Nepal: Patan and the ongoing fuel crisis

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21 December 2015

Electricity came on around 9 pm last night and went off in the morning. The time changes everyday but I’m told that you are guaranteed at least 6 hours of electricity everyday. I started to become quick friends with candles and cold showers.  The walk from Thamel towards Patan’s Durbar Square was a slow one since the streets are narrow and traffic is a nightmare. I walked around the area, ended up at various temples and became lost since I mistook Kathmandu Durbar Square for Patan Durbar Square (Durbar means palace). DSC02031

Patan or Lalitpur – known as the City of Fine Arts (RS500), lies across the Bagmati River and is more impressive in terms of traditional crafts and artistic heritage than some attractions in Kathmandu Durbar Square. The main reason- less tourists and less people.

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One of my obsessions- mirror and reflection

Patan is filled with shops, residential areas, temples, courtyards and narrow alleyways. I’m not sure where she was and whether it was the sun ray that led me to lay eyes on her but once I did, I couldn’t stop looking.  I tried my best to be subtle about it then she turned her head and we locked eyes. She smiled and greeted me with such pleasant elegance and thankfully, she was more than happy to have her photo taken.

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True beauty that comes with age

Grandma is 82 years-old and has lived in Patan all her life. She enjoys basking under the sun every afternoon because the warmth from the sun makes you feel happy and help to soothe any pain that you may have. She thanked me for visiting her country even after the earthquake and said “You, pretty!”. However, I beg to differ since she is the real beauty here. Her grace, natural beauty and that smile- wow! I’m in love. Despite her age, her beauty is timeless and she reflects the best example of ageing gracefully. I just hope that I can age gracefully and live well into old age since that has become such a luxury.

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Having snacks withlocals

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Before leaving Patan city, curiosity led me into a very unique and local restaurant that sells everything from momo to local egg dishes. It was super great to watch the owners cook fresh meals and to share them with the locals customers.

DSC02192On the way back to Thamel, an endless line of motorbikes and cars were parked outside a petrol station. Why? Fuel crisis.
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Nepal is in the 4th month of a fuel crisis. Any cut in natural resources will plunge a country into great inconveniences and unrest. As a landlocked country, Nepal depends heavily on India for supplies and when India halted border trade with Nepal, that led to  severe shortages in essential supplies such as petrol, diesel, fuel and cooking gas. I was told by the guesthouse manager that anti-India sentiments are common. I understand why Nepalese are unhappy since they see India as meddling with Nepal’s internal affairs. Many felt that India is angry at not being able to control Nepal and is allegedly unhappy with the new constitution (20th September) – hence the punishment in the form of an economic blockade.

No comments here about this dispute between India and Nepal. All that I can say is- I took many things for granted- clean running water, electricity, food, clothes and much more. The current dry season which results in power cuts along with this fuel crisis does little for the people who are still trying to get over the aftermaths of the earthquake. Economy is suffering with tourism being one of the biggest hits. It is always the people who pay the price.

Many residents who rely on their cars and motorbikes for transportation must wait in long lines outside designated petrol stations. Only registered vehicles can line up for petrol and there is a limit. Motorbikes can only have 4 Litres and the cost has since tripled. 

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The policeman showed me around the petrol station

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The last truck for the day

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I feel sorry for the people yet their orderly fashion, patience and positivity shown by their kindness through such difficult times is rewarding.