Kathmandu

tit for tatoo

Posted by admin on April 07, 2016
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An artist tattoos a visitor during the 6th International Tattoo Convention in Kathmandu, Nepal, April 3, 2016. More than 150 artists from different countries and regions take part in the convention which runs from April 1 to April 3. Sunil Sharma

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The Turkish Connection: What Kathmandu can learn from Istanbul?

Posted by admin on March 01, 2015
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Ferry ride in Bosphorus, Istanbul

Looking at the Galata Tower from the Bosphorus straits in Istanbul, the part of my mind given to making comparisons reminded me of Kathmandu’s Dharahara. Both are nine-story tall (Galata stands at 66.9 m, just a little taller than Dharahara’s 61.8 m). Dharahara, also called Bhimsen Tower, was Kathmandu’s tallest structure when it was built in 1832, and so was the conical-shaped Galata when it was constructed in 1348. And both towers command a huddle of tightly-packed houses and buildings in the heart of the respective cities.

Though Kathmandu’s Dharahara cannot match the architectural splendor of Galata Tower, the likeness between the two cities of antiquity doesn’t end here.

To start with, writers and poets sometimes invoke Kathmandu’s  historical names – “Kantipur” and “Kasthamandup” – to call to mind the city’s former beauty while Istanbul could be referred to by many as “Constantinople”. (The Istanbul guide book I was carrying mentioned a certain Lale Pudding Shop at Divanyolu neighborhood, calling it the“fabled halfway point to Kathmandu of 60’s hippie lore”). And if Kathmandu is the City of Gods with hundreds of beautiful temples, shrines, stupas and monasteries in ancient city squares, palaces, narrow alleyways, and street corners  Istanbul is the City of Mosques. The first thing that strikes visitors to this city are the imposing, visually stunning domes and edifices of mosques which dot the city. The former imperial city that served as the capital of four empires – Megarian, Roman, Byzantine, and Ottoman, making it the crossroads of various civilisations –  has altogether 3,113 mosques, minarets and madrashas. Continue reading…

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A House in the City

Posted by admin on January 13, 2015
KathmanduWalks / No Comments

A festive musical procession passess by a traditional house in an old quarter of Kathmandu.

‘WHERE ARE YOU ORIGINALLY FROM? Where is your home?’ These are Nepali questions you usually encounter in friendly, jovial dinner parties and wedding receptions in Kathmandu when a newly acquainted person tries to make break ice.

If the questioner is an elderly, he or she will ask you about the community, the caste you belong to, and your mool ghar in an attempt to learn more about your ancestral home.

And if you don’t blow them off by giving one word responses, even though such personal questions make you want to be brusque, this will almost always lead to another question: ‘You have a house in Kathmandu?’

Most Nepalis aspire to build a house in the capital. It is a benchmark through which Nepalis gauge the financial status of their countrymen. It is indeed a cultural quirk, which can perhaps be explained by a scene in Samrat Upadhyay’s novel, ‘The Guru of Love’, in which the protagonist is hounded by his in-laws for not owning a house in Kathmandu.

‘You must build a house, Ramchandra babu,’ they said to him at family gatherings. ‘Without a house of one’s own in this city, it doesn’t matter what you do.’ Continue reading…

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Time traveling

Posted by admin on January 09, 2015
CitiSights, KathmanduWalks, OtherCities, OtherWorlds / 1 Comment

Grand Bazaar, Istanbul

Our Turkish guide said she moved back to Istanbul after breaking up with her boyfriend
To a friend of mine walking beside her, and I mutely followed their conversation
These three ladies, now ahead of me, walking close together, stopping for shopping, conversing, laughing, window-browsing in the thriving streets of the Grand Bazaar
Blah blah blah blah.. I wanted to start a new life, our guide said, blah blah blah… perhaps also allow him to forget…

The covered market illuminated with yellow lights from rows of shops selling carpets, jewellery; dealers of silk, shoes, Turkish bric-a-brac drinking tea
Stretched and stretched, charming my mind into its groove, transporting me many years back
A sweaty boy accompanying his mother, aunt and cousin sisters during the elaborate festive shopping spree in Ason
Carrying bags of merchandise, foodstuffs, trailing behind the ladied who strut around in evening bazaar bustle Continue reading…

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