Views of Lazimpat

Views of Lazimpat, Kathmandu from the rooftop terrace of the apartments I’m staying in. Note the mountains, which are unusually clear, probably due to the slowdown of traffic following Tihar and the visit of Indian President Pranab Mukherjee with his Nepali counterpart, President Bidya Devi Bhandari, at the Sheetal Niwas (~White House).

You can see a little of the mix of urban and rural. However to fully appreciate that you need to walk the streets and back alleys.

Kathmandu city itself has about a million inhabitants, but the district and the valley hold several times that many. It’s an interesting mix of megacity (traffic, pollution, crowds) with country (dirt roads, poultry, open air living). I was awakened by roosters and a cat fight outside my window this morning. One can see cows lying in the middle of the densely traveled Ring Road.

In and around the Lazimpat Apartments.

Tihar preparations.

Some of the many thangkas on display.

Neighborhood shots.

My stay in Lazimpat, Kathmandu


Welcoming elephant

Those of us in the US could learn from Nepalis (and others, as well) about hospitality. Despite having far less in material resources, my host country for a seven week stay has been uniformly friendly, helpful, and generous.

I’ve seen this at the institutional level (King’s College has supplied me with an overly large and nice apartment in a convenient and pleasant area), among friends and colleagues, in shops or touristy places, and among people I meet on the street. Even the towel in my apartment is welcoming.

Lazimpat Apartment

Lazimpat Apartment, lit for the third day of Tihar

When I went for my first walk from the apartment, I heard some music and stopped to look. I was invited in to join the Rotaract Club of Pashupati-KTM, in their Tihar celebration. They asked me to dance with them, which I did in my clumsy way. Will that appear on their FB page?

This was an experience that can’t be captured in words or video, but confirmed my sense of being welcomed. There were many smiles and a lot of interest in who I was, but no pressure to explain myself or to interact in any way that didn’t feel comfortable.

Rangoli for Tihar

Rangoli for Tihar

I’ve regularly been invited to join family gatherings, garland making sessions, or just to chat. One Tihar party even came to me, just outside my window. You can hear a snipper of that one here: Tihar party in the garden

There is a new manager of Lazimpat Apartment, who started the day I arrived. He wants to make the otherwise international style apartment look more Nepali. He’s placing Thangkas in every sitting room. These are Tibetan Buddhist paintings, in this case, on cotton. They usually depict a deity, scene, or mandala. You can see below, some not-so-good photos of those in my apartment.