There is no good, just bad to better
February of 2019. I started my new job in a new country, not
as a consultant but as a full-time slave to the corporate system
this time. Working in a cabin was sucking the life out of me
and every second spent in there was no less than torture. But
little did I know that my German business partner is planning
an expedition of a lifetime for us.
I was preparing some slides to explain this state-of-the-art
radar technology, that could show me what’s flowing in your
hidden tissues just by standing in front of you, when I received
a text from my friend Tobias, “Himalayas. Everest base camp.
Trip of a lifetime. You up for it?”
The unsatisfying cabin life and dealing with this new
technology at its nascent stage was turning my life into a
boiling pot of frustration. So, I agreed to go on this arduous
adventure of a lifetime. Listening to his plan, I realized it was
dangerous, but I was excited. The plan was to cover the route
to the base-camp in seven days. Four days uphill and two days
My senior partner, Tobias, one of those rare humans who
like to live as a berserker. I call him the dirty old man! He lives
a life of dangerous adventures in order to seek the ultimate
truth while enjoying some adrenaline-rushing action under
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the table. Passed out from UC Berkley, this crazy woman-lover
has been to almost every unfathomable part of the
world. Professionally, he is a technical consultant for banks
and trading companies in Europe, the US, Brazil. Politically,
he is personal advisor for the president of an underdeveloped
country. But his real business is traveling to places with stories,
and gemstones. Where did I meet him? That’s another story to
tell, but first, I have to give you a chance to explore it yourself!
Thoughts of the trip called for a coffee. I usually don’t
like waiting in my office’s pantry as the H.R employees here
keep staring at you with their lifeless grimaced faces. One time,
I winked at one of them and instead of smiling, she actually
sneered back at me. Career is the real enemy of love! Sometimes
it seems like the ‘H.R department’ runs some kind of Voodoo
cult. So, unlike others, I prefer carrying the sugar and the wooden
stirrer to my table to make a ‘Starbucks’ double-latte for myself.
I informed our common friend Chris about the “dangerous-yet-exciting
trip.” Chris is an Irish-descent who lives in Germany.
He is a teacher by profession, specifically for autistic kids. Chris
teaches them to become self-reliant. The rest of his time, well,
he spends in seeking his spirituality and using his professional
camera. So yes, he is a liberal vegetarian with absolutely no
political views. He agreed at once and began to plan the trip.
As per the plan, Chris, the preacher, and Tobias the
precious met two days before I reached ‘cat-man-do.’ That’s
what Tobias’ phone typed when he dictated ‘Kathmandu’ to
his cellphone. Tobias flew in from Thailand, and Chris flew
in from New Delhi, India. He was acclimatizing to the high
altitude along with his diarrhea, up in Dharamshala, India.
The next day, I met them at their hotel.
My trip to their hotel was an adventure in itself. On 29th
March, I reached the airport in the morning, checked in with
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my backpack (my only luggage). After checking in, I headed
to the Irish bar inside the airport lounge, killing time while
enjoying my beer and checking out this woman wearing a white
t-shirt under black overalls. I remember smiling at her while
sipping the foam from my beer. I boarded the plane as drunk as
I could manage to be, but the 2-hour flight still seemed to take
forever. I guess, the more I get excited, the more I despise time.
I landed in Kathmandu (Cat-man-do!) at 2:45 p.m.
Though the crowd had the same vibe as any other place in the
world, there was something different about the atmosphere. It
was the smell of newness and, might I tell you, it was pleasant.
The pleasant change that you sense through your nose until
your body fully adapts to the new environment, turning
everything dull again.
Part of that newness was the higher altitude, which resulted
in colder respiration. When I walked out of the Kathmandu
airport, a hoard of taxi drivers surrounded me to offer me a
ride. It seemed like I was the last tourist ever to come out of
the airport. No wonder why celebrities get annoyed by the
amount of attention they get. It was annoying yet I felt special,
which is rare in my life. After a quick analysis, I finally chose a
taxi driver. I hopped in his taxi, and we headed towards hotel
Jagat in Thamel. The morning scene of the city was peaceful;
school kids were passing the local shops; the shopkeepers were
dusting-off their products on the shelves while men in groups
standing outside their shops sipped tea and sucked drags out
of their cigarettes. Some were heading to their respective jobs
thinking about their day ahead, and some were out on the
morning walk, thinking about their life ahead.
Kathmandu is a metropolitan city, so no one was in the
ethnic attire except the local women. The men only wore their
authentic headgear called ‘Dhaka topi.’ Some men standing
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in groups laughing while others walked with a stern and
conscious look on their faces. I could see more young women
than men, but still, it wasn’t crowded at all. Everything was
going smoothly until we got stuck in traffic. At that moment,
the smell of newness faded away and the usual diesel fumes
spoiled the refreshing feel.
As the taxi entered Thamel, I was overwhelmed by the
city’s crowd! Thamel is the main tourist area of Kathmandu
and a homogenous amalgamation of residential and
commercial constructions. It was suitable for the walkers. The
crowded lanes provided easy access to markets and hotels. The
city is densely populated, and Thamel is the most crowded
part of the city. I couldn’t wait to see my friends again, but
I had to complete a secret rendezvous before meeting them.
Due to a recent currency change in the country I arrived from,
the currency I was carrying was not approved by the money
exchange counters at Kathmandu airport. Luckily, my driver
was a friendly and resourceful guy who took me to a juice
vendor as we entered Thamel. The vendor exchanged currency
without a hitch. Meanwhile, my driver went to one of his
known peddlers and fetched me five grams of hashish as per
my request. It was a pure blue-green bead of hash. I didn’t like
the price he offered me the hash for, but I don’t like to think
much when it comes to recreation.
After arriving at the hotel, I inquired about my friends
at the reception. The clerk told me that I missed them by 5
minutes. I stood in the lobby and prepared my mind for a
long wait. However, 10 minutes after my arrival I saw Tobias
entering the 12 by 12-foot hotel lobby on the ground floor with
a warm greeting and a long “Heyyyyyy.” I jumped off the couch
and gave Tobias a short but strong hug and backed off in half
a second, preventing the situation from turning awkward. You
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see, there is a limit for man to man touch, anything more can
turn the situation super awkward. A short man-to-man hug was
mandatory as it had been six months since I had last seen him.
Observing our connection, the clerk yelled, ‘you all have
good timing with each other.’
“Always, man. No need for phones here. We rely on
promises,” I responded to the receptionist.
I hauled my luggage to Chris’s room and surprised him
with the bead of hashish. Tobias had nothing to express
towards it. The beers were already arranged before my arrival.
My friends had found out the best craft beer of Nepal. The
first sip made me roll my eyes back in disbelief, it was that
There was a numbness in my brain due to excitement.
We opened our cans and shared a cheer! And just then, Chris
dropped his beer.
“C’mon man, not again! Why are you so clumsy?” Tobias
“It’s okay Chris, relax man, we can clean it up later,” I
“I think I should really clean it all before I begin to smell
like a craft brewery,” Chris replied.
While he was cleaning the mess, I asked Tobias and Chris
if we could visit ‘Pashupatinath temple’ in the evening, as I was
staying in the city for just that one day.
Tobias laughed and said, “I think we have more important
things to do than visiting a temple.”
“Like what?” I asked.
“Like buying all the necessary trekking gear! We are
already done with ours, only you are left now.”
“But you said we would be mostly walking in a t-shirt,” I
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“Yeah, but what will you do when we reach those ice-falls
at the base camp? You need proper clothes for it, or else the
weather up there is cold enough to freeze your bile juices,” he
“Well, fuck the bile juice!” I responded.
“Hey guys, the joint is ready,” Chris interrupted.
Chris lit up the perfectly rolled joint, sucked in a long
drag, and then passed it to me. I could taste the mountains in
that fragrant drag of hashish. Tobias chugged his beer while
making a shit face as he could not feel the high that both me
and Chris were feeling. It is against the religion of Tobias to
smoke anything- his religion of ‘fanatic health freaks.’ But he
told me that he wanted to see how it feels to get high.
High on my hashish, I addressed Tobias, “I promise you
Tobias, one day I will get you high as fuck and you wouldn’t
have to smoke it.”
All high, we headed out for my ‘trekking shopping.’ As
we walked down to the reception, I saw a few people slurping
their hot soup. I instantly felt the gush of saliva in my mouth.
In all this travel excitement, I never realized that I hadn’t eaten
anything solid in the past 24 hours. I asked Tobias if we could
eat first, but he cruelly dragged me out of the hotel, saying
“We don’t have time!”
Its moments like these where he makes me feel that I don’t
matter. We headed out of the hotel with our beers in our hands
like it was Germany, not cat-man-do. Even Chris seemed to be
okay with it and didn’t remind us that it was against the law to
drink outside in this foreign land.
However, being high bestows upon you an ability to view
the world from a completely different perspective. As I entered
Thamel, I saw people of every skin during a ten-minute short
walk. The crowd of this town was always moving — gushing
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like a mountain stream that never stops flowing. Every corner
looked the same. The streets were narrow and partly shaded
with buildings on both sides. It was really dense. The buildings
looked like a melted candle. All the constructions were falling
onto each other as if they were sick of being old.
“So, where did you guys shop from?” I asked Chris.
“Oh, it’s on the other side of the market,” he replied.
‘What? Why are we going this way then?’ I inquired,
shaking my head.
For a moment, we got caught up in hysteria and started
laughing our lungs out. The hash was stronger than we had
anticipated, as Tobias was under its influence just by being
in the room. Beer didn’t seem to take away the dryness in the
mouth. It felt so diluted.
“Oh, come on, we are just looking around, a little bit of
dirty tourism,” Tobias answered.
The fun time has started. We were just laughing
and dragging each other from one shop to the other. The
shopkeepers were laughing at us whereas other tourists and
monks were just running away, wondering why are we not
enjoying the peacefulness of the atmosphere like all other
tourists. My beer was still cold. It was a pleasant climate for us
sailors to drink. We lurked around for another twenty minutes
until we got ourselves together and started ‘serious’ shopping.
After entering two wrong shops, we finally made it to the
right one. Without wasting another minute, we jumped over
the jackets and started going through the colors. I chose the
green north face as Tobias had his hands over the black, and
Chris already bought the blue one. Tobias made me try the
jacket and pulled my jacket zip up and down to make sure it
was not a defected piece. The shopkeeper took out the plastic
pants. I didn’t try those and just bought it. We also bought
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three gloves as both my soon-to-be-travel buddies forgot to
buy a pair for themselves. I put my jacket on and carried the
pants and gloves in a plastic bag.
The next items on the list after my thermal insulation
were the trail nuts. They had already bought the breakfast
essentials, so I just picked up trail nuts, some protein bars, and
Toblerones. I paid NPR 4000 for four products and rushed out
of there as shopping does not amuse me at all. After stocking
up on trail-nuts and protein bars, we headed to a shop where
Tobias and Chris had already ordered two cashmere shirts.
We reached there only to find out that the shirts were not
done yet, what a bummer! The shopkeeper offered them their
money back, but they told him that it’s not about the money,
it’s about them looking like a savant.
I smiled at the shopkeeper while chugging on my beer.
He took us to his workshop, where we saw a single woman
working on the sewing machine under dim light. Surprisingly,
she was the only manufacturing unit. She told us she had been
working since morning, and it was 9 pm already, one hour past
her shift-time. I was hungry and bored to death. My munchies
demanded some food in my belly.
On top of that, I drank up the last sip of my beer. So, I
took out a note of NPR100 and put it on her desk and told her
that we would be obliged if we can get it tonight. She started
running the sewing machine as fast as she could as we headed
out of the workshop. Tobias appreciated my move by telling
Chris that if he had the chance he would have done the same.
It is good how one of us always takes care of the tips. It leads
the way for good karma for all of us.
Just a few minutes after leaving the shop, Chris found
a food stop, a Chinese restaurant. We rushed upstairs to the
dining hall and acquired a table in this authentic china house
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with hot soup as their signature dish. I decided to go for their
hot soup while Chris kept skimming through the menu,
and Tobias was repeating that he wants hot soup. It felt like
Tobias was trying to convince himself. The Chinese owner
was waiting beside our table, observing us with curiosity. He
seemed nervous as if he didn’t want us to order anything else
besides the usual hot soup. It was warm inside, and the hashish
in my blood hit me again. I looked at the waiter and asked him
to get us three red Sherpas while we were deciding what to
order. He understood it well and rushed back to the kitchen.
Nodding his head three times, the boy just vanished from our
site. Tobias, once again, was proud of my decision. It was
the second time during the night in Kathmandu that Tobias
acknowledged my decisions. The beers arrived, and by that
time, we were ready to order. I was experiencing severe hunger
pangs that I was just good with anything. Finally, we were able
to relax. After a long time, we three met again on a round
table. I told Tobias that I was excited about the trek!
“I am too,” he replied. “And I am happy that we all made
it in such a short window.”
Chris has a habit of quietly waiting for the food. I guess he
likes to pretext his dinner before he eats it. Meanwhile, Tobias
showed me his cashmere scarf that he bought while shopping
for the trekking essentials. I suggested him to order a cashmere
underwear for himself too, as the man seemed obsessed with
As I finished half of my beer, the food finally arrived.
Man! The food looked good, but I was still skeptical. So, I
followed what Chris did and filled my bowl with stuff, then
just like him, I poured the hot soup in my bowl. The war with
the chopsticks began, and I guess we didn’t even talk for the
first 15 minutes while eating. Just kept slurping in as much
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food as we could in one breath even though it was a strange
soup, full of oil. My intoxicated brain was pondering over the
amalgam of oil and water in my bowl as Chris came back,
cussing at the amount of oil in his bowl.
After eating, my crew decided to head back to the shop
to collect the cashmere shirts. But I wasn’t in a mood to walk
anymore, so I told them that I would wait at the square. I sat
down on the stairs of one of the shops, put on my Sennheiser
earphones and listened to a deep house song. I lit a cigarette
and carried the session for a while, quietly, motionless, lost
in my abstract thoughts, slowly realizing how tired I was.
We had to catch a plane early morning, so this shopping
spree had to come to an end. I decided to get up and find
my travel buddies before I succumb to my lethargy and end
up being another drunk ass of the day to be carried to his
hotel room. I stood up slowly and started walking towards
the shop. Tobias and Chris were still nowhere to be seen,
even on the streets. Later, I found them trying their cashmere
shirts. It was a good fit for Chris, but I guess Tobias messed
up with his measurements. It looked like a tight full sleeve
blouse on his body. His upper torso looked huge, like Johnny
Bravo. Chris knew it was looking good on him, but Tobias
asked me if it looked good on him. I told him that it looks
perfect on him.
“Don’t lie to me,” he replied to my compliment.
“Well, it’ll go under your jacket Tobias,” I justified. He
knew I was tired, so he just took the t-shirt, and we headed
back to our hotel.
It was past 11 pm. Streets were free of pedestrians, but
there was no change in the extent of pollution. I felt so big
walking among these small buildings, which was not the case
when I walked among the skyscrapers in LA.
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