Legs crossed and boiling hot chai in hand, I sat on the floor in the back of Sunil’s shop swapping stories and chatter. Sunil’s shop was popular, and not just with the backpacker crowd haunting the cramped streets of Thamel, Kathmandu, his friends regularly popped into the shop.
And as is the case with any good chai time, hilarity ensues with a cup of chai in hand. See, chai time is one of those rituals you just don’t mess with in India and Nepal; every shop owner in these areas has own their local chai wallah who knows just the right blend of sugar and steeped spices. Then, as you shop and meet locals on your wanderings, friendships form in the oddest of places so you pause your day to share a chai tea and stories.
That’s how I initially met Sunil, an incredibly friendly Nepali man with a shop in the heart of the touristy section of Thamel, Kathmandu. Sunil’s shop stood out from the pack because it didn’t peddle the same exact cookie cutter souvenirs as the other shops (in fact, close friends, you just might recognize some of those scarves in the photo!).
So, back to this goofy photo … see, that’s not Sunil in the photo, it’s his friend Bijay. I can’t even begin to remember precisely how Bijay and I discovered we have the same exact glasses prescription (and as blind as I am, it’s rare to have the same prescription), but we did.
So we switched glasses. Um, of course!
Let’s be honest here, his eyeglasses were a whole lot cooler than mine, and sillier, so, naturally, I convinced Bijay set his chai aside and vogue it up with me. I’m still shocked he agreed!
We goofed around on the streets of Kathmandu for several minutes, both of us using the shop’s colorful batik scarves to thoroughly entertain everyone, including those close enough to hear the guffaws as Bijay warmed up to the impromptu photo shoot.
A few minutes later we switched our glasses back, pranced into Sunil’s shop (our abs aching from the strain of laughing so hard) and resumed chai drinking position, legs crossed Indian style on the floor and lukewarm cups of sweet chai clasped in hand.