I apologise in advance for this rushed Blog post but I have to be quick at the internet cafe this morning as I have a few things to sort out - like checking whether my insurance will validate me changing my flight in the event of a political strike! Also need to phone the Embassy and let them know that I'm here and planning to travel. We'll see what they say. There is a lot of mixed information coming through this end about the forthcoming 'bandah' planned to start on Sunday. Whether it will be cancelled, or whether it is going to last for a month - either of these are a possibility but no one has any real idea. My friend Carly and my mom have been searching the internet for more information for me and it looks as though it's cancelled but word here is that still nothing is certain. Not sure if it's safe to travel even by the supposedly safe 'tourist buses' (with plain clothed armed guards) and then when I do get to Kathmandu, how will I travel around the city? My mom tells me that she watched a video last night when the last bandah was in force and even people on bicycles trying to move around the neighbourhood were surrounded by people and forced to get off and walk. Oh my.
So anyway - on with yesterday's events. I woke up and - guess what - yup, had brekkie and a shower. One day I will surprise you all and do something crazy and out of character like .... I dunno, not shower lol
I spent the morning soaking my clothes in a bucket whilst reading another Maeve Binchy book ("The Dublin Four") and then I set about washing my stuff African-style on the veranda. Up to the roof, hang everything out to dry and lay my jeans on the hot clay tile roof like everyone else seems to do with their thicker fabrics. There is no 'school' at the Women's Centre for me this afternoon as it's a half day in Nepal (and tomorrow - Saturday - is their 'holy day' so no school then either) so instead I wander down to the internet cafe and update my Blog, reliving the whole jungle experience with Sundur Kali all over again. Oh I wish I could go with her into the jungle every single day! Maybe I will become a mahout and just stay here ...
Back at the guesthouse, Sunita arrives home (yay!). Her Principal has decided that she can have the weekend back at home seeing as her father is still visiting from the UK - and there is another relative here now that she wants to see again. I ask her who, wondering if Dal's wife is arriving soon but she says "you silly!". Awww. Dal and I head down to a German Bakery so that I can buy some rolls for lunch - I really fancy a tuna and mayo sandwich. I honestly can't eat any more curry. Possibly ever. After a very satisfying lunch, I spend the afternoon taking photographs of the hotel for Dal's new brochure that we've been working on. I fold the towels in the bedrooms properly (rather than just dumped on the side of the bath which is their usual practice) and pick some flowers from the garden to set the scene. Dal loves it and tells the staff that this is how he wants to find the rooms from now on. I can feel their eyes burning into me. Ooops.
The afternoon passes in a blur as I'm so busy taking photos and then finalising some 'write ups' in the brochure about the various tours on offer. It feels good to be doing something worthwhile as, after all, I did come here as a volunteer. Dal has refused to let me pay for my evening meals as a thank you for all my hard work - I try to explain that's not the point of volunteering but he won't back down. I will be eating with the family from now on.
Dal has collected Shova from school whilst I was busy amending the brochure and as they pull up on the motorcycle, she jumps off and flounces into her room. Dal follows but she locks him out. There is a lot of yelling going on (from Shova) and Dal walks over to where Sunita and I are sitting, giggling. Shova is annoyed with him for being late to pick her up - and more importantly, picking up Sunita first when it wasn't even planned for Sunita to be coming home at all today. Her nose has been put out of joint. The wrong footed teenager continues to stamp and holler and slam doors and even manages to air her feelings so that even I will understand by screaming "I hate you! You are the worst father EVER!". Dal makes his way over to her bedroom, followed by Sunita and the mother. After another five minutes or so of yelling and crying, Dal and Shova come out of the bedroom and get on the motorcycle. Sunita comes over to me and explains that Shova is moving to live with her grandparents (albeit without any kind of bag, I notice). Dal just shrugs and they drive off down the road. I place a bet with Sunita and her Uncle Kumar that Shova will be back tomorrow, full of apologies. Sunita says she will be back tonight.
We waste some time on You Tube and after only half an hour or so, Dal and Shova reappear at the entrance to the guesthouse. Shova is furious and stomps back to her bedroom where loud wails are heard throughout the rest of the evening. Dal says that the grandparents had told her she was being silly and there was no way they were becoming involved with something so petty. Oh dear. We all eat chicken curry for dinner (except Shova who is crying herself sick in her bedroom) and then sit out on the main veranda chatting until late into the night. We discuss the bandah, blonde hair/blue eyes vs dark hair/brown eyes (I want to look like Sunita - she wants to look like me). We go back on You Tube and find some traditional Nepali folk music and dance around (Puja, I remembered the 'change the light bulb / twist the door knob' dance you taught me so I didn't look too much of a wally - or maybe I did). It's a lovely family atmosphere and we're having such a good time. Before I know it, I have been convinced to stay on an extra day so that I can attend Sunita's school fete on the 29th. That leaves me with only one day in Kathmandu which wasn't really the plan but hey ho, plans change I guess. Ideally she wants me to stay until the 31st as that is her birthday but there is no way that's possible as my flight leaves the next day.
Dal heads off to bed and Sunita and I browse through copies of Elle and Glamour magazine that some tourists left previously. We sneak into the kitchen and share an ice cream at 11:00pm and discuss all the crazy fashions we've been looking at. Sunita is desperate to come to England for college next year and tells me that her father is considering it. He brings her lots of clothes from Primark and he showed her a photo of the shop once - she really wants to go to Primark more than "anywhere in the world". She has decided - as much as she will miss her mother - she would like to come to England and do her A Levels, then go onto Uni and eventually become a doctor. Dal has already told me that she is an A student across the board so I hope she gets what she wants. As we sit in darkness on the kitchen floor (the power went about an hour ago) taking turns to slurp our sneaky ice cream, I ask her what excites her most about the possibility of moving to England. She thinks hard for a few seconds and then announces with her head held high: "I will be able to hear Rhianna on the radio whenever I like". Bless.