When it came time to turn left or right, I started out turning right. The street was certainly interesting looking, but something told me I should be headed left. I turned around and to my surprise, I was staring at a stupa, a small Buddhist temple – a place of prayer and meditation.
I smiled and drew closer, in awe. I felt a sense of peace, and took my time looking around and taking it all in. That’s when I noticed a local tea shop. Perfect! One of my missions in Nepal was to find some Cardamom tea and bring it back home!
After purchasing Cardamom and Orange Pekoe tea, I slowly walked back to my hotel, trying to remember how to get there. When I was close, I stopped at a local restaurant for some Nepali food.
Much to my dismay, the waiter told me: “Sorry ma’am, we don’t serve Nepali food right now.” He chuckled uncomfortably. “You know, the gas problem and all.”
“Oh okay…” I said slowly, absorbing the information. I made my way to a table inside, and sat down. I started to put the pieces together when a note at the bottom of the menu confirmed my fears.
“All food are cooked from wood fire due to the shortage of LPG cooking gas. No additional cost. Thank you.” The first indication of Nepal’s crisis.
I remembered reading that border tension that caused the borders to be closed, made it difficult to get petrol and LPG cooking gas to Nepal. I don’t know the details, but I know they felt as if India wasn’t supplying it when they needed it the most.
And if restaurants were having a hard time cooking food, what became of small families? I’m sure they resorted to cooking with wood fires all the same, but it couldn’t be easy.
Not in the mood for anything continental, I settled for chai, which was much later followed by chowmein.
When I returned to the hotel, I asked the young man behind the counter if the complimentary ride to the airport would be available in the morning. He flipped through several sheets of paper while he processed the proper response. His face flushed.
“I’m sorry ma’am. We may have done that back in January, but with the shortage of petrol, we just can’t offer that service any more.”
The second sign of Nepal’s crisis had revealed itself.
“It’s fine,” I said, smiling. “I’d like to book a taxi for the morning, around nine-thirty. Can you arrange that?”
“Sure! No problem!” He said, suddenly beaming with relief.
After returning to my room, I curled up under the blankets, and switched the heater on. I watched South Indian romance movies and reflected on my experiences until I fell asleep.
This story is continued here: My Return to Nepal: Like a Local