Day #3: Thamel

 

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It’s 17:20 and I’ve just felt another one. Quite strong, though short. As it usually happens since the April 25th. As if a giant creature stepped somewhere in the neighbourhood. Couldn’t see that giant monster. Nobody can see it, but everyone feels its frightening presence. There was no day without a tremor since that big bad shake.

Today I went to see some places dear to me: Swayambhunath, Boudhanath and Durbar Square.

Swayambhunath, or the Monkey Temple, lost one tower and you are not allowed to go inside. The place is protected by the police. May be even the monkeys are not allowed.

Down at the entrance, where the beautiful painted gate is still standing, a large crowd was celebrating Vesak or Buddha Day, the first full moon day of May when – it is said – the Buddha was born, attained enlightenment at the age of 35 and died at the age of 79. Monks, lamas, sadhus, beggars, chants, pujas, curd, ice cream, balloons, beggars and taxi drivers. And very hot.

Boudhanath faced the earthquake with great dignity. A few cracks in the hemisphere of the stupa and some small visible damages at the top. Someone told me that the eyes of the Buddha are sad these days.

A tent was built near by, for people to rest. I don’t know what kind of people, because nobody lost their houses in that area. Or may be a new trend is emerging in Nepal: living in tents. Much safer, considering that another powerful earthquake can happen here at anytime. Falling tents never killed people like falling buildings or temples with many stories.

Durbar Square suffered the most. This once beautiful place was totally disfigured. Here, as well, the police forbids people to enter, allowing the rescuers and cleaning squads to work effectively.

I walked the narrow streets of Thamel saddened by the many historical buildings that collapsed taking lives with them and very mindful of the damaged ones about to fall. I stopped to eat a delicious pizza at Roadhouse Cafe, then returned to my room at Imperial Guest House. On the way back, I saw many shops still closed, but also many open. I passed by the rickshaws and the rickshaws passed by me, I was approached by drug dealers and beggars and sadhus, I was invited in restaurants, I was harassed by the taxi drivers.

Life in Thamel is slowly coming back to normal, although the terror of another visit of the invisible giant is high. But knowing perhaps that everything can vanish in an instant makes it all more vivid, tastier, enjoyable. Makes it all more alive.

Life goes on in Thamel and we’re going along with it.