By Leona Thomas
When I realised in 2006 that my Spirit team wanted me to live in Kathmandu, Nepal I was horrified!
There were so many things about Kathmandu that were different from the life I was accustomed to in England - food, language, clothes, customs, religion, architecture, vehicles, driving habits... but the one thing that stood out for me the most was the noise!
I was sensitive to noise. How on earth would I cope with the cacophony from the streets of Kathmandu?
It turned out that I needn't have worried.
No, Spirit did not disengage every beeping horn or divert those vehicles down a different road (there would have been just a few bicycles in the street if they had done that!). They didn't nobble people's vehicles and neither did they offer bribes if these noisy Nepali drivers would kindly change their ways.
They had a much easier solution and it worked like a dream...
When I flew to Kathmandu on 8 January 2007 on a one-way ticket from Thailand they simply turned down the volume in my head!
I suppose you could compare it to playing a CD at full volume and deciding to turn it down so you could hardly hear anything.
I could hear conversations but I blocked out most of the background noise successfully.
To give you some perspective, my flat was on the top floor of a building right at the junction of the Lazimpat main road (opposite the Blue Moon supermarket and Hotel Gangjong) and a side road leading past the Danish embassy and into the main part of Lazimpat. So it was super busy.
One day a visiting friend stood on my roof terrace and she was horrified at the noise levels. "How can you stand it?" She asked. She was used to staying in the tourist hub at Thamel but my rooftop was a whole new nightmare for her!
Still, I was astonished to hear my friend's complaint. 'What noise?' I thought. So I turned off the mute setting in my head and listened to the real volume.
Good God! It was LOUD!
I calmly reinstalled Mute Mode and told her, "You get used to it!"
My mute setting was so efficient that I was walking home down the Lazimpat main road one afternoon when I became aware of a very quiet beeping sound way off in the distance somewhere behind me.
I was enjoying my walk, approaching the French embassy on the opposite side of the road. I noticed that I could still hear the very faint noise off in the distance somewhere far away.
Eventually I stopped walking and turned to see what was going on.
I was astonished to find a motorcycle right behind me on the pavement!
He had a legitimate reason to be there as it was the only way to get to a motorcycle repair shop just ahead of me. But what astonished me most was that my mute setting was that effective!
It turns out that I have a super power!
And I wouldn't go to Kathmandu without it!