Let It Be

Today is the first day of the strike in Kathmandu. It was imposed by the Maoists. They said if someone violates the strike rules, keeps his shop open, or drives around, etc., they will ruin the person and his business. People are frightened, everything is closed, Thamel looks like a ghost town in a Thai horror movie. The only cycle rickshaw driver who manifests on the street the moment I step out of the hotel, wants me to pay 300 rupees to get to the nearby Durbar Square, because ‘he is the only means of transport today’, he says, but I bargain it down to 40. It isn`t easy though. I’m hanging around all afternoon on the square, which is a little more busy than other parts of the city, thinking what I should tell my group tomorrow when I start guiding them through Nepali history and vision. Huge temples are facing the old royal palace. Some Kathmanduites are sitting on the stairs around the temples, having a chat or reading the newspaper. Tourists try to squeeze everything into their cameras; fake sadhus come up to them to get hard cash for their photos. Kids are asking for biscuits. Guides want to take me around. As the sun goes down I walk along Freak Street looking for dinner. The hippie movement started here in the 70s, and the atmosphere didn`t change much since then. There is no one in the restaurant, but it’s open. The waiter looks at me trying to figure out my mood. Then selects a tape. Let it be.

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