On my second day in Nepal was a bandh (strike) over the price of petrol.
It meant all of Kathmandu and other parts of the country were closed for business and no vehicles were allowed on the road (except press and emergency vehicles).
I was still feeling a bit uneasy from my first day in Nepal and so I was hesitant to leave the hotel on this day but Rabindra promised it was safe for us to be outside. I was also in Nepal to do some reporting so I thought I should really experience what a bandh is like.
As we were leaving the hotel, a big group of tourists from Korea were trying to leave the gates of the hotel but the guard told them that it was a bandh and they should stay inside.
I was a bit nervy seeing tourists being told to stay inside but Rabindra re-assured me and the guard smiled as we left the gates.
Outside, things were fairly normal. There were less people on the streets and no god-awful car horns beeping every five seconds.
The protests were fairly tame, in some ways very similar to a street protest in Australia.
I guess the only difference was that there were no cars on the road and the police were heavily armed with firearms, battons and bullet-proof chest guards.
It got a bit scary when we were pushed off the road by a large mob walking up the street waving flags and the police were in close proximity. I then saw a group of men starting a fire in the middle of the road, burning wood and other objects.
Rabindra and I stayed out of all the action but I got stared at everywhere I went. Rabindra laughed and said they probably thought I was the international media (I had a big DSLR camera hanging around my neck) and he (Rabindra) was my guide.
Funnily enough not long after that a group of guys pointed and called out “BBC News” to me and started giving me the peace sign.
After a day on foot of discovering the city, Rabindra, his cousin, brother and I were planning to meet up with one of his aunties who was in Kathmandu to take her daughter to the airport.
It ended up being quite a big family gathering with Rabindra’s aunty and five other of her family members coming.
When the aunty and family members arrived at the restaurant, I greeted them all with Namaste.
All of the family members said Namaste back except for that one aunty who barely acknowledged by existence.
Rabindra told me she was probably just nervous so I tried to take it easy. I spent most of the night feeling entirely left out.
Only one person could speak English with me and while it was nice this dai was trying to include me in the conversation, I could tell it was akward amongst me and the aunty.
I went and sat with the women at the end of the table and I tried to speak in Nepali and she kept ignoring me.
I had no idea what I had done to be treated so rudely at my first real introduction to some older members of Rabindra’s family.
When we finished eating and went outside, they crossed the road and didn’t say goodbye.
The hurt hit me and I was so quiet on the walk back to the hotel. Rabindra and his brother noticed I was upset, I couldn’t hide it.
When I got back to the room I sobbed to Rabindra, confused and upset about what I’d done to make this angry aunty so hostile to me.
I always knew that meeting the women of the family would really determine my future relationship with Rabindra’s family because if I couldn’t impress his sister, mum and aunties, there wasn’t much hope for the longevity of my relationship with his family.
In two days time I would be travelling to the village to see his hajuraama, mummy, didi, dad, and the rest of the family. I didn’t need this self-doubting, this stress. I’d already had plenty of those in the past two years as we fought to get to this stage of meeting the parents.
Rabindra made me feel better and told me the rest of the family would love me.
Luckily for me, he was right.
More to come in the next part.