“O come, all ye faithful, come let us adore him…silver bells, silver bells…O, holy night…”
Every time I sit down to write a new blog post, this is my background music. Don’t get me wrong, I love the tunes in and out of season, but this playlist is not emanating from my headphones, but the speakers at the coffee shop at a corner of the main road, 200 paces from KK Supermarket and juxtaposed to a dusty side road that leads down through a random cluster of towering pines.
This uncharacteristically American coffee shop in the middle of a suburban Nepalese neighborhood—nowhere close to the tourist traps of the city center—has been my home base for writing, calling family, and sipping Americanos for the past month.
Ketchup red and mustard yellow metal chairs contrast against the white tile floor. A large blackboard lines the left wall, filled with cookie-cutter sayings and words like “Family, Love, Peace, Laughs and Kisses, Home Together Forever”, etc. Baskets of bakery items brought in from other local shops sit just to the left of the glass counter full of cakes and cookies. It smells and feels like the U.S.A., not just a carbon copy or vague cousin. But the two employees (always the same two Nepalese dudes) greet me with a courteous “Namaste” and slight bow before they start up the espresso machine and ask me “Americano?” since I’ve had it more than a dozen times. The immense hospitality the Nepalese people display toward guests always takes me aback.
At 120 Rupees ($1.20) it is one of the tastiest and strongest Americanos I have ever had. I keep coming back. After my second time, they gave me a special stamp card that allows me to get a free cup of coffee after every 9th cup. I’ve already had three free cups, you do the math. Grace Coffee’s primary music playlist is a collection of instrumental renditions of classic Christian Christmas music like “Gloria”, “O Holy Night”, O Come, Emmanuel”, and many more hits.
I support this little business just as fervently as any little mom and pop or husband/wife shop back home; it has become my primary operating base for internet-heavy responsibilities, as the wifi at my host home would take about 4 full days to download a single podcast. Grace Coffee is a stark contrast to 99% of shops and cafes in Nepal that can be labeled literally as holes in a wall, but there are gems to be found in every tiny nook of this busy city, and absolutely nothing can be judged by its cover.
Speaking of busy, here’s a preview of my story of week 3 in Nepal:
“...and then he looked me in the eyes and told me, “No. It is our duty. In Nepal, guests are gods...”