Monday, May 07, 2012

"You show your worth by what you seek."

When you plant a tree
every leaf that grows will tell you,
what you sow will bear fruit.
So if you have any sense, my friend,
don’t plant anything but love.
You show your worth by what you seek.
 ~ Rumi

Prepare yourself, lovely readers. Today you'll see these photos from Kathmandu. Tomorrow you'll see photos from Bandipur, a spectacularly charming  village halfway between Kathmandu and Pokhara. And the next day, if you're still with me, I'll be posting a set of on-the-scene newsletters with unpublished photos from 2001, when Nepal's entire Royal family was gunned down by a drunken and grumpy prince. Or was he really the culprit? Riots, tear-gassed tourists (OK - one tear-gassed tourist,) intrigue and a nation in mourning. It's a good and tragic story.

The non-photographed drama from this trip to Kathmandu involved a group of drug-addled street youth. When I first came to Nepal in 1991 there were large numbers of street kids, begging, going through piles of garbage looking for food, and befriending well-intentioned tourists (like me) who didn't know enough to know that they didn't know enough to really help. Leftover meals might actually encourage these kids to stay away from home, or keep them from going to school, or put themselves in other types of street-life danger. The last few times I was here (2001 and 2003, most recently) the street kids appeared to be gone, and I thought the problem had been resolved. 

Well, they're back, in a big way. Jen and I were walking towards our hotel one evening and came across some filthy, rough-looking kids between about 15 and 20-ish. I stopped when I noticed they were handling crumpled money and spreading it out among themselves. It was dark, but I could see the oldest guy had a swollen cheek near his eye. The youngest kid said they needed money - "Look his eye! Look his eye! Cutting, cutting!" I pulled out my flashlight, reluctantly, and saw a deep gash, maybe 2 inches long, just near his eye, obviously needing stitches. The young kid kept showing me the blood and wound on his head, from the same attack, if you believe their story. If I'd had any sense I would have kept walking, but I don't. I was thinking about what I'd written about the leprosy volunteering - it's easy to not get involved, but it's tough to get involved a little. We told them we wouldn't give them any money, but we'd go with them to a hospital and pay for the doctor. These guys were so stoned they could hardly stand up. Mr. FaceGash was inhaling glue from a bag right in front of me until the young kid told him not to. They insisted on money, to no avail, and eventually agreed to the 20-minute walk to the hospital, with me and Jen in tow. Even stoned they walked twice as fast as me, and they disappeared into the crowd, coming back to find us and wandering off again. Jen was really trying to keep up, but I thought it was their job to stick with us, not the other way around. I'm not sure they saw it that way. 

Eventually the young one wandered off and didn't return, and then Mr. FaceGash indicated that he wasn't going to the hospital. We stood in the intersection and watched him stagger away. We waited for a while in case he changed his mind, and that was that.

As they say in Nepali, "ke garne," what to do...


In my world view, these women are stunning.

This woman seemed a little kooky, but she was SO happy to see her photo.

A beautiful, clear-faced boy holding his hands in the "namaste" position.

I think he's happy. It's hard to say.

Air pollution makes for nice sunsets, at least. The air's not as bad as I thought based on other's reports.

The burning ghats at Pashupatinath. Someone famous is being cremated in the center of the photo, based on the number of people who came to view the ceremony. We stood on the bridge directly above him and watched as they took off his clothing, stacked wood on and under his body, and lit the wood on fire.

Incredible stone carvings in the Pashupatinath complex.

I believe this is a Garuda, a mythical winged god who serves as Vishnu's mount.

Shiva lingams are lined up in small temples.

Another entry in the cute kid contest.

Twins and their friends.

A construction site, which you see all over Kathmandu. That's an older woman working in the front, wearing traditional dress and wearing construction flip-flops, most likely.

We're entering the ancient city of Bhaktapur.

This is not a zoo.

Inside a small temple in Bhaktapur.

I call this photo "A bird and stone dog-looking thing." Lyrical!

This man was making small clay pots by hand. Someone said he'd been doing this since he was 10 years old.

There are stunningly beautiful girls, of all ages, all over Nepal. Amazing.

This is Sona, who invited us into her grandmother's home. Such a sharp kid.

Nurses, maybe?

I started practicing shooting photos from the hip. This is one that I like.

You still see old men using this method of carrying loads. I haven't seen it so much with younger men.

Sunset at a traditional Nepali temple.

The vegetable market just down from our hotel.


A flower seller and her garlands.

Baby. Aged 25. Does he look like an adult, or is it just me?

Necklace sellers behind egg sellers. I love the colors.

A busy street scene at dusk.

When the exposure is long, people that are moving appear blurred like this. 

An unintended optical illusion. These are two different men, one deep inside the temple.

(The End)