The wingtips tilted and straightened as we descended into the sprawling valley. For many this was a destination, but for me it seemed more of a homecoming. The view from the window brought on a flood of memories. The city had most definitely grown, but the sprawling cubelike houses remained. The nearest buildings provided a prismatic palette of varying colors, interspersed by the remaining few fluorescent rice paddies. The farther I looked down the valley, the more the colors merged into a hazy brown representation of urban sprawl.
The wheels touched down, and I breathed the increasingly familiar sigh of relief that anyone with a fear of flying can relate to. Tribhuvan Airport had not changed in the 13 years since I had been here. It retained it’s rusty, red brick facade, and decommissioned planes sat idly on the side of the terminal, attracting the ever-present Kathmandu dust. A series of signs espousing the unique natural and cultural aspects of Nepal lined the hallways leading to immigration. As I turned the last corner, a bolder sign read “Things move at a different speed in Nepal, slow down and relax.”. This was the perfect sentiment, as the line I faced for immigration was both snakelike and stationary. I heeded the sign’s advice and wore a somber smile of acceptance.
After an hour I finally received the blue and yellow sticker in my nearly full passport. I quickly snatched my bag from the luggage carousel and made my way outside. I was greeted by a person I had missed and thought of for years. My little brother Swayambhu was now a grown man, but the smile and soft eyes that greeted me remained the same. We exchanged hugs and greetings and I graciously received the ubiquitous welcome gift of a Kata (A billowing white cloth placed around the neck as a sign of welcome and respect). Having not seen eachother in so many years, we were both a bit unsure of what to talk about first. Questions of family and life in our respective countries were discussed, and we were soon making plans to go out and party that night. My brother!
I had heard that the traffic in Kathmandu had grown exponentially worse. What was previously chaotic, was still chaotic with a few more cars thrown in for good measure. We soon reached our destination in the Sanepa area of Kathmandu. Without delving too much into family history, I’ll suffice to say I received the most sincere and heartfelt welcome to a home I had been absent from for so many years. Barat Suwal, my godfather, how I had missed him. I was quickly ushered to the 5th floor patio, site of so many past Pujas and celebrations. Small talk remained small, and large questions of philosophy and happiness soon dominated our conversation. We both came to the conclusion that our families had been blessed by some unspoken force, and the fact we were again sitting face to face was the best thing that could be occurring at this very moment. The tea let off it’s steam, and while we waited for it to cool, our conversation drifted into a content silence. I was home again, and no words were necessary to affirm this fact.
Swayambhu came upstairs and asked if I was hungry. I already knew this was code for “let’s go out on the town”. I was tired after the day of travel, but readily agreed. We headed into Thamel, which is the tourist, nightlife hub of Kathmandu. Getting out of the taxi, I immediately remembered my time spent here, and had no trouble finding my sense of direction. Home again. My brother led me up a narrow staircase, into a psychedelic space with huge mural of Jimi Hendrix surrounded by pot leaves. I stopped for a moment to appreciate that this was the exact type of place i would have been hanging out in at 22. The night progressed quickly. Tequila and amazing live music amplified our already happy mood. I’ll let this picture speak for itself.
I awoke blurry eyed to an extremely loud rainstorm. My cognitive senses took a few seconds to register the sunlight beaming onto the carpet below the foot of my bed. The sound of rain was extremely loud, and I was now thoroughly confused. I neandered outside of the 5th floor bedroom door and noticed the sound was confined to a few square meters of rooftop directly above my head. I ascended the next flight of stairs to see Barat feeding hundreds of pigeons on the fiberglass awning above my bedroom. The sound of rain was in fact the pigeons feet on the thin fiberglass. Barat handed me the bowl of dry rice and I began tossing it to the happy pigeons. “I’ve been doing this every morning for many years, now they come from all over the city for breakfast.” As I soon came to learn, the pigeons would gather on the rooftop and wait for Barat’s arrival every morning.
Apologies to my followers for the long gap between updates. For all the magic and enjoyment Kathmandu provided, it proved nigh on impossible to update the site due to very slow internet speeds. That being said