Nepal 110: Fuck the Money

I bussed back to Kathmandu.

I returned to the Annapurna Guesthouse, which was just as empty. The owner had kept my sneakers for me. When I asked, he smiled from behind the reception desk, opened a low drawer, and handed them to me, wrapped up in a blue plastic bag.

I would be a little sad to be leaving my blue ‘North Face’ hiking boots here in Kathmandu. We had some memories now, they and I. But, since I had worked so hard to negotiate a rental deal on them here in Kathmandu, I thought I should at least return the boots and reclaim my $30. That money could buy souvenirs for everyone back home.

I swapped the boots for my sneakers and struck back out into the maze-like streets of Thamel.

I had written two sentences of directions on the back of my rental receipt, but these proved to be woefully inadequate. I wandered the streets of Thamel for two hours, looking for the shop from which I had rented the boots. All the trekking outfitters looked the same, and none of them would admit to renting me a pair of hiking boots. Once, I was pretty sure I had found the correct shop, but the woman I had made the agreement with wasn’t there. The young Nepali men minding the shop said no, absolutely not, they didn’t rent boots.

That was as close as I got.

In the end, a man called out to me, and I faltered. He drew me into his jewelry shop, where he started proposing trades for earrings and rings. “You got mom? You got girlfriend? Then fuck the money,” he said to me, as I tried to negotiate some money for the boots. “Money go,” he said, brushing imaginary bills off into the air. “These forever.” He waved a pair of earrings at me. “Mom, girlfriend — worth more than money.”

In the end, he got me. I bought several pairs of earrings. I walked into his shop hoping to get at least $20 for the boots, and I walked out without the boots, less $10.

I realized this wasn’t the result I had been hoping for. I thought back to something the old Malaysian man had said in Pokhara:

“You know what a scam is?” he had asked me, as we sat there in our hash haze, playing chess. “A scam is when you you think you got a good deal. Only later, at some moment, you go: ‘hey, wait a minute!’”

I found myself thinking hey… wait a minute… as I walked out the jeweler’s door, but at the same time, he was right. Fuck the money. I thought. These forever.

He had a remarkably good sales pitch.

***

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6 thoughts on “Nepal 110: Fuck the Money

  1. Yes, I have been had in Nepal… bought a bracelet from a Tibetan guy, who maintained the stone in the middle was a real semi-precious stone.. I cannot remember how much I paid, but when I realised I had been conned, I smiled and thought that Nepal actually needed the money more than me. It was just a few months after the devastating earthquake… I just hope that the money was used well…

  2. That”s really a good sales pitch. And you are right, those trinkets and the time are memories. Stories you can share here. forever. There’s plenty of little ‘holes in the wall’ places I’ve been in the world, I don’t necessarily remember what the scam was, but the memory of it still makes me smile..

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