The plan had been to head to Kathmandu this morning but planning is complicated and Rieko had to head back to Baglung to pick up some assignments. Fortunately the Japanese businessman had left her his car and driver, not just for going back to Baglung but also to drive us to Kathmandu. Rieko even told me that when it looked like I might be stuck in Jomsom because no planes were flying he had offered to send his car all the way to Beni to pick me up.
The political situation in Nepal had gone complete haywire while I had been absent up in the mountains. Because of an acute lack of petrol due to a blockage by India, the Nepali government had issued a decree stating that cars with even number plates could only drive on even dates while odd plated cars were confined to odd dates. The car that we so generously had been offered was issued with even plates, which meant that Rieko would have to wait another day before she could go back to Baglung to pick up her things.
I got conflicting stories as of why India was suddenly blocking petrol from entering Nepal. Some people argued that this had nothing to do with india and was in fact a completely internal matter, while others would have me believe that the situation was orchestrated entirely by Modi himself. Most people seemed to agree that the issue fueling this dispute was the signing of the Nepali consitution without a mandate from a largely Indian minority near the border. India has historically had strong ties with Nepal and treats the country somewhat like a an extended province of India, so removing this minority from influence most likely looked to India somewhat like a betrayal. As a consequence either India was blocking the border or the minority was blocking the border or maybe India had instructed the minority to block the border. Whatever the reason behind, the result of the mess was a complete shutoff of the only source of petrol to Nepal. At the time only an inconvenience but in a few days this would lead to a major clusterfuck across the country.
So, the result of the ordeal is that Rieko can't go home and spend the day in Pokhara writing an article while I wander around until it starts raining in the afternoon. We go for a walk past the cosmic brontosaurus language academy and as the night falls we reach a place called "happy village" and have a bite to eat.
It's fairly late when we back to the hotel, but in the dining room the new management of the hotel is sitting and celebrating. As we step in, the manager gets up from the table and walks over to greet us proclaiming that we're his first guests. There's no arguing with that, and he quickly arranges so we can get blessed with a red blob on the forehead and serves me a small piece of blessed coconut. It turned out to be his last piece of blessed coconut though so in order to bless Rieko as well he had to improvise and quickly invented a ritual by tapping her on the forehead with the leftover coconut shell. Next thing we know we're sitting at the table as the new manager serves us to generous glasses of whisky.
The manager gregariously regales us with the tales of his competence. "Everything the old manager did, I will do better", he declared on several occasions throughout the evening. On the subject of past enterprises he mentioned a failed endavour by the lake and concluded that "There are two types of people in the world: Stupid people and intelligent people". We nodded sagely, to make sure not to be mistaken for the first kind.