Kathmandu is full of places to eat, shop, visit, and my favorite- people watching. Last week, I went into the city intent on seeing the sites and to practice my Nepali. So I started in Thamel [the touristy part of Kathmandu] and I went to the Palace. Nepal is no longer a monarchy- about 20 years ago there was a royal massacre The only surviving royal was the King’s nephew- He was convinced to abdicate and Nepal is a kind of democracy– democratic bent toward elected communism. So the palace is now a national museum. So I go to go in- and then realize that the palace is closed on mondays and tuesday- and it being a tuesday it was closed- I was kinda disappointed. I was ready for history.
[side note: I went back the next day and toured the place. It was so random- the guest bedrooms were bigger than the King and Queen’s
suites. They had pictures of countries from all over the world coming to visit the country…guess who never came. Not one visit from the US- kinda bummed I didn’t recognize anyone but the Queen of England. It was decorated in 70s style- geometrical shapes, boxy chairs, and I swear I saw shag carpet. However, there were some cool parts- they had this polar bear rug with the head and paws still attached- that thing was huge. I saw atleast 4 tigers. I am just saying- the only tigers I want to meet need to be dead or in a cage. The throne room was
huge- like 60 foot ceilings- it was by far the most impressive thing. The banquet hall which was outside of the palace- where the royal massacre happened was actually torn down. The people of Nepal decided to tear down the whole building. Might of been a little dramatic…]
So I decided to walk down the markets where the Nepalis actually shop and not the foreigners and to visit all of the temples in the ares. I think I bit off more than I could chew because
was a little advantageous because there were like 20 within a couple mile perimeter, but one must make the most of the opportunities. I love just walking through the streets, there is so much to see. However, I soon learned that a single foreigner walking is prey to every shopkeeper and street talker- so I had to put in my headphones to be left alone. And it worked, for 5 minutes. Then this guy approaches and takes out my earbud- scares the crap out of me- and then starts talking to me about the temple I am looking at. Instantly leary that I am going to have to pay for this history lesson, I tell him I a poor visitor who can’t pay him for
his tour and I just want to wander around- it only took me 20 minutes to convince him he was wasting his time. Visited Kathmandu Dubar Square- it is the home of a couple religious shrines and the kumari. The square normally charges like 10 bucks to walk through- somehow I got through for free- I felt proud.
The Kumari story is a mix of the scary and sad. So the kumari is a little girl that lives in this religious shrine house- she is chosen young and stays
until she reaches maturity. Then they pick another one. She is thought to be a representation of a deity- so she is lucky for the city to have. So when a new kumari is needed- they first have to fill all these requirements- she is from a certain family, a certain age- and when they find a child that fits these requirements- she is tested. From what this cab driver told me- during a festival, in which like 100 buffaloes and goats are sacrificed she is taken to the square and released to the courtyard and she has to spend the night by herself with the heads and the blood. Men are masked and move around the courtyard. She can’t show any sign of fear or cry. If she passes then she lives in the Kumari house until she reaches maturity. From then on she lives in that house, worshipped by people and asked for prosperity and luck.