So it’s been a long time without a mo:mo post, but not because I haven’t been eating them. This is for all the vegetable lovers out there; it’s not a particularly attractive plate of mo:mos, which has been true pretty much every time I’ve eaten here. Don’t let that fool you, though, because they are delicious – I’d say they’re my favorite non-meat mo:mo in the city: the spinach-cheese mo:mos from Phat Khat, JP Road, Thamel. Well worth a visit.
This post has been in my head for ages. A few years ago, some amazing pieces of street art started popping up all over the city. I never knew when I’d turn a corner and see a formerly bare wall now covered with an image that would make me think, wonder, or just feel grateful for the beauty. I have been taking pictures of them for years, spurred on when several pieces vanished after the walls or buildings they adorned got torn down. Today I took the photo below, on a side alley off Paknajol, behind Thamel, of a piece I was seeing for the first time.
The others were taken earlier this year; I’ll track down the older photos for a future post, but for now, enjoy. To the best of my knowledge all of these are still up and can be viewed at the location noted.
It’s that time of year… I don’t think there’s anything more beautiful than the bright, fresh green of the rice paddies during these months. Coming upon a vale of them like this is a relaxing treat. I took these in the Sano Khokana area, outside the ringroad on the southern, Lalitupur side, not far from Nakkhu.
On Sunday, I woke up a bit under the weather. I really didn’t want to go anywhere, but stronger than that feeling was the desire for my favorite greasy, spicy, Boudha-style Chinese restaurant. Rain threatened– it has for much of the past two weeks–as my hunger overcame my laziness and I headed out. To find to the Yak Restaurant, you have to enter the Boudhanatha Stupa area from the main entrance, and walk exactly half-way around it before going down an alley. You’ll find it on your left, after souvenirs, piles of chilly peppers and hunks of butter. It doesn’t look like much, but with its strange hybrid of mostly-Chinese-with-a-little-Tibetan-food, it’s one of my favorite places to eat. I always tell myself that with the plethora of good places to eat in Boudha, I should try something new. Then I find myself driving along the muddy, pot-holed roads for the sole purpose of eating exactly here.
In an attempt to avoid those said muddy holes, particularly bad now as we are in monsoon season, I decided to take a detour along some back toads that I know indirectly link my area to the Boudha area. I was unsuccessful and after driving in circles ended up back on the main road not that far at all from where I’d left it. So I went to Boudha the usual way, but with some sort of flooded pipe or drain making the road far worse than usual – and that’s saying a lot, believe me – I determined I’d find the shortcut on my way back. Famous last words.
On reaching Boudha I did what I always do, no matter how often I come: took a photo or two of the stupa. It’s one of my favorites places in Kathmandu and I never tire of photographing it, even when the skies are grey as they were on Sunday. I bought a few lovely cloth bags from a local shop here that I like (not that I don’t have enough bags) and carried on down the alley to the Yak Restaurant. I ordered pretty much the same thing I always do: spicy cooking buff, which is a bowl of spicy delicious broth, thin sliced buff, potatoes, greens, noodles, two kinds of mushroom and more in the bowl besides, eggplant in chilli sauce, a steamed Tibetan bun, and a beer. I don’t think the picture does it justice, but it’s delicious. Too much food, of course, but I take the leftovers home and eat spicy soup for a couple of days after each visit.
While I was waiting for my food, the rain started. From my seat by the entrance I enjoyed the downpour while staying dry and taking pictures through the open door.
When the rain let up, I set off on my scooter once again, determined not to take the main road, which I knew would be even worse after the downpour. I like to think I have a pretty good sense of direction, but boy did it let me down in this instance. Which is actually a good thing, or I’d never had the experience that I did.
After driving down several fascinating streets I’d never seen before, I began reading the place names on shops and realized that I was going in the complete wrong direction. But I was enjoying myself, and didn’t feel like turning around, so I kept on to see what I would see. Before long, I was in the vicinity of Gokarna, far beyond Boudha, while still somehow having bypassed the main road. I ended up driving up a beautiful green hill, past rice paddies and prayer flags, into an area called Jagadole, which I’d never heard of and could find almost no information about when I researched it after getting home. Passing a small crew engaged in a film shoot, mothers and children, and people out enjoying their weekend, I came to an amazing viewing point, looking out from the hill all across the Kathmandu Valley: I could see the stupa of course, but also as far as the airport in the distance. Fluttering prayer flags made a picturesque scene even more so, as they are wont to do, and I felt grateful for my mixed-up sense of direction that took me, on this Sunday, to a place I’d never been to before.
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Delighted to have an article published at Unusual Efforts – it’s aptly titled (not by me, but a great title!) What’s an Italy fan in football-mad Nepal to do during the World Cup?
In an unusual bit of serendipity, the editor’s choice to put it up today coincides with the 15th anniversary of my mother’s death. While she was not a football fan as such, she was half Italian and it was my childhood spent in Italy with her that cultivated my love of all things Italian, which as you can see, continues to this day.
Today I was in Cafe Soma, and when they brought me my cold coffee, the waiter also offered me a straw from a holder he held in his other hand. I was happy to decline, because just yesterday, Swosti (a museumologist and one of our great ECS writers) and I had been having a cold drink at a cute little place near the office and we were talking about how both our drinks came with straws, we didn’t want them, but always forget to tell servers to give us our drinks sans straws.
So cheers to Cafe Soma for making it optional – it’s a start in reducing waste caused by single-use plastics!
There’s this lovely woman who sits outside the Shangri-La Hotel in Lazimpat most every afternoon, selling a fresh, random assortment of vegetables from her garden (I presume) and around this time of year she sells courgette flowers (aka squash blossoms). It’s the only place I’ve ever, ever found them available in Nepal. Ever. This year I was too lazy to fry them up in the Italian way, so into my soup they went. Lovely.
Last week I opened a copy of My Republica, a Nepali newspaper that I rarely read, to see a face I knew staring back at me.
In the days when I freelanced for ECS Media, before I started as editor at ECS Nepal, I wrote a lot of food reviews for their entertainment weekly (now bi-monthly) paper, Friday! and usually I was a team with one of two different but both very competent photographers.
Now I discovered that, unbeknownst to me, one of them–Sajana Shrestha–has also ventured into filmmaking. Her short film I Can premiered at this year’s Kathmandu Mountain Film Festival (KIMFF) and I was just so excited for her!
I went to see it on the 15th (last Friday) and I was really impressed – promise I’m not just saying that because I know her. It’s a seven-minute short film that tells the story of a young man who was affected by the 2015 earthquake here in Nepal and the lasting changes it has brought about his life. I really don’t want to say more than that and give it away. Despite its short length, I was surprised by how much was packed into it and its unexpectedly optimistic message.
The full article can be found here, because I know it’s hard to read from the picture above. The film itself has only just premiered but I think eventually it will go up online and when it does, I will add a link to this post.
Sajana is now working on a new film about burn victims and is passionate about telling people’s stories. I believe she’ll go far and I’m so proud to know her.
It’s two months today since everything changed and I had planned to get out of the house, distract myself–as if I could!–but instead I have been home, sitting with it.
Yesterday I began What Comes Next and How to Like It, Abigail Thomas’ 2015 memoir. I hadn’t yet read it, partially because A Three Dog Life is one of my favourite books, ever, and I was afraid I wouldn’t like this one as much, that it would maybe disappoint in some way. It was, however, perfect, or at least perfect for me right now. I finished it today.
This poem has been in my mind often over these two months:
by W. H. Auden
Stop all the clocks, cut off the telephone,
Prevent the dog from barking with a juicy bone,
Silence the pianos and with muffled drum
Bring out the coffin, let the mourners come.
Let aeroplanes circle moaning overhead
Scribbling on the sky the message He Is Dead,
Put crêpe bows round the white necks of the public
Let the traffic policemen wear black cotton gloves.
He was my North, my South, my East and West,
My working week and my Sunday rest,
My noon, my midnight, my talk, my song;
I thought that love would last for ever: I was wrong.
The stars are not wanted now: put out every one;
Pack up the moon and dismantle the sun;
Pour away the ocean and sweep up the wood.
For nothing now can ever come to any good.
The last line has felt the most true to me, though in the spirit of hope and the book I have just read, I am giving allowance for the fact that it may not always be this way. Just now, I stepped outside and saw a kite flying, just a light square against the blue, blue sky. It felt like hope, it looked like joy. Maybe not quite, not really; but enough for me: enough for today.