outdoor market with bags, jewelry, etc.

Nepal

Kathmandu (1994)

The four of us were mobbed at the airport (blessedly breezy after stifling Bangkok) by a horde of Nepali boys holding up placards for various guest houses, trying to grab our luggage and asking for money. We went with a guy from the Kathmandu Guest House, and six of us (the driver had a friend) and our four packs, plus, squished into a car that was minuscule to begin with. Liz and I spent the ride in hysterical laughter as we zoomed over dirt roads, past cows ambling along, dust flying in the windows, sitting practically on top of each other. There’s little regard for traffic rules here; people just honk their horns at animals and pedestrians and other cars and motorbikes alike, and speed right along.

The views out the car windows were like none I’d ever seen. The women are beautiful in their brightly colored saris, and the men are fairly ragged-looking. Shops are holes in the wall, literally, with no glass fronts or doors, and wares are displayed on crates and boxes and on the ground. Everything is for sale, including the ubiquitous little boys asking for money. Rikshaw rides, mangoes, Tibetan carpets, jewelry, clothes, Tiger Balm. The visitor’s senses are assaulted violently, from all sides.

As I write, a man’s voice, recorded, performing traditional Nepalese music, comes floating up to my hotel room from somewhere below.