Random facts about Nepal

1. People in Nepal like to squat. Everyone is squatting: kids squat in mud making pies; old men squat by the road watching passing traffic and smoking; women squat doing laundry, beating rice, cooking and sometimes just chit chatting with neighbors. I’m not gonna go that far to say that even stray dogs squat in Nepal, but I am pretty sure there might be a dog squatting right now somewhere in Kathmandu.

The whole squatting deal looks pretty comfortable so I tried it myself on a couple of occasions. I can claim with certainty it’s not as easy as it looks. My knees got sore pretty soon and I had to crawl to the nearest chair to manage to get myself up and standing again. I am impressed by the flexibility of Nepali people.

2. Nepalis congregate for no apparent reasons at most odd times. All it takes is for someone to stop in the middle of the road and with great interest look in any one direction. Pretty soon another person will stop, and another, and another… and they will all look in the same direction attentively. It won’t be long before cars start stopping and the traffic jam forms. Ladies coming back from the market will drop their bags and run to the crowd to see what is going on. Suddenly a traffic officer will come to deal with the traffic jam, but will instead join the crowd looking at … well, nothing really.

Old guys squatting by the road will make comments on the thing that everyone is looking at, shaking their heads in disbelief and blaming everything on politics. At this point everyone is looking in the same direction, pointing and wooing and wowing, when there’s really nothing there. The group disperses only when couple soldiers come to deal with the traffic jam situation.

3. It’s not a secret that public transportation in Kathmandu is beyond any foreigners’ comprehension. That system (if it even exists) is impossible for me to understand. There are buses, micro buses, rickshaws… and they all have one thing in common: they drive like maniacs with no apparent routes, stops, or schedules. However, even more than the systems itself, I am fascinated by the embellishments on the vehicles. Big buses are usually very colorful with a ton of knick-knacks hanging from every mirror, and a kid’s shoe (Yes, that’s right!) from the back of the bus.

These are only a tourist attraction at Durbar Square in Kathmandu. They cannot really be seen on the roads of the city

These are only a tourist attraction at Durbar Square in Kathmandu. They cannot really be seen on the roads of the city

Micro buses are the really interesting ones though. In essence those are simple white, I’d say 12-seater, vans. All of them bear a certain message on the back. Sometimes it’s a quote from an American movie or a song, or the name of a singer or a band from the 70s. Sometimes though, they have very educational messages on them, clearly intended for population control, such as the one I saw on my last trip to Nepal: I’m a virgin. One mistake, game over.

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