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Doing business in Kathmandu

I‘m in the internet shop in a side alley, one of the good ones with instant backup power for when the electricity goes down. All of a sudden lots of noise and yelling on the main street.  Then some loud bangs and people run past the door.  The shop guys jump up, go outside and pull down one of the two metal doors over the windows.  Moving fast they pull in their sign, potted plants and even their floor mats.  Then down comes the other door and we’re locked in, a half a dozen Westerners and 20 glowing LCD screens behind industrial strength steel roll up doors like you’d see on a loading dock.  You can hear the chanting, loud voices and honking horns muffled thru the steel.  Hey I’m glad I’m in here not out there. Some patrons didn’t look up from their Skype video calls; I guess they’ve seen it all before.  It’s actually quite cozy so I go back to my Google spreadsheet.

I stayed on my spreadsheet till they closed the shop.  Brand new law is 10:30 PM closing for all stores and bars in Kathmandu. There went the all night partying…

Fortunately I knew a back way through an alley and skipped the worst street.  When I emerged I saw a contingent of soldiers, all in their uniforms but no guns showing.  Still the street was unsettled, people seemed upset and there was a lot of trash.  I thought the rickshaws looked a bit exposed so I waited till I saw some Westerners walking my way and fell in.  They split at the next corner so I tried a cab but he didn’t understand me, or maybe he couldn’t hear me over the din. I wasn’t sure about that mode of transport anyway considering the gridlock plus the hotel was less than half a mile.  I stood there till I saw two guys with backpacks like mine going my way.  So we became three but they didn’t know it, I just trailed behind them figuring safety in numbers.  They got me to my corner which is on a street with a gate and a guard. Once through the gate I could feel the tension lift.

I’m sure when I go down the same streets in the morning you wouldn’t know anything had happened the night before.

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