I shook hands with my opponent across the chess board. Beams of early-afternoon sunlight broke through the roof of the Pokhara cafe where we were sitting.
My opponent grinned a toothy grin. He was dark-skinned, freckled, missing one of his front teeth, and had a big, bushy white beard. He wore a light scarf wrapped around his head. This was the Malaysian.
Fifty-one years old, professional itinerant, and damned good chess player.
He’d just taken four out of five games from me, smoking hash almost the entire time.
When I finally reached the coffee shop where I had played chess with the Malaysian, I ran up the stairs with a spring in my step.
I had my interview. I had time to arrange a trek. I would trek, I would leave Nepal, return home, and show up on Holly’s doorstep with a dream in hand, ready for our next great adventure.
That was one option, anyways.
Regardless, as the Malaysian I was coming to see had said; it was time to rearrange my life.
As we were queuing up for another game of chess, a young Spaniard came up the steps and into the cafe. He saw the Malaysian and broke out into a big smile.
“Ah good, you’re still here!” he said.
“Of course,” the Malaysian answered with a single nod. “I am here every afternoon. I have nothing else to do.”
He turned to me, and said: “You know how I describe traveling? I say: traveling… is like Sunday afternoon.” We both laughed.
I sipped my tea and thought: Sunday afternoon…