M A N J U S H R E E T H A P A By day, Kathmandu's tourist district, Thamel, hawks trinkets and curios. The Dutch, the Italians, the Germans, the Japanese, the French, the Americans, the Israelis--tourists all--come to the memorabilia shops to buy Buddhist mandalas, turquoise bracelets, Gurkha knives, bottled water, pashmina shawls, demon masks, rice-paper notebooks, chocolate bars, hiking boots, embroidered t-shirts that read i love mount everest. A roll of Fuji film sells for three hundred here and twenty rupees less over there; each price is negotiable. All day, the streets bustle with bargaining: "Sixty." "Last price fifty." As evening falls, Thamel crowds travelers into its low-budget restaurants, and they become wide-eyed with wonder because serendipity has brought them together in--of all places--Kathmandu, Nepal. For less than two dollars each, they eat eggplant lasagna, garlic naan, schnitzel, swimming rama, stir-fries, buffalo dumplings, risotto, curry, and pizza while swapping adventure stories and worldviews. "My meditation teacher said flowers bloom even in the desert." "I found an awesome used bookstore selling Pico Iyer." "The first main thing I don't like of Nepal," some tourist declares in broken English, "is the dirty air." Indeed, the exhaust
Manoa – University of Hawai'I Press
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