I did not write last night, and the internet was down this morning so this is a long post. If you make it to the end, you may reward yourelf with a cookie.

Kathmandu doesn’t really smell bad and the streets are clear of trash for the  most part. New York City has more stench and litter.

My friend, Brian, asked me to report on how the city smells, commenting that every city has a unique smell. So I’ve been paying close attention to that in the past two days.

Petrol, curry, and insence. But not all mixed together. The smells burst out on their own stage with little competition. The petrol coming from the motorbikes and cars that zip through crowds down the narrow streets. Curry coming from restaurants and homes. Insence the same. The wafts of curry and spices are my favorite so far. One in particular smelled sweet, almost like cinnamon but with definite notes of tumeric.

Speaking of motorbikes and cars, I am amazed that there aren’t thousands of squashed pedestrian feet every day here. If you aren’t comfortable with motorized wheels coming within inches of your legs and elbows, stay away from Kathmandu. It’s thrilling to confidently navigate the mobiles and the crowds. I thank  New York City for that! The traffic and the crowds are not what make me anxious here.  Honestly, I was more nervous about picking the right store to buy a dress from! Since there are so many and they all seem to be selling the same items, with a few variations.

Yesterday I walked to Dubar Square. It was about a 30-minute walk from the hotel through the narrow shop/people/mobile-filled streets. The area of Thamel where I am staying is fairly “quiet.” So when I entered the square full of about five-times as many people, cars, and rickshaws, it was quite a shock! Durbar Square is the plaza in front of the former royal palace. It is a maze of temples, shrines, and stepped-structures. Locals and tourists climbed on everything. Any place where a person could feasibly sit, there was a human.

I found my own place to park and stayed for a while, just people-watching. Every now and then a vendor would approach me with purses, jewlery, flutes, etc. for sale. I watched some Nepali children run up the steps of a building and then slide down, butt first on their bellies, the round, stone sides of the steps. Squeeling with joy and repeating the process over and over again. I then wandered farther into the square where there  were more shrines and structures. And a cow, or rather a calf. At first I thought the calf belonged to a group of women nearby. But they soon got up and walked away. Intrigued by my first cow sighting, I followed quietly behind her. She meandered through the square undisturbed. Found a shady spot and laid down. I’m curious as to who feeds her, as she clearly wasn’t neglected.

By this time I was pretty hungry and decided to go back to Sat Ghumti (the neighborhood of Thamel where I a staying). If you know me well, you know I plan my days around meals. So it was time for lunch! Up until this point I had not gotten lost. Well, I did. But it wasn’t very exciting so I won’t go into much detail. I had turned down the wrong street. I kept walking and walking and walking. Nothing looked familiar, yet nothing looked particularly unfamiliar, since the streets all look the same to my fresh eyes. I simply asked a woman for directions and she pointed the way. Within 10 minutes I was back in Sat Ghumti. I wasn’t nervous about getting lost, surprisingly. Everyone has been so nice here, I knew I could find help if I needed it.

I ate lunch at a hip place called Places (yup!). Clearly geared toward young people, locals and tourists, the joint played popular music and had art all over the walls. There were a few people my age lounging, reading books, chatting. I will definitely return there sometime in the next three months.

After that, I went into a food-inspired jet-lag coma. It was 4pm here and I thought it would be a grand idea to take a little nap before heading out again. Wrong. I woke up 7 hours later, fully-clothed, contacts stuck dry to my eyeballs. I could have written this blog post then, but I was too groggy. Instead I watched a few episodes of Friends and finally fell asleep again at 2 am.

Which brings us to today and the next blog post!

 

Much Love,

Kristin

   

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