I remember looking at my nailbeds while riding my bus from Gorakhpur to the Sunauli border. Nails had dark lines at the bed, something that I would usually cringe looking at. But this is part of the transit to faraway places, especially in Sunauli where everything is covered by dust. Leaves are grayish gray, like selective ashfall descending over civilization. And my precious hair is mat of grime. I am dirty.
Well, I am in Kathmandu. My impressions are stark and clear. Intricately designed carpets and wall frames. A ludicrous 15 minute time difference from India - just to highlight its sovereign will from mighty India. Streets with no names, I've been lost so many times. Expensive Thamel area teeming with scruffy backpackers. Samosa, momos, nepali omelettes. Rickshaw drivers that charge 50 rupees just for asking directions. Bookshops selling stamps and accepting postcards for mailing. Bars and restaurants with "live dancing" - you bet, the seedy kind. A very young police population. Philippines' San Miguel Beer hugging the billboards. Tibetan immigrants cremating bodies of loved ones at night at the creepy, albeit somber Pashupatinath Temple. Bitterly cold nights at 4 deg Celsius. A cacophony of sounds - and hums - and sights.
These are images that go past you as you experience this city of 800,000 people - and an elevation of 1,350 meters above sea level. Would I know if I start suffering from altitude sickness? Maybe not right away. I do know though that I have a runny nose and a semi-sore throat. Darn weather!
Kathmandu is the stuff that dreams are made of - the remote city of the Gods!