This morning I took Mr Kitty to the vet. Thankfully, it was nothing serious, and after her checkup I climbed into a tempo with her safely tucked into her basket.
A tempo is a form of local transportation–a metal box on three wheels, open in the back, with a padded bench down each side. They operate on electric batteries or bottled gas and each number, painted on the front and back, indicates which route it’s running. I far prefer them to local buses, as they (usually) don’t try to stuff in extra passengers; just 6 on each side, or 5 for the smaller variety, and one in the front with the driver.
When Mr Kitty and I boarded, early on this foggy winter’s morning–the first real fog of the winter–the tempo was nearly empty. One man sat opposite me, and on the other end, a second man with a goat. Goats are pretty commonplace here; and while they don’t board public transport every day, it’s also not a rarity. I saw several stuffed into a taxi just the other day.
But was this ever a goat! Certainly not your daily Kathmandu variety! The size of a large German Shepherd, it had long hair, mottled with several attractive shades of brown, a white face, and brown and white spotted ears.
Mr Kitty meowed a little in her basket, and the driver turned around, startled.
“What’s that?” He asked in Nepali.
“Just a cat,” replied the man with the goat.
Having two animals in his tempo seemed to amuse the driver to no end, and he muttered something I took to mean first a goat, then a cat.
The man opposite me soon alighted, and the goat owner and I struck up a conversation in Nepali.
“What a nice big goat,” I complimented him. It was true–I rarely see them so large.
“It’s forty kilos,” he said proudly.
It looked much bigger, and I made suitable impressed noises, and he assured me that they could reach eighty or a hundred kilos.
Then he began to inquire the usual things–where I come from, how long I’ve been here, do I like Nepal, am I married, and so on. It was only a few minutes until I needed to get off, and I was smiling as I walked home.
The friendliness of everyday people combined with unusual circumstances–this is one of the many things I love about Nepal. The man and his goat won’t be soon forgotten.