I saw a group of elderly men relaxing at a sattal in Bhaktapur in a recent afternoon. They were soft-spoken folks who chatted with each other in Newari/Nepal Bhasha. Some smiled occasionally while others maintained an unchanged facial expression for long. Some frequently moved their bodies and adjusted their sitting positions while others didn’t even move their hands for long– especially the man on the left in the front row. They briefly, but separately, looked at me as I was taking this photo (second and third are cropped versions of the first) but, it appeared to me, all of them lost interest in what I was doing as soon as they looked at me. Which was good and what I wanted. I spent at and around the sattal for about two hours observing these men and trying to understand the overall atmosphere around the sattal.
I concluded that these sattals are a great place for people to hangout. They are very essential to most of these people who live in houses that are so closely attached to each other that there’s no space between them and in the neighborhood that doesn’t have public spaces like parks. Kathmandu is a park-less city, a jungle of concrete fortunately surrounded by green hills mostly full of trees.
This one is a very old Newari settlement of Kathmandu valley. These old settlements have sattals like this that serve as major hangout spots for locals. But many new colonies and residential areas that have sprouted in the Vally in the past couple of decades don’t even have these kind of places where people of the neighborhood can come and mingle with each other. A reason why Kathmandu is a very difficult city to live in.
Looks like the ghiring (the ropeway) was pretty useful when we didn’t have a wider network of roads. I think they should be revived. This from RopewayNepal:
In its glory days, the 42km Hetauda-Kathmandu cargo ropeway/ghiring used to run 10 hours and transport 22 tons of goods every day. The construction of Highways and cheaper fuels for the vehicles in those days [and mismanagement of government people] caused the ropeway to lose its charm and it stopped its operation in 1994. It did serve the valley for the last time by transporting vegetables and other food products when the flood washed away both part of the Tribhuwan and Prithivi Highway in 1993 AD. पढाई जारी राख्नुहोस् “ghiring: the kathmandu ropeway”
Monsoon is probably the best time to be in Kathmandu, a friend declared recently. Frequent shower washes dust from the atmosphere and air pollution is perhaps at its lowest during this time of the year. (The other is during a couple of weeks in October, I think, when the sorrounding hills look tiny compared to the majestic mountains that reemerge right behind them.)
Forget the roads that get muddy and flooded during the rains and afterwards. City still feels like a warzone but soon after rains stop look at the sky and the hills around the vally– green and lush and mostly clear. पढाई जारी राख्नुहोस् “Monsoon Clouds of Kathmandu”