Ina’s story in Nepal

Accidental Trespassers

“Last Friday we went exploring the neighbourhood around the office on our own. Our goal was to find a park. A somewhat difficult feat in Kathmandu, it seems. We made it as far as Bhandarkhal and Mirgasthali, both parks, so in that respect our mission was a success. But I don’t think we were supposed to be in any of the places we explored. Still, we took our cue from the British and did it anyway. We didn’t pillage, plunder or plant flags anywhere, the Queen would be disappointed.

We left the office in a merry band of four, and after getting some directions from our local friends, off we went. Our first possible destination was Bhandarkhal, a nearby park where we could also possibly find monkeys. Dragoș was our trusted guide, so I didn’t pay much attention to where we were going. That is until we had to enter the park through a crack in the wall, remanent of the 2015 earthquake most likely. That was the first clue that maybe we were trespassing. The second and third were the lack of visitors and the construction crew. But by that time I was too excited about the monkeys. For there were, in fact, monkeys in Bhandarkhal. A lot of monkeys. So camera phones out, we strolled through the mostly deserted park, admiring the monkeys and the trees, and trying to ignore the plastics and grabage strewn around.

We left the park through what was probably the actual entrance, and headed in search of other places to explore. Now that our main objective was met, and with time to spare. Still, to be safe, we decided to do our exploring in the direction of home.

Dragoș, our defacto leader by now, pointed us to a possible second park, this one up a hill. As we reached the top we were met with a lovely view of the neighbourhood, and many people enjoying the nice weather. Further exploring brought us to a path going down towards a river, and sensing an opportunity for more lovely views, we took out our camera phones again and went down.

Later we were told that this was the Bagmati, a sacred river in Nepal, and the temple it flows through is a burning place for the dead. But at the time we didn’t know, so despite seeing some evidence that there might be a temple around, we kept going. It wasn’t until we actually saw the pyre being prepared that we realized where we were. There were three funerals in progress, one pyre was already lit, the other two were being prepared. I felt very awkward being there, intruding on private moments, even though there were other onlookers, and even other obvious tourists. I knew non-hindi people weren’t allowed in Hindi temples, so that added to the feeling that we were really not supposed to be there. Later we were told it was fine to be on the bridge and in the square, just not inside buildings, but still I wish we had seen that very important part of the city in a different way. Preferably with a guide, someone who can provide context to what we’re seeing, and definitely not when funerals are taking place. Those ten or fifteen minutes by the river left me with a feeling of unease for the rest of the day, until Sanjay reassured us the police wouldn’t come knocking.

All in all it was a fun day of exploring and adventure, that allowed us to get to know each other better and brought us closer together, as shared adventures usually do.”