Matthew, Nadashri and I have met here to go trekking, even though it will soon be the monsoon season. This is not the best time, we know, but it is all we have. So here we are, determinded to have a wonderful time, to grow and to heal.
We walk the cobbled streets of this ancient and defiled city. In times past the local economy must have been much better than it is now. Bricks, seen everywhere in multistoried walls, temples and rustic little homes, are hand made. They, like the cobbles, are worn but still being used. Buildings look precarious but are inhabited, houses are patchworked together over generations.
Like the mountains, (blue ghosts on the skyline,) buildings are high - narrow mazes link the streets which suddenly open out into courtyards paved with stone where temples loom from darkness. There are so many styles, so much dedicated work, once. Now all is filthy, broken, with pervading odours of old dust and decay.
Cows graze mounds of plastic bags. They look well fed, though dirty. Their small udders are active, blood vessels prominent, the skin clean in contrast to their grimy coats. Someone milks them.
Dogs seem well fed too, rounded and calmly self-assured. None of the little nooks of small shrines are used by them. They recline serenely in front of temples, trot in small groups through dark streets, sleep on worn earth outside doors or bark suddenly from houses, their voices and silhouettes jumping up startlingly.
We passed a man asleep on concrete steps, one leg on the step above as if it was a pillow. He had a bandage around his head which looked very white against his dark skin and hair, his face turned away to stone like a bad boy in the corner.12 July
Morning from my window -
A woman clad in a wine coloured dress tied to the left, treads a rusty corregated iron roof after splashing water from a shining pewter vase, into the street several stories below. She gestures with praying hands held before her face.
The roof is walled to form a courtyard, a few sick looking plants provide the only green.
She descends through a gap between sheets of iron - I see the top of a large cylinder in there.
On an adjacent rooftop, another brightly clothed woman (smock topped dress, gathered burnt orange skirt,) splashes water, stabbing her hand out over the roofs’ edge. Droplets stain discoloured corrugated iron. Then she waters her plants.
Last night, by a temple to Shiva, we were splattered by water from buildings high above. We thought urine perhaps. Now I consider it was blessed water.
( A man witnessing our splashing raised his hand in a gesture of acceptance which I later learnt to be ‘What to do?’ I shrugged back, in agreement.)
An acrid smell. Like fireworks. Small tin handbells ring.
Far below, people roll a brass container in a small stone courtyard. They are scrubbing it. Water stains the dust.
himalayan clouds -
wisps of incense twist
from the balcony
Here's a picture of the Hotel's communal fount, on the roof outside my window. Clothes are washed here, and hung from lines or windows. We pondered as to why animals are depicted on the pipe, but it's fairly common, we later found.
these shabby streets -
saris in a row
Crows woke me this morning to a windowful of grey mist muted and homogenous, blanking the view like an exposed negative.
Ancient cobblestones thick with dust. A man sweeps them clean with his whisk.
Such poor conditions yet he honours it, does the best he can. Courage is here, and acceptance.
We had breakfast on a high rooftop: Muesli and yoghurt,omelete,Lassis and milky Nepali tea, Delicious!
Dusk. Showered again and changed. Matthew and Nadashree are at the internet café. We walked and searched and shopped all day. Two rickshaw rides though.
Saw an injured puppy walking on its two front legs, its useless back ones stuck stiffly out in front. "It fell off there," a boy told us, gesturing straight up.
the shelter of her legs --
a paraplegic dog
Saw an old woman bowed with a gigantic sack, a baby in her arms.
Had chai in the market place. Our portraits were drawn by a man who bit his roll of paper. Cost r80. I took the paper, intending to draw him in return, but he ripped it out of my hands.
Talked to another, “60 years” - we identified that each was 60 - "I wish you 20 more,” I say.
“Come, I want to give you gift,” he says, gesturing towards his stall. Yer right.
Feel like a deer with dogs at my legs. Each wants a piece of me.
There is warmth here though. Clear eyes and respect in response to honesty and polite directness.
Matt is tired. Not my usual Matt. Wants to sleep early. Is stressed, wanting to buy boots and coats. Watching over us girls. Tomorrow we shall move on.