Monday 20Q – Dash does Kathmandu!

Welcome to the first Monday 20Q in oh, about nine months. I know, nine months is a long time to wait for something that was supposed to be a weekly event, but these things happen. This time round, I’ve chosen a subject who is someone that will provide a “funny” interview in that he is from a first world country, living in Kathmandu, Nepal, on a program to make their world a better place through education. If you don’t know where that is, it’s a third world country where shops have no fridges, and street names are nonexistent.

Dash has been a friend of mine for about 2 years now, I think. We’ve never met in person, we come from two entirely different continents, yet Dash and I have spoken so many times about anything and everything that it feels weird calling him an ‘online friend’. Being an Ozzie, for some background information, you might also know him on my blog as Robbo. He has worked for the Australian government for years, and came to a place in his head that told him he needed something more meaningful out of this life, and so he gave up everything to move to a place in the middle of nowhere.

From what I read, his language barriers in Kathmandu are driving him a bit bonkers, but I know Rob, and if nothing else, he’s someone who likes to be challenged. And on to the interview!

Now, how are you coping with your new life?

Pretty good – I just need to get a better sleeping and exercising routine, I think my head would be in a better place with some exercise. But then there are days when I want to belt the shit out of the next horn-tooting taxi or bus driver, shoot a cow and throw it all in and go home. I just wish my girlfriend was here sometimes to give me a hug.

What do you miss most about ‘First Worlding’?

My morning chai latte made by my old housemate, she is such a sweetie and knows just how I like it.
I miss kicking a footy on green grass.
I miss knowing exactly how to go about asking someone for whatever ‘this’ is.
I miss not knowing wherever it is I want to go.
I miss not having people intentionally injuring themselves then displaying their injuries to me in the hope I will give them some money.
I miss not being the target of a million stares and outreached hands, just because I’m white.

They hurt themselves intentionally? W.T.F?
I saw one guy with a 1 cm deep gash all up his arm – semi healed – stick it into my taxi to show me hoping I would give him 50c. Some parents break their children’s legs and then don’t get them medical help so they heal at weird angles, to “guarantee” them an income for the rest of their lives. Albeit through begging.

That’s horrible! What is the biggest cultural difference you’ve noticed?
Man on man and female on female touching. Because sex / touching is totally un-Hindu, they have to compensate. So you see men walking down the street hand in hand. For me, it means that when someone shakes my hand they often don’t let go. Sometimes we are in a meeting and they will constantly tap the inside of my leg. Fucked if I know why! I was warned before coming to be very careful about body language with any women – they can interpret a look or a shoulder touch as a come on – meaning they will either be uncomfortable or think that I want to marry them.

Okay, so you have random gay touching, but it isn’t actually gay?
Exactly. So you won’t ever see a husband and wife holding hands in the street, but straight men do. I’m surprised you haven’t heard about the uproar when they showed an on screen kiss in a Bollywood movie.

That is absolute madness! What’s your favourite thing here that you didn’t have back home?
I only ever order “chha wataa keraa” – 6 bananas at the shop and the suhuji just starts getting them ready for me when he sees me coming. My old corner store shop owner used to know which paper I wanted every weekend back home, but here it’s more of a community thing. And the fact that I have to buy milk in plastic bags or if you sleep in you miss it as you have to be at the shop before 7am or all the milk is gone.

Really, not enough supply to demand?
Well – most shop owners don’t have a fridge – so they have to sell it all in the morning or it goes sour.

Describe your home to me?

Ok, I come in through the squeaky red gate (although I applied some WD-40 to it the other day and you’ll no longer get a peep out of it, I was totally sick of hearing it open at 5am). It is very heavy and opens up to my downstairs neighbours beautiful garden that she spends most of the day looking after.

She is quite a plump lady with a beautiful smile and a very nice demeanor. We never have much to say to each other, but I think her English is quite good. She has a black dog I understand they call “big Blackie” and her husband is a thin tight lipped man who nonetheless seems very nice. Anyway, you then go down a little path and up the stairs, past Jingo (little blackie, another dog) and around to the left. Go past Crazy Neighbour lady’s flat (and her two boys, don’t know what’s happened to their father). Go past the usually locked door that leads upstairs to Reeta (the Didi’s house). There you will see my tiny double doored entrance with a thick looking padlock on it.

And inside, a bed, a night light and a book shelf? Does it feel like home?
Definitely, I am loving living alone actually – no “issues” to worry about.

By the sounds of it, our (South African) poverty is on level to your living standards at the moment. Or at least, the neighbourhood you’re in is.
Well, I have running water, which my neighbours don’t. Apparently that ledge and the sink were quite the hit with crazy lady when she came to visit. She started rattling off something very enthusiastic and tested its weight bearing capacity. The shower and sink in the bathroom were another oddity to her, probably the toilet too as most people squat over one of those hole in the ground style things, so I take it I am actually living quite well. I really don’t think of SA as third world. Then again I have never been there.

Yes, I think you are living quite well by their terms. By the way, it is called a ‘long drop’, the toilet.

I think if I didn’t have a home at least slightly suited to my first world needs I would probably be in a different place mentally. All the windows have bars on them – kind of oppressive, but necessary. It’s strange. Come to think of it, I’m lucky that this place is furnished!

In closing, I offer you a bag of five items, any items in the world, what are they?
1. Tim Tams [beautiful chocolate biscuits (oh you sweet, sweet Tim Tams)] Actually, my high school music teacher is blowing into town on the weekend with a little care package for me that I understand includes tim tams…
2. a DVD player – for some reason upon leaving Australia I got it into my head that I would not be watching DVD’s. They are cheaper than a dollar each and every now and then you need that escapism, you know?
3. chai latte – i’m scared to even ask for one
4. a good internet connection
5. and a scarf with my girlfriend’s perfume on it if, of course, you can’t fit her in there.

Cute. Okay, all important question: what are you wearing?
Flip flops, jeans (rolled up a quarter of the way so they don’t get covered in muck, be it cattle poo, mud, bike oil or goats remains), and a blue polo (bless this sweet country, at home I’d be wearing a shirt and tie.

Any famous last words?
If I’m dead tomorrow tell them it was the momo’s. Oh, and I most certainly did not do this interview while at work.

7 comments

  1. SwissTwist says:

    Brilliant! all hail to the revival of 20Q!!

    What an interesting life and very brave too!

    I love the famous last words!! (I’m definitely NOT commenting from work! ;-p )

  2. MsBehavn says:

    Nice to see that you’ve got this up again, lady.

    I would kill to be able to visit Kathmandu. Ok, not really but I would love to go there some day!

    Nice interview, dash. Your gf must be so proud! 😀

  3. Stef says:

    very interesting! it seems that i am, after all, way too selfish to ever consider doing what he’s doing… well done mate!!

    i love the 20 questions 😉

  4. Stalker says:

    I cant read your post due to words that are deemed unfit for the work enviroment so sad ;-( i have appealed the ruling awaiting responce from IT

  5. Amy says:

    Ah sweet young Dash! Sheens, i miss our old ” anything goes ” conversations – seriously, i may have to invest in Skype. Aalso, i wish i had half the intestinal fortitude Rob has, to just pack up my shit and go without worrying about what happens when i’m done.

    When are we all going to Paris together anyway ?

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