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January 10, 2000 (Phone)
High Roller

Mark called from Kathmandu this morning just before 8:00.  He is in Kathmandu now because his students are taking their exams, and his PC directors suggested he might prefer not to be there.  He is staying in Tamal, a tourist area of Kathmandu, in the Earth Hotel, which is like a dormitory room with 30 beds.  It costs 50 rupees (about 70 cents) per night.

Mark described himself as wearing headphones and talking into a microphone to make this phone call, using the internet.  He says it costs only 7 cents a minute!  (Normally, phone calls to Mark in Nepal cost well over $1.00  per minute!)  Mark asked me to try to get phone numbers of some of his friends, so he could call them from Kathmandu too.

I told him it was raining this morning, and he said he could only remember it raining once since he came to Janakpur.  It is dusty, sandy, and foggy there;  and cold, in the 40's at night, up to 70 during the day.  He prefers the colder weather, and now he can wear the clothes he brought from home.  He had clothes made there for the very hot weather, but he would rather wear his own clothes.

He had also called last night (the 9th) and we were talking about where to meet him this summer:  Nepal, Europe, or elsewhere.  Then, the connection broke up  and we had to hang up.  This morning, we resumed that discussion.  It would be expensive to fly to Nepal, but cheap once we were there.  On the other hand, the tickets to Europe would be cheap, but it's expensive to stay there.  He'd like us to see Kathmandu, but is afraid we would find the culture shocking, especially since this would be our first time travelling abroad.

Some of the traveling he still wants to do (he reminded me he won't be coming home immediately after his term is over) includes Tibet, Mt. Everest, Southern India,  Mongolia, then across Siberia to Europe.  He'd also like to see Finland, Greece, and Amsterdam.

We spent some time talking about movies we had seen--something we always enjoy doing, but hadn't used expensive phone time for.  He thought The Blair Witch Project was excellent and very scary.  He recommends Caravan, a French movie about Tibet.  Most of the movies he sees are in restaurants, on a TV/VCR, which is not an enjoyable way to watch a movie.

During his second year in the PC,  Mark may stay in the city and work at teacher training, instead of teaching.  He also wants to get involved in a Literacy Training Program for Nepali women (teaching them to read and write Nepalese) that his friends Kraig and Larry established.

Four new PC Volunteers are arriving in late January.  The city where they will be trained is "only" a four-hour bus ride for Mark, so he will go there on  weekends to get to know the new people.

He had checked the value of his investments (made while he worked at Andersen Consulting) on the internet, and he was pleased with how well they were doing.  He said his friends there didn't want to hear about that, since they don't have such investments.

He had been to a casino recently and quickly lost 1500 rupees (about $20).  He continued to play and after 2 1/2 hours managed to get back to even.  Playing at $1 each hand, he is considered a high roller.

He has been doing some reading (including a friend's Harry Potter novel) and may read Jane Eyre next.


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