Olesia’s pre-birthday birthday dinner on Saturday night. We went to a restaurant in Lakeside called “Once Upon a Time” (quite a few places here have really inventive names; the language school which Prem, our Nepali teacher, runs is an easy winner with “Cosmic Brontosaurus”). We had dinner, and I got to catch up with George and Daniela who had both spent the previous week in Nalma treating patients in the remote village. Then after dinner Olesia went to the toilet, and Claire and George ran over once she got inside and essentially locked her inside by holding the handle shut, whilst her surprise birthday cake was adorned with candles. Not many people get held hostage on their pretend birthday in Nepal, I’m sure, but now I know of at least one person who has. Unfortunately when she was released from the loo, the fan did a great job of blowing all the candles out so a quick reset was required, but I think this all just added to the charm of the evening. Afterwards we went to the downstairs area of the restaurant where they have a TV and semi-decent DVD collection, but due to Nepal’s licensing laws, we were kicked out of the bar just as Ocean and his 11 were about to break into the casino’s vault!
I spent my last full day in Pokhara down by the lake; I was going to rent a canoe and head over to the peace pagoda but it was swarming with tourists and I really didn’t fancy it. I’m sure it’s beautiful and I know I’ve missed out, but this is not my only trip to Nepal, I will be back; if only to implement a draconian infection control regimen in the hospitals here!
I also visited the Destitute Children’s Home to drop off the donations I’d brought from home. There was nothing fancy, just some ASDA toothbrushes, toothpaste, colouring pencils and exercise books, but those kids made such an impression on me that instead of giving a handful of stuff to a few different places I decided to give it all to them. I think I should also write a letter to Dipti and Hazi encouraging them to continue with their aspirations of teaching and engineering as I was so pleased to hear of their ambitions.
Speaking of donations, in the first week at the hospital I signed up to donate blood (I’m O negative which can be given to anyone in an emergency) as I won’t be able to donate for 6 months after returning home. They don’t have any storage facilities though so they took my phone number and address and told me they’d get in touch as soon as they needed me. We were also joking in the house that in the event of any of them requiring a transfusion, I’d be cannulated in seconds, although after all the mossie bites I got in Chitwan it’s a good job that I never got the call. What are the symptoms of malaria again?
In the evening a few of us met up to trawl the shops where I bought some paintings and some tea- don’t expect much in the way of gifts when I get back, I had to sacrifice a pair of shoes and a towel in order to make room for the stuff. Then Anna and I went to the Olive Cafe for dinner, which was wonderful; I had a delicious carbonara and they even cooked Anna a breakfast omelette. It was my first meal there and it’s just typical that I found a really good restaurant on my last night in town (now I’ve got Ben Folds Five in my head…). Afterwards a load of us met up at the infamous Busy Bee bar, where I got to meet the two new guys in the house who were really nice so I’m sure they’ll fit in perfectly. I also met a guy called Tom who just happened to be passing through, and told me that he was starting a Radiography degree this September in Portsmouth!
We played three’s up on the pool table and the other two on my team managed to help us emerge victorious, which was a perfect end to my last night in Pokhara. Although as my friends started leaving that annoying dust must have been in the air again because my eyes got all leaky, so I may have given them all the impression that I’m a human being capable of emotions rather than an unfeeling robot. I’ll see about changing that impression when we meet up for a reunion in Manchester.
I genuinely hadn’t expected to make such good friends during my time here- I knew I was going to be sharing amazing experiences with people as we’d be in the same house and hospital, but I feel like there was more to it than that and I hope we can stay in contact as I know that they’re going to have really interesting lives and careers ahead of them.
I walked back in the rainy darkness skilfully avoiding cow dung and puddles with my newly acquired night vision (IT WASN’T LUCK) and thinking about what is yet to come.
The next day I went to the airport via the WtW house as I owed Anna some money from last night, and I was hoping to bump into Sunil or Aneeta to thank them for their help throughout my stay. They were both there, and so was Padme the housekeeper so it was really lovely to say goodbye to the three of them.
Onward to Kathmandu!