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Ethnic chic, kathmandu streets vivacity 1

Strings of music float by. Bob Marley meets Lady Gaga. You turn the corner and a smiling face
strings a folk song on the sarangi...

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Ethnic chic, kathmandu streets vivacity 1

  1. 1. 26 vivacity • april 2011 www.vivacitymagazines.com 27april 2011 • vivacitywww.vivacitymagazines.com KATHMANDU SSTREATS“Kathmandu has visual metaphors skidding off its spaces tripping you as you walk the streets”. cover story arun kHanna model: bimina ranjit photographer: rajiv shrestha make up: sophie
  2. 2. 28 vivacity • april 2011 www.vivacitymagazines.com 29april 2011 • vivacitywww.vivacitymagazines.com & ATMs. A show of almost cinematic delight, which may bring to mind the ecstatic lines, said elsewhere, by the film maker Sergei Eisenstein “utterly diverse stages of culture, coexisting in the same geographical area, next to each other…” the sights of Kathmandu streets may too be just that! How many cameras run out of memory on these streets, archived in time! Spaces change shape like a digital enhancement of images superimposed, lanes become courtyards and doorways, houses change to shops and road side tea stalls. After a few unacknowledged pedestrian collisions your look could be a mix of ‘what next?’ and a smile… you have got it! Strolling in Kathmandu streets is a pleasure if jostling with a diverse crowd is your way of getting lost in it for a while. As a matter of jostling par excellence Ason chowk, the granny of all Kathmandu alleys is a junction of lanes irradiating like capillaries around the iris of an eye, a sight bursting at its seams! If you happen to walk here just after an early cup of coffee, before the sun touches the tips of newari houses rising out of a lack of space, you will catch flowers, garlanded or scooped in handfuls, sold for a couple of rupees to regular worshippers going to one of the many temples in the neighborhood. As the day progresses, flowers give way to vegetables, vegetables to motor bikes, pedestrians and mounting decibels. Full blown trade ensues. Rice, household rations, kitchen ware, shoes, trinkets, vermilion…by evening vegetables are back, reinforced. Most of the inside streets maintain status quo. Kathmandu has visual metaphors skidding off its spaces tripping you as you walk the streets. cover story The sight flits across street spaces trying to measure by-lanes, defined beyond their boundaries with sounds emanating from all directions. The stride shifts to a constant side stepping among sprawls of vendors making narrow lanes narrower, a cocktail of smells from tens of ingredients, dried fish, fresh dug earth gobbets sticking to green crunchy vegetables, fermented bamboo chippings shoved into plastic bags and incense sticks imitating a jasmine bloom…allwithinthestretchingshadowsofoilsmeared temple balustrades, medieval palace squares, star hotels “How many cameras run out of memory on these streets, archived in time! Spaces change shape like a digital enhancement of images superimposed, lanes become courtyards and doorways, houses change to shops and road side tea stalls”.
  3. 3. 30 vivacity • april 2011 www.vivacitymagazines.com 31april 2011 • vivacitywww.vivacitymagazines.com Some corners turn in towards nostalgic niches of the 70s travelers, where the first flow of western tourists walkedin,searchingfornirvanaandasmokyoblivion.Still known as Freak Street, in memoryoftheHippiecult. The western budget traveler now locates at Thamel. As streets changed so did the chillum corners, since long replaced with cybercafés trafficking Facebook. Exhausted memory cards plugged in, sending images everywhere. The streets in Thamel, with three-wheeled Rickshaws an import from the flat lands of Nepal, ply a few selected streets, ready to give an exotic ride to a visitor. Rows of shops lined with hemp and cotton, loose shirts, kurtas, and pajama trousers deliver the dress code for the foreign traveler. Fusion and ethnic chic gain momentum here.Pashminascarves hang with denims, Gucci glasses with prayer beads, North Face jackets with Tibetan ponchos. Strings of music float by. Bob Marley meets Lady Gaga. You turn the corner and a smiling face strings a folksong on the sarangi. Among the jammed up cafes in the area, lie the memories and mementoes of many mountaineering A traveler captures life in the dazzling bustle of Thamel. Colorful streets turn to a glittering hew of neon lights as evening falls. Fusion and ethnic chic gain momentum here. Pashmina scarves hang with denims, Gucci glasses with prayer beads, North Face jackets with Tibetan ponchos. Strings of music float by. Bob Marley meets Lady Gaga. You turn the corner and a smiling face strings a folksong on the sarangi. cover story
  4. 4. 32 vivacity • april 2011 www.vivacitymagazines.com 33april 2011 • vivacitywww.vivacitymagazines.com cover story legends, from Edmund Hillary to Reinhold Messner. Backpackers, mountain climbing gear and camera equipmentstoresgiveaperspectivetothemajorinterest of travelers about to embark on climbing adventures. Among the hordes of motorbikes that weave the lanes,youcouldstandatstreetsidefoodjointsandhave juicy sekuwa, mutton meat barbecued, or wager the cost of a return ticket back home for you and your partner and sit at a five star hotel restaurant at the end of the street, sipping a Camus Cognac brandy served direct from a collector’s crystal container or sparkling Dom Pérignon Champagne in elegant Baccarat crystal flute glasses or perhaps aila, the festive liquor of the Newars, ignited to a blue flame in tiny clay containers - besides the one you swig off ! - as a mark of its potency. Ethnic food vies with the best bakeries and fusion takes the cake. Corner shops sell a variety of newari food, Chatamari could give the Pizza some palate ideas. A typical bakery café will go beyond baking and serve momo, meat filled dumplings with the same verve as fudge brownies. These bakeries acknowledge the significant presence of expatriates over the decades. Weekend organic vegetable markets bring the same fusion of native growers and foreign buyers. Kathmandu has its share of fashion statements, at times bohemian, or aristocratic for an elite few, and of course street smart, hip, peppered with young people everywhere. The back drop of heritage sites, preserved and honored by the continuous cycle of festival & traditions that pay homage to them, is also frequented on regular days by gadget touting college students. Converse sneakers, denims, layered pullover jumpers and T-shirts don’t stop one to mingle at ease with red saried women reaching out for the same temple bells for a chime of obeisance. Saried or denimed, women are a very visible part of the cityscape. A look at the street gives the impression women are busy, bustling with handbags, on the move. Flat-ironed hair, khol-eyed, jeans or a wrap around skirt, walk besides pleated tresses parted beyond the forehead with the red of sindhoor. The frequent splash of red celebrates traditions, rituals, ceremonies and a significant part of married life. Often the versatile shawl, pashmina, Dhaka cloth, or anywhere in between, becomes a scarf, stole or a tippet; And bangles, a plenty. The attractive Haku Patasi sari a traditional dress of the newari women , black with a red border, is more of a sight in the traditional niche areas of the city and its suburbs. Womensmilealot,andethnicchicinurbanKathmandu getsapowerpacked,heavydutycompliment. In the fervor of lanes and by lanes, with languid yet incessant vehicles that run traffic at thirty kilometers an hour,thereareroadsiderestingplaces,traditionalshelters for resting; these are the paatis, wooden pillared, bricked or tiled porches, which sit like a moments of silence in a conversation.Usedsinceagesasplaceswhereonerelaxes and contemplates what passes by. You could sit here to just see the city as seen by its inhabitants or see folks from households around spread grains and temporarily shelter them from a rainy day; or catch a local rock band strum guitars for a local crowd! Ancient palace squares, swallow many lanes, assimilating them into their wide spaces, only to have thememergeagainatsomeotherend.Youcouldsurvey the sights from garden top restaurants somewhere in the vicinity, with the blare of traffic wafting up to the rampartsofbuildings.Ahideandseekofspaces!andyet you may walk the streets to experience the occasional coming across of someone you already know, a mark of entwined lanes, merging into themselves. Permutations of color, design and shape shift, style marks the ethnic diversity and brings it to the stage of streets. These are the trends to reckon with in a blaze of fusion. Walk on! n

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