No matter where you go in Nepal, you’re always greeted with a bowed head and a warm “Namaste”.
A birthday indeed for the books, my job landed me in Kathmandu, Nepal, on the day I turned 23. My first birthday away from home, first birthday alone. I celebrated it for about a week in Doha leading up to the day, but there’s something about one’s birthday, the actual birthday, that gives you a tummy ache and makes you wonder how many people will remember and show you love, sans Facebook. However, I was in a city for which I had no sim card, nor signal because wi-fi is an extreme luxury. And though I was staying in the same hotel that was loved by Princess Diana herself, the internet line was archaic, and my only connection was a really old desktop computer in the business lounge.
I roamed through Kathmandu much like their stray cows, goats and monkeys do, forgetting that it was my birthday as I had no one really to wish me. A newbie to Asia, I never hid the fact that I am more obsessed with Europe and its architecture, but the culture and hospitality of the East will always be unrivalled. A people so kind, hospitable and colourful, a place so humble and refreshing in its lack of the Cosmopolitan life.
I visited the Monkey Temple and did some shopping in the Thamel Market after enjoying a prawn pizza at the infamous, tourist-packed Fire and Ice Italian Pizzeria. When I got back (exhausted) to the hotel, I treated myself to a massage and room-service feast while chatting on the phone to Malick (the only birthday call I received!), and watching Justin Bieber music videos so that I could feel closer to Aisha and Zoey.
I always use birthdays as a benchmark of how I progressed and grew as a person, and one of my greatest developments since the last is how much more I enjoy my own company, to a point that I need it, schedule it, value it. Spending this day alone in a country so poor made me appreciate my loved ones, the priceless things as well as the happiness that sometimes can be bought.
A special day, a perfect day, I slipped into a deep sleep with a smile on my face.