Revolution in South Asia

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Archive for March 7th, 2010

Jed Brandt: Letter from Kathmandu

Posted by Ka Frank on March 7, 2010

This letter from an American reporter was originally published on

Greetings from Nepal

March 7, 2010

By Jed Brandt

I can’t leave home for a few weeks without everything going crazy.

It took a bit for my time to adjust, to see things as they are coming here and where they’re coming from. Not the instant back-and-forth rhythm of New York multi-tasking anxiety time. Most days the electricity is out in Kathmandu. You can hear chickens in the morning, children playing after school and quiet talk at night when the old women laugh and call across the rooftops. Blackouts make working a computer hard, but the pace of people living by hands and minds alone, without so much mediation, is not a place I’ve ever spent much time. And I do love it here. The city is dirty. The people are upright, direct and curious. I’ve made friends quickly, though I’ve gotten the impression its easier to get married than find a date.

Kathmandu is a valley. The Tanglang range of the Himalaya is the wall in the sky that separates South Asia from the Tibetan plateau to the north. The white caps are breathtaking when you can see them. Pollution is horrible. Cars only arrived in Kathmandu 20 years ago. Most of the city is built for footpaths, but that doesn’t stop every sort of vehicle from ripping through trying to cut around the traffic jams. It’s some kind of anarchy on the streets. People complain about it, then go do it themselves. I’ve seen three people hit by cars, none of which stopped. Motorcycles are everywhere and drive as they want. I’ve only seen one traffic light and it wasn’t lit. The daily load shedding blackout.

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