I love winter because you get to wear thermals, sweaters, and jackets. People think you have put on weight and compliment you on your good looks. Yes, we are Nepalis. If you look a little overweight or chubby then you are healthy and doing good and if you look a little underweight or just normal then you must either be sick or worried about the next big earthquake.
The winter here in Kathmandu is not like that in Tarai or up in the hills. When I was a kid, we used to have dense fog in the valley. Nowadays, it’s mostly smog and a couple of stray dogs walking around early in the morning along with the usual ‘early’ morning walking crowd who think it’s okay to walk in the middle of street and not worry about some milk truck coming straight at you.
Our Kathmandu valley probably has the best weather in the nation. No wonder, Prithivi Narayan Shah wanted to move to the valley and he did and today everybody wants to build a house here even though the valley is polluted, dusty and we face water shortages and many more problems. Maybe it’s just because of the weather.
In the summer, it’s not that hot like in the plains and in the winter, we don’t have the cold wave like in the plains again. Yes, if you are a valley resident, you will probably need an ice-suit to roam around the streets in the plains in the summer. And during cold wave season, you will hardly see the sun there. And let’s not even talk about the monsoon. Our plains are flooded, hundreds of thousands of our people are displaced and our government doesn’t even care. And we, here in the valley, complain and post pictures of our flooded streets as if the world is coming to an end.
But we have to give it up to the people living there in the plains. They have adapted to such extreme hot and cold weather. Yes, it gets pretty hot in the valley but not like in the 40s and even though we do shiver, wear three pairs of socks and use two blankets when we go to bed, we see the sun nearly every day and get to enjoy eating peanuts and oranges while sitting on our verandahs.
People living in the hills have cool summers and winters are cold but manageable but folks who live near the mountains have to come down to the hills or the plains because winter is really rough up there. So, valley residents, please consider yourself lucky and try not to whine about the weather.
Come winter, most of us in the valley begin changing our choice of drink from coffee, chiya or smoothies to Nepal’s number one drink, the ‘Ginger Honey Hot Lemon’ (GHHL). I think the GHHL season begins right after Tihar.
Nobody really drinks it before that and the alcohol lovers might switch to rum instead of their usual vodka or whiskey but they are not going to go veggie. I don’t know who started the GHHL brand in the valley. Some guy or woman who owned a restaurant or a local teashop must have come up with an idea to sell GHHL to a customer and then it spread like wildfire across the valley and then the rest of the country as well.
It’s funny that most of us don’t drink GHHL at home. We might make coffee or tea or maybe hot lemon water but we will not go far to cut a piece of ginger, get some honey and a lemon and boil hot water and make ourselves the number one winter drink. Maybe, we are just too lazy when at home. After all winter can do that to you. But when we are at restaurants, we order the GHHL as if that’s the only drink available and we all are suffering from cold.
The other day, I attended one of those ‘flash reunions’ where a classmate of mine comes to Nepal for a month from the West and doesn’t contact anybody until a day before he has to leave the country. And a last minute Facebook event is created, inviting everyone for a class reunion and only half a dozen people can attend because the rest of the world is busy. We were only six people sharing momos, drinks, and other snacks and I had the GHHL because I quit drinking in the middle of this year. My wife is happy, my friends are not, but it’s good to have a happy wife than an angry one.
Anyways, we talked about business opportunities in ‘New Nepal’ as finally, it seems that we will have a stable government in this land for at least a few years. I told my friends that it doesn’t matter if we have a stable government or not but as long as we have a corrupt and inefficient bureaucracy then it’s the same obstacles and harassments we all face as citizens seeking basic services or as business people seeking licenses and registrations.
So instead of thinking big, like trying to find investors to fund your dream project which needs a billion dollars or trying to build a five star resort on top of Everest, why not just start slow and focus on what we eat. We all need khasis during Dashain. Half of this country can’t live without having achar during meals and most importantly, we need our GHHL. So, I have asked my friends to invest in farms producing ginger, honey, and lemons. Make your money during winter and have fun during summer.
If we can supply our own ginger, lemon and honey to all restaurants in the valley then you can make a bundle. One lemon now cost more than Rs 10. The middlemen do make a killing. Our poor farmers get a rupee or two. It’s time to start the ‘GHHL’ revolution. Help the farmers get a good price, give consumers the best lemon, ginger and honey ever produced in this land and make money along the way as well.
The writer is a house husband who believes in changing, if not the world, the community he lives in one person at a time. Reach him at firstname.lastname@example.org