Friday, July 09, 2004

Identity Chameleon

I veered towards one of the bakeries in Thamel, which have been enticing me with their store window displays of fresh, fluffy breads and sweets. Outside the HOT BREAD (Bakers & Confectioners) Bakery, I met Rama Skesi, a "commerce" (we call it "business") student hanging out by the front door. He was serious and seemed to be waiting for someone, but expressed curiosity about where I was from, what I was. I told him I was from Mexico. Not really a lie, eh? Mi gente son de Mexico, right?

After picking up a few baked treats for later, I decided to check out one of the hype hippie spots lining the more flagrantly-touristy section of Thamel. What the heck, I wanted to see if the action and food was worth the hype. It amused me that some enterprising Nepali businesspeople had decided that hippiesque-themed restaurants would attract Westerners intrigued by and made nostalgic for the Kathmandu that once was--back when the British Invasion of guru- and ganja-seeking pop idols was the thing of the day.

So----now I sit in the ALICE'S RESTAURANT cafe (i don't mind, go ahead and laugh), listening to the sound system blast the Doors' "Light My Fire." (I should inform you that I could hear the music from this cafe's speakers at least half a block away...) I feel like I'm at a 60's hippie theme party, only it's early and I forgot my costume, AND there's water buffalo meat on the menu. In other words, I feel like I'm on hallucinogens, cuz this is some weird trip. All the waiters speak British English and the fries and beer I order are served with the utmost formality. By the time I'm midway through my late afternoon snack, which may well end up being my dinner, I've heard at least one Pink Floyd and Janis Joplin song. God, do I feel like an outdated bohemian hippie tourist cliche.

I pay my bill and slink out of the place, hoping that no American sees me leaving.

I want to be ironic anonymously.

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