Kathmandu is like no other place. Yes, it’s a big city. Yes, it’s a big Asian city. It’s chaotic, noisy and not all that picturesque. Rows and rows and rows of little shops covered with corrugated metal doors with Coca-Cola or the local cell carrier logos painted on them. One street looks pretty well like the next. But the beauty and uniqueness of Kathmandu is her people.
Take our yoga instructor: an older gentleman, probably in his mid-sixties and all of five foot nothing. We started with some breathing exercises. Not unlike the yoga I had practised in India. But I knew we were veering down an unknown path when our instructor handed out tissues. I expelled things from my nose that startled me. How could so much crud get up there?! Disturbing. Then, we engaged in some vigorous jumping jacks and the fastest sun salutations I have ever managed. I mean, vigorous! Quickly followed by a modified happy baby pose that I was assured was good for your “baby house” if you were in possession of such an organ. Welcome to Kathmandu.
We saw the sights: Swayambhunath Stupa, the Garden of Dreams, Patan and Bhaktapur. All of which were interesting as sites. But what fascinates me, is how in a world full of religious and cultural tension, somehow Nepal and Kathmandu, in particular, seem to be OK with differences among traditions. Maybe I haven’t seen enough to understand the nuances, but it seems to me that the Hindu, Bhuddhist and Muslim population in Kathmandu seem to be accepting of each other. It just works. Endlessly polite and welcoming. It’s a lesson we should all learn.
We saw some serious devastation from last year’s earthquake. It was really shocking to see the rubble almost a full year after it happened. Tenacity and perseverance are truly Nepali characteristics.
And as far as interesting experiences go: ritual sacrifice for New Year and a cremation in the same day takes it out of you. Just saying.
And now I’m off to find one more plate of momo (Nepali potstickers) before we head to Lukla tomorrow to start our trek.