I am typing away in the airport restaurant. This is the only place in Nepal where the prices were at all western. Even the cigs in the “duty free” were twice as much as they are in the streets of Kathmandu. They have slot machines here, but my last Rupees are going into the Red Cross Nepal donation box.
We took our last walk through Themal this morning. I will miss the place. Especially now that all the Tiger Balm and flute vendors know my mantra, no No NO! I did buy two things I wanted from Nepal. One is a game that is found only in Nepal. It is called Bagha Chal. It resembles chess or checkers. The pieces are tigers and goats. Four tigers and and twenty goats. The player with the goats is on the defensive against the player with the tigers. Duh. You can Google it and actually play on-line. I hope to find someone willing to play it with me.
I also bought myself a turquoise ring. Turquoise is found in the Himal, in abundance. It is as good looking as turquoise from Arizona. The stone is set in a nice Nepali design.
Mary Ann bought teas and spices, as usual, her purchase were wiser than mine.
Then we set off for the airport. The Kathmandu International airport serves many airlines. You can fly direct to India (of course) Tibet, Bhutan (two places I reserve the right to visit someday) Thailand, all over Europe and of course, the Middle East. The flights to everywhere other than the ME are for tourism. The flights to the ME are mostly for laborers. On the flight over we were in the plane with a couple hundred Nepalese all happy and animated. Going back it was a sad contingent of people not looking forward to the next year. I know how they feel. When I worked in the Arctic it was the same thing. Flying south the planes were party zoos. Going north was like that Air Force One November ’63 flight out of Dallas must have been.
Nepalese security makes TSA look really lame. When you enter the airport in Nepal, before you even check in, your checked baggage is sent thru an x-ray machine, your carry on is searched, and then men and women are sent to different lines for a serious pat-down. Then you go to the counter for your boarding pass and to check your bags. The bags are x-rayed again. You proceed to a pre-boarding waiting area with restaurants, duty free and slot machines. Before you can get into that area, your carry on is checked, again, and you are patted down, again. These are not light pat downs. These guys have a fetish.
Then, when your flight is called, they get serious. I stood in line behind an older gentleman from Chile. He was traveling with a group of Chileans. We had chosen the most gung-ho checker in the history of flight security. He made the Chilean empty his carry-on knapsack. He then proceeded to open the toiletries bags and do things like sniff the deodorant and the cologne. Then he reached a clearly labeled plastic bottle with a white cream inside, he asked the man “What is this?”
“Face cream” said the man.
“Put some on” said the guard.
He squeezed a glob on his palm and rubbed it onto his face. This pleased the security guard. He went back to work. He pulled out a bag of nuts.
“What are these? He asked.
The Chilean, by now a bit flabbergasted, and almost late for his flight to Paris, replied like the General in charge of the 101st at Bastogne, NUTS!
The guard opened the baggies and took a few out, handed them to the man and said “Eat these”.
The Chilean was a well behaved man and obviously well travelled. He knew better than to argue, and munched down. I truly doubt they were hashish made to look like nuts. If they were, this old man had a great fight to Paris!
They went back and forth for a few more minutes. I was in no hurry and had nothing to hide so I just watched. When the guard escorted the man to the next pat-down, I stepped up to the table and completely emptied my bag. Laptop, laptop battery, camera, video camera, extra batteries, various electrical chords and chargers, a couple of pens, a pad of paper, and my sunglasses. Yeah, I travel light, ok? I took absolutely everything out of individual cases, even my sunglasses. The only thing I thought would be confiscated was the tiniest pair of scissors ever made, so I put them over on the side away from my passable items.
First he picked up my knapsack and felt every seam and inspected every side pocket.
Then he picked up my lap top battery which resembles a pipe-bomb.
“What is this?”
He watched as I attached it to my laptop.
“See, battery, makes laptop go zoom zoom”
He inspected all my other electronics like a cave man would inspect a mirror. Then he spotted my tiny little scissors.
“Ahhh, this no good. This no go” he said with a triumphant air.
“OK” I said. “No good, no go” and he was done. He had won. He had found something.
I carefully packed up my bag. Then I looked over at the woman’s line. The Chilean women were getting agitated at the guards inspecting their toiletries and showing it. I found Mary Ann. Sure enough; they found her diabetes medicines and syringes. Oh Boy, this should be good. Mary Ann carries a letter from her doctor about the medicines, and she never carries on more than she should need for a flight. She handed the letter to the inspector. The inspector had to go get a supervisor. I was all ready to intervene, but the inspector came over and poked his fingers with the needles (really a dumb move if you ask me) and then let her go.
We went to the boarding area. Before we got on the bus that takes you across the tarmac to the plane, you guessed it, one more pat down.
All clear, and on our way. At last.
Only one reader has asked for the post on the Kama Sutra. I would expect him too, the old Randy guy he is . So unless more of you ask to see it, along with the story I have written about it, I will just email it to him. You want it? Ask for it!