I hate being cold. I do.
Here in Kathmandu, my bones are cold. The days are lovely and sunny and pleasantly warm, but once the sun goes down, the cold from these buildings radiates inward, like the ghosts of those frozen to death in the Himalayas who restlessly try to steady themselves upon human metabolism. I think these cold ghosts bypass skin and tissue and roost directly in bones. It doesn’t seem to matter how warm I might get during the day, the buildings here are cold sinks; walls of solid brick/concrete 10” thick. I sleep with pajama bottoms and 3 layers of tops and a knit wool hat, cocooning myself under four blankets. In the mornings, I creep lizardly to the roof to absorb some heat to warm my ghoul-cooled soul.
I love being here in Kathmandu, but that love is much more devoted to day than night. At least the days are sunny here; warm t-shirt weather. I have yet to see a cloud since arriving here a week ago. Each day, I pass a black dog who lays along the side of the road absorbing and storing thermal energy so as to keep himself alive through the night. Perhaps it’s his 3AM imaginings of said roadside basking that lure him through to survive until another morning.
I’m not quite sure what happened to me that made me such a cold-weather wimp. I grew up in Chicago where sub-zero farenheit temperatures are all too commonplace. Then again, I did escape to California half my lifetime ago. I’ll admit, I love my comforts: hot tea, warm bath, flannel, and soft mattresses. I built my own home with a concrete thermal mass in the walls, but I insulated it with 2 ½” of foam on both the inside the outside. There are also radiant heat tubes circulating hot water throughout the floors. And then there’s the hot tub that I can look forward to upon my return, ready to soften the coldest chill. Ahhhhh! Maybe this dream of a warm future will help me through the night like it does my roadside basking canine buddy Blacky.
On a positive note, a more than ample counterbalance to this chill is that my heart is warmed during the day from my interactions with the kids and with my work here. I am endlessly touched by the gentleness and sweetness of these children and feel very lucky to have somehow manifested this opportunity. It helps immensely.
Last night, I checked into the Dream Nepal, a hotel I enjoy in the tourist/trekker section of Kathmandu. There for just a night, I cranked the heat to 30 (Celsius) and used an inordinately selfish amount of hot water for my shower. I also bought a yak wool wrap and what I hope proves to be a toasty warm sleeping bag. Hopefully, I will successfully exorcise these skeletal-residing warmth-gnawing ghouls.