Sunday, January 20, 2013

initial observations

"Nepal is a little India," a friend told me before I left.  Driving from the airport to Bhaktapur as dusk settled in, I could already see what he meant. From all the photographs and movies I had seen of India, the roads we were traveling on looked identical. Two lanes were made into five.  Headlights were often seen coming straight towards us. Cows meandered down the streets. Shared motorcycles wandered in, out and around any available space. Horns honked at such frequency it was if all the drivers were a part of a grand automotive orchestra. I sat enraptured.

Forty-five minutes later we made it to the World Heritage site of Bhaktapur where fields and the occasional cement building turned into tall wooden buildings dominating narrow weaving roads. Men, woman and children in bright textiles passed alongside us as they browsed the night markets. An occasional shop would house a single light bulb to display its merchandise, but other than that, only the headlights on our car and various dim candlelights illuminated our path.

"Nepal has a lot of electricity," I heard a guide tell his group later that night at the hotel, "just not enough for the whole country." Our allotment came between the hours of 9pm to 2am. During those hours every ounce of that precious electricity in our room was used by a space heater on the highest setting. The nights were cold. Bitter cold. Our little hotel room was poorly insulated. My bed had one single blanket, whereas my mom had a blanket and featherbed, giving me ample justification to point the space heater in my direction. But I couldn't warm up. Neither could my mom for that matter.

It didn't take long before my mom and I shared two blankets, a feather bed and a heater while squeezed together in a single bed. We then fell fast asleep.

1 comment:

Patti said...

Okay. Now I'm really jealous. Nepal is at the top of the destinations list. Maybe not in January. Claire reference of the week: In "The Illusionist", a charming animated film, the main characters land in Edinburgh. It looked just like your pictures, and there was a sign in the window of a fish n chips place advertising fried chocolate bars! I know!