27.10.2013 25 °C
Kathmandu is one of those cities that quite literally, takes your breath away. Every aspect of life,as well as death,is contained within this relatively small city. With 1.7 million people living here, it is by far the biggest concentration of the population. Nepalese from all over the country are attracted here to make their fortune, or not, as the case may be. Tragically, it also includes at least 1500 children,abandoned by their parents, who make their way here to live on the streets of the city.
It's easy to see why they come. The city is busy, it bustles with traffic and the movement of people, all finding some way of making a living. Selling, buying, making,,praying and begging can all be found within a few meters of each other. God's are everywhere. Temples of every shape and size mingle with multitudes of shops,crammed together.
To walk the streets, is an overwhelming experience. Car horns blare, human noise ,in surround sound with the volume turned up. Smells of waste and spices, joss sticks burning brighter than in the sixties and seventies. Bicycle taxis, thread their way down narrow streets avoiding cars,dogs and people in their thousands. Human delivery "trucks" with ridiculous loads piled high on their backs. It is exhausting and exciting at the same time.
Part of the experience can be shocking to our western eyes. There is no safety net for the poor or sick. They are left to beg. Women and children, as in many parts of the world,are the hardest hit. Widows, the orphaned or abandoned, without family support have no where to turn but the streets. To give to everyone would take more money than we have and in any case all the advice states that this is not the solution. Give to organisations that support, rather than to individuals. Still, it is very difficult to ignore those so desperately in need. Certainly, our western definition of poor does not apply here.
Above all else, our best experience so far,has been the people. Despite the hectic city there is a sense of calm and gentleness in people. They have a quiet and serene way of going about their business, whatever that might be. It seems to be infectious with every minute we are here. Perhaps it's karma.