It is 5:00 a.m., and I am shivering as I look out from my terrace. “It’s so cold, who wakes up this early?” I mumble, and then run towards my room to bury myself in my warm blanket once again.
But, my eyes are wide awake, calculating if it’s still possible to cancel my plan to go to Kalimati Tarkari Bazaar. However, half an hour later, I am standing in front of the crowded bazaar, with a jumble of sounds interrupting my sleepy morning. The virtuous stillness has faded. However, this a.m. now feels like a happy full-of-life morning!
The bazaar clamors through every opening. And everyone seems busy. I can hear a dohori song playing in the distant; there are porters laughing, and local vendors cracking up with their jokes. There are some complaining to each other about life, and ridiculous customers’ irrational bargaining. And then there are some watchful ones sipping their hot milk tea, seemingly in a meditative mood.
I nod my way in, edging through the crowd and cordially greeting strangers, to embrace the lively environs of Kalimati Tarkari Bazaar.
Dan Bahadur Rai smells of moonshine as I stumble upon him. I smile at him, and ask, “Where to?” and he answers, “Ghumdai,” (just strolling around), but I know he is making playful conversation, so I continue, “With that load on your back?”
“Well, I am strolling, loading and unloading. I am a porter, what can I say?” he chuckles.
“And may I ask why you are drunk this early?” I egg him.
“It’s too damn cold; I got to keep my body warm, to keep me running.”
“What about in the afternoon then?”
“It’s going to be a beautiful day in a while, the sun will warm my heart,” so saying, he withdraws with a million dollar smile.
“Are you here to charge me with lawsuits?” she chuckles.
“Are you here to send me off to foreign countries?”
And then she laughs, “Oh my! Then what can I say? My life is wonderful, I have a happy family, a content tummy that loves to be filled with chicken; there is nothing more I wish from life,” says Tara Budathoki.
“How can you wake up in this cold; isn’t three too early?”
“Dukkha le sutna didaina nani!” (Sorrow does not let me sleep, dear) says Ram Bahadur, blowing out another puff of smoke.