Kartwheeling in Kathmandu

On my first morning my mouth ached from a tooth infection. With a good dose of antibiotics and pain killers coursing through my system I felt strong enough to wander around the side streets in Thamel without a map for a couple of hours just going where my feet and whim took me.

It had been 28 years since I was last here. Sights I’d forgotten about such as incense burning covered all manner of smells, every doorstep had a lifeless and lawless scraggy dog, there were broken and uneven paths and roadways, prayer wheels and shrines and everywhere the image of Buddha stared back at me.

Along the route there were beggars, wizened old women with gold nose rings, men spitting, old fashioned bikes with handlebar bells, honking motor-bikes and bustling noisy Tuk Tuks, stores displaying singer sowing machines, dental clinics with false teeth in the window and everything for sale including beaten brass trays, full-bodied, cross-your-heart bras, bags and boots, spices and seeds, brightly woven blankets alongside bruised bananas! Weird and wonderful and chaotic life overflowing into every alley and dark corner it seemed? Welcome to Kathmandu.

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