Friday, February 1, 2008

Mutsumi and Yoshimi

miThe former I think most of you know, my partner of the last 14 years. The latter is an ex-school teacher, resident of Australia, and current knock-about who once worked with Mutsumi in the office of the Working Holiday Association. I had the pleasure over the past week to be guide to Kathmandu for these charming ladies, who seemed to have enjoyed their experience of Nepal, which included lunches with my Nepali families; an afternoon with the nuns of the Muktinath nunnery; full days in Patan and Bhaktapur; a 6:00am prayer ceremony and breakfast with the monks at Shechen Monastery; tea with my classmates at my art school; a wedding at Gokarna temple; and unfortunately for Mutsumi, contact with a local cold virus and a visit to a Tibetan acupuncturist.

At Kopan Monastery

Our niece Arya

In Patan

Wedding at Gokarna

With the brother of the bride, a Gurhka who arrived
in Nepal from Iraq only the day before.

Perhaps the most amusing anecdote of their one week stay occurred on the day of their arrival, which saw a nationwide strike against a government price hike in fuel prices. This was the third such increase within the last two months, and where the previous two were greeted with resignation, this last brought people into the streets, where they blocked the roads with piles of burning tires. Any vehicles that attempted to run the blockades were either vandalized or their owners forced to pay an exorbitant people's tax.

So, what was I to do? I had to get to the airport because Mutsumi and Yoshimi were arriving – and with large suitcases. How to get them and their gear back to Boudha and the guest house? I asked some of my acquaintances in the area and ended up taking their advice of making the 45-minute walk to the airport, accompanied with a porter to carry their luggage should there be no taxis available.

Luckily, it wasn't raining. The day was cloudy and foggy; low visibility at the airport forced several flights to circle the valley waiting for conditions to clear. My porter and I got to the airport before Mutusmi and Yoshimi's 13:00 arrival, but the plane circled for nearly two hours before it was announced on the monitor that it was being diverted to Kolkata. A small group of us waiting for this flight walked over to the Thai Air office for more details and were told a decision would be made in the next hour to two hours about whether to bring the plane back to Kathmandu or to send it back to Bangkok. Having no where else to go, especially as there were no buses or taxis to take us anywhere, we settled into the sofas of the Thai Air office to await word on our diverted flight.

No more than 10 minutes later, one of the staff answered the phone, then shouted something in Nepali to the rest of the office, and suddenly everyone was up out of their chairs and heading to the door. The flight was arriving.

Mutsumi and Yoshimi later said there was no announcement about the flight being diverted, nor did they feel the plane move out of its circling flight path. When at last we met, they were happy to be off the plane – but perhaps after learning about the strike not so happy to be on the ground.

How often have you had to walk from the airport? It was a first for all of us. But the ladies shook off their initial disappointment and began to see the humor and the uniqueness of the experience. As we had a porter to carry the bags, they could walk in ease and begin their sight seeing of Kathmandu, passing through residential areas and the grounds of the valley's biggest and most important Hindu temple.

And now, of course, it's a wonderful story they can tell of their first adventure in Nepal.



  1. Jeff-dai,
    Thank you for taking out of your time to write back to me.
    I laughed out loud reading the story of the Mutsumi-didi and Yoshimi-san's arrival day. I know I shouldn't, but you know, it is Nepal. This is it! I've never heard of someone who went to the airport by walk with a porter though!

  2. Keiko-baini,

    Yes, we received the enthusiastic welcome, I mean, the very Nepali way! We should get together soon and compare notes!!