Clay

Bhaktapur also is known as a pottery center, which was exciting to us as we’re both into pottery—Abby has been throwing and hand-building for years, and I started right before we left Bangkok. A lot of the production we saw is standardized, however—not quite the stuff of The Great British Throw Down. After leaving the kilns, we came across some guys working the clay in a courtyard. You literally can see the handiwork in the clay.

Back to Bhaktapur

We visited Bhaktapur in 2012, three years before the earthquake that damaged or destroyed much of the old architecture. We had the opportunity to return this past weekend. Fortunately, the historic areas looked much as they did before … … with some obvious work underway, on historic buildings and residences alike. We saw a lot of people doing puja (worship) at various parts of the square. Lots of fabulous detail. Next: Clay.

No good deed …

A German shepherd appeared in our neighborhood yesterday—skin and bones, mangy, with infected eyes, and terrified of everything. I felt terrible about her condition, so I gave her a bowl of water which she drank down greedily, and that was that. Today she was back, so I bought some dog food and a bowl, and gave her food and water. She ate gingerly at first, but then grazed steadily. The transformation was immediate. She begin to start off after cars, bark at some men and sniff at some others, and then she followed me up the street. I hope this…

Pashupatinath Temple

Pashupatinath Temple is a 5th century temple on the banks of the Bagmati River. It is dedicated to Lord Shiva and a major pilgrimage destination. The most important part of the compound is on the other side of the river from where we started. (Tourists are not allowed in the main temple.) Here, there are numerous shrines to deceased sadhus (holy men). As this is a Shiva temple, each shrine contains a lingam. On Saturdays, this part of the temple grounds are filled with people exercising and meeting friends. Also monkeys. There were cremations going on across the river. Especially…

Urban planning

is not a thing around here. Once you’re off the main avenues, the roads fork and wind haphazardly. It isn’t just side streets and alleys. In some places, you can’t go 50 yards without having to swerve. Another thing is that alleys join streets at acute angles. It makes for some buildings that look like ships’ prows. I asked my language instructor if there was a reason for that—for example, whether it’s bad luck to meet a major road at a right angle—but he said no, it’s just that no one bothered to put any rules in place.

Dhando Chaitya stupa

The Dhando Chaitya is considered the oldest stupa (reliquary) in the Kathmandu Valley. Oddly, none of the websites actually say how old it is, but it was said to have been built by the daughter of Emperor Ashoka of India. Despite its status, it sits in the commercial Chabadil neighborhood, far from the tourist sites in Thamel. The gate to the temple grounds was locked, so all I could do was walk around and take photographs of the site and the vendors outside.

First hill run

There is a trail run in Pokhara, a popular tourist destination, in December, so I decided to start training. Unlike Bangkok, Kathmandu offers lots of hilly terrain for training, so I went up into the hills on the recommendation of a fellow runner. My trail would start at the Kopan Monastery and end at a helipad just 2.2 km away. Easy, right? No. I quickly realized that I wasn’t acclimated enough to do hard-core running at 4,600 feet. However, the view was nice. A passing motorcyclist told me I had taken a wrong turn and my road was going nowhere,…

Oh, really?

It’s hard enough to make good on a claim of New York style bagels in, say, Cleveland; it’s a tall order to pull off that trick in Kathmandu. First, as to the appearance. It was bagel-shaped, apart from having a very small hole in the middle. The sesame-seed coverage reminded me more of a Greek koulouri than a New York bagel. Inside—not quite bagel-like. With toast and butter, the outside is a little chewy, like a New York style bagel, and the flavor is pretty good. But is it a New York style bagel? I’m reminded of what my late…