11 years in Nepal
Around every corner in Katmandu there is someone selling something. Hashish, tiger
balm, pocketknife and a pocket chess set are the most popular. You also find people
selling themselves, and this is how we met Baboo and Rajis.
We were walking through a market in the older part of the city headed for Durbar Square
(Palace Square). When we stepped into a stupa (Hindu temple) courtyard. it was a
magnificent structure, ancient and beautifully detailed. We were however clueless about
its meaning and significance. We were surrounded by about 15 kids trying to sell us hats
and tigerbalm. Jeff bumped into one particular kid, who asked if we wanted a tour. Being a
little wary from constantly being bombarded, but willing to part with 50 rupees (75 cents)
We reluctantly agreed because, as the kid said, "You will be stupid and uneducated if
you don't have a guide!"
it was an informative 10-minute show of the Sweta Machendranth Temple and when it was
over the boy took his rupees and bought himself an orange Fanta. We began to continue down
the market when we realized he had been right, without a guide we where stupid! We went
back and negotiated for his further service. He would show us around Durbar Square and
keep away all the other touts and we would pay him 150 rupees for his service.
He told us his nickname was Baboo and he was eleven years old. He was in fifth grade
and wanted to study to become a doctor. He also brought his older friend Rajis, possibly
as protection, but more likely to teach Rajis how to be a tour guide. Rajis was eighteen
and had just started business school at the university in Katmandu.
Baboo's English was remarkable. His tour brought us through several temples, his uncles
thankas (Buddhist paintings) shop, the old royal palace, and finally to the top of the
Tower Hotel for more Fanta and an incredible view of the whole Katmandu Valley. He led us
through strange back alleys and showed us how he could make it look as though he had one
arm or a bad leg to beg for money. He also entertained us with singing and acrobatic back
We realized this was not your typical eleven-year-old and he was destined for success.
After two hours of the frantic pace that only an eleven year old can keep and more facts
then a bachelor of history could memorize he said, " this is where i leave you."
and disappeared, leaving us to pick our way through the bedlam of a Katmandu street market
back to Thamel.