We finally had some time to get out into the city to do some sightseeing this past weekend. Our time has been consumed with settling in and getting started with a new school year in a new school. “Durbar Square” is a somewhat generic term for the plaza across from a palace where temples, shrines and idols are found in concentration. This Durbar Square is in the center of Kathmandu. It is one of the UNESCO World Heritage sites in the Kathmandu Valley which boasts the greatest concentration of recognized world heritage sites on the planet at seven total. With time, we’ll get to them all, and I’ll post images as we cross them off our list. We went on a Sunday, which is not a day of rest in Nepal. Everything closes on Saturdays here, and the week starts on Sunday. The streets (alleys) were packed with throngs of humanity in the form of tourists, merchants and devotees paying homage to the temples and their gods.
Tonight we had the honor of being invited to a Nepali Wedding Reception. The wedding ceremony was held a few weeks ago, but this was the formal presentation of the bride and groom as a married couple to the public. There were people dressed in traditional Nepali clothing, particularly the women, and others in “western” style clothing. Like any wedding, the most inspiring sight was the bride and her maid of honor. There was an abundance of food and drink, but unlike wedding receptions I’m accustmed to, there were no annoying drunk attendees tapping their glasses with flatware expecting grotesque displays of affection between the newly wed couple. It was an elegant and dignified event in every respect.
It’s been a week since we arrived in Nepal, and it has felt like we entered into a time warp. At some moments, it feels like we’ve just been here a day and at others it feels like it has been much longer than seven days. When we arrived, it was overcast and it remained that way all week with periodic deluges from the heavens. We did after all arrive in the midst of monsoon season, but this is how our day ended:
Kathmandu Sunset August 2, 2013
The view above is from the apartment rooftop of one of our colleagues at the Lincoln School where we will be teaching. We were only offered brief glimpses of the blue sky throughout the week. Most hours were dominated by the low hanging clouds that obscured even the foothills around the city. It will be weeks before the weather clears and we will be able to see the high peaks of the Himalaya from the valley. Our week was spent settling in and taking care of the mundane tasks of unpacking our personal effects and purchasing the essential items we needed that constitute a basically functioning household. Every excursion to procure what we needed has been an adventure in itself. Traffic here is almost beyond description, and I’ll devote time to explaining that later, when I understand how to describe it, for now:
Kathmandu Afternoon Traffic
Kathmandu Monsoon Traffic July 2013
We are enamored with Nepal after a week. There is much that we have to adjust to, but that process has begun. The people are wonderful. Although the traffic appears insanely chaotic, drivers and pedestrians are remarkably civil, smiling at one another as they take turns circumventing the holy bovines that wander the streets of the city and choose to nap in the middle of bridges, more to come on that theme.