“Give us a B-side of Kathmandu”, we had said to our guide, some hours and adventures earlier. “Something you wouldn’t show to first-time visitors, something hidden.” As we walked down the steps into a dark alleyway in Kirtipur, avoiding a suspicious-looking dog, I wondered what we were up for this time.
We entered what looked like a traditional Newari family house: woven fiber mats on the floor; people sitting on terraces of different heights, sipping something from bronze cups; a man washing rice. Women sitting in a ring, preparing food in front of a fire. Our tablecloth was what looked like a flowery bed linen, spread out on the carpet. We sat on the edges of it, sharing the floor as a table.
We had to try the rice beer, our guide said. I was only one of 2 who finished their cup and I did feel dizzy afterwards. We had to try the food he said. All of it. And the bread, too. I’m glad we did. It was delicious. Apart of the black beans that set my mouth and throat and everything below it on fire.
Our Nepali colleague saw my photo on Facebook and commented laconically that we’d probably not make it to work the following day. Meaning that we would not make it further than 5 m from the toilet seat. Little did she know of the random places in which I’ve exposed my gastrointestinal system to much more serious challenges. This Newari restaurant was clean, cozy, and an absolute gem. Now if only I knew how to find it again!
(Kirtipur, Nepal; November 2016)