Poor KathmanduSunday, 26 April 2015
In the 24 hours since Nepal was hit by a huge earthquake I’ve been waiting for news from various friends who either live there or have Nepal connections. Over the years I’ve added up more than six months of my life in Nepal – lots of days on lots of trekking routes interspersed with many visits to Kathmandu. Coincidentally I was in Kathmandu in 1989 when the 6.9 magnitude Loma Prieta tremblor hit San Francisco, yesterday’s Nepal quake was 7.8. In those pre-internet and email days I remember getting the front page of the San Francisco Chronicle faxed to a friend’s Kathmandu office. The Lonely Planet office in Oakland was very close to the stretch of double-decker freeway which collapsed.
▲ A section of the double decker Oakland Bay Bridge also collapsed and although it was soon repaired it took almost 24 years for a new bridge to be built. I drove across it on a visit to the Bay Area in late 2013.
My last visit back to Kathmandu was in 2011 when I went there to walk the trek up to Lo Manthang with my daughter Tashi and my son Kieran. Tashi has been back earlier this year.
▲ On that 2011 visit, as I’d done on every trip to Kathmandu from 1972 onwards, I strolled over to Durbar Square in the heart of the old city and sat on the steps of the majestic Maju Deval temple. No doubt it will be recreated, but at the moment the city’s best people watching location is rubble.