With our backpacks burdening our tired bodies, we decided to walk to Hanuman Dhoka Durbar Square from where the bus dropped us off in Kathmandu. The ride from Pokhara was a cramped six hours, but we had arrived in the the early afternoon and preferred to take advantage of this fact, instead of running to our guesthouse for a shower and sleep. As we navigated through potholed alleys which stank of incense and sewage, trying to avoid mysterious muck and the kamikaze motorcyclists, our traveller mental fog lifted with each step, as Kathmandu pressed itself upon us. The noise of the city is astounding; the incessant beeping of every type of motorised vehicle drowns out conversation and the calls of fruit sellers— and yet somehow you always manage to catch that plea for money, milk, chocolate or water coming from somewhere around you. The brilliantly coloured ladies and the fine details of ancient architecture can sweep you away, but when you look down or to the side, there's often something you would have rather not seen. Missing limbs, twisted bodies— children with lined faces and broken, forgotten elderly. You get followed, pulled and grabbed, and you don't know what to do or what to feel— but your gut is tight and your neck, stiff. No one tells you how to help, or who you might be able to help— and how to distinguish them from those who might be taking advantage of your foreignness and ignorance. I try to focus on the positive on Harika, as I try to focus on the positive in life— but reality is inescapable, and it smacks you in the face in Nepal. You are forced to come out of your romantic, rose-tinted dream, and see the hunger and desperation— and if you are a thoughtful, open human being, you try to do what you can, and you become grateful.
I love Nepal. The people I have met, the landscape, the culture, history, and nature are unlike anything I have known; there is so much beauty. I've never been greeted by so many smiling faces— whether in some dark corner of Kathmandu or on a cloudy forest trail in the middle of nowhere. There's a reason why I can't stop returning.
Wherever our feet take us, let's look at the beauty, and appreciate the hands and the earth who made it—
but let's see with clear eyes.