I have been in Nepal a few days now and am finally finding my feet. For some reason I have struggled to adjust to being here – maybe I’m a bit jaded from an intense photography project in India (more on that in another post)that took place just before coming here, followed by a mad rush to the border before my visa ran out. Or maybe I wasn’t emotionally ready to leave India – but had no choice because my visa was expiring. Or maybe it’s because I’ve been stuck in polluted, noisy Kathmandu waiting for my new Indian visa to be processed. Once I escape to the mountains I’m sure I’m going to love this county.
Whatever the reason, it wasn’t until I came across an intriguing kind of commune outside of the tourist area just as the sun was setting this evening that I began to feel normal again. There was an edginess to the place that made me slightly uneasy but the picture opportunities were wonderful and the people turned out to be friendly and happy to have their photograph taken – albeit in return for a few ‘baksheesh’.
Just as I was running out of small notes and had decided it was time to make a swift exit, an enormous guy towered over me and demanded that I take his photo. “He’s going to take me to the cleaners for this,” I thought. But I was in no position to refuse as I was still in their territory and surrounded by people jostling around me, so I duly took his photo as ordered. He asked to see the photo on the view finder and smiled “I look just like one of those wrestlers” he declared. “Yes” I agreed through chattering teeth. Then came the inevitable demand: “Give me…(100 rupees, a thousand rupees, your wallet, your grandmother????)…..a copy of this photo please. I live here so you know where to find me. “Who should I ask for?” I stuttered. “I’m known as Sumo,” he replied. I didn’t need to ask why.
So, another lesson learned. Don’t judge a book by its cover!