The daily insanity or madhouse routine

Everybody spent time in countries like Nepal knows that urban management is not very famous and succesful, the buildings are built as space allowed, it doesn´t matter to block the neighbour window with a new house, some can be lucky if only a wall is blocking the view and not to face another window of a toilet or a kitchen, which will also change the view into a smell. It is not difficult to imagine that the sound scape is huge and this is not everybody cup of tea, but is enormous due to the echo caused to close buildings. One day I got woken up by a sound rarely heard in Nepal, a vacuum cleaner! Yes, I haven´t seen many of those here, and I think it is ok if those garments will be took place but WTF why the neighbours of our hotel need to clean their floor at 5.30 in the morning??? Also talking shouting as they are fighting (no worry they are not, only chatting). Thats how Kathmandu is like, especially Thamel, the notorious tourist quarter, narrow roads, packed with hustlers, taxis, beggars and stray dogs (I suppose they ´cleaned´ the roads from the streetkids and dogs, don´t know where they were send to…), rickshaws, cows and thousands of tourist (its peak season now) of all schemes. Here meet the holidaymakers wearing the latest trekking/ climbing gear (if finished their trek/ climb already dressed up with shirts displaying their achieves), that wannabe and neo hippies searching for the good old days which are long gone, the backpackers on their lifetime adventure in fisherman trouser their ticket home in the pocket and those longterm traveller think they´ve seen it all. All those types of tourist have one in common, they have to face the daily madness in the streets. Nobody is immune from all that vendors trying to sell anything and nothing, from Hashish to Tigerbalm, flutes (I´m missing that albino vendor selling his flutes always telling he remembers me), chess games, postcards, trekking tours and whatever (I won´t judge them, that’s how they make their living and simply try to survive and also need to commit it improved in the last years, nowadays it might be possible to walk 5 meters till the next whisper offering such goods).The biggest change I just recognized is the massive amount of policemen strolling around Thamel, but that´s not a reason to improve the traffic situation at all, it´s getting even worse. Those streets are simply not designed for motorized traffic, but nobody cares, all need to be pushed through with an omnipresent noise mixed with engines crying for the next inspection and the sound of the signal horns, shouting out who´s coming. At rush hours, which is most of the day the streets are so packed that even pedestrians switch to slalom racers trying not to be hit. Fortunately Nepal is an early to bed country with not a nightlife scene like other countries, so by around midnight the background sound decrease, there only the dogs are howling, police cars moving with sirene and sometimes become an ear-witness of the family fight next door. But all this is forgotten if someone got a new hi-fi system and using them all night long without knowing the volume button is for.

The other day we went for occasion to Bouddha the main Tibetan quarter in Kathmandu and later on we went by a micro to a relative house in the outskirts of Kathmandu. As we get used to the crazy public transport mostly using to get around town. The transportation system in Kathmandu is one of the worst I´ve ever seen, packed with dozen and dozen other people in small vehicles, called micro busses (mini vans designed for public transport), tuk tuks (looking like cans on wheels) and whatever no system or organisation is visible but somehow we always managed to get to our destination (simply I don´t know how). Inside those vehicles any foreigner is exposed to the driver skills, crimped inside with dozen of  other people sharing a seat created for two with four or more. But here someone will get a glimpse of the real Nepal most tourist simply never see.

But this is what Kathmandu feels like, like a huge mad house, but isn´t this a reason for coming back again and again. I think so! Because this is real, not a plastic society the law and order developed in western countries.


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nilam e.V.

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November 2011
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