I'm starting to get my barings for getting around, at least in the five minute walk from here to the hospital. The streets are weaving and many of them do not have names. We were told that only recently has the government started assigning numbers for building addresses and that many streets and houses, including our apartment, have no names and numbers. The main path to the hospital takes us on a windy muddy path that follows a long wall. In any other place that I have been this would strictly be a pedestrian pathway but here, pedestrians dodge beeping motorcycles and small cars. We went for a walk looking for SIM cards to use our phones and took an alternate root home. We were able to find our way home without getting lost or backtracking.
Our search for a SIM card did not end up being fruitful. We were prepared enough to bring our passports and ask around for a store that sold them, but we learned we needed to give a photograph for the application, so we had to walk away. The booth we went into had a very strange dynamic, there was a young woman making disgusted faces at what looked like the customers asking questions. We waited to be attended to when one of the "customers" asked us what we wanted and reached over the counter for an application. The young woman behind the counter asked us if we had some kind of ID but said it in an odd way. When we weren't sure what she said she got annoyed. Soon after, we were able to figure out what she was asking and showed our passports. We walked away without SIM cards due to the lack of pictures and found bagged milk and coca-cola at a booth very close to our apartment.
The stand where we got the milk and coke had what looked like three generations of women behind the counter. The mother held a small baby girl who had a full head of hair. The baby had earrings, bangles on her wrists, and some sort of tiny anklets. We weren't sure how much our purchase would cost in rupees and it seemed the people at the booth could sense it on our faces. Our milk and coke ended up costing more than a lunch and a coke at the hospital. We are more or less figuring things out day by day.
However, I found the hardest things to notice could be right in front of my face. Everywhere I go I find I am much, much taller than everyone around me, and it's especially apparent around the men who are more noticably short. The people here have very interesting faces and the men all kind of look like little Johnny Depps. Johnny Depp is not the tallest man in Hollywood, but he's also not all that short according to the internet and one of my favorite searches "how tall is...". Even knowing this information, and having gone through our front gate several times, I walked to the gate after having lunch with my fiance and some other people from the hospital. A young man was walking behind me on our side street as I turned the latch for the gate and stepped forward rather quickly my forehead hit the bar across the top of the gate with a loud bang. I didn't look back to see the reaction of the young man who walked behind me, trying to act as though nothing happened despite the obviously loud bang. Immediately I thought to myself "damn, how could I not see that thing right in front of my face," but as a little lump grew in on the middle of my forehead, I felt pried in the humorousness of the situation.
We went out to lunch our first full day with two doctors from the hospital, the head of the library, and a med student from Wisconsin. One of the doctors ordered all of the food for us to share which I very much welcomed. I love when we go to our closest Indian restaurant at home in Phoenix and my fiance orders everything and it comes as a surprise and an adventure. Everything was pretty good and I was introduced to the green chili sauce was wonderful and quite spicy.
It's very funny that we often get questions about why we have come to Nepal in the rainy season. The first answer is that this is the time that was available for my fiance's rotation, but the important answer is that it is our own monsoon season in Phoenix was getting rather hot. Our rainy season there means that it might rain somewhere in the valley once a week or so, and we get large dust storms, haboobs, often instead of rain. In Patan, Nepal, it has rained every day since we got here. It's pretty nice, and a bit of a novelty for us.
There is a little warning about five minutes before the rain comes every day with a faint rumbling of thunder in the distance. Then a few intermittant drops for just a few seconds, just long enough to make me think it won't be too bad before it downpours. It's really nice to be inside for the rain listening to it coming down. There is the expectation that it will be raining for the rest of the day and while going out you can expect to get rained on at least a little bit.
One of the doctors from the hospital used to live in Phoenix and he reminded me of some of the guides Anthony Bourdain would have to show him around on No Reservations. It's a very interesting concept of growing up in a place like Nepal training and living in the US then returning to the place where you grew up. I know there is a lot of discussion of the interesting medical cases compared to the US, but I think it would be difficult to go back to another country after living in the US and having many options for lifestyle. However, it does seem that the healthcare system in Nepal survives because their professionals study abroad and come back to practice. I suppose the comfort of being in your home country and have a preference in culture brings the homegrown people back and strengthen the skilled professions that could not be trained as well domestically.
The mornings all start early with roosters calling well before the sun comes up. Soon after, we hear cooing of either hens or pigeons. We were confused by that noise our first morning, and it really does sound like a noise dinosaurs could make. Dogs bark, at one point last night several dogs started barking all at once very loudly. At first I thought they were sensing an earthquake that was about to happen but there was ultimately no movement in the ground. The one noise lately that I have been hearing is a bird of some sort that, at first, sounds exactly like a horror movie scream. It's calls are staccatoed and in quick enough succession that it could not be a human. I picture a little cartoon bird that is terrified of little things around it and can't stop resorting to screams.