Almost every morning around seven he comes to my room. Sometimes he doesn’t have to because I am already up and writing at the terrace behind the kitchen. But most of the days he climbs the few stairs, knocks on the door announced breakfast with the very same sentence: ‘Monning ma’am, blackfust is leaddy’. I am his only guest for most of the days, you see. The few times I was up earlier usually had to do with other guests being present. Nepali’s tend to wake up around five and start a noise morning ritual, especially when they are in a group.
Like little chubby penguins they invade the ladies bathroom and start washing themselves taking no notice of the fact that this other strange guest in the room next door is still trying to get some sleep. With total disregard for the ungodly hour, they chatter like the Nordic birds making more and more noise by the minute. After half an hour the penguins have made a complete mess of the bathroom with water everywhere on the floor, bits of soap laying around and penguin hair in the outlet of the shower making me skipping my morning shower and having a quick wash instead. There’s no one there to smell me anyway. These are the days that this rather nice place turns into what it sometimes also is: some sort of group accommodation for any group that is prepared to pay the (low) price to stay, sleep, dismantle the bathroom and eat here.
But in this time of the year, such groups are seldom here leaving me as the only guest. Thank Buddha or any other holy creature for that. And some mornings I just can’t get myself to go out and write before seven. Thing is I am always awake before six thirty and when I don’t feel getting up I just lay there dozing away. And then, just before seven as regular as clockwork I hear his footsteps on the stairs. With a pause when he crosses the little platform in between the first and second part of the stairs. Then there’s the knock. Well, actually three knocks. Not very quick but in rhythm that proves that the man is not in a hurry. Like one knock per second. Knock… knock… knock. Sometimes my door is already open and I am just resting on the bed, sometimes I am in the adjacent bathroom that I have for myself and sometimes the door is still closed and I am still in a near sleep.
Then that same sentence comes out in a way that I can’t really copy as it sounds very much like a Chinese in a kids cartoon: ‘Monning ma’am, blackfust is leaddy’. There are days when I hear the other two sentences two announcing ‘lunch’ and ‘dinnu’. Except for the breakfast and on days the cook gets enthusiastic, the announced meals are generally the same with rice and daal, some veggies and water, tea or instant coffee. Meager but solid meals that the people seem to like so much that they eat it every day. Not that they couldn’t cook anything different but they simply don’t. Blackfust on the other hand is a daily surprise. An occasional pancake or toast with jam and a boiled egg or fried eggs and a bowl of some sort of soup made of a combination of tomatoes, chilly and beans with some chunks of potatoes in it. Not exactly my cup of early morning soup but I’ll endure it anyhow. On other days there might very well be some bread. That is, hollow pieces of backed dough that have a vague resemblance with what I would think that a croissant might be. The tea however is of unprecedented taste. Especially when the man makes milk-tea and not black tea. For whatever reason the milk teas come with ginger or cardamom making them very tasty and the black tea usually is cooked too short to capture the taste of the tealeaves, so the superfluous amount of sugar prevails making that more like cups of sugar-water. No surprise that I prefer the milk tea.
I’ve began to like the blackfusts, sitting in the shadow with some light food overlooking the valley and in this monsoon season seeing only the tops of the mountains to the north making them look like floating white islands in a sea of light hazy blue skies. As if they were mirages and not mountains or distant thugs of war on a great sea. The blackfust marks the most productive part of my days. Here I am a morning-writer and not a night-writer, what I used to be. The morning mind still being fresh makes me write different and without any hinder from distracting thoughts. It allows me to be emotional while writing the emotional passages and strong when writing the strong passages. Writing here seems not difficult at all as the place and my mindset give me over a chapter a day making me wonder what would happen if I would be here not for a month but for a year. Somehow inspiration seems to be all around in an unprecedented sort of simplicity.
I am learning the sounds of the animals, the cry of the mountain eagle, the beo in the trees behind the dormitory, the crickets of which some are as big as seven centimeters and sitting as still as a statue. The dogs that come bye every now are quiet and I got to like the black one that although she looks awful has befriended me on the first day and follows me around wherever I go when she sees me. Oh, and the hundreds of little birds with nice colors and sounds in an endless variety from squeaks and whistles to short songs and bird rhymes. I like them most as I like the mosquitos the least. The little devils that seem to be able to enter my bedroom in numbers that are always bigger than my ability to squash them with the carton of the big map that I have with me, leaving me every morning with yet another four or five traces of mosquito bites on my arms and legs or more awkward places. The worst is that they prevent me from sleeping naked as I don’t want to be a to obvious target for them. It’s strange loosing habits here.
All in all, I love this place with it’s people, except for the penguins that is, the sounds of the animals, the simplicity of life here, the mountain views and the starry nights showing more stars than I have ever seen in my life and with Kathmandu laying in the valley in between the hills in the south. The big, noisy and stinking city with it’s mysteries, beauty and the filth and lack of compassion for the poor. But from a distance compiled of little white dots that shine in the sun during daytime while in the night being a compilation of blinking silver and golden lights like an army of fireflies waiting before the great battle with the dawn. That is, until blackfust is leaddy again.
Alice © 2011