Just like any other day, we had ordered the usual: Ginger Tea for me and Mint Lemonade for him, followed by paan and mint shisha. Business around the lakeside was as usual. Foreigners cycling, kids running, a local Nepali woman selling snacks, families wandering around in a flock, a cow occasionally head-butting the stand-up signboard of the Bamboo Bar, the owner’s dog doing what he does best: sleeping.
Indian (I mean, South Asian) aunties would scan me from top to bottom and later my husband would joke about what they must be thinking about me. Maybe it was my face. I neither seemed local or a foreigner. Maybe it was the fact that I looked Indian and yet I didn’t look Indian at all. Because the fact that I was Pakistani wouldn’t have crossed their minds. A Pakistani in Nepal is a rare sight. Or maybe it was my clothes. I would wear jeans but always pair them with a knee-length top and a scarf around my neck, like a nice little modest Pakistani girl.
So here I was, chilling out beside the bonfire at a goray ka cafe (foreigner’s cafe) in a city far away from home and away from the glances of bachi-check-karo type boys.
Just a table across us was a rough boundary wall made of bamboos low enough to give us a clear view of the Phewa Lake.
Across the lake you could see deep green hills, some clear and huge…
Others, distant and hazy…
The World Peace Pagoda sits on top of the hills, watching the over lakeside like an elderly grandpa. A couple of travellers and adventurers would row across the lake to start their hike to the Peace Pagoda.
A girl brings us our drinks. Chaiya, I like to imagine, her name would be. We would order the same thing every single day, and she would greet us with the same, warm, courteous smile, every single day. Maybe she works here in the evenings and studies during the day. I never had the courage to ask her.
Slow music plays in the background and the place fills up with foreigners old and young. My husband and I discuss how awesome the pebble flooring here is. My mind wanders off to dreaming about having a front or backyard where I can grow vegetables and light a bonfire on winter evenings.
As the sun sets and it gets dark, Chaiya brings to our table, a plastic bag filled with sand and places a candle in the middle of it. I remark to my husband about what a unique and convenient candle holder this makes.
A cat approaches my husband and tries to be friends. He pats its back and it meows for a while, then it leaves us and approaches the Chinese couple on the table next to us who get super cosy with it.
We sit here for the next three hours. Life seems simple over here. It seems real. We marvel in the fact that we got to experience this feeling. We head back to our hotel to catch up on sleep and prepare for the next day’s big adventure. Little did I know, that months from now, I would be looking back, searching desperately for quiet evenings like the ones we spent at the Bamboo Bar Cafe in Pokhara, only to realize that some moments stay with us only for a short while.
Some day, I’ll come back to you, Pokhara.
All pictures are my own work, unless otherwise credited. If using any of these photos for your own purpose, please give proper credits to my blog.