Life in this city is not easy, difficulties with public transport, fewer buses and micros in bad conditions, plus dusty and bumpy roads – as the government does not bother to pavement them or maintaining the few good ones- makes daily life a struggle. Adding to that, non-existing sidewalks, means we all need to negotiate a portion of the road, with cars, trucks, out of control motorbikes, sleeping dogs, mad dogs and cows!
However, since my arrival in Kathmandu and despite the harsh conditions, I am in awe of the kindness and peaceful mood all around the city. Last week I dropped my wallet with all my credit cards, driving license and money when leaving a taxi, but lucky me, in there I had the details of a local friend, so the driver contacted my friend, and the next day he brought it to my house (everything was there!) On more than one occasion, after unsuccessfully negotiating a taxi, the moment I let them go, I had been asked by people on motorbikes, where I want to go and they had offered me a ride, never accepting money, despite my insistence, , always smiling and saying “no, thanks, you are a guest in our country”. Every time I adventure into a crowded micros or tuck-tuck, it is so much fun! I notice that people are always pleasant to each other, sometimes they look at me with curiosity, and start a loud, vivid conversation, resulting in a man standing up offering me his seat. The ride normally ends up with the whole crowd, knowing where I am from, my age and how many kids, I have (Nepalese people always ask your age and your family status as a way to start a conversation) Observing the etiquette in the public transport is fascinating, in the place where normally two people will seat, there would be four giggling a lot, as some serious “readjustment” needs to be done (there is a “ride-conductor”, he orchestrates the space, and collect the money – see video ). Locals standing up also need to hold onto the lucky ones that found a seat, so they politely ask, before proceeding to grasp the nearest arm for the rest of the ride and off we go, 25 people instead of its 12 seat capacity. Another interesting ritual, is that without asking, people sitting down, instinctively grab the handbags and shopping bags of the ones hanging outside the micro, or standing up, placing it on their lap. (I can only imagine back in Europe, if a stranger without asking you grab your handbag in the bus!). Twice now my fare had been paid by locals, also saying that I am a guest here, so my heart goes into total meltdown for Nepali people (when I know they can hardly afford their own bus fare). I have seen babies being passed around, to find the person with the best seat, so that person can hold onto it while mum´s hangs by the door (hardly any baby cries, they are little clever creatures, they know Nepali´s people adore babies!).
Another sign of Nepalese’s kindness is that I had been invited to three weddings so far, only because I was taking pictures and asking curious relatives approaching me, which part of the ceremony were they performing (will explain in the next post, as the weddings here are complex affair). They are always happy to introduce me to their large group of relatives, but they are all called brother or sister, leaving me quite confused….
Pure kindness are the right words to describe Nepal, I wish everybody once in their lifetime could come here, and experience it, because it will truly enrich your life´s experience and put everything into the right perspective.