namaste nepal

The last two weeks have been a blur: wrapping up a transformational month in India, moving on to a new country, and settling back into backpacking after a month of relative solitude and quiet.

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Since touching down here, I haven’t had a chance to entirely process my time in India.

One thing I will say is that, just ten days out of the country, I already feel pangs of nostalgia for Mysore–pangs for my quiet, coconut-lined street; for masala dosas; for the chalk drawings outside every door; for taxis blasting Hindi music; for chats over chai and chats (a popular streetside snack); for the colors and the spices and the piles of orange flowers; for magic moments discovered daily…

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My first day, I spent the afternoon on a rooftop overlooking Durbar Square. From there, you could see the sunlight settle on the nearby hills of Kathmandu Valley and glint off a golden stupa.

The occasional chorus of shouts rose to join the late afternoon light: young boys flying kites from nearby rooftops, erupting in celebration or defeat.

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After the rooftop, we wandered the streets of Kathmandu, and saw the President of Nepal–really!

I happened to arrive during Dashain, a weeklong festival that left the streets quieter and the celebrations abounding… and in my case, full of police cars and secret service agents.

We had stumbled upon a temple that she was visiting for the festivities, and caught a glimpse of the President in her purple dress from just ten meters away. I would venture to say, it was a good sign for my first day in a new country.

On my second full day here, my new Nepali friends Arniko and Sheren took me to Bhaktapur, where all these photos were taken.

Bhaktapur is around 20 minutes from Thamel (the tourist center of Kathmandu), and is apparently one of the oldest cities in the world–while I can’t confirm its age, Bhaktapur was beautifully teeming with life and culture that day during Dashain.

I met this cute little goat chained outside of a temple and wondered aloud why it was there. It turns out, part of the festivities include the ritual slaughtering of animals like goats and water buffalos.

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Cue the horrified vegan?

I was surprisingly not disturbed by the blood-stained clothes of these guys exiting a temple above, but would’ve preferred to hear the baby goat was the temple’s respected guardian, rather than ceremonial sacrifice.

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Thankfully, Bhaktapur had lots of beautiful doors–here, in my favorite color!–to brighten my mood.

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Bhaktapur also had people painting thankas, an art of Tibetan Buddhist origins whose tiny brush strokes yield beautiful mandalas.

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Above all else, it was the countless families and friends celebrating together, decked out in red and adorned with gold, sitting in squares and smiling on stoops, that made me feel the beauty of Bhaktapur. An ancient culture ingrained not only in their clothes or architecure, but in the communities and the endlessly warm faces of the Nepalis themselves.

Tomorrow, I’m going trekking in the Everest region for two weeks, possibly more.

With the impending lack of words and wifi, I can only leave this blog the Nepali way: Namaste!

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