One thing has to be clear already from the beginning: Kathmandu is not even remotely possible to describe in words. Take this morning, for instance.
At six o clock the show begins. A cow says «Mouuuuuuuhhhhh» from somewhere close to our bedroom window; we don´t know from where, she could be virtually anywhere, since cows are holy and therefore can move around as they please. Even if it is in the middle of the road during rush hour, in a football field or in some poor farmers corn field. My nepali friends tell me they can do nothing about the cows, they just have to stop whatever they are doing and pray. «Because she is our god» they say and laugh with a big grin on their faces.
Anyway, the next thing we have before us is the entry of the bells. This also happens every morning. Our neighbours are praying for their families´ life and health while sacrificing some flowers and may be rice and burning some oil, maybe also incense. Women here pray a lot for their husbands, especially during different festivals when they were red tika on the forehead and red bracelets which also has to do with their husbands´ fortune. I don´t know if hindu husbands pray for their wives, I was told not to ask hindu men this question… I was also told that some women for different reasons need to pray extra for their husbands. Domestic violence, alcohol abuse and sexual harrasment are common news here. It really is a mans´ world, at least for the time being. But things may change. At least in Kathmandu these days so many girls are getting the same education as the boys.
Ok, so we are still in bed, listening to the cow and the bells. Suddenly we hear a familiar voice which kind of resembles the one of Donald Duck (if you have seen the old Donald Duck movies). The voice belongs to one of the local salesmen on bike, performing his morning round in our neighbourhood, just as he does every day. My nepali is insufficient to understand what he is saying, but it goes something like: «Potatoes, corn, rice, tomatoes and bananaaaaa. Potatoes, corn, rice, tomatoes and bananaaaaa.» Over and over again in a singing voice. This man is only one of several guys who moves around on bike with a big basket full of different groceries. (Why he is twisting is voice I don’t know.) We can buy all kinds of stuff from our balcony in the morning: blankets, skarfs, vegetable, fruit, melons, mango, cucumber, toys, bracelets, drums, spices and I don´t know what.
At this point children are climbing out of their floor mattress beds and going out to play. Loudly. Two of them starts to pick a fight, and it all ends in screaming and crying. Suddenly we hear a big roar. Kristoffer, our ten months old son, has just woken up and wants to be with his parents. After some negotiations, one of us stumble out of bed, mourning. After a while I suddenly remember something and run over to the biggest window, just in case. Every day now it is getting easier to get a glimpse of the impressive Himalayan peaks through the monsoon fog.
In the evening after eight o clock, when Kristoffer has fallen to sleep and it is coal black outdoors, we gasp at Star Movies, enjoy the last chocolate from our local «Pasal» (import from India), and agree that it has just been another perfect day in the green Valley of Kathmandu.
Kathmandu, August 2004Annonser