In the aftermath of the devastating earthquakes in Nepal I think it’s quite easy to forgot the seemingly small parts that make of the beauty and mystery of Kathmandu and the rest of the country. Heritage buildings that stood the test of time in most cases have crumbled and are now mere piles of rubble and dust. These of course are gems, examples of the great Newari architecture. Some of the these buildings especially the Durbar Squares of Kathmandu, Patan, and Bhakatapur were some of the best preserved buildings in all of South Asia.
What sometimes is lost or forgotten during these natural disasters that literally destroy the history or heritage of cities are the individuals that breathe life into these places. They are grouped into the suffering, or the total loss of life which is reported.
I’m talking about the people you saw every time you walked around the streets of Kathmandu. Maybe you’ve only had one chance so far to make a trip to Nepal but I bet some of your best memories aren’t the buildings.
Maybe it was the shopkeeper that gave you some South Asian hospitality you’ve never experienced before. With folded hands bowed slightly he said Namaste as you left his shop or restaurant. Ever since then you’ve been using it as a way to say hello or goodbye to your dearest friends, always remembering that encounter. Or the juice man that topped your glass up after you had your first couple of sips.
I’ve always looked forward to seeing the Sadhus when I make my annual trip to the country. I don’t even know if the ones that greet me on the streets of Thamel or Durbar Square are actually real Sadhus or just tourist Sadhus but it really doesn’t matter to me. They make me happy when I see them. Their spirit is precious and to me they along with the rest of the large mix of castes and ethnic groups are the real treasures of this beautiful country. May God keep them safe for us all.
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