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Mahashivarattri part II

NEPAL | Friday, 12 February 2010 | Views [398]

It was Mahashivarattri. A festival that celebrated Shiva and brought many pilgrims to his temples to pay respects. Kathryn had read in the newspapers that millions of Nepalis and Indians were going to the Pashupati temple on the east side of Kathmandu. She thought that it might be a good place to go and take photos, so she, Holly and myself piled into a taxi cab and rode as close to the temple as we could get in a car. We had to walk quite a ways beyond our drop-off point before we reached the big crowds. The roads surrounding the temple were rife with merchants and shoppers. None of us were interested in purchasing anything. Kathryn had set her mind on photographing some of the holy men who came from India and wore ridiculously long dreadlocks in their hair. Holly was getting nervous being shoulder to shoulder in the sea of people and I set myself to the task of getting us all closer to Pashupati.

I could just see a part of one of the temple buildings, and I encouraged the other two to squeeze our way down this overcrowded staircase towards the site. We followed the crowd and I think I saw the backside of the temple because there were people jumping this heavy iron fence to get in. Then I saw it. The line to get into this thing was endless. I didn’t know what the other two expected, but they were not taking any pictures. I didn’t see any of these holy men, but if I had I would have dragged them over so that my friends could get a shot and we could go get some dinner. The cold, cloudy weather that we faced in Durbar Square that morning had been waiting for us in the afternoon at Pashupati, although being in the crowd allowed for a little bit of shared body heat.

I could tell that the other two were a bit disappointed when we left. They were really hoping for some unique photo opportunities. I tried to get a shot that illustrated the size of the crowd, but again gray weather brought out the two-dimensionality of the scene. We climbed into a cab and went back to Thamel where we tried a new restaurant.* The décor was in lavender. The inside temperature was chilly and the food was hot, but only mediocre. Two hours later, I felt as though someone was poking me in the belly with a steel rod. Three hours later I vomited and for the rest of the night I was racked by stomach spasms that were followed by a dash to the bathroom. I had fallen victim to tainted daal baht.

*While I cannot be certain that the food at this restaurant caused my illness, I am about 90% sure that the food that we ate at The Green Olive in Thamel, Kathmandu was poorly refrigerated and reheated for our consumption.

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