28 April 2015

Nepal on film

When we visited Kathmandu in the summer of 2006, we still used film cameras. My brother had the beginnings of a moustache, and we had never set foot outside India. This holiday was thus deemed suitably special, if underwhelmingly so: we didn't need a visa or even a valid passport, and the landscape and people didn't miraculously transform as we crossed from one country into another. It all felt very neighbourly. Nepal had smiling people and pastel-hued vintage taxis with number plates in the familiar devanagiri script, and casinos for the common man (and woman and child). We tried our hand at baccarat, bought pendants of oxidised silver, saw temples and stupas and lush green valleys, and were forced to turn back en route to our destination at least twice due to unprecedented strikes and demonstrations that made our taxi driver nervous. I also fell ill on the last day.

As I felt the tremors here in Delhi, I was afraid - not for myself, but for the then unknown place(s) that had the misfortune of bearing the full force of such a powerful earthquake. Slowly, news began to pour in and we could only gaze helplessly as the death toll continued to rise and the places where I'd once stood were reduced to rubble. Friends and acquaintances wrote back to say that they were safe, but I also thought about the young man who had persuaded us to visit the little thangka school in Bhaktapur where he was a student, and the chef who whipped up the best cheese omelette, and even the monkeys lining the steps of Pashupatinath temple. I wonder if they're all okay.

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Patan Darbar Square

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Pashupatinath Temple

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En route to Nagarkot

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A statue in the Bhaktapur Durbar Square

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Bhaktapur

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Vatsala Durga Temple

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Nyatapola Temple, Bhaktapur



HOW TO HELP:

Donations (but do your research): Environment Support Group (Bangalore) | Uday Foundation (Delhi) | Goonj + InCrisisRelief | BitGiving | World Vision | GlobalGiving | Red Cross Nepal | UNICEF | Child Welfare Scheme (Hong Kong) | Save the Children | Oxfam | Medecins sans Frontieres

Follow: Relief for Nepal

Further reading: How not to help (also, don't abuse the Facebook 'safe' feature)

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