Monday, June 30, 2014

It's Really, Really Where I'm Going To

Pashuparti Temple
Kathmandu is an assault on the senses. Smells from the bazaars fill the nose - curry, turmeric, tandoori species - while mud oozes from the loose street stones, squishing beneath shoes and making the narrow streets a slippery obstacle course. Sacred cows, with their long, flirtatious lashes, wander about, undeterred by the numerous card, motorbikes, and tuk tuks that show little regard for pedestrians. Low in the Himalayan Valley, the smog is too thick to revere any of the nature and the rain is too heavy to avoid it.

Kathmandu is a strange convergence of China (Tibet) and India, where the red marks of water blessings adorn the foreheads of most and where dumplings are filled with curried chicken and tandoori seasonings. 

The tourists here tend toward the earthy crunchy, with hemp bags, dreadlocks, and apparently something to find that I'm not convinced is still available in this overcrowded, touristic, once-untouched Mecca for the followers of peace, love, and understanding.

Goats living in the Himalayas
I came to Kathmandu for Krishna. He has a bike shop and a figurine and other things available to purchase that don't bring me any closer to this mysterious, androgynous God. Judging by all the reviews online, I'm one of the only visitors who left unimpressed and unmoved by all that is offered in this Valley. Most of the comments I read feature phrases like "blown away," "purification," and "breathtaking" and I wonder what these people saw, experienced, felt that I couldn't or didn't or wouldn't. And I kick myself for sounding so jaded and unappreciative of what I have been so blessed to have been able to see. On the ground, the touts followed us, selling tours, blankets, prayer bowls, knick-knacks, hashish, knives, tea, anything to make a dollar. A firm, "No, thank you," was rarely an adequate deterrent. For me, the highlight of Kathmandu was the tip of Everest seen from the plane, white rock cutting through the gossamer clouds, 30,000 feet in the air.

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