23 pm  

      Did you meet up with a fellow Pickler? Now that would be cool.

    7. billericaydicky — on 1st October, 2008 at 5:25 pm  

      Did you get in touch with Halima, she’s up there somewhere? Good stuff on the Ghurkas. I trained with them in this country in the 1960s. Wjatever happened they had a big smile on their faces. A good friend of mine the Indian writer and film maker Mala Sen’s father was commander of 1st Ghurkas in the battles against the Japanese in the retreat from Singapore in 1941.

      He told her the story of the “Commissioners tennis court” The furthest advance of the Imperial Army was to Imphal and a scratch unit of walking wounded, Brits, Aussies, Sikhs, Jats, Dhogras and Ghurkas was holding the line against a superior but very overstretched Japanese army.

      The front line was actually the tennis court and when the Japanese fire began to slacken the Ghurkas pulled Kukris and charged. Many heads were removed from bodies. It interests me that that the battle cry is Ayo Ghurkali. As all you Sylheti speakers out there will know Ayo is amara matri basha for “come on” or ” come in”. I can also read the slogans on those banners on the demos in Nepal.

      One for you linguists here. Look at the map, not too much between Nepal and Sylhet with India in between. I never got to the wonderfully named “happy valley” in 1884. I wonder if it really is with all that smuggling going on.

    8. kELvi — on 1st October, 2008 at 11:26 pm  

      It’s also the time of the Nine Enchanting Nights,

      Happy Navratri
      Happy Dashera
      Shubha Pujo Thake!

      The last one is literary license, Durga Puja greetings!

    9. John Lilburne — on 2nd October, 2008 at 1:38 am  

      If anyone’s interested I’ll be posting some old pics taken in Kathmandu over the next few days.

    10. Rumbold — on 2nd October, 2008 at 5:56 pm  

      Heh Leon.

      Sunny, you are achingly middle class, spending your time in a foreign country hanging out with other backpackers. Glad to hear that you are having a good time.

    11. halima — on 2nd October, 2008 at 9:26 pm  

      Bill - yep here, but on the road to Chitwan to look for some elusive Bengal tigers that have never materialised in the past for me. Still its my dream so gotta chase my dreams and never give up!

      Not much between Bangladesh and Nepal? Agree , though quite a lot of places in North East India are inconveniences for India so i guess you could say Nepal is something of a side-show to India, and Bangladesh or East Pakistan as it was then, was something of a side show to West Pakistan. I am not up on my history of South Asia but know maps have never made much sense.

      Smuggling? Yes. Of lots of things, including children, into India. Not quite the Shangri-La..

      Ghurkas? Yep, they is fierce. There’s also a soft side to them as witnessed in the welfare infrastructures they’ve set up - the Ghurka Welfare Association which runs numerous community support projects throughout rural parts of Nepal, to serve the ultra poor.

      I hadn’t appreciated the slogan Ayo Ghurkali is one that’s found in the streets today …and might be a Maobadi (Maoist) slogan. Would make sense as the 10 year guerilla insurgency would’ve infected the country on whole, and maybe there’s a lot of continuity between the Ghurka tradition and the Nepali people fighting back today .

    12. Jai — on 3rd October, 2008 at 9:57 am  

      Sounds like you’re having a fantastic time, Sunny. Good for you. Interesting to hear about all those Israelis too.

      Hope you’re managing to try out the local cuisine too…..I mean food, that wasn’t a euphemism for women…..Er, not that there’s anything wrong with that either…..Although I probably shouldn’t encourage that…..Er, er…..I’d better stop.

      Keep us posted on the next leg of your journey.

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