Sunday, June 13, 2004

English spoken here

Wow, I thought I was hallucinating! I just heard a kid's voice, counting at loud volume very fast as if playing hide & seek. Yep, that was English. English is spoken everywhere in the touristy Thamel area; it is too easy for me, I think. All signs are translated into English, too, for the most part. How am I going to learn Nepali, when everyone's yakking in English?

But as I walk around, getting my bearings and trying to learn the layout of KTM, I realize how easy it is to get disoriented here. (And not just geographically, either.) The city streets all seem to curve and turn into other streets (kinda like GTO, Mexico), and complicating things further, every street seems to have its own "neighborhood" name (kinda like SF, CA). Thank god, I was smart enough to have brought a tiny compass--which is on a watchstrap on my wrist--to keep from getting severely lost.

God, there are men everywhere. Young men, good-looking men looking lucky. I've been here 5 hours or so and I've talked with about 7 men already. They're captivating & charming, quick with a smile. They walk so relaxed, arms swinging easily at their sides; it's sexy & attractive to me. For my taste.

And then, I notice how many men are holding hands as they sit in the shop stalls, or stand talking in the middle of the street. They casually and unself-consciously drape arms around shoulders, the way teenaged novios sweetly hang on one another's shoulders in the U.S. That's how I see these men and boys of Nepal physically in harmony with one another. After a brief moment of wonderment, I knew not to assume that all these men were gay lovers just because they gently carried each others' hands in conversation. An early lesson for this not-so-ugly American. Suspend the Western world judgments and attain a relaxed and pliant mindset.

Watching the soft and comfortable physical engagement of men in public space was one of the most healing therapies for me. Before Nepal, my cumulative experience had brought mostly discomfort, witnessing our men chest-thumping and preening in insecure rage, unfriendliness, and machismo in the american public sphere. So fuckin' uptight, even when they get along w/ each other. How funny to realize that such displays of physical armoring in other people hurts the observer maybe almost as much.

I look around, wanting to hold somebody's hand.

No comments: