Wednesday, February 27, 2013

Sniffing Around Nepal


I just found this diary entry from my first week in Nepal. Already, just six months since I moved away, the daily sights and smells of the country are fading.  Past reflections like this are such a treasure!


I'm certain that what I will remember most about Nepal is its smells and the sensory overload which assaulted my nose upon stepping out of the safe haven of my home and into the street. 

The "welcome smell" as Emma dubs it - the overpowering scent of urine that penetrates every vehicle entering the city.

The hostel kitchen which smells of propane gas mixed with layers of grime - the type of grime that is a result of fairly frequent wipe-ups but never gets a good scrub-down or deep clean. 

The smell of daal bhaat, made over and over with the same spices which have become all too familiar. 

The smell of roadside butcher stands: meat covered in so many flies that you can't even tell it's meat, growing bacteria in the sun and collecting dust churned up by the busy street.

The smell of death. Literally. I'll never forget my visit to Pashupati Mandir in Kathmandu, one of the city's biggest Hindu temples, where bodies of the recently deceased were burned in bonfires  on pires in the open air, just over the river laden with litter where their ashes would be disposed, as onlookers - not mourners, but just anyone walking by - stood or sat and watched, chatting among themselves. I pulled the collar of my tunic up to cover my mouth and nose as I walked by - down wind - over the bridge no more than 50 feet away and was assaulted by a barrage of ash and the unmistakable scent of death.

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