joy magnetism: I’m not a tourist. No, really, I’m not. - Guest blogger, Save the World Sister

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Thursday, August 5, 2010

I’m not a tourist. No, really, I’m not. - Guest blogger, Save the World Sister

Magnet #895 - Patan Durbar Square

Whether it's me missing stuff in Dublin, or my mom not feeling like seeing that David thing, it seems that the "visit somewhere and miss a big thing" thing is hereditary.

In this case, it's STWsister being in Nepal for eight months, and not visiting their big museum. Sigh. It was only a dollar!
- joy

I lived in Nepal for eight months. Was I trekking the whole time? No (though I’m sure my parents thought I was). I was there to do research for my master’s thesis. But really… I was just living in Nepal. And it was fun.

I lived down the road from Patan Durbar Square. There are three Durbar Squares in the Kathmandu area – Kathmandu, Bhaktapur and Patan. These were the three main cities in the old days. Each of the squares are surrounded by old temples and filled with tons of people – Nepalis and tourists. And because they are big tourist attractions, you have to pay to enter the square… if you’re a tourist.

When I was in Nepal, I tried learning the language if only to talk to taxi drivers and shopkeepers. I found that being Asian (read: brown), I was often confused for being Nepali. It was nice. Throw on a kurta (a longish tunic) over pants and all of a sudden I’m Nepali.

Since I lived close to Patan Durbar Square, I liked to visit it a lot – just to sit and people watch and because my favorite supplier of bangles (I developed an addiction to the shiny bracelets - [note: this is true, we all benefited from this addiction, as she unearthed box upon box of bangles from her suitcases - joy]) had her shop in the square. Getting to the square was always an adventure because I managed to get lost ALL the time no matter how many times I went. The streets are just THAT small and twisty.

Once I got to the square, however, I would just walk past the tourist ticket booths and ignore the ticket takers. Sometimes they would stop me and ask for my ticket and I would look at them, laugh and say “Nepali ho” (I’m Nepali). And they’d believe me! HA! I don’t feel bad about it either because TONS of tourists come through and do pay the entrance fee (at one of the other Durbar Squares, it’s almost $10!).

I really love Patan Durbar Square, though. Like all places in Nepal, this square is constantly crawling with young people all looking for a quiet spot. You’d think they’d find less public places to go hold hands, but they don’t.

Along one side of it is the Patan Museum (which apparently has an intriguing collection). Now, I never really went to look in the museum, but I did go to a benefit concert there in which Kutumba did an awesome show and won me over as a fan.

Patan Durbar Square is where things happen. I’d say it is the best of the three Durbar Squares.

Kathmandu Durbar Square is overcrowded, though the night market is cool. Too many demonstrations happen around there. And sometimes the Kumari Devi (living goddess) shows up there and causes massive crowds and confusion.

The Bhaktapur Durbar Square is more geared for tourists, so it’s in better shape. It’s quieter and cleaner, but doesn’t seem as alive as the other two.

Patan Durbar Square is more real to me, I guess, because that’s where my Nepal was. I miss that Nepal… all the people, all the food...and all the bangles.

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