Yesterday and the day before were great fun. On Wed morning Lin was wiped out, so she slept while I ran errands, then we switched hotels (to a much nicer place) and she went back to sleep. I went out with our new Nepalese and Indian friends. We rented bikes and biked over to Devi Falls - a combination of cave, religious site, and waterfall. It was beautiful - almost reminded me of the ocean. After this trip we all went out to lunch (it's wonderful how seriously vegetarian dietary restrictions are taken here - everything is cooked separately!) which was great fun.
Yesterday we got up early, grabbed some lassis (yogurt shakes) and mango juice. Then went with our friends to rent a boat. We visited an island with some sort of shrine and then proceeded to cross the lake. At the other end we had a brief swim and then climbed a couple of thousand feet to the top where the World Peace Pagoda awaited us. Unfortunately some leeches attacked both Linda and I, but it turns out they aren't very fond of DEET. Our legs did get rather bloody though (it didn't hurt).
Anyway the trip up and down was exhausting so we hung out at the summit for awhile and had some Dal Bhat (rice, lentils, and potatos) the official staple (and only) dish of Nepal - they don't really have much in the way of cuisine around here. Afterwards Linda and I took a nap at the hotel and then met a Spanish couple (the husband is the current director of the Cervantes Institute in Dehli and a Professor of Sanskrit) for dinner. Finally home and a major lightning storm, but we slept soundly!
Today's just been chilling out. Shabbat should be restful - there's actually a veg indian restaraunt with a hebrew sign in front (almost every tourist shop/restaruant has one claiming the wonderfulness of the place and inviting Israeli tourists) that not only recommends the food, but also noted that "for the religious you can eat here on the sabbath and pay after the sabbath" so it looks like we will be well fed this shabbat :-)
Lin and I got to Pokhara late last night. We had taken a tourist bus from Kathmandu in the morning, but ended up having an adventure.The story - there has been a petroluem strike on for the last couple of days. The strikers/paid protesters (500 rupees a day to promote civil unrest for teenage thugs) have been stopping/harassing motorists on the highways and city streets. But they've been letting tourists travel around. Unfortunately for us, yesterday at noon they increased the strike level and bands of youths took over all of the highways while the police more or less left (returning sporadically). Our bus was stopped and three of the youths came on, looked to see we were all foriegners and then left us alone, same for all the other Indian and foreign motorists. The Nepalis on the road weren't so lucky. No serious injuries that I could see, but some cars got smashed pretty throughly. Interstingly the protesters were very polite and friendly to us, saying Namaste and some of us were even offered weed "for friendship". Anyway after about 9 hours we were finally let go (10PM) but up until 1/2 hour beforehand we though we might be held through the next day - pretty insane! Thankfully we got to Pokhara without further incident, checked into our hotel, got dinner, and went to sleep. Will let you know what we do here, once we've done it ;-)
The past two days have been crazy! Yesterday was wandering around the city and then spending the evening at this Israel volunteer group - Tevel B'tzedek, more details later.
Today we went to the monkey temple where we saw a monkey attempt to steal a woman's shawl. Afterwards we went to a slum for the inaguration of a clean water tank given by tevel b'tzedek and the Israeli consulate. Very eye opening.
Tomorrow early we head to Pokhara for some trekking and R&R. So don't worry if the next update takes awhile '-) Linda will probably send an additional update shortly.Make sure to cc Linda on any replies!
Shabbat in Kathmandu was really nice. We went to Chabad for both meals (strange that our first food here tasted like it was straight from Brooklyn) - was very pleasant. Met up with my friend Danielle (met her while she was a waitress at Blossom) and her boyfriend Ariel. In the late afternoon we wandered the city, went to a world music festival taking place in the street and a circle of Nepalis ended up gathering around to watch me dance - surreal. After shabbat we went out to dinner at an Indian restaurant and caught a musical performance and drinks. Super fun. Pictures will come when we get someplace with the speed to upload photos. Today we will shop and chill in Thamel and around Kathmandu. Tonight we will be at Tevel B'Tzedek the ngo Danielle is volunteering with. Monday we will probably volunteer on an environmental awareness river tour with Nepali children and Tuesday we may head to Pokhara for trekking....
Finally made it to Kathmandu - it's a really crazy place. I won't write long since we need to grab some food and get over to chabad. We overnighted in the Dehli airport and flew out at 6:30 to Kathmandu but couldn't land b/c of clouds, so we went back to Dehli and then returned to Kathmandu. All in all we were in transit 36 hours. But we are glad to be here, its a real trip, in all senses!
I started blogging when I took a year to intern all over the world, which surprisingly did help me figure out what I want to do. It started with a 10-week internship at Credit Suisse as a Quant/Trader, then with Microsoft Research Labs in India, followed by a 5 month stint with Technicolor's Paris Research Lab, ending with a 4 month internship with Microsoft Research in Redmond, WA. (Okay so it was more than a year, sue me). Since then I finished up at Columbia University, helped co-found a startup, and am doing a postdoc at Princeton. Watch to see where I go next (or read my archives to see where I was).
Accompanying me is my wonderful wife Linda Lantos, a whole foods chef and food educator. She learned lots in India, served as a delegate at the 2009 Slow Foods conference in Turin, Italy, after which she joined me in France and attended Ecole Gastronomique Bellouet Conseil De Paris where she studied pastry. Now she is doing all sorts of super-cool culinary & educational stuff.