Look what showed up in the newspaper at our breakfast table this morning!
Today was a full day of documentation. I woke up at 4:30 am after going to bed at 11pm. Almost close to enough sleep, but it worked out because I was able to get ready for the upcoming day, write the blog entry and edit the motorcycle video. Because it took so long to download, we finished the blog that evening. I know it sounds confusing, but Jason and I are trying to keep several balls in the air at the same time. After breakfast, we headed upstream to two water test sites. We have selected four sites on the river to concentrate our efforts on for the project. One is at the headwaters, one is just outside of the city before the river enters the city, one is downtown at a UNESCO Heritage Site, and the other is at a location as the river leaves the city. After today, we will only have one more site to document with photographs, video and a quick drawing. More artwork will be created later. The last site we hope to document tomorrow as we work through our long “to do” list.
When we arrived at the first site at Guheswori, we found the banks filled with vegetable gardens and residents walking the stream and collecting water for their gardens. I mentioned in a previous blog entry, the water is extremely polluted, and, due to frequent flooding, the soil along the banks is in a similar state. It is sad to see such committed efforts being so counterproductive.
The second site was at Guheswori, a holy Hindu site where funeral pyres often occur. The residents had made a makeshift barrier to slow the flow of water during flood season but this obstruction also collected garbage and remnants from the funeral rites. Monkeys and cows walked the banks as children filled their sandwich bags with polluted river water to use as water balloons.
We took a short walk over the hill to the holiest Hindu temple in Nepal and a UNESCO Heritage Site, Pashupati. This location is by far the most complicated and difficult site to describe. The hillside is filled with over a hundred religious temples, sculptures and bells. The main activities seem to be centered at one location along the river, which is nestled in a valley of tall temples. As we walked down the wide stone stairway, we saw a funeral pyre in process and two others going through the initial part of the ritual. Male members of the families were carrying the bodies wrapped in bright orange cloth down to the water to dip the feet of the deceased in the river. The air was filled with smoke and the smell of burning incense and grasses and the sounds of prayers, family members crying and loud trumpets announcing the next body coming to the river. The short bridge that linked the two banks was filled with Nepalese residents coming to fulfill their pilgrimage to the temple and tourists from around the world like us. All stood in silence mesmerized by what was occurring in front of them.
We ended our research by going to what some feel is the holiest Buddhist temple in Nepal, Swayambhunath. As one would expect, the feel of this experience was very different. All sites in Kathmandu had experienced some earthquake damage but this site had its most prominent sculptures intact.