Today was a very productive day. Our morning started on the banks of the Guheswori temple where a group of professional artists were painting their dreams of the Bagmati River. The event was hosted by the High Powered Committee for Integrated Development of the Bagmati Civilization (HPCIDBC) and Nepal Arts Council. We found out that this was the same location where they had done the stream clean earlier in the morning, and the banks were spotless. These weekly cleanups have provided new respect for the river and a sense of hope to the communities. Downstream communities have also noticed a decrease in trash since the Saturday morning activities have started. Unfortunately, the toxicity of the water in the river remains a dire concern. Next week will mark the 150th week anniversary of this initiative.
We spoke to the event organizers about our project, and they were very excited to have us document the finished paintings and the artists later in the day. We decided to use the opening in the schedule to go to Chovar and document the last water test site as the river flows out of the city and valley. A half hour later, we arrived at the location where the river had sliced through a thin narrow slit in the mountain creating a spectacular view.
Unfortunately, we could smell the river as soon as we stepped out of the car, and the water was black with sewage and pollution. This was the worst condition we have seen to date. Nepal seems to be a country of extremes. It is rich in culture, beautiful landscapes and generous people but has a high poverty level and severe pollution in the cities. A metaphor for this was evident near the temple where a film crew was filming a music video of a beautiful woman wearing a silk dress perched on a large rock. Below the rock the ground was covered with layers of garbage, but she was filmed from the waist up, so this was not evident.
After finishing my documentation, we drove back through the crowded streets of Kathmandu to Guheswori where we photographed 16 artists and their paintings. I was really fortunate that this came together the way it did because I had wanted to find artists whose work dealt with the river and here we had a lot them together in one location with their work!
Tomorrow we will go back and shoot the Bagmati River artwork from the public school art competition. Everything is coming together and next week we have scheduled meetings with health professionals, members of the press, artists, and more water quality specialists.