MIDWAY : Conned in Kathmandu

Rajan Raj Acharya

One winter, as the mercury plummeted, I made up my mind to go to Thamel to shop. Obviously, it was not an ideal place but I went anyway. I met a tourist there, who resembled a mini giant. Thanks to peculiar features, he distinctly stood out from the crowd. He spoke fluent and fast pidgin Nepali, was uncommonly polite and above all, familiar. We greeted each other and became friends in a jiffy and he volunteered to help me shop for a reasonable budget. I thanked him for his offer before he asked if I had anything particular in mind. He said he knew most shopkeepers; he was a businessman who regularly visited Nepal. I was convinced and in a while, we went for exclusive winter stuff. I was convinced he knew what he was talking about. Then my foreigner friend invited me to join him for lunch. We could talk, I thought, and followed him. Once inside an eatery of his pick, he ordered a couple of Nepali dishes.

He was an eclectic eater, and a fast one at that. I could infer Nepali cuisines were part of his palate. All the while, I found every action of his quite mysterious. He soon finished his beer and his grub and politely asked me to continue eating and that he would be back in a short while. With a hot momo in my mouth, I could only nod in agreement. As I negotiated the searing dumpling, I could see him gesturing with the cashier and pointing towards me. I acknowledged his action and smiled back before munching on the momo. I took my time to wind up and waited for a while for my friend before I started getting impatient and made my way out of the restaurant when the waiter stopped me and asked me to pay the bill. Taken aback, “What bill?” I asked. “My foreigner friend will pay”, I said. “That foreigner is a con artist and he does this to lots of innocent guys like you. He will not pay and he is not coming back either,” the cashier interrupted. Then as the reality dawned on me, I ran back to the shop where I had just purchased my stuff. “Oh! Your friend,” the fellow at the counter said on my enquiry. “He just left with his commission of Rs 250.” I was left seething with rage, when I realised that I had left my dammed bag in the restaurant.