My walk to work

Drawing inspiration from a former fellow volunteer Mandy’s blog I thought I would do a blog specifically about my walk to work. Every day I walk the same 20+ minute, 2km walk from my home to the AEPC office and back again. Being the engineer that I am, the route is carefully chosen to optimise minimum distance whilst avoiding main roads wherever possible. So the things I see every day are not specifically chosen for their beauty or uniqueness, but rather I hope these photos will give a good indication of day to day Nepal.

#1 Maybe one of the first things that still strikes and amazes me, is that on pretty much any street of any size which you walk down in Kathmandu, there are the temples and shrines galore. Some are small and almost disappear into the scenery, some are large and grand and some have survived roads being built around them;shrines

#2 Each of the temples or shrines is dedicated to one or more of the some 300 million (yes, I’m informed there are that many!?) Gods or Goddesses of the Hindu religion. Here are examples from temples I pass of the Lord Ganesha – the ‘Lord of success and destroyer of evils and obstacles’ with his elephant head and the Goddess Saraswati – the Goddess of knowledge with her musical instrument; recently worshipped with her own festival where all schools and colleges are closed for the day to honour knowledge and learning. The idol in the middle has been touched by so many worshipping hands and had so much tikka applied that I am no longer sure which deity it is depicting (possible Lord Ganesha again?) but it must be a popular one…;

idols

#3 Here some school boys pay their respects at one of the temples on their way to school and below, one of the many schools I pass on the way. Most of the schools I pass are private schools. Non-Government run or private schools are a booming industry throughout Nepal and especially in Kathmandu it seems. Each school tends to have a unique, distinctive and strictly adhered to school uniform. As I rarely see another foreigner on my route, I tend to get lots of ‘hellos’ shouted at me from passing school children excited by their own bravery;

schools

#4 A collection of some of the general sights I see; a lookout post for the large army barracks around the circumference of which I walk daily; a pile of street sweepings ready to be collected – although as I am learning through my work what happens to the sweepings once collected is less than ideal; a pile of rubble where only a few days ago an entire factory stood – the rate of building and demolishing is extremely rapid so that my route almost never looks the same two days in a row; laying of pipes and a general scheme of road widening is also under way again meaning I am never quite sure what a road or path will look like today and what new challenging obstacles there will be to add a little excitement to my journey;

sights

#5 One other aspect of the sights I see, which strongly reminds me each day that I’m in Nepal, are the small shop holders and entrepreneurs; fishmonger, butcher, cobbler and portable fruit & nut vendor to show just a few;

shops 2

#6 The least enjoyable part of my journey; crossing the large, busy ring road which circles the city. This one junction is unavoidable (even on my engineer optimised route!?) and is always extremely busy with lorries, buses and the ubiquitous motorbikes. With no formal pedestrian crossings, a definite hierarchy with pedestrians at the bottom, but luckily a slow general speed of progress for all – it’s still interesting to run the gauntlet of crossing to the other side each day;

satdobato

#7 There is also beauty to behold in the colourfully dressed Nepali people on their way to work, school or temples, some magnificent trees which have been preserved and the roads sent around them and the blue, blue sky which invariably puts in an appearance. Though it is still winter at the moment, as my office hours start at 10am I am generally walking my route in mid-morning sunshine and am nicely warmed up by the time I arrive – generally to then sit in the office in a single layer or two to the horror of my Nepali colleagues wrapped up tightly in coats and scarves;

beauty

#8 Last, but absolutely not least, one of the very common sights which makes my heart ache on a daily basis are the large numbers of stray dogs. These animals are often loosely associated with a particular area, though with no specific owner, which means I tend to see the same animals on a regular basis. In my experience, they are generally extremely tame, friendly and beautiful but struggling to survive and hence a heart breaking piece of the complicated puzzle that is Nepal. These pictures were captured in just two days without having to search very hard;

dogs final

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