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Published: June 10th 2014
Alea iacta est
Already knowing that a local Nepalese bus feels like being in a clattering rollercoaster for several hours, I decided to save my spine and break my bus ride into two parts.
I had heard about a rarely seen temple just outside of Charikot, a relatively big village on the way to Kathmandu. I was told it is an authentic Nepali site; a no-tourists-no-money-pit-not-every-dick-goes-there kind of place, so I dropped off the bus as it stopped at the village’s main intersection.
Suddenly, I was dipped into a frantic and vibrating centre where people were walking and running all around, jumping in and out of the buses, selling their merchandise or simply talking to others. The dust lifted from the unsealed ground by the passing vehicles was getting into my lungs at every breath I took, drying my throat and making it hard even to keep my eyes open.
As I wanted to get rid of the backpack’s weight from my shoulders, I immediately left ‘central-plaza’ and walked into the closest small road
to seek a place for the night.
My research for a bed didn’t last very long, as my walk was stopped when I bumped into a kid that was sitting outside of a building. He had noticed my luggage and offered me to spend the night at his place. I looked at him. He looked at me. I looked around: a shop to my left, a man in uniform sitting on a bench by the entrance of an office at my back, another shop to my right, and a few houses to fill the spaces in between. I looked at him again: ‘ok’.
I followed him into a shady-darkish ambient and waited for my eyes to adjust to the low light. Tables and chairs were decorating the floor before the counter and the kitchen was in the far back of the room. There was the kid’s mother -which also was the owner/receptionist of the guest house- standing with a welcoming smile on her face. She moved in closer and introduced herself, then she showed me a room and gave me a price for it. They wheel, you deal. 300 Rupees for a queen size bed ain’t that bad
So I chucked my stuff on the bed and took a look from the window. Trees and fields were the first things I saw, then I moved my eyes down to the balcony’s floor: broken pieces of concrete and cigarette butts. I left the room and went out again to explore the surroundings.
I was walking down the colorful street that leaves the centre of Charikot to go to Dolkha Bhimsen: according to the information I had about the temple, it was supposed to be along that same road. Asking people for directions to a temple which name I didn’t even know, I bumped into a man who was standing next to a door.
‘In there’, he vaguely signals through the doorway into a poorly furnished room at the ground floor of a rotten structure. He tells me that there is somebody inside who can speak English.
So I step through the quaint door frame just enough to see an old Nepalese man sitting at a table in the act of eating his lunch; two girls are sitting on the other side of the dim-lit room. He notices me peering at them through the door and, before I can say anything, he retreats his “ricy” right hand from the plate, points a finger to one lady, then to the other.
“Marriage, marriage” he says. “Which one do you want?”
Instinctively, I move my eyes to the girls: baaad choice. In perfect English, one of them asks: “Do you want to marry me?”
Now, the real question is: how the fuck do I always manage to get myself in such situations? Actually this is something that can easily happen in Nepal, especially in the rural areas of the country, but it still is a funny moment. Anyway, I politely refused. Yes, I had to officially refuse and the father was not happy about it. He took his eyes off me and didn’t even say goodbye as I left his home.
The girl who made the proposal caught up with me and offered to take me to the temple, which according to her word was just a few minutes walk down the road. Ok, that offer, I will take.
So we got there and…Hum, are you sure this is it? Wait a minute! That doesn’t quite match my expectations.
I was standing before a small structure that seemed more like an altar instead of a temple. And she started questioning: where do you come from? ..are you married? ..how old are you? ..do you like me?
Pretty sure it’s not the site I was told about.
I never did make it to the mysterious religious place I was originally in town to see, but I’ve got an interesting picture of a guard standing outside of what looked to be a political related building. Just to say that the day wasn’t a loss.
The downside of visiting a non-touristic town is that you gotta deal with the “begging” issue. I wouldn’t use the word “poor” to define their lifestyle, because there actually is some kind of balance to it, however it is undeniable that they do “possess” very little. People there don’t see too many foreigners, so it was hard for me to walk around without having a few kids following –probably sent by the parents- to ask for money. If I had to give one Rupee to every single kid, I’d myself be begging by the end of the day. Walking through town like this, really makes a traveller feel like an outsider. I don’t like that. I stopped just for a day and then I went straight back to the capital.
Some friends and I met up and went to visit Swayambhunath Temple, also known as the Monkey Temple, in the west of the city. Walking up the 365 stairs to the top of the hill that hosts it, I saw a fairly large monkey sitting contently on a concrete wall. He was eating some kind of small nuts that somebody must had thrown at him. I pulled out the camera and moved a step forward to catch it in a moment of biting into a nut, but what did the fucker do? He dropped the food from his tiny hands and stood aggressively to his feet, looking at me like he was about to lunge at my face. Through the lens, I saw a small, furry fist being thrown in my direction; in the same moment one of my mates pulled me back, saving me from being knocked out by a monkey. Wow man! Take it easy, you furry hairy maniac bastard!
Just beyond the walls of Swayambhunath, once you survived the monkey-guerrilla that had you threatened until the last step, you’ll be able to stare at the amazing view of the city.
Kathmandu is lying on a vast flat surface -not a very common thing in Nepal- and it looks tremendously big. From that distance, you are not able to see the rubbish collected in every corner of every street; nor smell the dusty-heavy-unleaded91-dogshit air that you breathe downtown. It is really beautiful. The Garden of Dreams? A dream. Bal Gopal Temple? Its reflection on the water brutally encaged inside a metallic perimeter.
My last days in Kathmandu feel more like a job rather than travel: sorting out Visas and running errands around town have me feeling anxious. As I sit in front of my computer at a café, I play with the idea of leaving this city soon. My feet are burning...
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