Friday, July 27, 2012

back atcha nepal

It’s been hard in the last few years. I haven’t much wanted to travel anywhere. Even if money were no object, I couldn’t say there’s any place I’d like to go. Maybe just home to see family.

I sort of had enough with traveling. Not with seeing new places, but with the routine I made of it -- looking on the internet for a place to visit, finding somewhere to sleep, printing out the itinerary or directions and a map. That’s a boring ass way to travel.

That sort of changed a bit with Nepal. Going somewhere was exciting again. I didn't plan anything, which meant no expectations. The drive from the airport to the center of the Kathmandu hit me sort of hard. Look around. Wood shacks with corrugated plastic roofs. Smoking piles of garbage. Dirt roads crammed with compact cars and mopeds. No stop signs. No traffic lights.

I thought about Kathmandu the other day and wrote this in my notebook: “I would like to one day get back there and organize some dumpsters and some respirators and some workers for a little money (workers are cheap there) to clean up the river.”

I was talking about the very unriver-like Bagmati River in Kathmandu, which you can see part of here:

(picture of the polluted bagmati river)
there are actually a couple of people towards the top of the picture if you look closely

The million or so Kathmandese either burn their garbage or toss it in the Bagmati. The Hindu population of the city cremates their dead publicly on its banks and sweeps the remains into the river. Kids swim in it. Cows drink from it.

I was thinking, wouldn’t it be good to try to make things a touch better there if at all possible? At least to remove some of the trash. Not on the next plane, but maybe I could help. Then I was like, no.

That river can be sad, but I can't see it that way. To see those real and shitty things -- the river, the wild dogs, the garbage, the traffic, the awful smell -- to think them through, to see past them to something that even they can't touch. That wild dog on the sidewalk has severe mange, and he’s sound asleep. That woman around that black-burning trash pit has her son and a daughter with her. At the cremation place, a little boy with a broom and a bucket of water is helping brush the ashes into the river. That people live there. That there is life there.

Related posts:
(unfortunately these will only open in a new window if you right-click and choose that way. oh well.)
Back from Nepal
A photo from Nepal and some killer Browning
Couple of drawings in Nepal

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