Notes from the Captain
Screwy Tuskers 1999[See also Tilman's Journal!]
I have left NEWNES behind in Bangkok. He, along with Mr. Wescott, has been parked with the "left luggage" people at The Oriental Hotel. They will happily surface in sometime after December 15th; after we have finished our business in Nepal.
Alf, so where are you now?
Well, today is really not December 1st, so I am not where I am. That day was just shy of a fortnight ago; and it was just a single sunrise after my rambling rant about Susan's flights around and through the bowels of the nether earth. Today is actually Tuesday the 14th, and I am Pokhara. Pokhara is in central Nepal, rather near the Annapurnas. Yes, right you are with your calendar….we have just about run the clock on our Nepalese visa and in less than 48 hours we'll have to be out of the place.
Get to the point, Alf!
OK. You see, for the longest time I have been without proper electricity. Sure, Tiger Tops had enough solar generated juice to power up a couple of 12 volt lamps and a fan, but plugs for a computer or a hair dryer were right out of the question.
I'm getting there. Hold on. As I wasn't able to use my ThinkPad, you, dear reader, were left with a gap: that moment between my shutdown in the John LeCarre Suite and the lift-off of Tilman's journal. That's the crack I am going to fill right now.
Please take a close look at this photograph.
What do you see? Yes, you can't miss the pack of matches. But, that bit is in the picture just to show the scale: the relative size of the thing that you should now be looking at. What is that little dark stick that you are now looking at? I am not going to tell you now; but I'll give you a little hint: one of these sticks is assigned to every guest room at The Oriental. OK, just more hint: it is used several times a day ... unlike a shower cap or a sewing kit that may lay untouched by guests for days on end. Ah ... one final mini-hint: that last sentence, if dissected by a lawyer, might reveal a misleading detour. Enough droning! More will dribble out later after I have checked back into The Oriental.
Our flight to Kathmandu from Bangkok took about 210 minutes. My fixation with in-flight maps remains keen. Look how close we are (were) to Calcutta.
After we landed in Kathmandu it took us another 210 minutes to clear immigration and customs ... thanks to the airport visa-fee extortion desk. The big sign reads "Visas - $25.00" ... and that sign, believe me, has read that same way for years…but the man with the rubber stamp has forever managed to extort at least thirty bucks from everyone who passes by his command post. He must have a beautiful home and he must drive a wonderful car and his children must all go to the very best British schools.
Since I am still pretending that today is December 1, I am now going to hand you over to Tilman. She will take care of your reading needs up until December 15th. At that point I'll be back with something new: "A LITTLE STAR OVER BANGKOK," a Christmas story.
But, before I stop pretending that today is December 1st let me pull something out of a two-week-old IHT:
PARIS - Communist Deputies have introduced into the National Assembly a bill banning the production, importation or sale of Coca-Cola in France. The Communists have been waging a lively campaign against America's alleged policy of "coca-colonization." An explanation attached to the Communist bill said: "A grave danger constitutes an immediate menace to our production of wines, of aperitifs with a wine base, as well as our production of beer, of cider, of fruit juices, of mineral waters, etc. This grave danger resides in the methodical, powerful organization of a massive Coca-Cola invasion of France."
Our first stop of the day was at the Tibetan Refugee Camp at Jawalakhel. Here old women weave rugs endlessly.
Our next stop was at a Hindu temple in Bhaktapur to see wooden sex education carvings.
On December 3rd we left Kathmandu and drove for seven hours to The Royal Chitwan National Park. The next morning our elephant safari sighted rhinos.
December 5th and 6th saw some serious practice by Screwy Tusker Susan Cassone [120k MPEG movie].