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Photo by Catherine Von Holt, Nepal Semester.

My Patan Landmarks

Ok.  It’s time to leave my host family and go to Program House for breakfast and our PEN-X  morning meeting.  First, I’ll go out the door of the 8 Paths  to Wisdom.  It’s in a small courtyard with a stupa. Go through the tiny outdoor hallway that links the courtyard to the street outside, and towards the pink wall.  Turn right.  There will be a woman all bundled up in a yak wool blanket by a vat of hot oil frying something that is bright orange.  When I get to the lime green gate, it’s time to turn right.  There will be an open square area with floating bananas on the left and a huge stupa on the right.  Young men will be playing badminton up on a small patio.  Turn left onto the busy street at the ‘coffee and beans’ sign and go along this busy street.  Stay left, not right, because traffic goes on the opposite side of the street here in Nepal.  Speaking of traffic…it is chaotic here.  The trick is to keep going in a manner that is predictable to all who see you, especially drivers and motorcyclists.  That means keep walking at the same speed and don’t make sudden turns even if you realize you’ve forgotten something at home.

Ok, continue on this road until you get to Durbar Square on the left.  Across the street is the ATM ensconced in an intricately carved wooden frame.  That’s where Kevin and I stopped to get Nepali rupees.  He got rupees, but I couldn’t.  Turn right.  You’ll go up a wide street with a mass of people all moving towards you.  Again, walk predictably!  There are lots of stalls with clothing, kitchen items, scarves.  Women sitting along the curb selling garlic, green onions, tomatoes.  Farther along will be a man who sometimes squirts water on the road to keep the dust down.  When you get to the King of Sweaters, sitting up high surrounded by colorful sweaters, it is time to turn left.  Right away you’ll see the carb truck.  Ilana always wants to stop there to get bread, but so far she’s held out for the delicious breakfasts that Krishna-Dai makes for us.  Keep going, and you’ll see the golden temple that’s just below street level.  I don’t know if it is a temple, but there are usually people who stop there to pray, and it has melted candles and marigolds around it, as well as red and orange markings from puja prayers.  There will be a monastery with men chanting on a platform, and probably young men in the background courtyard playing badminton.  A bit past here, I have a decision to make.  I could go up the little hill like my host father suggested, or keep straight and go the way I went when I met up with Rishi and Micah.  Today, I’ll challenge myself and go the new way!

The new way takes me through the Door of Compassion with the rainbow and into a quiet brick courtyard with a badminton court painted on it.  Go kitty corner to the next little hallway.  Once on the busier street, look right and you’ll see the small trash fire with some people huddled around it.  Go up that rocky dirt road, past the school with the white walls and rainbow stripe.  Go left at the little corner where we all unloaded our bags the first day in Patan.  Voila!  I made it to Program House, my friends, and Nepali breakfast!! There will be milk tea, a rice dish, veggies with potatoes, maybe a savory bara lentil pancake and fried egg, fruit.   I wonder if I can learn to make those pancakes at home!