0

It was one beer

“I should have drunk more.”

As wrong as it sounds, and as wrong as it is, I would go on to find that it is the first thought that strikes almost every single person who ever gets caught for ‘Mapase’—driving under influence–in Kathmandu.

“It was only ONE beer.” I couldn’t have stressed enough.

It’s apparently always one, if not less. All my cousins, friends, and their cousins and friends who have ever been caught for ‘drunk’ driving had actually only had not more than one at the time.

The Doom

It was just another Friday night; I was out with my best friend of forever, talking over dinner at some hipster ‘Restro Bar’ in Thamel. We had ordered exactly one beer each alongside the mandatory cheese balls and chips chilly. By the time our plates and glasses were empty, we were not. We still had so much to pour out! So we ordered one more beer, of which I probably drank less than what would make one Chiya-glass.

Later that night, we walked to the Mandala parking lot, hopped on my scooter and left for home. I was sober. I was wide awake. I probably didn’t even smell of beer (on the outside).

As it would turn out, all the one-way streets that could take me out of Thamel—except for one in Saat Ghumti, which for some reason eluded me– were under construction that night. Which meant: I would have to make a round-about and cross that one little spot in all of Thamel where the traffic police would stop me for a Mapase check.

Thanks to experience and over-confidence, I didn’t think of running away. There was no reason to. One: I was not guilty; it was one beer, and two: there was no way I was going to get caught. The impression that I make as a petite woman with a good girl face and polite demeanour has always helped me get through these checks without any suspicion.

But there it was; my first ever encounter with a breathalyzer, pointed at me like a gun.  There it was; my doom.  

Blurry Conscience

Everything after the breathalyzer failed me is blurry and hazy. If we were not tipsy earlier, it felt like the alcohol was taking over us now. We were giggling one moment and scratching our heads the next. I was let go of, and on my scooter, with a chit that said I had to pay some fine before I recollected my license from the authority. It was going to be okay. Too nervous to speak a word and too desperate to just get the hell out the place where so (so so so) many people were passing remarks on us, we left without asking what I was supposed to do with that small piece of blue paper.

Few minutes and umpteen ‘that didn’t just happen’ later I sulked. “Hare! I think I have to pay 25,000 worth fine,” and my friend went “WHAT? Should we go back and maybe buy your license with whatever money you and I have instead?” Sounded like a good idea. But, instead of acting on our whims we ‘rationally’ stopped our scooter and scanned the document, it said Rs 1000. Never have I ever been so happy in my life. Nothing mattered anymore; it was an embarrassing but funny misadventure that the best friends could hold on to. But, five minutes into riding again, paranoia hit us both. No, none of us was tipsy, let alone drunk, but we both were there questioning our conscience, “Was it one or ten? Three or four zeros?”

Dark Comedy

Upon reaching home, we encountered an angry mother worried about two young girls who had not made home until 11 pm. We apologised, shut the door behind us, took out the blue chit and checked again. Crime: Drinking and driving. Penalty: Rs 1,000. We giggled it away, slept it over, and cursed our fate the next morning.

I would go on to tell everyone: “Can’t believe it was one beer, should have drunk more.” And everyone would reply: “It’s always just one beer, never more.”

 If my life was some dark comedy, Sunday was not going to disappoint. As I lined up at multiple counters in the Baggikhana–to pay for my sins–many people asked what it was that I had done. Upon hearing ‘Mapase’ both civilians and police chuckled alike. Initially, I thought it was definitely the ‘petite woman with a good girl face’ thing that amused them. Later, I would learn that it was merely a ‘woman getting caught for Mapase‘ thing.

At 14:30 sharp, I entered a tent that smelled of and housed at least fifty sweaty, greasy men, also my classmates for the day. We would be taught why drinking and driving was wrong. I scanned and skimmed. No seat, no other woman, positive. It was going to be me and the men. The eyes that were initially gawking at me, the only Jadiya woman in the world who was paying for her ‘drunken’ shenanigans on the day, soon had their attention grabbed by the anthem on the screen at the front: “Rakhnu parchha samjhana traffic niyamko, garnu parchha paalana traffic niyamko”—Remember and follow the traffic rules!

The next hour would be the most horrid and hilarious I have ever lived at the same time. The screen played (what felt like a gazillion) footages of people, bikes, cars, trucks—anything and everything–running one another over, all the time. It was so graphic and gross that it cracked many of us in the room. It was so sad that it was funny. ­­­One moment people would go “Oh, shit!” and the next they’d just laugh out loud at the stupidity that was being showcased to teach us a lesson. Everything about the class was dark, and everything equally comic.

If the traffic police were trying to make us quit drinking and driving, I must say they have been successful at the attempt. The men around me were like, “Hait! I’m just going to take a taxi next time.” And in saying so they were echoing my own thoughts.

At the end of the class, the policeman called me at the front and made sure everybody in the room realised–if they hadn’t already–that I was the only woman in the room. “Only Mahila, please come and collect your document” he said and as I walked my walk of shame, everyone’s gaze just followed. Dammit!

I collected my receipt, then my token and then my license which had now been adorned with its first hole.

 As soon as I collected my license, I giggled. There was something oddly amusing about the whole episode: that one hour and that one hole, brought upon by that one beer because I missed out on one street–much fun, such wow.

 

0

To the man who broke my heart, but saved my day

 

The partner you choose is going to define so much of your life. Choose wisely.

My parents, who have been married for 35 years and some, consistently remind me ‘you don’t fall in love, you grow in love’—an idea whose seed was planted into their hearts by M Scott Peck.

Only been in love once before, during my teens, when I loved again three years ago I thought I had chosen wisely. No, he was not what I had always dreamt of. He was everything that I didn’t even know existed. He would be the one to burst the little bubble I had lived all 22 years of my life in and introduce me to a whole new world: a world that thrived on art, on independence, on risks, on following one’s heart. And I would go on to become smitten.

When I fell in love with him, I grew in love with him. I knew I had chosen wisely. But, for some reason, things didn’t work out. For some reason, we fell apart, as lovers.

But we didn’t part our ways. We couldn’t. Perhaps, it was the friendship that ran deep down under our ‘love story’. Perhaps, it was the growth we’d gone through together. Perhaps, it was the creative energy that kept us ticking. Or just how we could lay our souls naked for each other to see.

We have been partners for three years (and some), and the partnership goes beyond just love. Yes, I said “just love”. Would I trust him with my heart? No. Do I want to marry him? Not a chance.

But would he be my go-to-person when I am in a fix? Yes. Would he be the friend I seek when I need someone to talk sense to me? Yes. Would he be the calm to my storm, who helps me fix blunders as I turn into this volatile person ready to explode? Yes. Would he be the hug that holds me when I fidget and cringe? Yes.

Two months ago, I had asked him to leave. I didn’t want him in my love story or my business. And then I went back and asked him to stay, because I knew I would need him one day, although I was absolutely unaware how soon that day would arrive.

It arrived yesterday. Last night was the worst I have had in my short journey through my small business. I suffered a remarkable monetary loss because I didn’t pay enough attention to the details. I made a blunder that I had to bear a massive loss for.

And he was there. He was there talking to the clients, fixing the designs, holding my hand, sharing his stories of loss, and saving my day. He was there being him—the partner I had chosen wisely.

We’ll never go back to being lovers again. But, as I write this today, I am thankful that he’s still my partner, who might have broken my heart but totally saved my day.

0

Lazy Girl Chronicles: No Shave November

Of No-shave November …December, January, and February

Note: Not for people who don’t like to read about hair

My razor –  in the half a mug, that read ‘I got you half a mug because New York was expensive’ – stared at me as I did my lazy-girl stretches in the shower today. If it were a person it would have said, either “I don’t feel productive anymore” or “I knew you wouldn’t love me the same way forever”.

blog1.jpg

Although I did feel bad for the razor that used to be my most prized possession right until couple of weeks ago, in fact, three fourths of the year; I disposed it in the dustbin. So long my friend.

Razors have been an integral part of my life since the first time I learnt what my legs felt like without hair. I was fifteen back then. Don’t get me wrong. I totally love women who celebrate and flaunt their body hair, but I don’t like hair on me. I like the parts I can flaunt in summer clean shaven! And I shave religiously.

But come winter; the lazy-girl kicks in. I become a hair-growing girl-bear who would hibernate by all means if she still wasn’t a human being who has to wake up to eat, poo, bathe, work, eat, and sleep only to wake up again wondering why human beings don’t ever hibernate. Grooming myself is the last thing I would like to indulge in when I’m too occupied trying to formulate how I should layer up so that I don’t get stranded in my clothes should it get warmer than expected. Shaving my legs is the least of my concerns when I – let alone other people — am not going to see them in the mirror – let alone flaunt them outdoors.

blog2

The only time I find myself saying “I should have shaved” is when I am at the five minute Thapathali’s Bagmati Bridge jam, being super observant, scanning and skimming through everything in plain and not-so-plain sight — and my hair peeks out through under my cuffed jeans to say “hello, still feeling sexy?”

But, with my last razor standing swallowed by the dustbin, my no-shave season has officially begun.

0

Lazy Girl Chronicles: Yeti Maya

(Originally published in http://www.littlethingsktm.com)

yeti_blog

One of the best things about being a part of the Little Things venture is we get to witness how our designs make our customers think about their loved ones and then just giggle as they think of how the person on the receiving end would respond.

Yesterday in the Art Market, we met a couple. As they scanned our designs – most of which were in Nepali, a foreign language for them — we took the pleasure to translate what each design said. When their eyes fell on the t-shirt with our much celebrated Yeti design, we explained —

Yeti means “this much” in Nepali and when stitched together with other words in the design it directly translates to “I love you this much”.

They first gave us a very happy and warm chuckle and then decided to pay then and there for the t-shirt — even if we could deliver our customer’s size only the next day. They shared with us that the guy was a secondary school teacher and he wanted to wear it to his class and tell his students how much he loves them. It totally made our day.

We also met another customer who came back to our stall one more time and bought a Yeti card for his fiancé back in England. He said he ‘walked over’ the idea and even after checking other stalls in the market – he totally wanted the card! He shared his reasons; one, big and bulky — he believed he very much looked like a yeti, and two, he wanted to send some love back home the Nepali way.

We then met a fellow vendor. To her, the Yeti design reminded of a little nephew that she was so fond of. Although most of our designs are colorful, quirky and attention catching–which leads to children engaging in our stall ever so often–she had a point; the Yeti was the only design that would utterly resonate with a child! She loved the design so much that she bought a card and a mug of the same. We love the expression on her face when she thought of the kid getting that gift.

These are just few immediate instances that we remember, there have been so many more that have made us feel so happy and warm.

Yeti Maya, still remains our best-selling design since September and have been completely overwhelmed with the response! We have been showered with Yeti dherai love, and Yeti dherai orders and there is no stopping.

P.S. we have to thank Naral Don for injecting the pun into our head.

P. P. S. if you love the design remember you can get it on a postcard (Rs. 50), card (Rs. 150), mug (Rs. 500), tote bag (Rs.500) and now a t-shirt (Rs. 900)

Let’s connect through Facebook, Instagram and  Email

0

Lazy Girl Chronicles: Scrabbles anyone?

scrabble-love

It’s 20:50. I am writing this blog between two scrabble games – as Mamu takes a walk-break.

When I asked Buwa if he’d like to join Ama-Chhori in scrabble, his answer was a straight no. Five minutes ago when Mamu beat the s*** out of me in the game, he said “that’s why”.

Mamu is not the best English speaker in the family. She does sometime struggle with forming sentences too – but win against her in scrabble, you cannot. She is a scrabble ninja! By the way, her last score was a straight 78, with Q falling on a triple letter scorer AND a triple word scorer at the same time! And in total I lost to her with a difference of at least 170. Sigh.

“You’ll win the next game”; Mamu consoled me as she layered up to head outside. It’s her motherly instinct – she was probably worried that I was discouraged.

Honestly, I am just happy. I haven’t played scrabble in so long. Besides, it’s good to have a competitive player for mother. And yet, she is such a confident and pro player that she never hesitates to give out her secrets to winning.

To help me gear up she suggested:
1. Don’t be greedy when you start, instead of using limited heavy letters; just use as many letters as possible. More letters equals more doors.
2. Keep the Ss’, spend the Vs.
3. Take your time; there’s no hurry
4. Play with patience, don’t give up if you start losing — the game might take a u-turn any moment.
5. But, most importantly tell yourself : I am already a winner, even
before you sit down to play

Buwa on the other hand pointed out how scrabble was important from business point of view; it helps you focus on your surroundings, it trains your brain to think from multiple perspectives, and it teaches patience.

Okay bye. Time to get back to the scrabble marathon.

0

Lazy Girl Chronicles: Of Proper Goodbyes

I have been recurrently dreaming about a certain somebody who held a very special place in my heart few years ago. X came to my dream last night too. In real life, we don’t speak anymore. We don’t know what or how the other person is doing in life. We are neither on each other’s facebook nor do we know one another’s phone number. I don’t even think of X, right until ze appears in my dreams again. But, when I dream of X, we are always sharing a special bond. I feel like X was there all the time and we never really drifted apart. I feel like X was, is and always will be a constant in my life. I feel like all the differences never really mattered. And then I wake up confused why it’s happening to me; because honestly, X is just a fragment of the past.

Five years ago, when we found ourselves in a place where we could have, should have, said a proper good-bye to each other; we missed. We missed out on the opportunity and I still haven’t figured out why or how. That day, X just walked out on me and caught a flight to a far-away-land in just couple of hours – leaving me with literally no tomorrow.

We managed to keep in touch for some time but we couldn’t escape the differences between us — amplified by 5, 000 miles and horribly mismatched time zones.

This is how long distance works for people just entering the third decade of their lives: you first struggle to find each other at an hour when both of you are free, then you struggle to explain or understand why the timing is not working, and then you start getting exhausted of all the miscommunication in the air that you never have enough energy to clear up. Together you start getting lonely. To the person abroad; the person back home has his/her life intact with friends and family in the same old environment. To the person back home, the person abroad has an opportunity to fly and explore a world beyond home and meet new people. Nobody stops to think that both sides face their own sets of struggles.

Well, that’s exactly how it worked for us. Before things got nasty and blame game got the better of us; we very wisely decided to part our ways and never look back.

We both eventually moved on and have since fallen in and out of love — perhaps more than once.

And still, after all these years; the past one year has pushed me to address X’s existence with recurrent — sometimes weekly, other times monthly — dreams. The theme is always the same; X comes back home and we reconnect as friends if not lovers. While I am at peace when in slumber, the dreams leave me with an indefinable chaos as soon I open my eyes.

Is it because you can quiet the musings, revoke the emotions, but never outgrow the memories of a somebody who once held a special place in your heart? Is it because you can move on but never un-love somebody who never did anything to make you hate them? I really have no idea.

In this case, I can only draw hypothetical conclusions. But, my gut says we should have said our proper goodbye and gracefully shut – and perhaps locked — all the doors to the way back in one another’s lives.

0

Lazy Girl Chronicles: Of Long Days

Note: This is one long rant. Proceed with caution

Series of wrong decisions

Last night, I fixed the meeting for nine. This morning, I woke up and postponed it to 10. By the time I reached the agency it was 10:15. And when I took my seat for the meeting it was 10:20, which meant we had exactly ten minutes in hand for the briefing. Thanks to my punctuality, it wouldn’t be enough. The only option that I now had was to join the agency folks to the meeting number two – which I had initially decided to pass — at their client’s place that was apparently on the other side of the city. *tch*

They told me; it should be wrapped up by 12. Now, I could have taken my personal ride to the meeting, but no, I decided to leave my fuel-exhausted scooter at the agency and hopped into the car instead. In my head it was a perfect plan: in the car, I get to know about the client, and then in the meeting I get to know about their product, and by the time I get back to the agency I’d have enough information to help crack a campaign. My morning smelled of productivity. Upon getting back to the agency, I’d refill my tank, and ride to Little Things’ tiny office, set few things up, take S. out for a quick lunch and then head to work. Little did I know that my morning was already running on a wrong-decision-streak.

Lo-ooo-ng Meeting

Imagine sitting in a two hour long meeting where the client wants his research team to read out EVERY.SINGLE.LINE in the power point. Don’t get me wrong; it was very insightful. As a client, they played a very good role in briefing us with every little-big detail we needed; but reading out every single line when there are at least 30 lines in a slide? A bit too much! At one point I just wanted to scream STOP. I was losing it. I was getting impatient. And all I could think of was food. In my defense; I was starving. I was hangry, distracted, and late for everything.

Starved and Stuffed

I almost starved to death before I stuffed myself with the popular 100 rupee pizza slice and good glass of lassi. When the clock struck two, initially, I was just happy that I got to work on time and in full stomach. But with every passing moment — after I settled on my desk — I could barely keep my eyes open. The pizza apparently had a daal-bhaat effect on me. I was sleepy and sloppy all day long as if I had pulled an all-nighter the day before. Ugh. I am just going to be thankful that I didn’t have to edit anything that needed ninja-skills. I swear, if there was a nap room, or a couch, or anything where I could lay flat – I would.But, then I had to endure at least four to five hours of work.

Empty tank and tummy

By the time I was done with work at seven in the evening; I was hungry again. I was right at centre Thapathali, unable to decide in an empty tummy, if I should catch a cab and head to Thamel or walk to Jawalakhel. A tiny group of friends were probably waiting for me at Thamel, but I just couldn’t get hold of them for the lack of network and phone numbers. My fuel-exhausted scooter waited for me at Jawalakhel, but there was no promise that the petrol pumps would be open for service. Too lazy to think at all I just started walking in the direction of my home. Empty tanks are reminder of how my laziness and procrastination is not less than lethal. Empty stomachs are reminder of well, just how I am perpetually hungry and how I don’t get how people can put anything before food. After walking for 15 minutes (10 minutes away from my scooter), I decided to let my scooter be and take local bus instead – two actually.

Broken roads and hearts

When a bus dropped me off at Lagankhel, my first stop, I decided it would be wise to take a cab home. I didn’t know if I could still find a bus with an empty seat at that hour. Before the Taxi drivers even began to bargain, I offered a 100-rupee top-up if they’d take me by the metre – a demand I had noticed by drivers if they have to take you into the outskirts. But no. The drivers wanted more. They’d come up with full-blown tariffs and I had patience enough to give them only one chance to bargain – they all failed me. I would have compromised on other days. Not today, not with my bank account as exhausted as my fuel tank. So I just started walking again. The stretch of the narrow road from Lagankhel to Satdobato has got to be my least favorite. In the past six years that I have walked down this road, never have I ever seen a proper footpath. There is always a manhole right in the middle of nowhere; some pseudo-construction is always taking place, the drainage is always leaking – and the people like me, they probably quietly curse but walk the road anyway. It breaks my heart that we can’t even afford ourselves a decent footpath.

Good food

When I finally found an empty bus at Satdobato that promised to go only as far as Khumaj; 10 minutes’ walk to home, I was still happier than I’d been in the whole day. That bus was going to shorten the distance between me and my food back home – the only thing that had kept me going in the last one hour. Here’s the thing about why I love food: it is love, it is happiness. It fills you up when you’re empty, it warms you up when you’re cold, it gives you company when you’re alone, and it comforts you when you have had a terrible day. I was not disappointed when I got home. Good food was waiting right where I expected it to be(thanks to my parents who pour love into whatever they make). When Mamu asked how my day was, I just asked her if I could eat quietly because that food was literally the only thing that did not disappoint me today. Only thing that turned out just as expected, just as planned.