I've spent almost 4 days in Kathmandu, Nepal and there are some very unique things about this area. It's hard to know where you exist in time and space.
For many days now I've tried to figure out what time it is. At first I thought we were +12:45 hours but then I was off by 40 minutes for a Skype date. I adjusted my alarm clock to cell phone time before going to bed. The next morning I met a friend for breakfast around 8 a.m. I thought his watch was off because it said 10:20 a.m., a bit later and I knew we haven't been eating for over 2 hours. It turned out he had the correct time and I was one hour late to breakfast. This also made me miss my other friend on Skype.
This is very discombobulating for a person who likes to be on time and is very impatient of tardiness in others!
The next day I was filling out some forms and needed the address of my residence in Kathmandu. My guest house business card just said the name and area where it's located. I tried to obtain an exact street name and number from the confused desk clerk. I had to smile and ask questions like, "If I was to mail you a post card, where would I send it?" All of these were met with a look of confusion; we parted ways each thinking the other was a bit off their rocker!
I also struggle with the conversion of money here. This is my fourth country and apparently my brain is completely full. When I am quoted a price of something the part of my brain which normally whizzes into action just sits there, the gears hopelessly gridlocked. I get a blank look on my face and have to lower myself to ask for a calculator or the price in US dollars. This is an obvious bargaining disadvantage as I have now proved myself be poorly versed in the local currency and prices.
The roads are completely crazy also. In the Thamel neighborhood where I am staying, the lanes are narrow and can only accommodate one car width at a time. Pedestrians, cars, motorbikes, rickshaws and bicycles all share this space. There is no sidewalk or separate sides of the street for traffic, everyone just makes their way the best they can. Sometimes cars have to back up to let another one through. There are larger main streets which are equipped with a sidewalk and separation of lanes, it's still a bit crazy but much better than the small side streets.
It took me a few days to be able to navigate the traffic by foot. However, I am proud to say that I can now walk down the street and sort of flow with all the chaos.
This is what traveling is like. You have to adjust to local customs and ways of doing things. Each new place has skills to teach you. How useful these skills are back home is yet to be determined. I am sure that the structured, organized way of Mountain View will be quite a shock to me when I get back home a few months from now!
==I Caption: Rickshaw driver waits for his next customer.==