Saturday, January 10, 2009

Bhaktapur City, the dictionary episode and life on the street in Nepal, Nagarkot and the end of our trip to the roof of the world, Namaste!

View of Bhaktapur

Hi again

Today, Saturday 10th Jan, was our last full day in Kathmandu. Tomorrow we are returning to Delhi and on Monday night we are flying back home. Half of me wants to stay and the other half is looking forward to going home. But I know I want to come back to this part of the world again.

This morning Mr. Lama was duly waiting for us to show us more of Nepal. We drove to the beautiful town of Bhaktapur. It is the 3rd largest town in the Kathmandu valley and was once the capital of Nepal in the 15th century. Known as the town of “devotees” it is well known for its traditional art and architecture, historical buildings, wood carvings and of course, its temples. I read that it had been partially restored by a German NGO and definitely it is very clean, apart from the dust that comes from the pottery making.
Eladio and I in one of the squares of Bhaktapur. They are all very similar.
Eladio on a rooftop café in Bhaktapur
It is full of squares, one being Durbar, of course and in these squares you find the typical pagoda temples and monuments all built by the traditional red brick. The woodwork is magnificent. I was specially struck by this 15th century “peacock” window. It is a true work of art.
15th century carved wood window with a peacock in the middle.
There were also excellent souvenir shops and stands all over the town and we shopped happily for things that seemed authentic or at least we hadn’t seen elsewhere. It’s a pleasure to see so little globalisation. Here we bought some wood carvings for our walls at home, one of a dragon which apparently will help to protect our house. The other was of Om the sacred symbol in Hinduism for Brahman, the unknowable, and which has its origin in the Sanskrit language, the mother of the Hindu languages.
The Om symbol
Me in Bhaktapur in front of a marvellous wooden carved door and 2 magnificent lion statues
But apart from monuments, Bhaktapur was a window of Nepalese town life for me. Here I snapped happily at the street markets everywhere at the people washing clothes and washing themselves for all to see in the street and at lovely little corner shops that seem timeless. There are no supermarkets here. We felt as if we were in a film, floating on clouds.
A chemist shop in Bhaktapur, isn't it just something? I took this for my pharmacist friend in Madrid, Mari Carmen.
People washing themselves in public in Bhaktapur
People washing clothes in the street in Bhaktapur, a very common scene.
We were constantly harangued by people to buy bric-a-brac which we did at times. Then I was joined on our walk through the town by 2 little boys aged 11 and 12. They were brothers. One was called Vijay and I can’t remember the name of the other. They were eager to practise their English and I was quite impressed. They told me London was a lovely town. So I agreed. Then Eladio was joined by another little boy and we all engaged in conversation. I was expecting them to ask for money but this time was different.

Vijay shyly asked me whether I would buy him and his brother a book for school. At first I resisted but not for long. He took us to a bookshop and pointed at a Nepalese English dictionary. How could I resist? Eladio couldn’t either and so there on the spot we bought two very good quality hard backed dictionaries, one for the two brothers and one for the other boy. They could hardly believe their luck and we were delighted too. As they thanked us, I asked them to study hard with the aim of one day going to England to study. We probably behaved like proud well off people happy to do a good deed but that wasn’t my objective. I took a photo too of the boys, perhaps to remember my good deed but actually to remember their thirst for knowledge which I thought was admirable in their very humble circumstances. How many 12 year old European children would ask for a bilingual dictionary? Not many I guess.
The three boys in Bhaktapur with their new dictionaries.
From the charming town of Bhaktapur we took the road into the mountains which would take us to Nagarkot, a small town from where, fog and clouds permitting, we would get a glimpse of some of the highest peaks in the world. Nagarkot is about 35km from Kathmandu and is renowned for its wonderful views of the Himalayas. It stands at 2.195 metres and the road to it is beautiful with views of pine tree filled hills and sloped terrace cultivation of what must be wheat. We were not unlucky today as the visibility was acceptable and so we were able to clearly see some of the peaks, namely Mt. Langtang which is 7.234m high!
Eladio in Nagarkot with the Himalayan mountains behind, very impressive.
We had tea and something to eat at the Club Himalaya Nagarkot resort and then drove back to Kathmandu to relax at the lovely Dwarika hotel.

Tonight we celebrated our last evening here by going to a Nepalese folk restaurant called Bhojan Griha which apparently means House of Food. But it is much more than that. The restaurant is housed in an old Nepalese building and the dinner, all very ethnic is served on low tables with the same sort of ceremony we found on the first night at Krishnarpan here at the Dwarika hotel. Here we were served amongst other things, bara, lovely cakes made with black lentils and momo, sort of ravioli or meat dumplings. There was entertainment too with typical Newari and Nepalese dancing and music. It was an interesting evening.
Dinner at Bhojan Griha
Tomorrow we will be leaving this charming hotel and wonderful hospitable country to which we would dearly love to return. Here, as in India, we will put our hands together in the praying mode, nod our heads and say “Namaste”. Taken literally it means I bow to you. And so as I bow to the wonderful people I have met in Nepal and say thank you for everything.

Namaste

Masha.

1 comment:

Finance said...

I miss my home town. Yes, indeed its lovely place to enjoy life. By reading your blog I felt like I was back home and walking on the streets. Thank you very much.