Day 2 was much better than Day 1. I met Guy, the other volunteer I'll be working with. He's really friendly, has dreadlocks, enjoys a good beer (or 12) and works as a stonemason back in Chichester in England.
The morning consisted of Daal Baht ('Daal Baht' for breakfast, 'Baht Daal' for dinner!) followed by our orientation with Bal. We learned about the caste system in Nepal (4 arbitrary classes based on blood-line), learnt some basic Nepalise, and talked about the Nepalise education system (It seems like the ability to buy an education causes the same injustices and class divides in Nepal as it does in Australia - Surprise, surprise).
In the evening things really kicked off when Guy and I decided to head into Kathmandu. After only experiencing the dusy - and rather depressing - streets of Bhaktapur seeing Kathmandu restored my hopes that Nepal could be exciting. It was. The streets of Kathmandu are narrow and crowed , filled with Nepalise locals, tourists, and drug dealers. ('hashish sir?'. .'opium?'. ..'heroin sir?')
We went first to a touristy sort of bar called 'Sam's'. At sams the walls are covered with messages written by the visitors. There are stories, quotes, tips, and pictures scribed on the walls. I added my own mark on the wall with one of the few quotes I've managed to internalise:
After a few 'Everests' (the local lager-style beer) Guy shared with me a story about a girl he'd me at a nearby bar a few weeks ago. His enthusiasm for the particular woman was revealed to me without hesitation. He gushed. It was good.
Next we went to a more traditional bar where we sat on cushions on the floor. Guy explained to me on the way there that this is where he had first met Christina (his aforementioned love interest). I think we both knew that the chances of Christina being in the same bar weeks later and the same time that we visit would have to be very slim. Yet by some miracle she turned up!
Christina is from New Zealand and undeniably attractive. She told us about a trip she took to a temple in which she meditated with monks in absolute silence and darkness for 10 hours a day for 10 days. I wondered whether I would have the willpower to do something like that. It's certainly something I'd like to attempt.
I also met a few french travelers and we all ate and drank together.(Christina is the one on the far right)
By this time of the night we'd all had quite a lot to drink and were feeling very jolly but we decided to head to more more bar before home. This last place had a small cover band that played heaps of popular western music. I bought a gin and tonic that was poured freehand to a ratio of 40% gin to 60% tonic. This cost me about $2.50AUD!
On the taxi ride home Guy gushed some more about how Christina is the perfect woman for him - I can't decide whether it was irritating, heart-warming, or amusing. Either way, drunken mumblings generally reveal a lot about a person, and to know that I'm spending the next month with a hopeless romantic means we'll probably have a lot to talk about.