To pay his way, he followed the example of poor Nepalis and started a roadside teashop. He was friendly, took good care of his customers and served them with a smile. The clientele grew rapidly.
Occasionally I had lunch there, but Saturdays – the day Nepal has its weekly holiday – I was a fixture there for brunch. Imagine the scene. A nice green patch, nicer for being unmanicured. Large and small trees, pretty bushes, some with flowers. A modest table, a comfortable chair. And me, in the chair, right under a large banyan, with a sheaf of newspapers and the sun on my back, filtering gently through the leaves.
Brunch was just the beginning. There was the recurrent reunion with other regulars: Shrestha the techie, Sherpa the wheeler-dealer, Williamson the cartographer, Upadhyay the journalist and Xerxes (unlikely to be his real name) of no known occupation. They came with the periodicity of my Chia refills, and like the Chia filled my day with spirit and joy. When the mood struck, I retreated behind my papers, only to emerge when another friendly face came to tell me the latest news or misadventure.
I write this as I sit on the terrace of my favorite French café in Reston sipping a latte and taking in the latest overloaded shopper, an unusual Bentley, a kid propelling paper planes. I am happy here. But I also remember the happiness an unusual haven brought me, week and week, month after month, in a sunny corner of Kathmandu, a jewel of a restaurant at the foot of the Himalayas.