Tuesday, November 18, 2014

Bhaktapur: turning back the wheel of time...

Arriving in Bhaktapur felt like traveling back in time. In order to avoid the ridiculous 15 USD entrance fee to the Unesco World Heritage site that the city of Bhaktapur represents we walked past the main entrance and entered town through little alleys that took us into small courtyards and we continued to zigzag through even smaller passages until we arrived in the center of Bhaktapur.
Whilst the main squares are lined with tourist shops and restaurants, you discover a true glimpse of Nepali life once you walk down a little alley away from the tourist hub.

You find women tending to the their children, doing laundry, stitching or turning over the grains to let them dry. Old men sit together to chat or play games in the shade. Children are running around, laughing. A peaceful atmosphere reigns, no car horns, no engines. 
The red brick houses are covered in a layer of dust, giving the whole place a touch of antiqueness, like a living-history museum of long past decades. However, you witness true Newari culture and tradition in this old city of kings and princes. 

It was one of my last days in Nepal but some of the most inspiring and humble encounters took place in this beautiful town. While walking around Durbar square, I spotted a group of women peeling some fruit that looked very similar to a pomelo. When asking about the fruit, they gestured to me to sit down to join them and they handed me a few slices of the freshly peeled fruit. Some of them spoke a little English so I asked what they were doing with all the fruit and they explained they were preparing a dish involving chili and custard. At first, I didn't quite understand it, but they made me stay until they had prepared the meal and then served me the mouth-burningly spicy dish on a little piece of newspaper. I tried my very best to finish my portion, drinking about a liter of water to get it down, attracting a lot of attention and laughter of a big crowd of Nepali people. 
It was such a nice moment though, to just sit with them, eat and laugh. 

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