Monday, March 23, 2015

On the Other Side of the World

When I arrived I couldn't believe my eyes. It was dark out but, that didn't seem to matter very much because the narrow streets were still bustling with cars and people who seemingly exist in what I would consider a hair-raising event.

On the first full day in Kathmandu, Nepal I visited the "Monkey Temple". True to it's name, this stupa, 500 stairs up from the street, was littered with monkeys climbing wires, stealing juice boxes and very charismatically smiling at my camera. once at the top, I witnessed a wonderful view of the Katmandu valley. No matter how awfuly dirty the streets may be (there's a garbage workers strike at the moment) the city still contains so much beauty. I've found it increasingly important to look at Nepal through a cultural lens because many things which are acceptable here seem as if they would be invasive or frowned upon in a westernized society.

The Kumari, a living embodiment of a goddess, is a young girl in Kathmandu who is taken from her family at around 5 years old and held in a palace until her first menstrual cycle. When I went to visit her window (the only place that people can see her other than festivals) I couldn't help but feel a sour ache in my heart. She seemed so helpless and bored, like a doll held prisoner. Goutan our guide, made an interesting comparison. He told me that the lotus flower is a symbol for purity and wisdom because it grows up from a very dirty place and like the Kumari it never touches the ground thus remaining pure but once that purity is broken the Kumari is no longer comparable to a goddess.

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