Tag Archives: nepal

The #NepalEarthquake Day

Severe cracks on Kaushaltar-Lokanthali section of the Japanese-built highway. The quake not only inflicted damage on the sturdy road but sunk the residential area the size of about 10-15 football fields by about 1.5 feet. A few concrete houses in the area have suffered serious damage.

Severe cracks on Kaushaltar-Lokanthali section of the Japanese-built highway. The quake not only inflicted damage on the sturdy road but sunk the residential area the size of about 10-15 football fields by about 1.5 feet. A few concrete houses in the area have suffered serious damage.

Like everyone else, I knew it was coming. But I didn’t know when. I had no idea about its magnitude. It’s devastating impact. That’s because, like a generation before me, I had not experienced a strong earthquake. Like most Nepalis, I wasn’t prepared for it. Also, no one can predict an earthquake. So why think about it when you never know when it will strike.

My go-bag (given to me) was gathering dust somewhere in a corner of my house. I wasn’t sure that I would find time to grab the bag before running out in the event of a quake. Would I be even at home? As it turned out, I was several kilometers away from my house when the earth shook violently on 25th April (12 Baishak 2072). Instead of a go-bag, I had in my hands a bundle of investigative newspaper articles that were to be judged for a competition. I was in a teashop that was fortunately only a meter away from an empty road.

Within hours, most of open spaces in Kathmandu had been occupied. Even the VIP area at the Tundikhel military parade ground which is normally restricted for the public was opened. I had never stepped into that part of the parade ground before.

Within hours, most of the open spaces in Kathmandu had been occupied. Even the VIP area at the Tundikhel military parade ground which is normally restricted for the public was opened. I had never stepped into that part of the parade ground before.

The restricted area of Tundikhel's Military Area provided safe heaven to people terrified by the earthquake.

The restricted area of Tundikhel’s Military Area provided safe heaven to people terrified by the earthquake.

What I remember of those 40 seconds is a strange noise. The sound of structures colliding or something to that effect. I was struggling to stand upright in the middle of a blacktopped road. It was as if I had suddenly found myself in a small boat in rough seas. A woman nearby started to cry. Her husband held her. She continued to scream. A group of people gathered on the road. A few of us tried to console her. By the time the earth had stopped shaking, the people around me had been thoroughly shaken.

One of the first things that came to my mind during the first few seconds into the quake was to be aware of the buildings around me. The building that housed the teashop looked particularly threatening. At one point I thought it would collapse. But it didn’t, like many concrete buildings in Kathmandu. A pleasant surprise. There are many explanations floating around for this. The epicenter was too far. The earthquake wasn’t shallow enough. Houses were built strongly. My own observation is that we were just too lucky this time around.

Immediately after the quake I rode across the city. Except for some old houses with load bearing walls and heritage buildings I saw that most residential concrete houses had survived. The perimeter walls of several landmark buildings had crumbled over hundreds of motorcycles that had been parked by the walls. The collapse of the compound walls of the Nepal Police headquarters, the Prime Minister’s official residence and the Narayanhitti Palace Museum looked particularly astounding. But, by and large, Kathmandu had remained intact at the first glance. Later in the day, reports of substantial damage to recently built high-rise apartment buildings started to come in. As people regained composure, they also noticed cracks, small and big, in their still standing concrete houses. पढ्नेक्रम जारी राख्नुहोस्

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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

Tucked between her mama and papa. Kathmandu. Originally spotted by George Georgiou.

Tucked between her mama and papa. Kathmandu. Originally spotted by George Georgiou.

Kathmandu

Kathmandu

At a hilltop near Kathmandu city. The old ghiring cables, now defunct, go underneath the bijuli transmission lines. These towers separate Kathmandu from Makwanpur district.

At a hilltop near Kathmandu city. The old ghiring cables, now defunct, go underneath the bijuli transmission lines. These towers separate Kathmandu from Makwanpur district.

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. पढ्नेक्रम जारी राख्नुहोस्

image

A different monsoon sky as seen recently from a village in Lalitpur, not very far from central Kathmandu.

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A Selfie by a Masked Man #PatanDarbarSquare

A selfie at Patan Darbar Square

A selfie at Patan Darbar Square by a masked man.

Thursday 24th April.

Around Kathmandu: Champadevi Hill [काठमान्डू वरीपरी: चम्पादेवी डाँडो]

A woman carried a brick to build a temple at the top of Champadevi hill.

A woman carried a brick to build a temple at the top of the Champadevi hill.

[This is a bilingual post. यो पोस्ट दुइ भाषामा छ ।]

नयाँ वर्ष २०७१ को दिन म साथिहरूसँग २२८५ मिटर अग्लो चम्पादेवी डाँडो गएँ । हामी किर्तिपुर नजिकैको र चम्पादेवीको फेदमा अवस्थित मच्छेगाँउमा रहेको पुष्पलाल स्मृति पार्कबाट उक्लियाै । बाटो साँघुरो थियो, धेरैजसो ठाडो उकालो र दुइतर्फी अावतजावतकालागि चुनाैतिपूर्रण । तर हिड्नै अप्ठेरो चाँही होइन । बाटो धेरैजसो ठाउँमा झांडीले छोपिएको थियो जसले गर्दा कुनै सुरुंगमा हिंडेजस्तो भान हुन्थ्यो । घमाइलो दिनमा त सुरुंगले गज्जवको शीतलता प्रदानगर्ने नै भयो तर उपत्यका र हिमालयको दृश्यबाट चै त्यसले बटुवाहरुलाई बन्चित तुल्याउथ्यो ।

नयाँ वर्षको दिन चम्पदेवी जाने सर्वाधिक उपयुक्त दिन थिएन  किनकी त्यो दिन चम्पदेवीको शिखरमा लाग्ने जात्रातिर जाने या त्यहाँबाट फर्किने मानिसहरूले बाटो भरिएको थियो ।

हामी गएकै बाटो फर्किएनौं । हामी हात्तीवन हुँदै फर्पिंग झर्यौं । यो बाटो चैं राम्रो थियो– फराकिलो, खुला र कम उकालो . साथै त्यति चर्को घाम पनि लागेको थिएन जो गज्जव थियो ।

योजना चांही फर्पिंगबाट सार्बजनिक बस अठ्याउने थियो । तर सबै बसहरु दक्षिणकाली मन्दिर या चम्पदेवी डाँडोबाट फर्किएका मानिसहरूले पुरै भरिएका थिए । तेसैले हामीहरु थप ४-५ किलोमीटर हिड्न बाध्य भयौं पिच बाटोमा– गाडीहरूले फालेको धुलो र धुँवा खाँदै । त्यो रमाइलो थिएन ।

——-   —————–             ———————-

On the New Year Day 2071 BS, I went to the top of the Champadevi Hill (2,285m) with friends. We started the walk from the Pushpalal Memorial Park located at the base of the hill (Machhegaun village, near Kirtipur). The trail was narrow, mostly steep and challenging for a two-way commute but not difficult to walk. It was covered mostly by the bushes giving the feel of walking in a tunnel. In a sunny day the ‘tunnel’ provided a great shade to hikers but blocked the view of the valley and mountains. पढ्नेक्रम जारी राख्नुहोस्

Ghansi Kuwa

A girl and a well

Bhanu Bhakta in the middle. Ghansi on the right.

Bhanu Bhakta in the middle. Ghansi on the right.

Despite traveling on the Prithvi Highway that links Pokhara with Kathmandu several times I had never stopped at the Ghansi Kuwa to see the famed well built by the grass cutter who inspired Bhanu Bhakta Acharya to write poems and translate the Ramayana into Nepali. When I reached there a little girl was taking out water from the grass cutter’s well. In a nearby makeshift shop a lady sold bottled mineral water to drink. It was evident that today’s travelers didn’t need the water of the Ghansi Kuwa. That explained why the kuwa wasn’t in a good shape. There was a small park in need of good care nearby that had two separate statues of Bhanu Bhakta and the anonymous ghansi.

For those who don’t know the story behind the grass cutter’s well, here’s a brief background: Bhanubhakta was a young boy from a wealthy family and was leading a luxurious life. He met a poor grass cutter who inspite of his poverty wanted to build a well (kuwa in Nepali) to help the travelers to quench their thirst and be remembered even after death. This made Bhanu Bhakta realize that despite being a wealthy and educated person, despite being “Bhanu Bhakta” he wan’t doing anything good for the public. This encounter is said to have inspired Bhanubhakta to do something remarkable in life.

भर् जन्म घाँसतिर मन दिइ धन् कमायो
नाम क्यै रहोस् पछि भनेर कुवा खनायो
घाँसी दरिद्रि घरको तर बुद्धि कस्तो
मो भानुभक्त धनि भै कन आज यस्तो ! पढ्नेक्रम जारी राख्नुहोस्

Bandipur

This trip happened during Dasain festival last October therefore the sights of pings (swings) of different types- linge, rote and jaanto. It was my second trip to Bandipur village that is located just above the highway that connects Pokhara with Kathmandu. Many find it beautiful but I have no such conclusive opinion about Bandipur. I thought new concrete buildings had damaged the authenticity of the village that still had some nice-looking traditional houses. A Bhaktapur Darbar Square-style ban on traffic on the main thoroughfare felt like a sensible thing to do. On a clear day the village offered a beautiful view of the Himalayas.