Another excellent visit from an old friend of mine from UCSD! His visit can be summarized in three parts — historic tourist sites, relaxed family time, and meeting new friends. First, I’ll tell you a bit about him…
Dinesh and I met over 15 years ago while I was an undergraduate at UCSD and he was working in San Diego after completing his Bachelors at UC Berkeley. We had the same group of friends back then and routinely frequented the same restaurants, beach spots, and friends’ living rooms. Over the years, we kept in touch and meet every few years in NC or California. He has been working in Asia for the past 4 years and made an extended weekend trip to Kathmandu before shifting his career back to California. He is insightful, entrepreneurial, kind and genuine.
We visited 3 main sites of historical and cultural significance. Patan Darbar Square was the religious, cultural and political center of Patan centuries ago. Now it is the main tourist site in southern Kathmandu (Patan) and has numerous temples in a variety of styles – Newari, Pagoda, and the South Indian style too. Our guide shared tidbits of current and historical information such as: Patan is known for its metal works; 108 animals are sacrificed within the temple grounds during the Dussera / Dashain festival in October; the profile of the 2-tiered Pagoda style temple resembles the shape of the current Nepali flag ; the healing bowl is made of 7 metals and can be used for massage, relaxation and therapy.
We also toured the Narayanhiti Palace in Kathmandu. The 2001 Royal Massacre occurred in this palace. Shortly after the monarchy fell as a result of the revolution, the King was asked to leave the palace and Nepal was declared a republic. A few years later, the Palace was converted into a museum. Inside, lavish interiors including furniture, paintings, animal skins / heads, wall paper and fine china can be found within the numerous rooms — bedrooms, lounges, libraries, banquet halls, entertainment halls, and tea rooms. Outside, expansive gardens cover acres and acres of land within the massive plot outlined by a tall cement wall. Previously it was grand and well manicured, yet currently it is poorly maintained… Photography is strictly prohibited (they collected all belongings and frisked us before we could enter!) so no photos.
Last element of historical significance from this weekend was a visit to a popular tourist destination just east of Kathmandu. Bhaktapur is a small village with narrow alleys, several temples, large community squares and billions of bricks! All surfaces seemed to be made of bricks – houses, temples and all roadways too! Our guide showed us a paper making factory, wood carving workshop, and the tallest temple in Nepal. The kids were troopers on the ~3 mile walking tour throughout Bhaktapur. We ended the tour with a sampling of juju dhau, sweet yogurt, a specialty of the village.
A unique element of friends visiting us in Kathmandu is the quantity and quality of time we get together! Traveling the long way to this corner of the globe necessitates staying for longer than a weekend (4 days for Dinesh). And we are the only family that our guests know in the area, so we get their undivided time and attention! This is a HUGE difference from the typical visits with long-distance friends back home — catching a quick lunch while rushing through Southern California, attempting to visit half a dozen other friends before the weekend is over! Quality time with the family and Dinesh was very relaxing and enjoyable… Tossing the Frisbee around in the courtyard, playing board games after school, helping Janani complete her WW2 term project, chatting up on the terrace, exposing the kids to laser tag in the local mall and going through old photos from our previous visits together.
The last significant element of Dinesh’s visit was two unique, entertaining gatherings with new friends! Our five-some plus Dinesh joined two other families for the Germany-USA World Cup match. Caleb, Emily and their boys (family who builds the Portal long-tail bicycles) and another couple, Geoff and Momo, who works with the American Embassy in KTM rounded out our group. At 9:45pm (yes, crazy late for the kids!), we went to a local restaurant to show support for our home team – we were hugely outnumbered! Even though we lost, watching a sports event televised from South America with dozens of Europeans and North Americans in the middle of Asia was awesome!
Prakash’s boss hosted a potluck for their work group that our five-some plus Dinesh also attended. What an enjoyable evening — a variety of delicious menu items, children bubbling around sharing their colorful personalities, beautiful foothill views from the garden, picture-perfect picnic weather, instrumental and vocal musical entertainment, and even a small volleyball game!
All in all, an incredibly fun, relaxing and enjoyable visit :-). Imagining your visit to Kathmandu?!? I hope so…
By the way, MOVING DAY is tomorrow! We will shift from the apartment to our new house!