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Time Travel

NEPAL | Saturday, 14 April 2007 | Views [700]

It would appear from this photograph that somewhere on my travels I have encountered an eccentric old scientist, likely with unruly white fuzzy hair and a tendency to mumble to himself, and that this strange mumbling character has invented a time machine and recruited me to test it out.

That is true. But that's not the story that goes along with this picture.

In fact, it is Nepali New Year's Day, making this the fourth distinct New Year's that I have celebrated since December 31st: the Western New Year's, Korean New Year's, Indian New Year's, and now, Nepal's. And in fact, I have not catapulted myself into the future (that is indeed how time travel is done), but the Nepali calendar is just a little bit faster than ours. So, it's year 2064.

And in truth, the only time travel I have done in Nepal has been back through time, not forward. I've spent most of my time in the medieval city of Bhaktapur. The streets and buildings evoke images of antiquity... and in many parts of town, you can see those images of antiquity being played out right before your eyes. People in traditional dress worship their deities or carry pujas to the temples, craftspeople and tradesmen carry on the same work their ancestors did, and people walk to the market carrying heavy loads of their wares to sell just like they did way back when.

Also medieval-feeling were the New Year's celebrations which last for 5 days each year. Part of the celebration is a tug-of-war contest in which hundreds of people on each side of an giant colorful wooden chariot hold onto a long rope and pull the chariot along. It gets violent when one side wins, no doubt because liqour is involved, and the losers throw stones at the winners. (Who's the winner now, hey?) Several of my chaperones (those young men with ulterior motives) warned me not to get too close to the event, and I was glad for their advice. 15 people were arrested and many were injured from the stone throwing (I don't believe anyone was seriously hurt, however, but still... yikes!)


Tags: Culture

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