Apparently the way to go for any wannabe writers are romance novels. They are the best sellers in modern day literature.
But for a guy whose first gift to his prospective wife was a tiny cactus plant, followed by a dozen plastic roses after the birth of our first-born, I don’t know if I have the right stuff for that line of literature. I’m still trying to find my niche.
But I have discovered that critics are everywhere. Usually in close proximity. My wife Brenda usually ranks # One on that list. She’s an irregular reader of my blogs, at the best of times. But she did read the latest; Stage One of our travels to Nepal.
“You’re always so negative. Why don’t you write about the good features, the great experiences of our trip. You sound like an embittered, grouchy, grumpy old man.”
Before snapping back in self-defense as I usually do, I decided to think about it for a little while.
“Yeah… so ?” I countered.
Or I could have come back with the line Jimmy Moore, my university hockey coach in the 1970s and as an old-school individual as one could find, used to give us when we’d come to him with complaints about everything from ice time to the amount of meal money on road trips. “As they say in Russia, Davey, tough shitsky !” he’d chortle.
I remember reading something Ernest Hemingway wrote about it being the writer’s job to always write the truth, and to report on what the weather was.
At least I usually get the weather component right, usually.
But to be truthful, there was still a lot of damage from the huge earthquake of two and a half years’ previous. A Nepalese named Chandra was the coordinator through which Brenda did our booking. “Tourism has only come back to about 40 % of the level before the earthquake,” he informed us. Chandra had started in the tourism business as a guide, had improved his English to a high level and decided he didn’t want to work for other people for the rest of his life. Other people would work for him. His booking us into the Kathmandu Guest House was an inspired choice. The staff was unfailingly friendly and the buffet breakfast had me returning for three or four fill-ups. There would be a lot of calories to burn off during a three week Himalayan trek.
That’s being positive, isn’t it ?
One cannot make a trip to Nepal without visiting the Royal Palace. It’s located in something called Durber Square and it had been badly damaged by the quake. Admission inside most buildings was not permitted throughout the period of renovation, leaving us with a sense of dissatisfaction.
Cracked or not, the architecture was superb. But even so, the kings or the ancient Hindus or whoever had done the designing to please the gods and goddesses had had the practical foresight to leave room for a sizeable market square. Someone had to pay the bills, after all.
This area was dubbed Grasshopper Square. Maybe the initial proprietor had been a fan of David Carradine and the t.v. show Kung Fu. But the salespeople within, whether they had any connection to grasshoppers or not, were relentless. When Brenda cast her discerning eye over a small statue of Buddha, the salesman was more than slightly encouraged.
“You want that Buddha? I give special price for you. Only $20.00”. My wife’s obvious lack of interest forced the poor soul to rein in his hopes as she turned her back and began her walk out of the overpriced square.
“One dollar?” was the last offer heard coming from the luckless vendor. Poor devil had overplayed his hand and karma was not cooperating.
Outside the square and into the streets scooters and motorbikes had taken over the streets, going in all directions at once and leaving little room for an entitled and arrogant Ottawa pedestrian. Joining us on foot were stray dogs and the odd sacred cow whose only pastureland was the occasional overturned garbage can. Somehow, someway, collisions seemed to be avoided until one motorcycle wheel ran up the back of my leg. Predictably enough, I received no sympathy from my travel-hardened wife. “You’ve got to watch and be careful,” she warned me, too late to do any good. “Thanks for the advice,” I grunted, limping quickly out of the way before any other motorcyclists decided to finish me off. I glared back at my ever-loving spouse. Everything happens so fast in an Asian city. One tiny, innocuous shove might do the job. No eye witness account would stand up in court.
Fortunately, both of us were able to make it back to the hotel unaided. Two, maybe three of those Nepal beers might help me recover from my trauma. Tomorrow morning, early, we would be catching a cab and then a bus which would take us off to, as the wrestling announcers of my youth used to say, parts unknown. “What time are we leaving tomorrow,” I asked the boss. My contribution to trip preparations usually amounted to grunting when Brenda asked if the itinerary met with my approval.
“Does that mean we miss that buffet breakfast tomorrow morning?” I inquired.