Sisters of Mercy

This tale has a happy ending (not that kind), otherwise Ron would be entering the last blog and we all know how that would read. It turns out the the greatest danger associated with travel in Nepal is not charging rhinos or ultralight planes wafting over the Himalayas. What you really have to watch out for are meals served on Qatar Air business class. First a note to the legion of critics and worriers who for years have chastised me for my supposedly cavalier approach to protection from beasts of the sea. When the flight attendant suggested the fried fish as a main course, I rejected his offering, specifically explaining that I have a serious allergy to fish. He nodded knowingly, indicating a full level of comprehension. My appetizer was grilled marinade of chicken. First bite of the tender white meat, deliciously seasoned and served with a garnish of fresh vegetables, and ten seconds later, I knew I had a problem. (As a concession to the worriers and critics, I promise to carry an Epi-pen in my carry on travel bag from now on, it was in the stowed luggage yesterday). As they say at 35,000 feet – fasten your seat belts.

I called over the other attendant (there were 2 attendants, one Russian who obviously works for the KGB, the other – Indian). I explained the situation and requested any for of anti-allergy meds that he may have on board. He found some type of anti-histimine but refused to give it to me since I’d recently ingested a sip or two of vodka (Grey Goose, neat; hey, it is business class). I got a tad edgy trying to explain the relative merits of each decision, positive or negative. He reluctantly supplied me with the pill that within seconds became the lead Geronimo jumper, as I scrambled for the toilet, the pill leading the rest of the contents of my stomach into the stainless (not for long) steel toilet bowl. What followed was the greatest rejection scene since Rhett and Scarlett or Louis Waskansky and his new heart as provided by Dr. Christian Barnard; depending on your point of reference.

As the situation rapidly deteriorated, (swollen face, flushed colouring, narrowing trachea; all the regular stuff), it was becoming obvious that some additional steps were required. The old call ‘Is there a doctor in this flying tube of death?’ went out over the airwaves. Within minutes, there were three ladies who pulled back the curtain and did not ignore the man standing (or in this case, expiring) behind it. Jualia Palfy is a third year Hungarian cardiologist resident in a hospital in Madrid. Sanju Adhikari is a Nepalese psychiatrist. As a landlord and a bit of an off center thinker at the best of times, I could not decide which of the two specialties were less relevant to my personal physiology. Diers can be choosers so I welcomed their opinioin, particularly when Jualia (she knew who Ziggy was) suggested adrenaline, anti-histamines and possible coatical steroids. Not usually a fan of mixed drinks, I was, through previous life experiences familiar and in agreement with her diagnosis and concurred whole heartedly, or perhaps at that time partial heartedly. She asked the attendants access to the medical kit and was refused since she did not have her certificate of medical competency on the flight. (Serious note and free service announcement to all medical practicionars who fly: Bring medical ID with you as proof). Without it, you may watch somebody die, as our two flight attendants were quite ready to do.

Ron, who at that point was preparing parallel actions against Qatar Airways – one with me as the plaintiff, the other with my estate, (so cool, so Swiss) tried to reason with them, as did the doctors, offering to prepare a waiver, sensitive to the insurance issues surrounding the scene.They offered to call downstairs and get permission from the ground doctor to allow administration of an injection. If you decide to get gravely ill, I suggest that you refrain from doing so when flying over the Himalayas. They could not establish ground connection on the proper channel to reach medical attention. However, the attendant was pleased to let me know that India had just beaten Dubai in the quater final world cricket qualifiers. I felt much better.

One of the additional symptoms of allergy attacks is that it makes me, generally considered a sedate and serene individual, a tad cranky. The logic required to deal with my worsening condition, was not being addressed by an individual – probably lower caste to boot. His making life and death decisions based on written protocol, was sitting as well in me as the fish was. I, who have as low a tollerance for stupidity and illogic as anyone I know, tends to go from zero to sixty on miniscule points that most would take in stride. In this case I was not really interested in losing what could have been my last corporal argument. Hate to go out on a loss.

There was a third sister of mercy – Major Robin E. Mays (Air Force ret). She had been Senior Emergency Logistics Manager/Head of Preparedness and Planning for World Vision Internation and now travels the world under the ageis of The International Red Cross developing and strategizing local response groups to aid those in need located in parts of the world in dire need of these services. Without a doubt one of the kindest and compellingly competant individuals I had met in what was seeming to be becoming my relatively short life.

Ron and I had no choice but to meet her. She enlisted us to oversee her extra luggage while leaving Katmandu as she haggled with Qatar’s illustriously reasonable staff. Ron’s first reply was to refuse to be her mule. Secondly, when inquiring as to why the preponderance of extra weight, he surmised out loud as to whether the bags were replete with the dismembered body parts of her former boyfriend. What a charmer. Following ten minutes of baggage babysitting, the three of us struck up a conversation and instant ‘traveller friendship’. Using equal parts charm and guile and, never one to miss an opportunity to impress anyone belonging to the female persuasion, I managed to reconstruct her as a long lost cousin who I had met up with by pure coincidence at the airport, as far as customs and security were concerned.

Executive lounge privelleges, fast track security and most of the trip in the first class cabin, occupied solely by me (plus two medics and two incompetant stewards and Ron). She sat with me and had as much if not more of a calming effect on me than the two docs who suggested to me that increasing stress and blood pressure at that time as I ranted and railed against idiocy regarding lack of meds administration was perhaps not the smoothest move.

I was also going over potential Canadian national allies in my mind who at this time shared the same level of hate and vengence toward India, Russia and Qatar as I, but was drawing a blank. Robin showed her true colurs in the ability of disaster control. Forget If she could dealing with third world peoples devastated by floods, landslides and hurricanesas she did calming down a ravging Yak merely by sitting next to me and patting my arm, the world is in better shape than we think. I was busy preparing my last request, in case things didn’t work out with the medical treatment. As previously mentioned, nobody wants to go out a loser. By now the flight crew was considering diverting the flight to the nearest airport. Confronted with Bahgdad or Tehran, my response was “More fish, please”.

Eventually word came up that adreniline would be permitted to be administered. By that time, both Jualia and Sanju opined that I was coming through the part of the attack requiring adreniline and would likely benefit from a cortisone cortical steriod shot. There were three hours left in the flight. Doctor Julia informed the steward that the results of the injection would reduce my swelling, relieve my flushed appearance and faciltate breathing. It would take a couple of hours, though for the effects to kick in. The steward, who apparently did his internship at Johns Hopkins before opting for a more rewarding career as sky waiter, decided to override her, saying that the patient is likely going to survive, so why not let the plane land and get him treated later. She held the day, another phone call to Dr. Yurt on the ground and the steroid injection was approved and administered (sorry to disappoint, Viv).

Upon landing I was feeling about 85%. I was flattered to see my entourage awaiting. Ambulance, EMT team;

I felt like King Faisal. I eschewed any further attention, snuck Robin onto the first class bus and the three of us brezzed through customs ahead of the hoi poloi.We said our good byes and it was off to the hotel. Thank you, thank you, thank you to my Sisters of Mercy. May The Lord bless you all.


You’ve read enough of the nitty gritty. Much more fun stuff to come.

Going forward from previous post.

Our stay in Pokhara was delightful. Ron got to pick up the carpet despite the behind the scene machinations of our non-intrepid guide who nearly queered the deal trying to score a commission that he was not entitled to. Following dinner we opted for straight blade shaves for which the barber wanted 400 rupees. Calling forth my much vaunted haggling skill, I reduced him to 350 and tears. Little did I realize that these were tears of joy. The average Nepali pays 40. I showed him how to wave a towel.

Our flight frm Pokhara to Katmandu saved us 7 hours of repetitive ground time versus 45 minutes in the air. Ron had very cleverly observed that with the upcoming national election and low level but uptrending violence throughout the country, best to leave and read about the results from a different country rather than a bunker. Chances are that with a fractured and failed parliament, if the election takes place, despite sabotage attempts from the break away Maoist party and coalition, things could get ugly with the omnipresent military ready to step in. Ergo, we go, Doha, giorno.

Our final rest stop was in Nagarkote, an hour’s drive north of Kat.

Monk at Peace Temple
Devotee Pilgrim from India

Accomodations keep getting better. Room and view. Both spectacular. Getting tired of these damned awe inspiring sunrises and sunsets. Swiftly flow the days. Taking his final shots (series #842 – Nepali Sunsets) Ron captured it perfectly. Immediately following sunset, as viewed from the terrace, I noticed what seemed to be a light emanating from the Himalayan peak in the far distance. Knowing that there is absolutely no chance of inhabitants, my first thought was that Yeti #1 was trying to communicate with my Yeti #2 via Morse Code. I then instantly surmised that we were about to be treated to a rarity of extreme beauty. We were party to a full moon rising over the world’s highest mountain range on our last night in Nepal. Nice going away present from the gods.







Prior to hopping our lift to Katmandu airport the next morning, we opted for a 3 1/2 hour hike around yet another breathtaking landscape. Our guide,

lived in a nearby village and invited us to his home to meet his family
Deepak; (Don’t even go there)

and share in a cup of sweetened buffalo milk tea.

He introduced us to his two brothers (sisters irrelevant) and we continued our tour past a 12 foot tree that had familiar leaf structures. At first I was thinking Catalpa, turned out to be something very different. Welcome to Nepal’s cash-under-the-table-crop.

Posing for the picture below, I inadvertantly snapped a large branch. The guide did his best to disguise his emotions and put on a brave face but it was clear that what I was not a good thing. I have wrapped up the branch (inside the rug that Ron is shipping back, please don’t tell him, he gets upset over triffling things as this), and the person who has keyed into our blog the most times will be the first prize recipient (as Julie finds a way to tape down the Enter key).


You have already been treated to the airport aftermath in chapter and verse, so Yak and Yeti are presently sitting in our slum like hotel in Doha,

waiting for tomorrow morning’s flight, walking the streets,

meeting the people,

Hawk and Yitzhawk (sounds better that Falcon and Yitzfalcon


Wheren to take your sick falcon

and still having great fun.

As much as we were both excited to partake of this experience together, there was a certain shared trepidation that could best be summed up in the following way – I enjoy dinner with him and his spouse; I enjoy the keyboard banter on line. But can I truly spend TWO FULL WEEKS, DAY AND NIGHT with this meshugganah?!

Turns out the answer is a resounding yes. Whether riffing humour back and forth, discussing the implications of religion in various societies, harmonizing on The Man of La Mancha soundtrack (“But your Grace, thees highway to glory looks exactly like the road to El Tobasco, where one can buy cheeekens cheeep! -S.P.), kids, biz, wives or finishing each other sentences and phrases. Whether if was being set up guy or closer, too much magic to describe. Huge respect both ways. Most importantly,we provided the citizenry of Montreal two weeks relief from our incessant comments and nattering (mostly Yeti). We served a purpose here; distracting the locals faced with signigicant upcoming electoral issues in a fashion that Bob Hope and his USO show would certainly have approved of.

I will be adding an E to Qatar in a few weeks as my other Yeti, Lori, and I head off to Ecuador to do another round of good for the world. Until then, tghis is Yak, signing off on behalf of myself and my colleague.





  • Cookieman
    Posted at 15:59h, 19 November Reply

    Oy! I'm going to cancel the Qatari caterer I booked for our Saturday night dinner.

  • Julian
    Posted at 20:24h, 19 November Reply

    We were waiting for you to break out in a Yakked out version of "I see the bad moon rising", but I suppose it would have been a little fishy after all you've been through, not exactly the time for sole! Joo finally found some Jully Begetation. Phew, vaiting vas getting old. Safe trip home, try the Snapper…

  • floriana venetico
    Posted at 05:38h, 21 November Reply

    Bruce ,,,,,You rock my friend …!!! If you need a personal food taster..I am very qualified and can distinguish between fish and chicken. I love travelling first or business class . Lol


  • Robin
    Posted at 20:19h, 02 December Reply

    Hi Yak and Yeti!
    I finally made it back to seattle..a week after we met…decompressed and dove headfirst into thanksgiving. I'm now trying to catch my stride again..(btw -small correction–as a phd student who is doing a study for red cross…much less impressive, I know.) It was such a joy to be rescued by 2 kind Canadians from the greedy capitalist airline fees…with a blog to boot! ha! And you did indeed save me over $400 btw! It was a tough return assist, you know, being forced to sit in first class to keep you company… And, I'm wondering, how is the lawsuit shaping up????

    I'm off to Jamaica in a week for my last country of study…where are you all off to next??? Can't wait to see more Yeti pics!

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