View of Patan House from the inner courtyard
November 14, 2012 - Patan House - The taxi ride into Patan ends where the road narrows and its a short walk to Patan House - not a B&B; nor is it a hostel or hotel. (Mangal - our host explains on our arrival that it is a residency and we are now part of the family.) I lift the 23.5 kg of my destroyed luggage out of the back of the taxi now being held together mostly by the coloured belt strap and realise that the only way I'm going to get this safely to our accommodation is lifting it to my head which I manage to do without toppling over (domino effect on these crowded alleys) and trying not to look like I'd spent the previous 24 hours sitting down at 42,000 feet.
The view from our front balcony window
Mangal shows us our apartment - a cool 70 square meters of completely empty room except for a very comfortable bed and stylish bathroom. We are pretty much the first people in here as he has spent the last 5 years building this entire building from the ground up. He takes us up to the roof terrace from where there is a clear view across the chaotic architecture of Patan to the white sharp peaks of the Himalayas.
Back in our room we open our suitcases (or what is left of mine), unpack and hang everything up on the floor. Ok, so my tripod didn't make it in one piece either and I tried to imagine exactly what special manoeuvre the luggage handler needed to do to smash something so deeply imbedded in my clothing. Stripping the flight tags off the handle I notice that there is another red one which reads (Heavy!) and decide that this must have been put on to indicate that you shouldn't lift this piece off the plane - rather push it over the edge and let gravity take it to the luggage trolly.
We have a balcony up here on the 4th floor looking out into the small square with it's mix of sacred shrines and water fountains. Up and down the marble stairs a few times I realize that the entrance to each flat looks identical with no markings on the doors and I often end up on one of three floors trying to get into the apartment with only a 30% chance of success. The noise of dogs barking, children playing and the incessant honking of horns from motorcycles fill the air. Despite the racket all round, there is no sense of urgency and one feels that the whole day could pass in this state with people wandering in and out of my frame with that random sense of direction normally reserved for the CRT screen savers of the 1990's.
Patan is a mass of small narrow streets with many not wide enough for a car. The flow of people, animals, and dogs is in both directions and there are small shops everywhere. We pick up our sim cards, exchange phone numbers with others from the KIAF team and then head off to buy a few essentials but we end up coming home with only an assortment of bags full of irresistible sparkling coloured garlands, and festive decorations from the market place and proceed to decorate the windows and balcony with the festive array of New Year's colours.
Doorway decoration, Patan
New Year's Festive decoration on the street
New Year's Festive decoration on the street
Two young girls on a side street of Patan
Electric Avenue - decorated.
Mangal's nephew - the airbrush artist
Our host Mangal and his wife are a dream. You cannot enter their home without receiving food and drink in copious quantity and their hospitality is as hot and spicy as what is on the table. Vishnu is very open and friendly too, and doesn't seem to follow the guidebook specs of a Nepalese wife. It is clear from the start that she derives real pleasure from providing food for her extended 'family'. Their kitchen is a crossroads of international faces coming and going and after a few days it is quite impossible to keep up with the names. When Mangal said that we are family he apparently meant it, as everyone who enters seems to know them well enough for the regular formalities between landlord and tenant to be completely absent.
And so as the sun set over the Himalayas and the cold damp air swept in through the lattice windows of our new home base - I decided to put on as many clothes as possible and head to bed with the idea that I would be less able or willing to put clothes on in the middle of the night if I was freezing than take them off. Lying there wrapped up like an Egyptian mummy listening to the sound of dogs barking and muffled voices I managed to drift off to sleep with my nose exposed to the cold and only a very remote chance that I would wake up fermented in the morning.