“Excuse me miss, you want to buy some hash? Marijuana?” A polite “no thank you” is the reply. I wonder have I changed so much that I now look like someone who would be interested? It almost feels like I have arrived – I now fit in with the “hippy” crowd. This is the first time I have ever been approached with an offer – something I can cross off my life to do list.
It is a lazy, quiet Sunday afternoon. Not a breath of moving air, the lake in Pokhara looks like a mirror, without a single ripple, a light mist hangs low over the water, making everything around slightly muted with a rather eeriness which is quite relaxing. Children splash in the shallows and their laughter is soft music to the ears. Even the squawking of the crows is not jarring or intrusive.
After navigating the muddy puddles along the promenade, a quiet seat in a lakeside restaurant is perfect for a bit of people watching. Conversations in foreign languages and accents, combined with the gentle background music, create a form of white noise. A voice can be heard from the kitchen – “I told you – mix sugar and cornflour together. I have shown you. Write it in your book. Then add the water.” It is a gravely mans voice, maybe a smoker with an American accent, which immediately piques an interest and on looking up, I see it is not a man, but a woman. Or maybe a man dressed like a woman, with the body of a woman, but the jaw is masculine as is the protruding adams apple. He-she has worked wonders with teaching the staff as the service is impeccable and the food combined with a glass of perfectly chilled glass wine just seems to fit the whole afternoon like a glove.
Looking out again over the small slightly overgrown garden that separates the eatery from the lake frontage, white butterflies flit around, also seemingly enjoying the laziness of the day. A young boy, sporting a black headband with matching arm bands, hair up in a man bun, saunters onto the raggedy grass and unpacks what looks like a fire stick and he proceeds to practice his flowing moves – I think he could put on quite a show later in the evening after sunset with the end of the stick alight with flames. The local who approached me with the offer of some local weed, strolls past, lifts his hand in acknowledgement and then makes a beeline to a young girl sitting by herself on the park bench. I see her shaking her head, but he is not deterred and continues to badger her. I am grateful for my age where a “no thank you” meant a “no”.
A large water buffalo labours past, with the pedestrians giving him a wide berth. An elderly Nepalese lady, taking tiny steps, by passes him with such ease, even though she is carrying a huge basket on her back, the weight of which is being borne by straps around her forehead. The basket is laden with beautiful ripe pineapples. Next up is a rather large tourist (not meant in a derogatory sense as I too am a tourist), he wears a yellow t-shirt stretched tight over his portend stomach, socks and sandals. His breathing is laboured and takes a seat next to the young girl on the bench, with that the dealer moves off to find another target. It is also my signal to move on which I do but in the opposite direction.