By Leona Thomas
On my first visit to Nepal I was surprised to discover a yearning inside my heart to learn to play the bamboo flute.
But my first lesson was less than ideal.
I spent 40 minutes trying to make a sound. I was blowing so hard that I began to get light headed.
Still no sound.
My teacher was very patient with me. But eventually I gave in to my exasperation and thrust my flute towards him saying, "You play it!"
He blew into the flute and no sound came out.
"The flute is broken!" he announced.
We went down to the shop to get a new one.
My next lesson was a spectacular improvement and I actually learned some notes.
But the problem with learning a new instrument is that you must practice to get good at it. And as any neighbour will tell you, along the way, it sounds terrible!
I was staying at Malla Hotel, so I had to practice in the garden. I soon discovered that some of the residents were seriously annoyed by my performance!
One day, I sat on one of two benches situated under the shade of trees. For about 30 minutes I read a book and all was peaceful and calm.
Then I decided it was time for my flute practice. But the locals were not happy.
As I played I felt something hit my shoulder. I turned to see a twig lying on the seat next to me.
I thought, 'That's odd. Nothing fell out of the tree before!'
I resumed my practice.
Something hard hit my head.
"Ow!" I yelped.
I continued to play my flute and within seconds a flurry of hard objects suddenly rained down upon my head and shoulders!
Finally, I stopped playing and looked around me. A huge pile of leaves, twigs and sticks were now scattered all over my bench!
I looked up into the trees overhead. I could see nothing unusual and I could hear nothing unusual.
But I wasn't fooled.
I spoke loudly and firmly.
"This is the only place I can practice playing my flute but there are trees all round this garden so if you don't like it, go somewhere else!"
A few seconds later a huge flock of crows flew out of my tree and relocated to the end of the garden!
I don't know if they all left but there were no more missiles fired at me during the rest of my practice time.
Meanwhile, I would just like to reassure my customers that should you decide to play my flute tracks whilst sitting under a tree you should experience no such missile attacks. My training days are far behind me so you should be safe.
But if you are planning to sit on that bench at Malla Hotel, Lecknath Marg, Kathmandu, I cannot guarantee your safety. The locals are feisty and unpredictable. I recommend you drop us a line and we can arrange for a motor cycle helmet to be delivered to you!