Thamel. Post dinner wanderings, streets no longer a tourist torrent but not empty, either. Still, the sparsity of bodies making scooters bolder. Too early to turn in, so Alex and I follow sounds of a dubious cover of “Smoke on the Water,” trudge up precarious stairs. Into the second floor balcony drinks area, we’re about to plunge into the swells of jolly foolishness that requires a stubbornly set grin to stay afloat. Someone puzzlingly bellows, “JOE CRUZ!” I call out, “Holy shit, the Big Show!”
Met Gavin — riotous, genuine, Aussie — a couple of years ago out in the shadow of Annapurna, evidently he looks like a American television wrestler, thus the nickname. He’s here now with a climbing team in preparation for an ascent up Everest. What are the chances? Catching up, familiar rhythm to the jokes, easy laughter overwhelming the bell clanging of those big bottles of Carlsberg, now “Brown Sugar” in the background, later “Sweet Child o’ Mine,” and the stupid pathetic artifice of this made for visitors place gives way to the energizing warmth of the company of old and new friends. I realize that I was to blame for letting the guazy fake incidental commerce obscure the corporeality around me. People will tell you that Thamel is awful, but they’re wrong.
Postscript: Gavin made it up the mountain.