Well, we packed up and headed for the airport to start our Himalayan holiday last Sunday. We decided to do one last day in the lap of luxury at the Harborside Hyatt at Logan Airport in Boston so we wouldn't have to get up at midnight to make a 9am flight. Sitting in the hotel restaurant watching the Boston skyline fading in to the night sky, my wife and I held hands and thought about the less than easy travails in the third-world countries that were to come.
We made the flight and noticed that American Airlines had really slipped a couple of notches in their service. The air hostesses aren't as young and pretty as they used to be and they are quite a bit more surly these days, to the point of being almost insulting. This probably has something to do with the fact that their pay has been cut to about $8.50 an hour. Every other international carrier in the world still served free alcoholic drinks on their flight except American. $6 bucks for beer and $7 for spirits. Time to start filling up those three ounce clear plastic containers!
Transiting Heathrow was less than thrill. It was hard to find any white anglos working at the airport but delightful to engage the different nationalities doing every conceivable kind of menial chore. If only I could be that happy driving a bus or pushing a broom or cleaning a bathroom!
From London it was on to sunny Bahrain. This was a new destination for me. I have to admit that the Arabian peninsula has never been on my list of places to visit. An American naval fleet is stationed in Manama, Bahrain. It is a major base of naval operations for projecting power throughout the Middle East. In the seat next to me was a 30-something old white guy perusing jihadi literature. By the way he was lapping it up it seemed clear where he was heading on to the Arabian peninsula. Then again, he may have been part of naval intelligence boning up on the enemy psyche. The few western people in the airport exchanged furtive, conspiratorial glances at each other during our 3.5 hour layover. We retreated to the over air-conditioned nicety of the airport luxury restaurant where we washed up in the immaculate restrooms (as opposed to the slip'n'slide, toilet-paper-less ones in the main waiting hall) and generally tried to recover after two six hour flights.
Bahrain is a major transit point for the Nepali diaspora (our final destination was Kathmandu) who have been forced to look outside their poor, undeveloped country for work to support their families. From Doha and Dubai and Riyadh and Jiddha as well as Abu Dhabi and many other petro-dollar rich countries they flock to be the nannies and maids and gardeners and laborers for countries where the locals do no work and survive on a $50,000 a year dole. As Bahrain's national carrier is the only one in the Middle East to service Kathmandu, they all funnel through here for the final flight home. The happy chatter on the plane, complete with picture taking, is testament to their exuberance at finally returning home to their friends and families after periods of 2-5 years of being away. All of this is of course fueled by unlimited amounts of whiskey and beer but with unwavering camraderie,
Our 22 hour ordeal finally ended yesterday at 6pm after our flight slowly glided into the Kathmandu valley passing majestic snow peaks jutting above puffy white clouds. The lower lying hills that ring the valley and have caught many a pilot by their last surprise before crashing also passed less than 100 feet below us and finally we glided gently down to the lushly verdant green fields that mark the agriculture of Nepal. We'd finally made it, only to notice that as the last streaks of sun faded there was little light to be seen in the great city of 2.5 million people. Power load-shedding had blacked out the great city except for those lucky few with solar or generators.
The crush began immediately upon leaving the airport. Many skinny brown arms and hands held out with their palms outstretched, begging my wife (who is Nepali) for a handout, explaining briefly how desperately hungry they were. An unsurprising welcome home for my wife,
Next: making preparations for Tibet.
Ah yes,the roof of the world.Would that be the Himalayan mountains Lamagonzo?I am looking forward to the trip....
Them old US Blues makin' you lose your cool?
Travelogue to the roof of the world starts here Feb. 15th. Not that anybody would be interested but it's time to mellow out and appreciate that not everybody on this planet buys into our reality. (Unless their idyllic island nation is going under the waves).
Time to leave the acerbic observations behind, lay it way back and observe the locals. The ones who aren't too busy trying to be like us...
I See Unicorns - Morning dew (dedicated to Jerry Garcia) progressive chill-out
Hope you like it. thank you for listening.
not even that...just a masquerade of clothes and very cool looking personas that have naught
to do with the real thing
but that's not the reason to come to asia right lest its goa, asia is the roots, we are just playing in its leaves....blow blow away...but it's great looking down from space.
... Ken & Barbies while on tour in the day. Ya' know -- slumming it with the Grate unwashed?
Yeah hey, one might guess love for the music starts with love for the folk that dawn the gear
all started for me and seeing the kind folks at the Renaissance festival in St Petersburg at 13
then there was some motivation to get a closer look at the scene, which doesn't seem to be the case in Japan, just a huuugge costume party. Ok ok ok, they have no chance to take a closer look as we all did, but it's so funny to see it all masqueraded about like "i" got the hippy look better than you do. weird but can understand considering the circumstances.
maybe there is something to learned from all of it, clothes are like costumes or signposts
to identify oneself for many but here its just vaudeville,
as for head shop playing spears, could be a joke on us? what do you think?
I've been frequently amused by the gaffes induced by language transliteration. Read the documentation that comes with Chinese motherboards sometime, usually good for a couple of whoppers. But I hadn't considered the parallel potential of cultural transliteration, and I think that's what may be going on in this case.
Conversation is always more interesting than recitation, so speak your mind and not someone else's.
A head shop playing Britney Spears!
That video is Japanese- written katakana. Sweet band never heard of them.
There are so many cover bands here and abouts. I met a cat recently decked out in GD tie dye
a japanese brother, but he had no idea about the band.
In Japan, costume is kind of a fashion statement apparently.
I went to a "head shop" in Osaka recently and the store was playing brytanny spears.
All abouts were Japanese hippies dawning the ethnic gear.
I met this dude with dreads and a Bob shirt and asked him here, "dude do you know where i can score some..."
He was totally oblivious. I wonder why they like to dress in such attire, when they have no clue
about the scene. Totally baffling. There is nothing happening here but zen temples and sushi.
But it's cool.