Today Tri had the day off for Christmas, so we decided to go into the city. Tri’s uncle has a medicine shop near New Road, and we had to pick up some medicine, so we went to meet him. Tri and I parked the car in Tundikhel, which is a big open space in the center of Kathmandu that has both a place to park cars and a market.
We crossed the foot bridge and were getting ready to turn onto a side street when Tri realized that the car keys weren’t in his pocket. We started to frantically search through both of our pockets and my purse, hoping that it was still somewhere on us, but we didn’t find it, so we rushed back to the car. Thankfully it was dangling from the ignition. Unfortunately we had dutifully locked all the doors before leaving the car! So there was no way to get to the key.
We called Tri’s brother to ask if he could bring the spare over. He agreed to but could only make it to Tundikhel in about two and half hours, so we had some time to kill. We decided we would go shopping on New Road and then head over to our uncle’s shop.
After a while, we reached the shop and picked up our medicine, but we still had lots of time before Tri’s brother was going to arrive, so Uncle invited us over to have tea at his house, which is right near Durbar Square.
As I’ve mentioned before, Tri and I live a ways out of the city, near farm fields and mooing cows. I guess you might find a few mooing cows near Durbar Square but definitely no farm fields! We live in a recently built concrete house, but our uncle lives in a very traditional Newar style house. It’s a lot of fun visiting him because I get to experience how the majority of Kathmandu dwellers might have lived in times past. Traditionally the Newars built their houses close together, often near fountains and around courtyards.
Here’s the view from our uncle’s window…
The area in the middle is a small temple. A few months ago, I wrote a post about this type of public space, often used for worship. They’re very social places, where people gather and talk.
The great thing about living in a courtyard is the community that comes with it. People were hanging out in the center of the courtyard and on the porches in their houses, like this boy…
Having such close neighbors makes communication quite easy. If he wants to get someone’s attention, all he has to do is yell across the courtyard.
But living in a courtyard has its drawbacks including lack of personal space. Look at the house right across from our uncle’s…
It must be only 6 or 7 feet wide!
Another feature of traditional Newar style houses and buildings are intricate windows, and right before crossing the street to get to our uncle’s house we saw this one…
Uncle thought that it had been carved from one piece of wood.
I wasn’t happy that we locked the key in the car, but I didn’t mind our trip into the heart of the city.