Nepali Times
Nation
Basantapur by night


ROMA ARYAL


ALL PICS: KONG YEN LIN

As night falls in Basantapur, the frantic rush of people is replaced by the shuffle of feet on the cobble stones. The crowd becomes more Nepali as the small tourist nik-nak shops beside the Kumari's house pack up.

On the walls and benches around the market, youngsters start gathering in groups, sipping tea from small plastic cups and chatting noisily. Street children cart-wheel around the benches, carefully avoiding the old men seated on fallen wooden pillars around the temples. Some of them are porters, resting after a hard day's work. Others sit quietly huddled together, watching the rush of people coming and going.

As the tourist market packs up, the night market takes its place. By dusk, the market is a glowing caterpillar of fake diamond earrings glittering under the feeble light of bulbs. Hundreds of young people throng the market, bargaining and passing from stall to stall of cheap glasses, scarves, t-shirts, bags and slippers. Sometimes, Kollywood actors come to stock up on fake jewellery for their movies.

A bigger crowd gathers around the stalls at the entrance to the square. Wheeled in stalls crowd the streets, displaying copious piles of food, the fat spitting as vendors dip meats and rich tofu into vessels brimming with oil. There's everything from sausages, salami and burgers to fish, goat's tongue and chicken lollies.

Even in the inner reaches of Basantapur, the local markets are still in full swing. Behind the Ganesh Temple, a man sells baskets of dried fish and vegetables in a pati. Kasthamandap is empty, except for women selling marigold garlands, who still have heaps left from their daily stock. As they try to convince you to buy some, they keep watchful eyes on their children, their shadows prancing about as they play hide and seek in dark corners. A woman at a madal shop spreads black coal on dried skin to make the black circles on the drum. "It would be so much easier," she jokes, "if the Chinese made our madals."

From a small caf? around the square, the white stucco palace at the centre is bathed in reflected glory. Youngsters chatting on the highest steps of the temples start making their way to their bikes, and lovers stand up to leave. Even in the dark, noisy square, most people seem to come here for peace, and many leave for home having found it.



LATEST ISSUE
638
(11 JAN 2013 - 17 JAN 2013)


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