A pretty, bewigged girl in a long-sleeve button-down shirt could hardly look more out of place wandering amid a group of chanting Buddhist monks or through the hustle and bustle of a Far East Marketplace.
But you’ll find this and more on the new Israeli sitcom Kathmandu, which depicts the everyday life of a fictional Chabad Hasidic couple. Like many Chabadniks, Mushkie and Shmulik are religious emissaries, and they’ve been sent to Kathmandu. The capital of Nepal is a crossroads of the Himalayas with a bustling population of over one million residents, almost none of whom are Jews.
Officially, Mushkie’s and Shmulik’s purpose is to host Israeli backpackers, American tourists, and whoever else shows up. But the show has at least as much fun depicting Mushkie and Shmulik’s cultural experiences, from the sublime (the shots of Shmulik, in tallit and tefilin, praying atop a mountain are truly breathtaking) to the most daily and mundane (their discomfort with talking to monks while being bowed down to–like Haman!). But the show has heart, soul, and a sense of humor. In the couple’s delightfully surreal situation, the most basic human interactions take on new and moving levels of significance.