Tag Archives: culture

Basantapur's Trailokya Mohan Temple

Kathmandu Darbar Square- A Day After the #NepalEarthquake

A day after the #NepalEarthquake, Basantapur was crowded by people who wanted to escape the aftershocks.

A day after the #NepalEarthquake, Basantapur was crowded by people who wanted to escape the aftershocks.

A day after the #NepalEarthQuake, I went to Kathmandu’s Darbar Square. The scale of devastation was massive. Many of its attractive buildings, former palaces and temples, had either completely collapsed or were heavily damaged. The landmark Kastamandap building had been reduced to rubble. Two other beautiful temples nearby were not where they once stood. The “nau talle” darbar [the Basantapur tower, above] was still standing but it had lost its gajur. Several heritage buildings had their walls cracked. For a regular visitor of the Darbar Square, it was difficult to comprehend the sudden change brought about by the quake. A crowd had gathered at the Basantapur chowk. Most of them were lying on the ground, some facing the sky; others chatting with each other. They looked tired. Somewhat scared too. But they were generally calm. There was uncertainty on their faces. These people were very different from the ones that Basantapur used to see in normal times. Like many open spaces in Kathmandu, Basantapur too was crowded with people who wanted to escape the aftershocks.

Souvenir shops crowd Basantapur in normal times.

In a normal day, souvenir and curio shops occupy the open space at Basantapur side of the Kathmandu Darbar Square.

Basantapur's Trailokya Mohan Temple

Basantapur’s Trailokya Mohan Temple

Cultural hub

A top tourist destination in town, Kathmandu Darbar Square in normal times is a bustling place. People from all over Nepal and and the rest of the world can be spotted here on a typical day. Here, vendors annoyingly follow tourists to sale souvenirs and curios. Dope dealers loiter around looking for customers. Tea sellers serve thousands of cups of tea. Singers come to perform. Artists stage street dramas. Politicians and activists gather to lecture and shout. Temples and palaces fight with each-other for a visitor’s attention. Rickshaw pullers jostle with taxi drivers to get passengers.

Once a place for kings and queens, Kathmandu Durbar Square today houses Gods and criminals, in close proximity and with no discrimination. Perhaps a slight one. Convicted and suspected ones live in police custody in the notorious Hanumandhoka lockup, of course, while the Gods and Goddesses, both living and those immortalized in statues, live free. Not only inside the temples and houses but also out in the open. This is the place where rituals and ancient traditions of many kinds are performed with great enthusiasm and participation of both public and the state. This is a place of utter paradox. An oasis of calm in most days, this place also witnesses some of the most violent cultural activities. That includes slaughtering of thousands of goats and buffaloes on certain days of the year. All in all, this is the cultural heart of Kathmandu. To be precise, this is the most prominent and visible cultural centre of one among many Kathmandus that exist in Kathmandu. But today, a day after the 25th April earthquake, this world heritage site is deeply shaken. Continue reading

In Chandanpur village, a grandma looks for lice in her granddaughter’s hair.

चन्दनपुर गाउँ [Chandanpur Village]

In Chandanpur village, a grandma looks for lice in her granddaughter’s hair.

In Chandanpur village, a grandma looks for lice in her granddaughter’s hair.

मैले अाफू घुम्न अाएको भन्दा सुन्नेले पत्याउन सजिलो थिएन । त्यो अनकन्टार गाउँमा काम नपरी वा कतैबाट सरूवामा नपरी किन पुग्ने । कुरा ठिकै हो । धेरै ठाउँमा त्यसरी नपत्याइएको स्थिति मैले सामना गरेको छु । तै पनि म “हो, घुम्नै अाएको हुँ” भन्न छाड्दिन । एकछिनपछि मान्छेहरू पत्याएजस्तो गर्न थाल्छन् । अनि मलाई वेवास्ता गर्दै उनीहरू अाफ्नै तालमा गफिन थाल्छन् ।

होअोअो… त्यो क्षण । उनीहरूको बीचमै रहेर पनि उनीहरूले मलाई ध्यान नदिएको त्यो क्षण म उनीहरूका अनुहार हेर्दै ध्यानपुर्वक उनीहरूका गफ सुन्न र मनमनै कुराकानीको लवज अठ्याउन रूचाउछु ।

तर अाजको यो साँझ साहुनी अामै (माथि तस्वीरमा नातीनीका जुम्रा हेर्दै) ले मलाई वेवास्ता गर्न छाडेकी रहिन छिन् । म त्यो हुटेलका बेन्चीमा जम्मा भएर बात मारिरहेका पुरूषहरूको गफ सुनिरहेको बेला उनले मेरो अनुहारमा हेर्दै अनि मलाई छक्क पार्दै भनिनन्- “मैले चिने तपैलाईं ! तपै पत्रकार बनेर अाउनुभएको थियो हैन ?” त्यसो भन्दा उनी अाखिभौं उचाल्दै मुस्काईरहेकी थिइन् । सौर्य बत्तीको मधुरो प्रकाशमा उनले मलाई घोरिएर हेरीरहेकी थिइन् ।

म लगभग पक्राउ परेको अवस्थामा पुगेको थिएँ । त्यो किन भने मैले उनीसँगको अलि अघिको कुराकानीमा अाफ्नो परिचय दिएको थिइन ।
Continue reading

Tea Lady of Basantapur, Kathmandu

15 December 2015: Marking the ‪#‎InternationalTeaDay‬ by highlighting the entries on cuppa on the home page: https://t.co/gtYtR7OKUA

[A day after the earthquake… this spot was under rubble.]

Past entries on tea:


A Cup of Tea and Nizamuddin

Our Cups of Tea (by Deepak)

And one on coffee:

A Lot Can Happen Over Coffee


Old Men of Bhaktapur

Old men of bhaktapur 01

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.

Here’s the first half of the frame:

Old men of bhaktapur 07

And the remaining half:

Old men of bhaktapur 06