Due to the graphic nature of this blogpost, reader discresion is advised
This weekend, six things happened to me that had never happened before. For instance: I'd never accidentally bought women's clothing before. Now I have. I'm not yet very good at telling the difference with Indian clothes. Here's some further examples:
I'd never been a guest at an Indian wedding before. I manage to get off at completely the wrong Metro stop, and arrive late to find the party in full swing. After five minutes they play one of the very few Indian-influenced songs I know (Panjabi MC - Mundian To Bach Ke), so thinking this might be my only chance I'm immediately on the dancefloor, trying my best not to look an idiot. The food meanwhile, is a bewildering array of dishes to pick and choose from. Taking my cue from everybody else, I pile my plate with 15 or so different flavours - roughly 70% of which I'm unfamiliar with - and tuck in, before heading back for seconds. Otherwise the wedding is a backseat affair, and I observe a procession of rituals being performed, most of which I don't understand even once they've been explained to me.
Another first: leaving the wedding in a taxi, traffic suddenly envelopes us. It is a short wait before we pass by the cause. A man is lying in the street, having been knocked off his bicycle by a bus. His head is against the ground, except for roughly a third of it, which is scattered a few feet away. I've never seen a dead body before, and this is a horrific, perspective altering first time.
I've also never seen a film in a Bollywood cinema before, and so watching Bodyguard is an interesting experience. Nobody bothers to switch off their mobiles. Kids scream and run around in front of the screen. The film has complete disregard for whether what is happening is physically possible or not. At one point in the second half, the lead female character is lying in bed, watching on TV a scene from the first half of the film.
I've never seen a woman urinating whilst standing up in the street before. That was weird.
And I've never been in Nepal before. Until yesterday. Despite me being a (comparatively) tall westerner, I was forced to sit in my allocated seat for the 12 hour journey, which just so happened to be the one with the least leg room on the entire bus. Over the course of the journey I take increasingly desperate and absurd measures to highlight my discomfort. At first simply trying to sit elsewhere, then leaning on the guy next to me, then just giving up and sitting on the floor. Eventually I'm lying on the floor, deliriously trying to catch any sleep I can. As I understand, Buddhists believe that the head is the highest, holiest part of the body, and the feet are the lowest, dirtiest part. So the sight of this westerner deliberately lying with his head on the dirty metal floor must have been pretty bewildering to them.
So what do I think of Nepal? Seems to be full of unflinching, westerner baiting order-Nazis. I'm sure I'll find that to be wholly representative.