Arrival in Kathmandu was very smooth, as this time I was able to avoid the men who loiter and wait for naïve foreigners, whose bags they can carry and then subsequently ask for money. Disregarding my serious jet lag, I decided to attend a wedding that I had been informed by my previous Nepali colleagues, was taking place the very day I arrived. After calling around about what I should wear, it turned out the fellow ladies attending the celebration would be wearing Nepalese “kourtas”. I was relieved, as it just so happened that I had brought one! (See video below).
The next few days consisted of resting, eating, and attempting to find a place to stay in the Tripureshwor area, which was close to where I would be working. Finding an ideal place was challenging, to say the least. After much help from friends, colleagues, and WRRP, I postponed the search and joined another peace fellow, Corey, at a guesthouse in an area that was far (15 min. drive) from the Women’s Reproductive Rights Program office.
The first morning I woke up in my room at the guesthouse, there was an unexpected moment of fear and hesitation to go outside and face the day. As shown in a video by Kate Bollinger, the previous WRRP intern, braving the streets of Kathmandu is no easy feat!
After doing some room-cleaning and organizing (a.k.a. procrastinating), I finally worked out the courage to step out the door, knowing that whether I liked it or not, I would be getting lost in Kathmandu that day.
I started out the door of the guest house, and after about 3 wrong turns, managed to find my way to the market that Corey and I had visited the previous evening. I decided from there to attempt at finding my office. After taking a taxi for 150 Nepalese Rupees (equivalent to $2.00 CAD) to the area I would be working in, I realized I would not find the organization. I then attempted to also seek out Jagaran Media Center (JMC), but as I reached the area, my cell phone died, eliminating any chance of getting proper directions.
I should probably note that in Kathmandu, road signs are few and far between (at least from my perspective). Ask yourself: if the only road signs existing in the city where you live were at major intersections: how would you find your way ANYWHERE?! In Nepal, looking up an address online is not usually an option, as most of the roads are not shown, or are unnamed. To make a long story short, I asked for directions at least ten times, ended up lost somewhere in the general area of where I thought JMC would be, then walked back to a major intersection that I was sure that I had been at earlier. Thank goodness I managed to flag down a bus that would transport me back to the guest house for 12 rupees (equivalent to $0.27 CAD).
Oddly enough, the day was satisfying. I had accomplished three tasks:
1. Get over my fear of getting lost/leaving my room (and looking like a foreigner who has no clue where they are going, a feeling I am now used to).
2. Find the general area of WRRP, so I knew where to go when it was time to start working.
3. Discover the most economical mode of transportation yet, other than walking of course!
Lesson learned: if you hope to find your way around in Kathmandu, you can’t be afraid to get (somewhat… or extremely) lost.
Tomorrow I begin work at the Women’s Reproductive Rights Program. I am very excited, and a little nervous.
Posted By Chelsea Ament
Posted May 18th, 2011