Landed In Kathmandu

October 4, 2010

in Nepal

How many Nepalis does it take to pick me up at the airport? Four. Seriously.

This is Asia. Relationships and personal connections are paramount. When someone arrives at an airport, you go to greet them. When I started Peace Corps, my soon-to-be friends hiked two hours down to meet me at the village airport–only to turn around and hike two hours up again. Even now, when I’m invited for dinner, someone often comes to pick me up and take me to their house. It’s a social convention I’ve grown accustomed to.

My regular tour operator is used to my coming and going on my own, but I am staying at a new guest house in Kathmandu and working with a new tour operator for the trip I’ll run this fall. The tour operator sent a car and driver to pick me up. Of course,they couldn’t send only a driver to meet their new partner, however, so the office manager also came–but of course he wouldn’t drive the agency car. That’s a different job in the hierarchy. The guest house sent someone too, but he rode his motorcycle over, so he also brought the hotel’s bellboy to ride back with me in the car and show us the way to the hotel on unmarked streets and impossibly narrow lanes. It all seems perfectly reasonable in Nepal. Labor is cheap and etiquette is important.

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