Jane Wilson-Howarth

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Snail Mail's Cancelled

Monday, 15 March 2021
I pedalled over to the Post Office at Patan Dokha this morning to post a few cards. The staff inside asked me which country I was sending to and told me I couldn’t post anything to the UK or the US, only to India. This is an unexpected consequence of the pandemic. International flights, of course, are fewer and there was something they said that I didn’t quite catch in their fast Nepali about Thai Airlines being the problem. Maybe that’s how most of the post usually leaves Nepal. Certainly they don’t seem to be flying this month even if Qatar continues to be busy.
So we returned to Nepal on the first of this month, and served our ten days in quarantine. Now life in Kathmandu seems much as ever, although there are almost no tourists. Consequently lots of shops, some hotels and some of the fanciest restaurants are closed, while the friendly little cafes and tea shops continue to welcome all comers.
Grocery shops are well stocked although there are imported items that are no longer available (Marmite, for instance) but there’s nothing we can’t do without. Lack of tourists have meant that friends have had some amazing trekking experiences while we’ve been away, walking routes that are usually seething and I wonder how long it will be before tourists come back in numbers. The quarantine rules must be putting some people off, and there are plenty of others who simply can’t travel.
My boys treated me to a mother’s day massage in the spa in the ridiculously palatial Marriott Hotel yesterday and that felt strangely deserted. The fountains in the lobby were functional but pool was closed and there were very few people about. Post-spa we dined in the Moti Mahal Indian vegetarian restaurant on Durbar Marg. We were the only Westerners eating and most of the others were well-nourished, well-heeled Indians. Any businesses built on tourists from the West or the Antipodes must be hurting a lot at the moment.
The atmosphere in the Valley is lovely though. Winter is official over, blossoms are sprouting everywhere so cycling around the residential areas of the city, there are often wafts or jasmine and other lovely perfumes, and the birds, of course, are focussed on sex.
We pedalled over to Patan’s royal square yesterday, Sunday, and spotted just one other Western couple, but Nepalis were out socialising aplenty and enjoying the sunshine. Over-dressed toddlers squealed with delight as they chased pigeons and old men sat soaking up the rays and chatting. Perhaps some have had the vaccine (the ‘Oxford’ vaccine is being made in India under licence) and think they are protected. Some people were wearing masks but the fear of the disease seems to have been short lived locally. It is the case, and I am happy to report, that the kill rate from the pandemic is really low in Nepal, even lower than in India. The Prime Minister explained that this was because Nepalis eat lots of turmeric ginger and garlic. Scientists bat around other ideas, citing herd immunity, special proteins, vitamin D, fewer obese people, etc., etc. but thusfar the phenomenon is not understood. Let us hope it remains so.

 Candyfloss salesman in Patan Durbar Square
 
 An after-lunch snooze
 
 Temple roofs of Patan Durbar Square in the Kathmandu Valley
 
 Backstreets of Patan city
Posted: 15/03/2021 08:11:54 by cmsadmin | with 0 comments
Filed under: Kathmandu, Kathmandu Valley, Nepal, pandemic, Patan, Patan Durbar Square



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