Thor bu - Curiosia Indo-Tibetica

Textual and visual odds and ends from India, Tibet, and around.

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Location: Kolozsvár/Cluj, Budapest, Oxford, ibi ubi

Wednesday, October 03, 2007

Love is bland

There were several highlights of this trip to the Kathmandu Valley and the two regions of Central Tibet. The first and most surprising of all was that I could count more tourists in Lhasa than in Kathmandu which - although explainable by the monsoon and the current political situation in the Valley - is a premiere I think. The situation in Kathmandu was described tersely as "tense" by fellow blogger and colleague Iain Sinclair whom I finally met and had a very pleasant conversation with in an atmospheric New Baneshwor restaurant. The blasts in Asan Tole claimed by Terai seccesionists set the tone and the frequent Maoist protests and roadblocks didn't help either. The season is now over in Tibet and it can be easily ascertained that the number of visitors will at least triple next year with the new railway station in place and the olympics hosted in Beijing. No Freak Street in Lhasa though. Yet.

Let's begin with the funny stuff.

This was seen on the back of a bus in the outskirts of KTM. If anyone thinks that they have the meaning sorted out - I owe you beer. Another funny truck logo was "Love is bland", again in KTM, but I wasn't quick enough to shoot it down.

The Barkhor is still full of these signs. Obviously they are using translating machines and the rest is due to oral transmission. There are many entertaining instances of textual corruptions around here. Some are even clever presuming that the author meant it. E.g. a grafitti in Gyantse's otherwise excellent "Tashi Restaurant" toilet: "Never say good buy." You certainly never should. Only way to get a good bargain.

Balconies a bit off? Actually they are meant to hold air conditioning units, but it's still funny. Wouldn't venture going out for a ciggie on a cold morning on one of these things.

Menus are always a goldmine. An advantage for the engrish-hunter is that it is less boring waiting for your food (which if not from the Chinese menu takes ages to arrive). Shigatse's (again excellent) Songtsen restaurant hence boasts "Hum burgers" (Humbug meat?), "Buff" momos (a particulary muscular cow?) and makes "Rugan Juice", presumably a particularly juicy variety of rogan josh.

This could easily be my all time favourite. Perhaps the picture is not so good, but believe me: this toilet sign in Sakya shows you to the 'Toiler'. Good upringing prevents me from explaining why some people who ate here disagreed with the name finding work in the bathroom surprisingly easy.

The funniest sign ever in Tashidzom (on the way to Everest Base Camp) was removed (legend goes that Lonely Planet offered a prize for anyone who could make out what it was supposed to mean). But there are some more humble substitutes.

Back in Bhaktapur you can take up Hibru courses. So much for Engrish today.

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