07Feb2013

Lulu from UK

Dangling bottles at Der Raum in Melbourne.

This post is, umm, really not family-friendly. If you have a sensitive disposition, why not try this post on hot air ballooning in Cappadocia, this one on Hezbollahland in Lebanon or these pictures of Petra.


It’s not until I’ve physically collected and checked our China visas that, after a total of four days at the Chinese Embassy and one at Nepali Immigration, I can believe it’s actually, finally, happening.

We ARE going to go to China as planned! The visa deities ARE smiling on us! All is right with the world! This bad run of luck we’ve had since Lukla is just a temporary glitch!

And so, a young woman’s thoughts turn, naturally, to getting on with the some work  a quiet night in with the boy  packing celebration.

My initial instinct, what with neither Mr Darcy nor even the White Knight actively oozing enthusiasm for my company this evening, despite intermittent communication over the week, is to get poshed up and head to the Radisson.

But then I begin to worry whether the Radisson may be dead. And then that would be rubbish. Because probably the only place to go, if the Radisson is dead, is Faces, Kathmandu, which is almost certainly where they’ll be. (Did I mention that Kathmandu is a very small town?)

So then I’ll have to avoid doing that, and then I’ll be cabbing around Kathmandu from dead 5-star to dead 5-star to dead 5-star which isn’t fun if you’re bar reviewing, let alone if you’re supposed to be getting laid, and also requires doing some online research.

Sod it, I think. I’ll send a quick text and see if Mr Darcy’s available. He is, after all, quite ludicrously hawt. And, ya know, without the aid of Botox, the days of ludicrously hawt 23  24  25 very-possibly-30-if-he-joined-the-Gurkhas-as-a-career-change-which-he-didn’t year-olds are fading rapidly in the rear view mirror.

Plus, I think gloomily, it’s not like I’m going to be getting up to any mischief in Northern China in the winter. Not in an ambient temperature of -30, anywise.

Mr Darcy is around! Not enthusiastic, perhaps.

In fact, REALLY not enthusiastic.

But around.

That will do, I think, in a state that, since Lukla, is probably best summarised as delirium. That will DO!

“It might be better for you if you just stayed in and went to bed early rather than going out and getting sozzed.” “Nah!” I say, wriggling into the Magical Age-Reducing and Height-Increasing Kneeboots of Confidence, Fun and General Domination. “It’ll be fun!”

“Are you sure you should be going out tonight, Mum?” says Zac, in a conversation he can doubtless replay with his therapist shortly before he sells his misery memoir, cuts all ties and abandons me to the prowling, hungry cats.

“Yes!” I say. “It’ll be fun!”

“Mm,” says my son, tearing himself away from his ongoing flamewar with someone who appears to be a) a bona fide physicist and b) far too old to be fighting with a twelve-year-old on the Anno 2070 forum – the thread’s currently at 200 pages and counting, and no, I jest not. “I think it might be better if you had an early night.”

“BETTER?!” I say. “What do you MEAN, better?!”

“I think,” he says. “It might be better for you if you just stayed in and went to bed early rather than going out and getting sozzed.”

“Nah!” I say, wriggling into the Magical Age-Reducing and Height-Increasing Kneeboots of Confidence, Fun and General Domination. “It’ll be fun! Don’t wait up!”

“You’re having a ‘sleepover’, are you?” he says, each quotation mark dripping a honeyed poison remarkable in one so young.

“Well, I certainly hope so,” I say maternally. “I might be a bit late for breakfast.”

Ah! A text from the White Knight! Well, HE wants to see me, anyway. Which must mean THEY do.

“Aren’t you going to drink that?” he says. “I can’t drink THAT,” I say, brattishly. “The coke’s flat. You have it.”

Ooh! The 90s Raver is at the bar. On only my second visit, Faces Kathmandu already feels familiar, which is to say that if I come here a third time, it will be old.

“Where have you been all week?” he asks.

“The Chinese Embassy,” I explain, and then bore him silly with my visa hassles.

What is very hard for people who lead more-or-less normal lives to understand is that, for nomads, an extended visa hassle is roughly equivalent to a house sale that looks like it’s falling through, in that it leaves you in a peculiarly stressful limbo full of paperwork, phone calls and hideous, unexpected expenditure.

I can’t help noticing that he looks a bit glazed.

Oh yeah, I remember. He gets shot at for a living. And doesn’t have any choice in where he lives anyway.

I order a Jack and coke. This is a mistake, and I switch to beer.

“Aren’t you going to drink that?” he says.

“I can’t drink THAT,” I say, brattishly. “The coke’s flat and it’s out of a supermarket bottle. You have it.”

A text from the White Knight. Where am I?

“At the bar with the 90s Raver,” I say.

He comes over. At least HE’s pleased to see me.

The kneeboots weren’t going to be a problem in my head, because in my head Mr Darcy is my age, or thereabouts, and therefore not only sexually self-confident a complete slut but quite happy with birds being taller than him in heels. But, of course, he’s 23.

Mr Darcy, meanwhile, is over in the corner with the hookers. FFS.

I wander over, whereupon two things rapidly become apparent. Firstly, thanks to the magical kneeboots of domination, I am now very significantly taller than him. Secondly, when not up a mountain or actually engaged in intercourse, we have absolutely nothing to say to each other.

The kneeboots weren’t going to be a problem in my head, because in my head Mr Darcy is my age, or thereabouts, and therefore not only sexually self-confident a complete slut but quite happy with birds being taller than him in heels. But, of course, he’s 23.

He gives it a good shot. Gets his tits out. Does some gay dancing.

I throw notes at him, but they’re the wrong size. The hookers are all throwing 5 rupees and I’m throwing 500 rupees. This is insensitive of me, so he makes me take them back.

Further, it appears that vocally encouraging him to remove all his clothes in a nightclub is unladylike.

Nonetheless, he invites me to lick his nipple while he does the gay dancing.

I do it WRONG!

And then I have a moment of crisis. Fuck! I’m not groomed enough, or sexy enough, to do the cougar thing… Hell, I can’t even apply makeup! Or lick a bloody nipple right!

I wander over to bore the White Knight with tedious tales of our Christmas at the Chinese Embassy.

By the time the 90s Raver observes, quite in the manner of a Jane Austen hero complimenting a heroine on her quadrille, that my dancing is “One for the man bank”, I’m rather enjoying myself. And hammered, obv.

The alcohol flows. I alternate between chatting to the White Knight, gay dancing with the 90s Raver, accepting compliments on my legs from various gentlemen of the armed forces, and generally people-watching in the manner of a longterm bar reviewer and writer type, which is to say working out who’s who and what’s what.

Ya know.

By the time the 90s Raver observes, quite in the manner of a Jane Austen hero complimenting a heroine on her quadrille, that my dancing is “One for the man bank”, I’m rather enjoying myself.

And hammered, obv.

Which is when, having forgotten that Mr Darcy is 23, I also forget that Mr Darcy is not a cynical rising-40 British bar reviewer or soldier who’s been stranded in Kathmandu for the big end of the decade, but Nepali and, umm, 23.

Continuing my conversation with the 90s Raver, I turn to Mr Darcy and say, “So, those girls, are they actually prostitutes or just bar sluts?”

Oops.

This goes down like the proverbial cup of cold sick.

Actually, it goes down rather worse than that.

It goes down like a cup of cold sick with a dysentery chaser and a used syringe for a stirrer.

“What happened there?” “Well,” I say, précis-ing as best I can. “I think I’ve inadvertently mistaken the wives of his brother Gurkhas for prostitutes.” “Wives?!” he says. “They’re not bloody wives!!”

“Jesus,” says the 90s Raver, as I make a hasty exit from a cluster of twittering possibly-not-prostitutes-just-bar-sluts and one enraged Gurkha to the safety of the dancefloor. “What happened there?”

“Well,” I say, précis-ing as best I can. “I think I’ve inadvertently mistaken the wives of his brother Gurkhas for prostitutes.”

“Wives?!” he says. “They’re not bloody wives!!”

“Oh,” I say. “Well, that’s alright then. More gay dancing?”

Mr Darcy appears. He is not a happy bunny. “What made you think they were prostitutes?” he says.

“Well,” I begin, deciding not to get into the makeup thing. “Last time we were here, he said I and his flatmates were the only women in here who weren’t prostitutes…”

“Leave me out of this,” says the 90s Raver, exiting stage left.

He does, after all, have to live in Kathmandu.

“You think all Nepali women are prostitutes,” says Mr Darcy.

“No I don’t!” I say, getting all feminist and arm-waving on his ass, because bringing gender into it is TOTALLY going to help when he’s suddenly hung up on the race thing. “I’ve met plenty of strong, empowered Nepali women, professional women, Sherpa women – don’t be ridiculous!”

“You think all Nepali women are prostitutes!” he says. “They’re from the UK! Like you!!!”

I double-take.

The White Knight appears and, with the general calm air of someone accustomed to command, not to say absolutely execrable behaviour in nightclubs, restores order and ceases the waving of arms with repeated applications of the magic phrase “Let’s just all calm down and talk about it in the morning.”

The White Knight and Mr Darcy look and sound British when they’re speaking English and look and sound Nepali when they’re speaking Nepalese, ergo they’re both.

I take another look at the girls in question.

Now, the question of Britishness is an interesting one. But, fundamentally, people count as British if they look and sound British, and you can be British and another nationality as well.

A girl at the playground in full niqab with trainers sticking out the bottom bellowing “Mohammed! Get down off that now or your dad’s going to fucking kill you!” is British. A Dalston hipster in skinny jeans and brothel creepers is British.

The spinster cycling to Mass over the village green is British, as is the vicar’s wife icing fairy cakes for the bake sale.

That scary man with the Bible shouting at you on the nightbus is British, as are the kids with their trousers belted below their pants swaggering through suburbia like they’re straight outta Compton.

The White Knight and Mr Darcy look and sound British when they’re speaking English and look and sound Nepali when they’re speaking Nepalese, ergo they’re both.

Zac’s father has an Australian passport and a British passport, Australian heritage and British heritage, and has lived in both countries – but because he sounds Australian, he’s basically Australian. The passport, when it comes to Britishness, is a relatively small part of the identity.

Anywise, these girls, in their nylon Mid-Priced Indonesian Hooker outfits, white face powder and red lipstick, do not look British in the slightest. And nor, given they’ve been speaking Nepalese all evening, do they sound it.

“Well, HE says they’re from the UK.” “Nah,” the 90s Raver says. On this, we are, it appears, agreed. “So what ARE they?” I say, with my bar reviewing hat on. “Are they just bar sluts? Do they even HAVE bar sluts in Nepal?”

“They might not be prostitutes, actually,” says the 90s Raver, a bit later, as the girls continue to twitter. Quite why Mr Darcy felt he had to inform them of my question, I will never understand. “They might just look that way, because they think that’s how Western girls dress and they want to be Western.”

“NOW you tell me!” I say. (The White Knight has no idea whether they are prostitutes or not but had kind of assumed they were.) “Well, HE says they’re from the UK.”

“Nah,” the 90s Raver says. On this, we are, it appears, agreed.

“So what ARE they?” I say, with my bar reviewing hat on. “Are they just bar sluts? Do they even HAVE bar sluts in Nepal?”

“Bar sluts?”

“Yeah,” I say. “You know, girls who just go to bars, sit at the bar and wait for men to buy them drinks?”

For some reason, he doesn’t quite get this one.

“Or,” I say, because tact has always been my strong suit. “Are they just the kind of girls that want to marry soldiers? Is that what they are?”

“The kind of girls who want to marry soldiers?” he repeats back to me, slowly.

Aaarrggghhhh.

At this rate I’m going to have alienated every English speaker in Faces, Kathmandu, before the end of the night, which is only 2am, thank god, although I’ve only been here, like, an hour.

“That wasn’t what I meant…” I begin. Then I stop digging that hole and resolve to be nice.

Gay dancing! It’s the way forward!

I look desperately around the club for someone I have yet to mortally offend. Ooh! There’s the evil Gurkha with the piercings! I like him!

“Are YOU with HIM?” I look at Mr Darcy, who’s in an absolutely gigantic sulk, and start to laugh. He’s a beautiful guy, who would look absolutely perfect on the cover of a gay porno, probably wearing a toolbelt…

Oooh, one of the prostitutes/bar sluts/whatevers – hell, they could be a party of conventioneering brain surgeons, or maybe estate agents, perhaps from Surbiton, or maybe Manchester, or, for that matter, the expensively Western-educated daughters of Kathmandu’s social elite, but I doubt it – wants to talk to me.

Right, I think. I WILL BE NICE.

“Hello,” she says, in a thick Nepali accent pushed through her nose in an ill-advised attempt to sound British. “My name is Lulu and I am from UK.”

“Oh,” I say, brightly, ignoring both the hooker name and the missing definite article because I am being nice. I.AM.BEING.NICE. “That’s nice! What part of the UK are you from?”

Lulu from UK ignores that. She has a more pressing message to deliver.

“Are YOU with HIM?”

I look at Mr Darcy, who’s in an absolutely gigantic sulk, and start to laugh. He’s a beautiful guy, who would look absolutely perfect on the cover of a gay porno, probably wearing a toolbelt, and apparently an extremely good soldier, but he’s 15 years younger than me and, bar an interest in diving, mountains, sex and getting drunk, we have absolutely nothing in common.

“No,” I say, laughing, in the absence of a convenient précis that covers nipple-licking, drunk sex and the odd text, but excludes relationship. “God, no.”

“What age are you?” she says, demonstrating her fluency in English idiom yet again.

“What?” I say, still laughing.

“What AGE are you?” Lulu asks again.

I look at her. She looks a bit dumpy to actually be a hooker, although, in the few brothels I’ve visited, they’ve had them in all shapes and sizes. “I’m 38,” I say.

“I am 21,” she says, delivering what is clearly supposed to be a feline coup de grâce. “My MOTHER is 38.”

“Oh, really?” I say, biting back a number of observations because, hell, I COULD be her mother, there really is no victory in making a 21-year-old cry, and I AM BEING NICE. Rather belatedly, for sure. But I AM BEING NICE. “That’s nice.”

We can’t all go back together and just hang out and get pissed because that is what my mixed-sex groups of friends did in the 90s and we’ve been through the noughties and now we’re in the teens. Dear god, I’m old. Torn between taxis, I dither for an unconscionable amount of time.

By the time the lights go on, it is apparent that I am going to be entertaining the soldiery in one form or another tonight, perhaps in the manner of Vera Lynn, or possibly Marlene Dietrich or, at the very least, Myleene Klass, most definitely not, however, in the manner of what the history books so charmingly term “camp followers”.

Most definitely not that.

Oh no, no.

Most definitely not that.

Mr Darcy appears to have calmed down drunk enough to have temporarily forgotten the insult to his sisters in nationality who have, in any case, gone wherever girls go at 2am in a country where nice girls don’t and bad girls want paying.

My options appear to be: go back with the 90s Raver and the Fittest Man in the British Army™ to the 90s Raver’s house, where there is a bar, head off with the White Knight and Mr Darcy to their hotel, where there is also a bar, or, of course, stagger around the corner to my poor neglected child, an early night and a productive day.

As if THAT’S going to happen.

We can’t all go back together and just hang out and drink more because that is what my mixed-sex groups of friends did in the 90s and we’ve been through the noughties and now we’re in the teens.

Dear god, I’m old.

Torn between taxis, I dither for an unconscionable amount of time.

“Just get in,” says the White Knight.

And as we head off, in a haze of alcohol fumes, I reassure myself for perhaps the billionth time that now it REALLY can’t get any worse.

12 Comments

  1. lia says:

    no comments yet… you appear to have rendered everyone speechless, so let me be first. i always thought your best option was white knight. but you really should have said “just get in” to him lol. i’m looking forward to the next instalment.

    • Theodora says:

      The problem with the White Knight is that he’s subtle. And I don’t register subtlety. Never have, never will. Whereas someone invading my bedroom and asking me to kiss him? I NOTICE that shit….

  2. That Lulu, Oh man! She really got you to practice kindness… I cannot wait to read what happened next!!

    • Theodora says:

      It was odd. In that, having spent the odd moment being neurotic about my age earlier, confronted with “You could be my mother”, I actually felt really glad to be my age, to have had an interesting life, to be having an interesting life, and absolutely zero desire to be 21 again. Which is ass backwards and would have taken some explaining, so I kind of left it out of the post….

  3. Richard says:

    Lost my shit at Z’s comments!

    • Theodora says:

      You’ll love what he says to me in the morning, then, cousin. So glad this is playing well among family — *coughs*. Though it does raise rather a high bar for Harbin.

  4. Catherine Hartmann says:

    Ahh I can sympathise with the age thing. Recently on entering a club in Budapest I questioned the girl on the door whether it was a young people’s club because I am now 40 and therefore old. Her smiling answer:
    “40 isn’t old, my mum is 40 and she is not old”

    Yes, thank you for those well meant but crushing words.
    Need to catch up with your next installment now :-)

    • Theodora says:

      It’s weird how 40′s such a psychological turning point, isn’t it? I remember 30 being a bit of a big deal at the time, but, once you start with a 4, you’re definitely into “I could be your mother age”…

      • Catherine Hartmann says:

        I actually felt that turning 40 was pretty cool but I suspect that 41 is really going to sting when that comes around in a couple of months.

        • Theodora says:

          Turning 40 is going to be major second child panic stations for me, I know. But, yes, I can imagine 41 being the weirder one. Because you brace for 40. And you don’t brace for 41.

          • Catherine Hartmann says:

            40 is okay if you still feel and live young (doesn’t seem to be a problem for you at the moment). I reckon Zac turning 18 is going to be a LOT more traumatic for you than turning 40. Luckily you have a few years to prepare for that :-) Even more luckily for me, I don’t have any kids :-)

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