I’ve arrived in Kathmandu! As some of you may know, I’m doing a summer internship here, working with a local peacebuilding coalition that arose in response to the 7-year Maoist insurgency.
This place is INCREDIBLE. Tiny, maze-like streets, tuk-tuks and rickshaws, temples, traditional clothing, perfect weather. Drivers with absolutely no regard for pedestrians. The mix of Buddhism and contact with the West through mountaineering is fascinating. It feels a lot like Peace Corps except with more color and a lot more smiles. It’s a truly beautiful place and still very medieval. Off to explore the streets now!
Nepal is truly “exotic” in the best sense of the word. Over 20 ethnicities, 60 castes – Hindu and Buddhist – incredibly diverse features, lots of color, and lots of smiles despite the poverty. Jewelled faces, impossible loads on people’s heads and backs. These two weeks I’m working with a lawyers’ association that deals with torture and disappearance cases. Will work with more human rights groups around the country in the next few weeks.
Went to a morning prayer session in a major tourist town called Patan yesterday, which has preserved its royal square and streets for over 800 years. Every year around this time, a giant sacred chariot is pulled through the towns and everyone comes to worship, both Hindu and Buddhist. A Buddhist priest sits inside the chariot, and people walk around it continuously, throwing rice and flowers. Women lighting and guarding hundreds of candles, men singing, the destitute begging under the wheels of the chariot.
My host’s brother and I then went to visit his grandma, who lives in a brick and mud building, built hundreds of years ago in the winding streets behind the palace. Long, white hair, an ochre face, and a constant smile. I have no idea how she handles that house at her age. She has huge tattoos on the back of her ankles from the time she was a girl, has never worn shoes, and wears clothing she made herself 25 years ago. She was most incredible!
Posted By Kate Kuo (Nepal)
Posted May 31st, 2003