Thursday, September 29, 2011

Endless Rain, Goats in Taxis, Possible Visas, and Opening Dates

This blog has been quiet, but only because my life has not been at all. There was a time when I had half of just about any day to sit and write as I wished, that time has long passed. Finding time where I'm not exhausted to sit and write anything that someone might want to read- or that I could even go back and decipher, has been lacking. Also though I can only write about my adventures in opening a restaurant so many times before it becomes a little monotonous, and essentially that's what every day is. Some days it's chasing down visas and paperwork, other days it's opening bank accounts, transferring money from overseas, other days it's working on the menu or testing out recipes with friends over lunch or dinner. So here in this post I'll give the rundown of what has been going on in Kathmandu.

The Big Wet- It's been raining like crazy! Every day since I've been back from the US seems like it has had at least one rain storm. By this time last year the rain had really subsided and I remember while I was up in the Everest region the monsoon broke. No luck this year, as we head into October and the high Hindu holiday season kicks off it's still raining, and not just a little. Last Monday it rained literally all day, and it poured the night before, something that tends to be somewhat uncommon here. At the market yesterday we had to move the tables around as rain leaked through the tarps. Forecasters are saying that the monsoon should break this week, we'll see.

Goats in Taxis- Wednesday marked the kick off of the multi-week holiday event  of Dashain, a time when many people travel to their villages, get together with family and apparently eat lots of goats. This week goats started arriving in the capital as people prepare for the large family feasts. While not in full swing yet, there will come a point where goats occupy every other corner in town as they are sold off for dinner. Last year I saw goats being transported in the backs of taxis, on mopeds, bus rooftops, and walked on leashes like a dog. Last time I never seemed to have my camera when my favorite goat sightings occurred, this year I will at least have the camera on my phone and hope to get at least a few good goat shots. Nothing makes me laugh as much as goats in taxis- it really strikes me funny.

Business Visa- This will at some point have to be its own post, as this has been one of the longest and potentially frustrating things I have ever done. I say potentially, because to expect too much out of any process including lawyers ad bureaucrats is to set yourself up for disappointment, especially here, so I advise to always expect delay, absurd rules, endless signatures and plenty of visa extensions. I've been working on this since I got back, and apparently despite the fact that the department that approves names already gave us the go ahead, and the fact that we already opened bank accounts and have a company stamp and letterhead with that name, the Department of Industry had decided that they didn't think it made sense that we were a restaurant and a bar- because apparently you can really only be one or the other. Despite the slight absurdity of this position it has held us up for the last few weeks, and apparently just the other day it was approved. So with this last hurdle cleared my passport and company stamp have been sent out to get the business visa that I set out initially to get back in early May. So finally after five months, some 200 or so signatures, opening 2 bank accounts, some two dozen plus passport sized photos, half a dozen thumb prints, countless visits to the department of immigration and industry, and plenty of money in legal fees and visa extensions I may actually be getting my visa. I'm not actually holding it in my hand yet though, so I'll hold off on declaring victory.

Brian's Grill House Will Open, Someday- The great news is that I have a lot of people asking me when the restaurant will be opening, a lot of people seem genuinely excited about it, and that's really encouraging. We are moving forward, the building has electrical and plumbing going in now, word arrived that my elevator is actually on its way and won't be delayed as long as initially feared, and we are about ready to go ahead with interiors. That all said, I have no idea when we will actually open. In Nepal things get done when they get done, and coordination of contractors and timing is not this countries strong point. Currently we are looking to  a general opening some time in December, with our earliest possible ready date being some time in November, where we might have friends and family as we work out systems and train the staff. But who knows, maybe things come together quickly, maybe I'm writing something similar come February. At this point I'm really itching to get going, and will feel a lot better once the space is in place and ready to go.


  1. Goats in taxis! Although I do have to say that my personal favourite is still goats on motorbikes.

    I'm keeping my fingers crossed that you'll definitely be in the swing of things by January so that I can come and visit while I'm in town!

  2. I think an argument can be made for the goats on motorbikes (or mopeds) as it is somewhat surreal as well, especially when accompanied by the entire family that will be eating said goat. One of my favorite Kathmandu moments was the first time a taxi went by and I looked over to see a goat staring out at me from the back passenger seat- literally stopped me in my tracks as I wondered if I had really just seen what I thought I had seen. The second sighting- this time staring out from the hatchback area, confirmed that goats do indeed ride in taxis here.

    I think there's a really good chance we'll be up and running by the time you visit in January, and when you do stop by make sure to introduce yourself!

  3. I've also been enjoying the goats in taxis :) it's amazing what people fit on the their motor bikes. The streets of KTM are never boring.


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