I bounce along in the back of a shaded rickshaw.
The driver is about seventy, and he wears royal blue tennis shoes. The laces are wrapped around his ankles like a ballerina. He takes dangerous curves which threaten to dump me out into a ditch of flowing water, ignorant refuse, and rainbow-tinged oil. Here, people throw trash out the windows like it’s nothing.
It’s the same in India. Styrofoam containers are tossed out train windows, crumpled cans are thrown into beautiful rivers, and plastic bags clog the drainpipes. I wonder if they have Environmental Studies classes in this part of the world, and then I think that even if they do, a crushing amount of the population never goes to school.
Back to Kathmandu.
Bats glide through the morning sky, their wings pinched and black. They are Halloween in motion, a paradox against the clear blue sky.
Aren’t bats supposed to live in caves and only come out at night? These ones don’t. They hang like dark, ripe fruit from the trees, freeing themselves from their battish sleep to wheel across the sky.
The hills around Kathmandu are pulsing and alive. Fields of grass as tall as your shoulders strain and reach for the sun. They want to touch it, eat it, be consumed by it. These fields of grass glow from within, a green so green it is nearly yellow.
The people here are beautiful. Their black hair catches the light. If the Chinese are black and white, and the Indians are black and brown, the Nepalis are somewhere in between (physically and geographically).
They have slanted eyes, and a demure style. They don’t stare so much. The men wave hello from doorways, and sit in packs on the sidewalk playing cards. The women carry dainty parasols, lavender with white flowers, or pink with tiny starbursts.
In complete contradiction to the Asian charm of parasols however, the women also wear white face masks. They look like medics on their way to work, or simply scared citizens who don’t want to pick up international germs.
Swine flu. Dengue fever.
I watch them from the back of my bumpy rickshaw, and wish it was cool in Seattle to carry parasols. I’d be all about it.