Sunday, July 1, 2012

 Kathmandu- a mini Delhi

About 10 years ago I was in Delhi.  A maelstrom of life.  I was really looking forward to returning on this trip but expected temperatures of 100—108 F made me decide to skip. 

Kathmandu, my next stop.  Everything has been so easy.  I did Visa on arrival.  I turned in my form and photo at one desk, paid at another.  Being prepared certainly helped stream line the process.  I had been allowed to carry my large & heavy camera bag on board so that was goodness; no extra charge & no concern about theft or damage.  The clothing bag arrived.  All systems go.  My driver never appeared but again with a bit of luck, I met an English speaker at the greeting island who knew my hotelier & helped sort it out.

Traffic from the airport was nuts. As my driver said, there are no rules. Lots of cars, motorcycles and a few cows & monkeys for good measure.  It made me laugh.

Most people here in the city speak English.  I find their accent a bit hard to understand at times but all manageable-it’s English after all.  Money exchange is a breeze-every other block is a Money Changer.  They’ll take any currency & turn it into anything.  Same at the shops.  The store owners are hungry so deals abound & there is a lot of cool stuff to choose from.  OMG, I bought 5 handmade papers items (lamp, hand cut pop up cards, mobile…) yesterday for a total of $12.  Any one of these things would have cost $12 apiece in the USA. I’ll probably end up paying the difference in international shipping or extra baggage fees with the airline.

The architecture is amazing.  I have visited Bhaktapur, KTM Dunbar Square & Pashupatinath so far.  By far the most intriguing so far has been Pashupatinath.  It’s a very old site where cremations & burials are performed.  Based on pictured I have seen  but not yet visited, it seems like a mini Ganges. I am told that there are between 70-200 cremations/day.  The wealthy and dignitaries are cremated on one side, the ordinary person on the other.  Children and religious persons are buried.

Cremation platforms for the ordinary person like you and me.

A body being prepared

The same person being moved to his correct side for cremation. The other side for commoners.

While maybe this should seem moribund, it was not.  Like AngkorWat, there are families living within the gates of Pashupinath who were not displaced.  So on one hand you see cremations and simultaneously, there are children running around playing and cows grazing.  As an outside observer, everyone seems to accept the end of physical life.  Maybe the notion of re-incarnation helps?

Carpe Diem,