Random Thoughts from a Jetlagged Mind
Tahachal, Kathmandu, Nepal
I’ve always been blessed with impeccable timing, as such I found myself landing in Kathmandu on a postcard perfect day smack in the middle of Nepal’s biggest festival.
After several days of sightseeing in the madness that is Kathmandu at festival, it was off to the quiet(?!?!) of the suburbs and the place I would call home fro the next three months.
Quiet is such a relative word, in Thamel there is the constant honking of horns and the general rush of a tourist enclave. Tahachal has none of these things, however the barking of stray dogs through the night, followed by the morning shouts of ‘aloo, aloo’ or ‘kauli, kauli’ as the street vendors push their laden bicycles down the rough paths, their precious scales swinging from the handles threatening to over balance them at a moments notice, does enough to shatter the quiet.
As the sun rises further in the sky, the neighbourhood comes alive, the constant thwacking of sticks into stuffing as the quilt makers begin their day. The indignant shouts and cries of the children at the carpet factory across the road as their mothers bathe them in the cold well water. The clinking and clanking of heavy metal gates followed by the roar of a motorbike as it makes its way down the road honking and swerving to miss the oncoming traffic.
All this and it is barely 7 a.m., at which point I leave my vantage spot on the roof, with its views of Swayambhunath (and the snow covered peaks outside the valley if the weather is right) and make my to the kitchen where I find a steaming cup of ciyah already waiting. Its sweet, milky warmth washes away the cobwebs of the many weird dreams I have been having recently.
I usually have several hours before I start work so I begin the trek to the roof again, grabbing a book or my camera along the way and sit back and enjoy the warm sunshine.
Like most Asian countries, land is an expensive commodity, thus everyone builds up, four, five, six, seven stories high. Most do not have a garden or a backyard but certainly make up for it on their roofspace. A multitude of mishapen pots dot the barren concrete bringing to life the surrounds.
Paints a pretty picture does it now? However scratch beneath the surface of any city and its bleakness and tragedies come to life. I live not far from the Bishnumati River, a waterway that thousands of years ago would have flown fast and strong. Today it is clogged by the remnants and detritus of human existence. Its banks are piled high with stinking rubbish that slowly clog this once proud river.
Among the rubbish you can find men, women and children carefully picking through the piles, looking for those precious items that may be resold for a few paisa and perhaps put food in their bellies for another day. Further downstream a woman washes her clothes in the fetid water, while another fills a jug with which to rinse the dusty grime from her body.
I walked along the river this morning, watching the kytes soar among the thermal breezes, some so close you could almost touch them, others a mere speck against the bright blue sky. Even among the despair there is something that can bring a smile to your face.