Other than being a three-syllable word that Bob Seger needed to make a song, Katmandu is one big mass of dirty streets and dogs sleeping on pavement, just endless poverty. This street scene is one of the better ones. Most side streets are potholed, and there are empty doorways and vacant garage storefronts with graffiti all over them.
I was reading Wiki last night about this place, wondering what would create such a mass of poverty. I don’t understand it at all. Was it colonialism? India was set back a century in its development by the benevolent Brits. South America is developing now only in spite of the overlord to the north. China hovers nearby and is mindful of its borders, as are all countries. Those so unfortunate as to be border states often get caught in crossfire.
Nepal I has gone through monarchies and repression, and now has some form of democratic rule, but most of what I see for commerce is tourism. Our waiter last night has a bachelor’s degree from Great Britain, and wants someone to sponsor him so that he an pursue a masters in the US. That sort of thing, knowing that he’s back in Katmandu waiting tables, is disheartening. Young people need hope, and I’m just an idealist, but I don’t see a lot of hope here. I just don’t understand things well enough. They valley is lush. Once there were tribes and farmers and what had to be a wonderful way of life. How does this happen? It’s just a wickedly poor and dirty Asian city.
But there are people here who want that to change – doctors and teachers and dedicated public servants. The infrastructure is very complex, so much so that one doctor I read suggest that they merely move the city and shut this part down. It would be cheaper to build a new one than to rebuild the old one.
My sleep clock is messed up, and I’m waking up at 2:30 fully rested, trying to hang on at night so that I sleep later in the morning. Feeling very much like an American here, in a hotel with a guard at the entrance. Food is very spicy, much rice and chicken. Beer is surprisingly good, and with the Trekkers and Sherpas on the bottle is obviously made with tourists in mind. We are worried about picking up a bug, and the most likely source would be food, and not water, so we cannot sample street vendors though the food is probably very good. Had a cold shower yesterday and again just now. They ask us to preserve water, and it must take ten minutes for hot water to arrive. I haven’t waited that long. Just bit the bullet. Man, these Nepalese are tough!
People are friendly, and even the motorcycles and drivers constantly honking at one another are not short-tempered. That’s just how they drive over here, using short blasts to warn one another that they are there. If a blast lasts longer than an instant, someone might be mad. Haven’t yet encountered any of that American-style road rage.