Katmandu is a place I return to. Even the first time I was
here, in January 1968, it felt foreign and familiar at the
same time. They tell me the self awakening to itself is like
Really foreign: the streets were hard mud, the old wood buildings were faced with highly carved and painted facades. Really familiar: so familiar I could have never left and not noticed.
Traveling was by foot or pedicab. Both are still available but taxis rule. The streets are mostly paved, the facades are mostly gone. Colorfully powdered shrines with their resident god in stone or bronze are everywhere in the old town and temples in the Newari style are as numerous as hotels.
Each day I say to myself: "I'm going to take it easy today, my body is complaining". Then I leave the hotel, start walking, and wind up back six hours later, with another hundred and twenty photos, footsore and exhausted. Invariably, I'm assailed by shop owners and their touts multiple times each minute, by autos and their horns as often, offered tiger balm, bamboo flutes, and marijuana by every third person I pass. Although Katmandu altitude is reasonable, breathing isn't - petrol was limited this visit so there were way fewer cars on the road; that didn't seem to improve the air quality. What matters most is that I'm in the lap of the Himalayas and so is everybody.
Photos in the nepal 2015 gallery are defined by the people, temples, statues, and streets as they are now. There is, however, the undercurrent of absence, notably Vatsala Durga Temple in Bhaktapur. Beauty and wonder are untouched, but a jewel in the setting is lost: whatever they're discussing, the expression of the man in the red jacket in royal square, bhaktapur, seems to speak to the status of the base over the other man's right shoulder.
The journals I prepared in real time and emailed along with three or four photos to a few friends can be read, slightly edited, here.