Monkeys and guavas

When I was a child all I really ever wanted was a monkey. Not a puppy, not a pony. A monkey. I always imagined I would dress it in jeans overalls and a small T-shirt and walk it around the neighborhood holding its monkey hand. I was, however, smart enough to know that would never happen, so I figured the next best thing would be to travel to Gibraltar. Why, you wonder? Well, I read somewhere, I don’t remember where exactly, that Gibraltar has lots of monkeys roaming around in tourist areas. I figured it would be cool to go there and meet a real monkey, outside of zoo. Maybe play with it for a while. Maybe try to sneak one home with me and keep it as a pet. Needless to say, that never happened. Not me sneaking a monkey home, nor the trip to Gibraltar. So I gave up on my monkey dream.

Once I realized Kathmandu is full of monkeys, and I mean this in a literal sense (take this any way you like), my monkey dream was again awoken. I was so excited to go to the Monkey temple where monkeys roam around freely and are not afraid of humans. But, my husband then spoiled the whole thing telling me monkeys are actually quite aggressive and dangerous. When I asked him what could provoke them, he told me it was white skin and shiny hair. That, of course, is not entirely true, but it got me so freaked out that I no longer wanted to see monkeys outside of the cages. We did, in fact, end up going to the temple, but I kept looking over my shoulder and ducking when birds would fly over me thinking it’s a monkey attack in full swing. I was somewhat relieved to see there were people there with lighter and shinier hair, and they are not being attacked, but still I kept my eyes wide open. One thing about these monkeys is they are big. They are not cute little creatures you see in Hollywood comedy shows. No sir, these are some big pieces of monkey ass derrière. And they look mean too, walking around claiming their space.

Usually, we don’t deal with monkeys on a daily basis. You can see them if you go to certain parts of town, like Monkey temple area, or sometimes you can spot them jumping around telephone poles. However, once in a while monkeys get a little lost and they end up in our monkey-less part of the city. And then the fun starts. They jump from roof to roof scaring everyone and pretty much doing overall damage on trees and roofs. Mr.B. told me last time monkey has been in the neighborhoood: “When I leave for work, make sure you close all windows and doors so the monkeys don’t get inside”. Yeah, thanks, that made me feel very comfortable. I went from window to window peeking out trying to see if there is a horde of monkeys moving towards our house. And even though no monkeys got in the house, day after I saw damage they left behind. I looked out the window and saw that the guava tree’s branches were all broken and it looked as if though it was stricken by a lightning. Forgetting about the monkey business day before, I wondered to myself what had happened to the tree. And then I saw a piece of evidence clearly pointing to monkeys – a half eaten guava fruit sitting on the tree. Crazy animals.

It looked something like this, described by Farsighted Fly Girl

It looked something like this, described by Farsighted Fly Girl

Things you probably shouldn’t do when in Nepal

1. Eat from a roadside stand

This is a big no-no for me. I understand there are adventurous people who like to try everything, but for me adventure doesn’t really entail getting violently sick while touring Swayambhunath temple and desperately looking for a bathroom while monkeys eye me suspiciously. No matter how inviting those snacks might look, I strongly suggest to pass it up. (tip: don’t try to pet the monkeys while at Swayambhunath – it probably won’t end well, for you)

2. Ride on top of the public bus

When I went to Pokhara I saw this tourist ride on top of the bus heading the same way. The road to Pokhara is a winding 200 km road where trucks stop for no one and nothing. Buses as well. They drive like crazy and not rarely does a bus fly across the cliff and into the river. Riding those buses is a lottery, and riding on the roof of those buses is a suicide, at least for a tourist. Poor girl I saw on top of that bus to Pokhara looked so pale, holding onto her dear life probably thinking “what the hell did I get myself into!?”. I bet she kissed the ground when she finally got off 4 hours later. You don’t wanna do that to yourself.

3. Try to blend in

Let’s face it, unless you’re Indian, you’re probably never ever going to be able to blend in. You can learn Nepali, wear a saree, hop on the bike sitting sideways (if you’re a girl) in your flip-flops in the middle of December, but if you’re white, all your efforts are in vain. You will always stick out like a sore thumb, shining bright in the Nepali sun. And everyone will stare at you. Openly. And you’ll feel awkward. Until you decide to wave to people staring at you. Then they’ll feel awkward. Not that I’ve done that or anything.

4. Get frustrated with traffic

There is just no point. Traffic in Nepal is crazy and don’t try to understand it, or even worse correct it. I honestly think Nepalis enjoy the chaos of traffic in Kathmandu (minus Mr.B. who hates it beyond reason). Most of the time traffic gets so congested and people get so frustrated that only an army guy can settle problems. I found traffic police to be totally useless there. The most annoying thing is how people form gazillion lanes making the traffic even more congested.

Yup, traffic in K-city

Yup, traffic in K-city

5. Assume you’ll be able to eat toast in the morning

One of the great perks of living in Nepal, is having to deal with load shedding. Oh, the infamous load shedding. Be prepared for lots of quiet time sitting in the dark hoping you get sleepy soon. If there’s electricity do everything you possibly can that requires electricity at that time and don’t leave anything for later because the chances of you not being able to have toast for breakfast are high. You better be a fan of cereal with cold milk.

6. Force Nepalis to show up on time

It’s simply not happening. They all operate on Nepali time which is about 45 minutes behind the real time. So don’t expect your friends in Nepal to be there at the exact scheduled time. Well, actually, they are showing up on time, it’s you who’s early. Don’t fret over it because you might as well lose your mind soon. Grab a book and read or just do some good old people watching. Wave to everyone who stares at you. Help the army guy sort out the traffic jam. Or not.