I have been in Nepal for a week now, and continue to be simultaneously overstimulated and calmed by the flush of color and noise surrounding me. As much as I would like to list every little thing I have seen and done, I know this is impossible from an internet cafe in Pokhora. Instead, I will list a few highlights:
- Everything and everyone I see is colorful. People wear splashes of pigment on their foreheads, between the parts of their hair. Women wear scarves and dresses beaded with sequins. Neighborhood shrines dot the landscape, embellished with gold and red flowers, rice, and pigment. Babies wear eye makeup to make them "ugly" and unappealing to demons. Even the trucks and buses are completely covered with intricate designs -- hands folded in "Namaste" pose, Hindu gods, pictures of mountains, phrases to wish passers-by luck, Nepali flags. "Art" is utilitarian, spiritual, ubiquitous.
- I simply cannot imagine driving a car here. Technically cars drive on the left in Nepal, but I saw right away that this is more of a guideline than a rule. If traffic is bad, if there is a person walking alongside the road, if a cow gets in the way, if someone is going too slow for your liking . . . you just start driving on the right until on oncoming vehicle forces you to move. Yet somehow when I am in a vehicle I trust that the taxi or bus driver knows the system (or lack thereof) and am able to relax and enjoy the roller coaster.
- The physical geography of this country is gorgeous. Today we took a bus from Gorkha to Pokhara, passing mountains, valleys, lakes, rivers, precarious bridges, swings made of bamboo, grapefruits growing on trees, homes made of clay and tin and stone. Dotted throughout are plastic bottles, bags, and wrappers, a juxtaposition I am starting to become inured to.