What a morning to wake up late. My 7th morning in Nepal, and previously, I’d woken up at 5:30 or 6am almost every day. I can’t quite adjust to the 5 and 3/4 hour time difference (did you catch that? a quarter hour time change!). Last night, I fell asleep early too – as I don’t feel like boozing by myself, Kathmandu is not a night-time place for me. And I put my alarm next to my bed. But must not have set it.

So, a deep dream and waking up with a start. Damn. Just after 6am, and I was aiming to be in a taxi now, half an hour away from the airport, where I was supposed to check in for my short flight around My Everest an hour early at 7:30. So, throwing on whatever clothes I could fine, rushing out the door, grabbing things on the way: the camera being the most important. There are no taxis at the bottom of my hotel’s street where they usually are, so I need to run out to the intersection. The taxi driver won’t use the meter – but doesn’t charge as much as I’d expected. 300 rupees, or $6 Australian. Fine, I say, let’s please rush. So, instead he gets out of the car, and another driver gets in. “Are you single?” he says. I’m looking at him in disbelief, and say, “please, to the airport, I need to catch a flight.” “Are you single?” he repeats again, and I motion for him to start driving.

Of course, I realize as we start driving, on roads that are thankfully quiet, that he was asking if I was waiting for another passenger. Nope. It’s like how I can’t get used to the south Asian headbob. Those in the north don’t do it, but a woman I work with sometimes from Kerala, jiggles her head clockwise and counterclockwise, yet fixed in place as if at the back of her head, aligned to somewhere just below her nose. They do it here too in Nepal, but it seems even more pronounced, and somewhat unexpected. At a gut level, I’m understanding “no”, it’s close enough to the negative shake of the head, before I remember that it’s more of a “yes”, an I understand you, sure, whatever.

It takes only 20 minutes to get the airport, I rush in and try to figure out the melee. I jump the queue to put my bag through the x-ray machine ahead of a mountaineering expedition with a dozen packs. The security guard points at my waist as I go through the scanner. “Open, open,” he says, but I don’t have anything to open, no waist-bag (I’ve stopped saying fanny-pack after living in Australia), and my crumpler bag is just now coming out of the x-ray machine. I look at him quizzically. He points at my fly.

An enthusiastic volunteer rushes towards me loudly pointing me this way and that, to the airport tax counter. I’m thinking that I can’t possibly have to pay the foreigner’s exit fee of $35 just for the mountain flight, so brush him off and try to check-in. And get sent back to the tax counter. It’s only $4. They can’t find my time on the passenger list, and slowly think about what to do, before writing my name down by hand. I’m short-tempered these last two days. I find the people here lovely in manner, warm, and with beautiful eyes. As I always try to do when I’m travelling, I chat to people in stores, try to be respectful, when people stare at me in the street, I smile and say “namaste”. But I’m a little tired after a week here.

Inside the boarding area, I rush to the gate. But I can’t figure out what’s going on. It’s crowded, perhaps a hundred of us or so waiting. The guard at the gate looks at my boarding pass, and tells me: “not 7:30am, 9:30” and then “Japanese, are you Japanese?” Which I get here on a regular basis. I don’t mind the assumption, as I’ve been mistaken for Japanese ever since I grew a beard and moustache, but it’s boring having it called after me so often.

I’m tired and flustered. I busted a gut to get here on time, and don’t love the idea of a two hour wait here, but I finally check with another guard, who tells me the flight will be at 8:30, and they’ll call for boarding 15 minutes before. So, here I am, after the rush, in the internet lounge, hopeful for clarity, good conditions, safe flying.

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