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Published: October 18th 2008
Patan is a large town south of Kathmandu. Like the capital, it also has a Durbar Square and I visited it a couple days ago. There were the usual Hindu temples and statues and very good examples of Newari architecture along with one temple made of stone and resembling a Moghul building to some degree.
But the part of the visit that I remember the most was when a tourist took some photos of some young kids who were begging in the street. The kids posed and mugged for the camera and afterwards, the tourist gave them a package of candy. Then they fought over it and ripped it apart and one little girl ended up running away from the group in tears. So the tourist got their photo and maybe felt a bit good about themselves that they have given the kids some candy, but it disturbed me to see them fighting. I couldn't help but think that if it wasn't for tourists, maybe they wouldn't be begging. Or if it wasn't for tourists, perhaps they might starve.
A few days earlier when I visited Swayambhunath in Kathmandu I gave money to the beggars but I felt it would be a violation of their dignity to take their picture. At the time I had climbed many stairs to see the stupa on top of a hill. On the way up, I would top periodically and take a drink of water and notices the other tourists with their snazzy trekking pants, and Gore-Tex boots, and state-of-the-art digital cameras while inches away there were people who looked as if they hadn't eaten in a while and hadn't had a bath in many days. I couldn't not give them a few rupees. One dollar is about 70 rupees.So to give what was basically the price of a coffee for me may have been an entire meal for them. That's all......I can't think of anything else at this point.
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