I did not prepare at all for my trip to Kathmandu. I didn’t even have local currency for the visa on arrival, the credit card machine didn’t work, and the ATM didn’t work. Not the first time I’ve had to beg and barter with strangers to get cash for a visa stamp, but hopefully the last!
I should have done my research. Last year I set myself a goal to read a book about each country I visit, in advance. But in the case of Nepal, “House of Snow” was just a collection of short stories about Mount Everest.
So I had no real agenda and didn’t know what to expect. Wander around, get a feel for the place. Check out some gemstones, maybe pick up a piece of aquamarine for the collection.
There’s a lot happening in the City Centre. Palaces, temples, statues, monuments of various times and creeds. I couldn’t get my head around all the information. The destruction caused by the 2015 earthquake was apparent everywhere. Buildings that had been standing for hundreds of years were now propped up by wood.
There was one hotspot drawing a crowd, a small palace made of red brick and black wood. People told me “the Kumari” would be appearing soon. I don’t know why, but for some reason I thought it was some kind of bird that pops its head up this time every day. Something like a Tower of London raven or Punxsutawney Phil.
We gravitated into the courtyard and a man walked around to warn us that we must not photograph the Kumari. Then she appeared. Not a raven but a little girl, about 4 years old. Apparently, she has a neck like a conch-shell, eyelashes like those of a cow, body shaped like a banyan tree, hair-whorls turning to the right, and 28 other signs of perfection. She was brought to the window by her handler to gaze upon the crowd of tourists below for a minute, then she was gone back into the room where she must spend her days, isolated from her family until the Goddess vacates her body.