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To get to Kathmandu required about 32 hours of travel–including a 15-hour non-stop flight from Chicago to Delhi– with very little sleep. After a few hours sleep at the very nice Hotel Himalaya in Kathmandu, I was picked up by a wonderful local Christian man who coordinates much of the work of Puresa Humanitarian in Nepal.
We needed to pick up our film crew at the airport but had a couple of hours to kill, so my host took me to one of the holiest spots to the world’s 800 million-plus Hindus.
I was jet-lagged, disoriented, and on sensory overload as we walked along the Bagmati river opposite Pashupatinath Temple. I’ve traveled all over the world but this was the “other-y-ist” place I’ve ever been.
The opposite bank of the river is lined with “ghats”–stone steps that allow pilgrims to come bath in the river and for families to burn the bodies of deceased loved ones and then toss the cremains in the river. (Yes, the same river in which the pilgrims are bathing, not to mention cows are walking and pooping amid the ubiquitous monkeys.
The wind was blowing toward us across the river, which meant we were constantly walking through the smoke of about a half dozen burning human bodies. The smell was . . . distinctive . . . and unforgettable. Gongs and bells were randomly sounding along with an occasional blast from a conch-shell horn. Cows, monkeys, snakes. All that and the jet leg combined to make this feel like a walk through the outer suburbs of hell.
Oh yeah . . . and then there were these guys:
More video and pics in the days to come. More than you probably care to see.