Katmandu is a city of temples. In the old city on every corner and down every street are shrines, stupas, temples, painted tree stumps, painted concrete stumps, pagodas, chaityas, and bahals. Every cross street is an occasion for a ring of sanctuaries of Ganesh, Shiva, Kali, Krishna, Saraswati, Avalokiteshvara, Varuna, Vishnu, Narayana, and a selection of many of the other Hindu divinities as well as a host of Buddhas.

Katmandu is also one of the most congested and polluted little cities on earth. On my last trip there, though, there was a three day strike, and many of the shops were closed and most of the vehicles were parked elsewhere. I wandered through the streets in the old Thamel section without fear of being broadsided or trampled or gassed. I stopped where ever and whenever I chose, to look more carefully than I had ever been able to look before. I saw things I had never noticed even though I had gone down these same streets many times. I caught natives staring at me because I stopped and they -- used to the many interruptions caused by political and social conflict -- went on about their activities without a halt.

I milled around the entrance of one temple, considering whether my presence inside would be permitted, until finally some friendly devotees indicated I should go in. The inside was very straightforward. The resident deity, possibly bronze, was in a center island, draped in flower garlands with flowers strewn all around, rupee notes and smaller denomination coins strewn all around, the air thick with incense, and a peaceful feeling permeating the environment. If I had to create a temple which would fulfill the needs of a seeker of god this is what I would come up with. All else is merely food for photography.