Since our launch, the staff at le banQ has had the extraordinary opportunity to travel around the world hosting pop ups for our clients. Today's post is is the first in a series of three about one such trip I took to the inspiring country of Nepal.
From the Himalayas to ancient temples to the birthplace of the Buddha, Nepal is full of little wonders and tremendous delights. And then there is the food! Being nestled between China and India means that Nepalese dishes are a unique combination of the two food styles. The tantalizing flavors and colorful dishes of Nepal are enough to keep any tourist satisfied. So, when Platinum Club Member #254 proposed that I host a pop up dinner party in Kathmandu for he and a few of his friends, I was happy to oblige.
In order to celebrate his 40th birthday with some style and adventure, my client and his friends planned a once-in-a-lifetime adventure in Nepal that culminated in a climb of the Himalayas. On the evening before the hike, my client and his friends were to enjoy an unforgettable 5-course meal served up in a secret location by yours truly.
I spent the first two days in Kathmandu acclimating and preparing. I explored the raucous, bustling streets of the capitol city in search of markets for ingredients and decorations. One of my favorite parts about traveling are the surprises and wonders you encounter being in a new land, and Kathmandu did not disappoint. I was walking down what seemed to be an average street on my second day when it opened up into Durbar Square. There I found ancient temples and intricate statues, preserved for hundreds of years. I saw a crowd gathering at the edge of square around one particularly large and modern looking building. As I drew closer, I noticed a golden palanquin carried out by four men and placed on the earth outside the door of the building. The crowd grew and, at the height of the excitement, the doors were flung open and a young girl in intricate clothes and makeup was carried out, placed in the palanquin, and carried away. Confused as to what I just witnessed, I turned to someone nearby for an explanation.
"That was the Kumari," he told me. "She is a young girl that is believed to be holy. She was selected and brought here to live. If you lay eyes on the Kumari, it is said to be good luck. That you had the chance to see her in this way is extremely fortunate."
"Where was she being taken?" I asked.
"There is a parade happening downtown. She will be marched in the parade for all to see."
And there you have it. I left with more questions than I had answers. In the weeks to come I read more about the Kumari- how she is chosen, what her life is like, where the belief originated and what happens to her when she is deemed an adult. It's these fascinating pieces of culture that make travel as awe inspiring as I find it to be.
I wrapped up the day in a large market downtown. I bought produce until I could hold no more. Then, I went to an area of the market with small statues and other such souvenirs, selecting items that could serve as decoration for the party. I wanted to have a blend of Nepalese and American influence in the food and decor as a nod to the blending of cultures that we do when we travel.
That evening, I met with the owner of the space where the event was to be held and, when he left me, I spent some time ensuring the table was set perfectly and the ingredients prepared to my satisfaction.
Below are some shots from my first couple of days in Kathmandu. Enjoy, and stay tuned for more in Part 2!