My days in Kathmandu have been a mix of finding my bearings in the city, getting a grasp on the complex and intense political situation, coming to understand the work being done by COCAP (the organization I’m working with) and visiting a few world class tourist attractions. As I’m sure subsequent entries will deal with the political situation and COCAP, I’ll just focus on this entry on Kathmandu. My fellow COCAP-ers Mark and Jeff have written blogs that can supplement this as well. Particularly, check out Mark’s on the organization of COCAP called: GRASSROOTS and Jeff’s on the COCAP rally in support of the International Criminal Court called: ICC Rally.
Though Kathmandu is crowded, polluted and chaotically function according to some sort of rhythm I have yet to understand, there is something different here. Perhaps it is the altitude, mountain peaks, and resulting relatively cooler climate. Or perhaps it is the essence of an inherently diverse culture that wasn’t ever colonized. I’ll be curious to see if this difference persists in other parts of the country as well.
Visually, the thing that strikes me the most about Kathmandu is the narrowness of the streets. The buildings are packed in closely together and seem to tower at about 3-5 stories, exaggerating the feeling of constriction. Particularly in Thamel (the tourist center) the illusion is exaggerates as signs of all shapes, sizes, and colors hang off buildings and reach across alleys almost forming a canopy over head.
Vendors hang out in doorways framed by brightly colored goods and graciously invite travelers in to shop.
The guidebooks talk about the Nepalese hospitality, and I have to say that I’ve been graced with that repeatedly in my time here so far. Though vendors hang out of doorways pressure to step into their shops is much less than that faced by hawkers in India and other places I’ve traveled. Even street children once sure that they aren’t going to get any money will switch into a lively conversation then shake hands and amicably part ways.
My time in Kathmandu has been a great transition from California to Nepal. I have learned a few key Nepali phrases, remembered how to put on a sari, come to understand the workings of COCAP much more thoroughly, seen some amazing sights, and even given my stomach a chance to undergo the initial stages of necessary metamorphosis. With all that under my belt, I’m off to Gaighat tomorrow and the next chapter of my journey begins.
Posted By Nicole Farkouh
Posted Jun 11th, 2014