Arriving in Nepal by Riya Matta (A23)

by heatherbarry
May 21

After a 24-hour +  journey from Boston to Dubai and then Dubai to Kathmandu (not without a variety of hiccups including a lost bag, cancelled visas, and a hotel booking mishap), we finally arrived at our hotel in the Thamel district of Kathmandu around 10 a.m. We were immediately struck by how vibrant and bustling Thamel was, and found our unassuming hotel to be a welcome sanctuary from the busy streets. We spent the day settling in to the hotel, doing a bit of exploring of our immediate surroundings, and making phone calls/writing emails to confirm and schedule interviews. 

We ate a hearty dinner of traditional Nepali fare — noodles, vegetables, momos, and chatamari, a kind of Nepali pizza — and had an early night. Jet lag woke us all up by 3am the next morning, and we decided to use to extra hours of the early morning to do some more exploring of Thamel. We walked around for about 45 minutes before stopping to have breakfast at sweet cafe opposite a temple. We then did some quick shopping and quickly found that, though we do not speak Nepali, most Nepalis are greatly influenced by Indian cinema and popular culture and thus two of us found we were able to use our native language, Hindi, to communicate effectively and negotiate lower prices. 

After breakfast and shopping, we took a 15-20 minute walk to a central office that oversees the welfare of Tibetan settlements in Nepal, where we met with an official to get permission to conduct research in the camps. The settlement office was in a secluded, gated area off the main road and had a beautiful garden and cultural heritage centre — unfortunately, we were unable to take photos but were struck by the serenity of the complex. Later, we took a taxi to the Boudhanath Stupa, where another Tibetan settlement is located and were able to conduct some interviews there and take in the beauty of the stupa and its surroundings. We came back to Thamel where we conducted more interviews with local tourism agencies that we were able to do in both Hindi and English. 

Everywhere we went, we were repeatedly struck by the kindness, laid-back nature, and genuine desire to help of all the Nepali people we encountered, as well as the deep pride they take in their culture. Everyone from our taxi driver, Prem, to the clerks at the shops, to the people we interviewed were warm, friendly, and eager to help. We are looking forward to more adventures tomorrow!