Tires in Kathmandu

“Getting things” in Kathmandu is not the same as in Virginia. No, quite different. When you want or need an item in Virginia, you load the kids up in the car and drive to get it. Perhaps you call on the phone to inquire as to the availability of said product, or perhaps research online. You go to the mall, Home Depot, the grocery store, wherever. You drive on a road, stay in your lane, obey turn signals and traffic laws, and generally park at your destination. You can predict the traffic patterns and generally don’t have to worry about a strike, protest, or other event. You might even have more than one option for procuring an item. It’s amazing.

I recently popped a tire on “Prayer Wheels”. Actually I popped two. I don’t know how. The tires are quite old. The first was a rip, so no repairing that. The second was just a puncture, so my gardener took it on his bicycle (!) to the shop and had it repaired. We’ve been driving around without a spare for a few weeks now. Holding your breath for that long is hard. In any case, since Mom and Dad and I were due to drive to Baktapur this past week, I was certainly not about to undertake that journey without a backup plan, so I needed to get new tires. I inquired. I got a name and number. No one picked up. I inquired again. I got another name and number. Again, no one picked up. I inquired as to the location, so perhaps I could drive there. My inquiry resulted in the second proprietor calling me! Amazing. No, I didn’t know where he was located. Yes, I could meet his nephew at a gas station. Excellent. The kids were at school, so off I went. I drove, I wove, I curved and swerved. I navigated and circum-parambulated, and eventually met up with the correct guy and got to the shop. Korean tires paid for, and in the back, we then (with another fellow) drove to the tire changing shop. I pulled up on the dusty, rocky road-side and pulled up a plastic footstool on which to squat. Life happened around me. A metal worker’s shop started up a generator and began operating his lathe (think back to shop class) to machine some parts. The Chia (tea) stand behind me operated a steady business.

Chia stand owner's curious kid
Chia stand owner's curious kid
Their little three year-old kid was quite curious of me and the goings on of this tire-changing event. The tire shop guys jacked up “Prayer Wheels” in more ways than one was they changed the tires. The sun passed over the several-stories-tall apartment buildings in the southern part of the city. The wind, and dust blew. The machinist’s assistant wore out a grinder blade cutting through a 4″ steel pipe. The tire shop assistant complained of no good work and expensive living (!) of Kathmandu and the state of the state in Nepal.
Finally the job was complete, and I picked myself up, dusted off, and said goodbye to the kid. I drove the tire shop guy back and back up north to the side of the city where we live. Easy peasy.

One Reply to “Tires in Kathmandu”

  1. You should have included, for the curious, the time-line for your easy tire change job. It sounds like it took a couple of hours, which would be equal to some experiences here in the states.

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