So, as the title suggests, I have now had a few days to get my bearings and try to make sense of city around me. Making sense of something that is so consuming to my senses gets a little challenging at times but to skip to right to the conclusion I can only state that I really like it. There is an urgency to this city that is familiar from other Asian capitals, but over here it seems somehow transcendent; it seems to surpass that of most other similar cities. Maybe it's the honeymoon phase for me still, but even so, walking through the various temple areas in dimming light just feels good.
As the legend (and in fact historical truth, too) goes, Kathmandu valley was once a huge lake. What happened to the lake is where reality and religious texts depart as is so often the case. Depending on the legend you want to believe, the city was either the result of a self-created god Swayambhu and another enlightened one called Manjushree or a product of Shiva and Parvati (in the form of two deer) with many twists and turns along the way. This only goes to tell that this area is rich in history, legend and belief.
Modern day Kathmandu is intertwined with its surrounding cities so deep that it's very difficult to tell when you are in one or the other as there are no clear limits or empty areas in between. My works has mostly taken my to the southern parts of Lalitpur (you can also call it Patan or Yala). The ride there takes only a short amount of time however it feels like somebody turned down the tempo around 80%. Things run with a more relaxed feel and there's more room to breathe.
A walk through a given area of Kathmandu can be a relaxing, nerve-wrecking or visually stunning experience. Or a combination of all of them. The traffic seems to generally follow the rule of following absolutely no rules. If there's room, you go. There is no right of way. Anything can happen in front of you and you can also do anything as the person behind is probably expecting you to do or not do whatever it is that you are planning on doing not doing. Creative chaos that somehow plays out seemingly without constant serious collisions.
There are several temple areas and sights where you are able to see cremations, ash-covered Sadhus, thieving monkeys, age-old traditions, religious practises and people from all walks of life. The various ethnic groups are counted by the dozens if not hundreds - this country has a very varied population.
Nepal is more than just Kathmandu, though. Most tourists around here come for the nature and the trekking. I can't really say much about that except that it is undoubtedly very good and there's an ever-growing business created around it. The earthquake has taken its toll on the number of tourists, though, and currently there are very little of them. As nice as that might feel to me in a way, it is ultimately a bad thing as so many businesses here rely on tourism. The worst is over and while there are still aftershocks quite often, it seems safe. I have sat through a meal without even noticing that the earth was shaking. So, if you are contemplating on coming here, I can offer this piece of advice: just do it.
That said, I am very happy to be here.
More pictures and text will follow. Until next time!