Upon a friend’s recommendation we decided to check out Tansen, a Newari town in the hills a few hours south of Pokhara.
It turned out to be a relatively big town, with old brick buildings clustered around the city center (Durbar Square, what else) and a lot more newer cement apartment buildings spreading out onto the ridge of the hill. There are a few day walks into the countryside around Tansen, to picturesque historical spots, but it was a rainy day so we–Matthias, Xiker and I– stayed within the city limits.
It was an enjoyable town to walk through and is definitely one of my favorite stops in Nepal. It’s full of activity yet it doesn’t feel crowded. People were curious and friendly towards us, watching us from the fronts of their shops.
Restaurants put out tantalizing piles of fried food next to their huge, boiling vats of oil. Fruits and veggies are composed into colorful arrangements outside. Mobile carts hang out on corners hawking a variety of street food like chaat, roasted corn, and fried hash potatoes. There was this one place, near the park, with the most delicious yogurt curd. (Can you tell we had a grand ol time with our taste buds around here?)
The houses hemming in the narrow streets are soft pastel, once bright and vibrant but dulled from years of sun, rain and layers of dust. Elegant Newari-style houses stand out despite their muted colors, their windows and doors dark brown and carefully whittled. While some buildings are getting makeovers, other houses have been left abandoned, waiting for the next thrifty tenant.
When walking the steep, dusty streets, we passed a number of stores selling everyday sundries and the like. I realized there were no pashminas, no cashmere sweaters, no hippie clothes or trekking gear to be found. This is real, modern-day Nepal, I thought to myself.
For the record, climbing the steep streets can be a pain, but when an old man passes you hobbling on a cane uphill, you learn to suck it up.
At some field, there was a huge crowd of men standing around an outdoor volleyball court. It soon became clear that the crowd had just coerced two groups of giggling young women into playing.
Some of the randomly picked players were clad in nice clothing and wearing sandals, a few with kitty heels. The refs spent a few minutes getting the girls into position, following the line rules of volleyball. Even before the first serve, I knew it was going to be a travesty.
After a few painful minutes, the ladies began to get warmed up and the ball was, at last, occasionally volleyed back and forth over the net. Phone cameras recorded the event, and the crowd was hysterical with laughter as they cheered on girlfriends and sisters.
To their credit, the players just smiled off the jeers and kept on trying. I could tell some had even played on a team together years ago, as they slowly remembered the motions of practice and even began slamming a few spikes.
met these cute kids in yet another courtyard. they were all very excited about the impromptu photo shoot.
adorrrrable video of the kids