Quantcast
Latest Stories

Pride of Place

A Kathmandu winter’s night

By

CATCHING the earlymorning sun to warm up after a cold night

Work brought me to Kathmandu in the dead of winter this year.

Last year, I went there thrice—in the spring, summer and autumn. The weather was typical for those seasons, as you’d expect them to be.

Even summer in Kathmandu was pleasant because of its altitude.

But this time, coming to Kathmandu in January, I had no idea what it would be like.

Just to be sure, before packing, I did an online check to get the weather forecast for the next 10 days.

Temperature would range from -1°C-16°C, it said, and the days would be sunny. So now I knew the weather picture. But was I really ready for the experience?

Tropical me focused on the bright side. 16°C I can handle, I thought. Anyway, I’d be asleep at midnight when it would be—1°C, so I’d just slip under the blanket and sleep off the cold. How naïve I was.

The winters of my life have passed (you can count how many of them I’ve had with the fingers of both hands) with the blessing of central heating. So I packed with central heating in mind.

DUVETS and blankets might not be warm enough, but tucking a hot-water bottle into the bed makes it better.

Ah, central heating. Here in Kathmandu, there isn’t any, so now I know for sure how much of a blessing central heating can be.

I knew where I was staying, a Newari house restored and repurposed into Newa Chen, a lovely bed-and-breakfast. It was traditional enough not to have any central heating, despite its having been a Unesco Cultural Heritage Award Winner.

Checked into my room at Newa Chen, I prepared to spend my first winter night in the deep freeze.

Divendra, my thoughtful host, brought a hot-water bottle to my door at bedtime. Never having had one and not being too sure what I was supposed to do with it, I thanked him and instinctively tucked the hot-water bottle under the duvet covering the bed.

A Nepali duvet is a different thing. It’s not of those feather-light down duvets of the Western world, but is solidly packed with fiber, whose weight bore down as I slept, comforting me while keeping me warm.

But the savior of the night was the hot-water bottle! I was cold everywhere, so I spent the night repositioning the hot-water bottle to wherever heat was needed. It didn’t work as well as a warm body would have, but the hot-water bottle was all I had to see me through the night.

Proper attire

NEWA Chen’s sunny breakfast room is a warm release from a long winter’s night.

Jet-lagged, I woke up every hour from 3 a.m., stayed under the blankets (I added still another blanket on top of my duvet) until dawn broke.

After breakfast and many cups of hot coffee, I went for an early morning walk down the road to Patan Durbar Square, the former royal square of the Kingdom of Patan, now a World Heritage property.

Temple bells were ringing. People crowded into ornate stone temples for early-morning devotions, entering with heads bowed over lit sticks of incense, smiling as they came out after prayers with a red dot on their foreheads.

In the summer, Durbar Square moves with color. Women in saris walk from one end to the other. The saris that fill the square with summer color were muted now, weighed down by blanket-size shawls so large that only a bit of silk swirled around the ankles, close to the pavement.

Men wore winter jackets over either sweaters or sweats. Scarves wound around their necks, and knit woolen beanies covered heads and ears.

When I went indoors to a friend’s house, he was dressed this way, as if he was outdoors, still wearing jacket, scarf and beanie. That was how it was done, I found out, how to keep warm without central heating.

MORNING in Kathmandu

So I went shopping to get all the things that I saw the locals were wearing.

Vodka for the freeze

Now inside my hotel room, I keep my jacket on, also my sweater, and put on sweat pants. I wear my new, fuzzy wool slippers, which keep my toes warm while walking around the room. But before sleeping, I pull on my woolen socks.

WARDING off the cold in a heavy woolen wrap, could this woman be waiting for the astrologer to arrive?

I permanently keep my black wool beanie even when I sleep, with my hot-water bottle keeping me company. I am learning to live with the cold. It’s my second night. I’ll do better.

Here’s another thing about the cold. I’ve heard about vodka keeping Russians warm on long, sub-zero winter nights. Believe me, it works. There’s nothing like a shot of vodka in temperatures like this.

I’ve got a bottle of vodka in my room, plus my hot-water bottle. Both bottles make winter bearable for a tropical person like me.


Follow Us


Follow us on Facebook Follow on Twitter Follow on Twitter


Recent Stories:

Complete stories on our Digital Edition newsstand for tablets, netbooks and mobile phones; 14-issue free trial. About to step out? Get breaking alerts on your mobile.phone. Text ON INQ BREAKING to 4467, for Globe, Smart and Sun subscribers in the Philippines.

Tags: Augusto F. Villalon , Kathmandu , Travel , winter night

  • JustWords811

    this column evokes in me memories of my two-year stay in Kathmandu as a UN Adviser in the early 90′s. great, gentle people. the Nepalis. and great weather too.

  • pfc_kulapu

    Nepali life are still they same. Even after communist regime…



Copyright © 2014, .
To subscribe to the Philippine Daily Inquirer newspaper in the Philippines, call +63 2 896-6000 for Metro Manila and Metro Cebu or email your subscription request here.
Factual errors? Contact the Philippine Daily Inquirer's day desk. Believe this article violates journalistic ethics? Contact the Inquirer's Reader's Advocate. Or write The Readers' Advocate:
c/o Philippine Daily Inquirer Chino Roces Avenue corner Yague and Mascardo Streets, Makati City, Metro Manila, Philippines Or fax nos. +63 2 8974793 to 94
Advertisement
  1. Lover’s quarrel linked to hunger – study
  2. 12 other things you can do at Pico de Loro Cove
  3. How Vitamin B can be a remedy for ‘manhid’ and neuropathy
  4. ‘Heaven is for Real’: Nonfiction book on life after death reaches screen
  5. 90 percent of Filipino households don’t practice proper toilet hygiene, sanitation
  6. Sarah Geronimo and Matteo Giudicelli sing ‘All of Me’–and we all swoon
  7. Marcos grandson to wed beautiful Rocha scion
  8. Summer treat for your aspiring astronomers
  9. Encounter with a ‘Mangkukulam’
  10. Finalists announced for best translated books
  1. Dominique–Gretchen and Tonyboy Cojuangco’s daughter–now an endorser
  2. Why is the lifestyle set now afraid to wear jewelry–before Kim Henares?
  3. Marcos grandson to wed beautiful Rocha scion
  4. France makes work beyond 6 p.m. illegal
  5. Sarah Geronimo and Matteo Giudicelli sing ‘All of Me’–and we all swoon
  6. South Koreans crave Asia’s smelliest fish
  7. Ever heard of HydroBob?
  8. How Vitamin B can be a remedy for ‘manhid’ and neuropathy
  9. 90 percent of Filipino households don’t practice proper toilet hygiene, sanitation
  10. Prince William fuels speculation of second royal baby
  1. Mary Jean Lastimosa is new Miss Universe Philippines
  2. Did Angara ruin Pia Wurtzbach’s chances at Bb. Pilipinas?
  3. Dominique–Gretchen and Tonyboy Cojuangco’s daughter–now an endorser
  4. Manila in shock over model Helena Belmonte’s death
  5. Vinegar test helpful vs cervical cancer
  6. From Jeannie to mom of suicide victim
  7. San Vicente beaches hidden but not for long
  8. Borgy and Georgina are back; others are off–again
  9. Sen. Angara: I thought Pia Wurtzbach gave a good answer
  10. Ex-Givenchy model fights for ‘Yolanda’ survivors

News

  • Luzon grid power reserve ‘enough’ for Holy Week
  • Pimentel proposes incentives for companies that will hire ex-convicts
  • State seeks guilty verdict for Abalos
  • SBMA execs, 2 others face graft raps
  • Pangasinan beachgoers warned vs jellyfish
  • Sports

  • My ideal weight is 140, declares Pacquiao
  • Freddie Roach: I’m satisfied; Manny Pacquiao did well
  • New-look Azkals tie Qatari side
  • San Miguel Beermen eye No. 2 slot, battle Air21 Express
  • Filipinos yield to Iraqis anew Asian club volley
  • Lifestyle

  • Celebrate Easter Sunday at Buddha-Bar Manila
  • Moriones feast: A slow, steady transformation
  • Weaving ‘palaspas’ a tradition kept alive in Tayabas City
  • Finalists announced for best translated books
  • Summer treat for your aspiring astronomers
  • Entertainment

  • Miley Cyrus hospitalized, cancels US concert
  • Otaku Summer Jam 2014: Summer’s hottest J-rock/Cosplay event
  • 2NE1 returns to Manila with “All Or Nothing” Tour
  • Gary Valenciano just keeps moving
  • Noisy celeb spews venom, backs off when confronted
  • Business

  • Longer TRO sought on rate hike
  • Make a stylish statement with the all-new Yaris
  • Hearing set in Olarte case
  • BOC sues steel importers
  • BIR continues to miss collection target
  • Technology

  • Tech company: change passwords or suffer ‘Heartbleed’
  • Filling the digital talent gap
  • SSS to shut down website for Holy Week
  • Another reason to quit social media this Holy Week: your safety
  • Philippines may watch ‘blood moon’ online
  • Opinion

  • We may never know
  • Couple of things
  • Mommy D’s magic
  • Stop bizarre and bloody Good Friday rituals
  • Holy Week taboos
  • Global Nation

  • No travel restrictions to Middle East amid MERS-CoV scare
  • Measures set against entry of MERS-CoV
  • Japan backs PH in case before UN
  • Las Vegas union starts pickets over wages, benefits
  • Fil-Am Daly City councilor has eye on Superior Court seat
    Marketplace