Sunday, April 24, 2011

Chasing Shadows in Nepal..

"Afoot and light-hearted I take to the open road, Healthy, free, the world before me,
The long brown path before me leading wherever I choose." -- Walt Whitman, Song of The Open Road

On most mornings, these children would be just outside their house playing
or helping in the garden. We'd never fail to greet each other
"Namaste" before going off for the day's adventures.
Kirtipur is a sleepy old town that has a wonderful sense of faded
grandeur thanks to its myriad of medieval temples and houses found in its backstreets.
One can get easily yet comfortably lost here but there's absolutely no reason to be scared
because this place just opens you to a world where people are
just as curious of you as you are of them.

I chanced upon this lovely wise woman in one of Kirtipur's streets. She was kind enough to honor me by taking a picture of her. We hardly ever understood each other but I learned that a smile is powerful and universal language that makes strangers out of no one.
Thamel could easily be the busiest most touristy place in the whole of Kathmandu. Despite this, I found this quiet street that has practically none of the bustle. There are pockets of magic everywhere. You just have to learn how to look.
Outside Pashupatinath, Nepals' most important Hindu pilgrimage site, stores sell beads and tika powders in rainbow colors.
Inside the Pashupatinath complex, open air cremation ghats line the Bagmati River, Nepal's holiest river. The importance of the Bagmati also lies in the fact that Hindus are cremated on its banks.

Durbar Square remains the heart of Kathmandu where the city's kings were once crowned.
Little girl selling flowers as offerings to the gods in Durbar Square. It was really sweet and cute how she flashed me the peace sign. 
This scene is very typical in all of Nepal's streets and towns. I should think that both men and women could carry the same load, be it crops, bricks, cement, or what have you. They carry almost anything in these deceptively strong baskets which are hitched by a belt on a person's forehead for balance.
Girl of Patan. What I liked about this picture is that this happened right in the middle of one of Patan's busy open spaces between sacred tomes. She was completely surrounded by people but she seemed independent of them and seemingly like a universe upon herself.
The Nepal-Tibet border. I remember hiking up one of the mountains and stopping by to look at the view I've just passed. It was breathtaking and stunning and it's certainly a life-affirming moment. I knew then that I've crossed an invisible boundary within myself. 

There's a village up in the mountains near the Tibet border where people would welcome you into their yards to rest for a bit. This woman probably knew I liked animals and invited me to play with her baby goat.
Bodhnath is one of Nepal's important Buddhist pilgrimage sites. When visiting this massive stupa, one has to go around it in a counter clockwise manner. In doing otherwise would be considered sacrilegious.
Girl riding bicycle in the Central Terai region. India would be a few hours bus ride away.
Sauraha, Central Terai region. One can visit small Tharu villages in this area. Their houses, while quite functional, are rather environmentally friendly too -- the walls are made entirely out of elephant dung.
The Rapti River in Chitwan can both be a shower play pool for elephants or
a place where you can do your laundry.
The Himalayas.