I Spent A Week In The City Of Kathmandu

I Spent A Week In The City Of Kathmandu

A story of homecoming.
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It doesn’t matter how long you lived in Kathmandu in the past, the city always feels strange and alien if you are visiting it after a long time. I visited Kathmandu last week after one and half years and some of the times, I felt like an alien in the town. But, many things looked familiar. The streets of Kathmandu still got occupied by a giant crowd of people — men and women hailing from different parts of the country. The air was still dusty and polluted. People were still in hurry. And there was still a unique vibe—the smell of fried foods mixed with dust and smoke, young men selling clothes in the streets at a very cheap price, people referring to each other not with their first names, but as “brother”, “sister”, “uncle” or “aunt” according to the age, small tea-shops and snack-corners at every nooks and corners of the city, intense traffic jam and public buses filled with a crowd of people — the kind of atmosphere you can mostly find in the South Asian metropolis.

I came to the city of Kathmandu for the first time in 2011, and for the last seven years, I have always found the city under construction. There is something always going on in the city. Currently, the city is still recovering from the devastating earthquake of 2015 in which about 9000 people lost their lives. And there are few ongoing constructions works aimed to widen the streets.

Kathmandu is a beautiful city to live in, but the problem with Kathmandu is the unplanned urbanization — which now would be very difficult to manage as this would mean the reconstruction of the entire city. In Kathmandu, within 100-200 meters, you can find a residential area, a marketplace, maybe one high school, and a small health clinic (if not hospital), and in most of the places, private houses are built without following building norms and codes. The cities and small towns in the west, I have felt, designate specific parts of the cities for the specific purpose — it is rare to find a marketplace or 3 lane streets just in front of your house. It is common to find “everything at one place” in Kathmandu.

My Indian friends say the problem with most of the cities in India is like the problem with the city of Kathmandu. One of my Bangladeshi friends claims Dhaka is worse. I believe unplanned urbanization, centralization of resources, fueled by rampant population growth is the root of all the problems you face in some of these cities in South Asia.

It is not that all parts of Kathmandu are dusty and crowded. There are still some of the places in the city which are clean and less crowded, and these are the places which attract a lot of visitors throughout the year. There are other cities in Nepal including Pokhara and Butwal — which to me — are a lot more managed.

As soon as I landed Kathmandu, I felt I was at home, but the unpleasant reality of the city also came to my mind which I couldn’t escape.

Cover Image Credit: Pixabay

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Your Wait time At Theme Parks Is Not Unfair, You're Just Impatient

Your perceived wait time is always going to be longer than your actual wait time if you can't take a minute to focus on something other than yourself.

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Toy Story Land at Disney's Hollywood Studios "unboxed" on June 30, 2018. My friend and I decided to brave the crowds on opening day. We got to the park around 7 AM only to find out that the park opened around 6 AM. Upon some more scrolling through multiple Disney Annual Passholder Facebook groups, we discovered that people were waiting outside the park as early as 1 AM.

We knew we'd be waiting in line for the bulk of the Toy Story Land unboxing day. There were four main lines in the new land: the line to enter the land; the line for Slinky Dog Dash, the new roller coaster; the line for Alien Spinning Saucers, the easier of the new rides in the land; Toy Story Mania, the (now old news) arcade-type ride; and the new quick-service restaurant, Woody's Lunchbox (complete with grilled cheese and "grown-up drinks").

Because we were so early, we did not have to wait in line to get into the land. We decided to ride Alien Spinning Saucers first. The posted wait time was 150 minutes, but my friend timed the line and we only waited for 50 minutes. Next, we tried to find the line for Slinky Dog Dash. After receiving conflicting answers, the runaround, and even an, "I don't know, good luck," from multiple Cast Members, we exited the land to find the beginning of the Slinky line. We were then told that there was only one line to enter the park that eventually broke off into the Slinky line. We were not about to wait to get back into the area we just left, so we got a Fastpass for Toy Story Mania that we didn't plan on using in order to be let into the land sooner. We still had to wait for our time, so we decided to get the exclusive Little Green Man alien popcorn bin—this took an entire hour. We then used our Fastpass to enter the land, found the Slinky line, and proceeded to wait for two and a half hours only for the ride to shut down due to rain. But we've come this far and rain was not about to stop us. We waited an hour, still in line and under a covered area, for the rain to stop. Then, we waited another hour and a half to get on the ride from there once it reopened (mainly because they prioritized people who missed their Fastpass time due to the rain). After that, we used the mobile order feature on the My Disney Experience app to skip part of the line at Woody's Lunchbox.

Did you know that there is actually a psychological science to waiting? In the hospitality industry, this science is the difference between "perceived wait" and "actual wait." A perceived wait is how long you feel like you are waiting, while the actual wait is, of course, the real and factual time you wait. There are eight things that affect the perceived wait time: unoccupied time feels longer than occupied time, pre-process waits feel longer than in-process waits, anxiety makes waits feel longer, uncertain waits are longer than certain waits, unexplained waits are longer than explained waits, unfair waits are longer than equitable waits, people will wait longer for more valuable service and solo waiting feels longer than group waiting.

Our perceived wait time for Alien Spinning Saucers was short because we expected it to be longer. Our wait for the popcorn seemed longer because it was unoccupied and unexplained. Our wait for the rain to stop so the ride could reopen seemed shorter because it was explained. Our wait between the ride reopening and getting on the coaster seemed longer because it felt unfair for Disney to let so many Fastpass holders through while more people waited through the rain. Our entire wait for Slinky Dog Dash seemed longer because we were not told the wait time in the beginning. Our wait for our food after placing a mobile order seemed shorter because it was an in-process wait. We also didn't mind wait long wait times for any of these experiences because they were new and we placed more value on them than other rides or restaurants at Disney. The people who arrived at 1 AM just added five hours to their perceived wait

Some non-theme park examples of this science of waiting in the hospitality industry would be waiting at a restaurant, movie theater, hotel, performance or even grocery store. When I went to see "Jurassic World: Fallen Kingdom," the power went out in the theater right as we arrived. Not only did we have to wait for it to come back and for them to reset the projectors, I had to wait in a bit of anxiety because the power outage spooked me. It was only a 30-minute wait but felt so much longer. At the quick-service restaurant where I work, we track the time from when the guest places their order to the time they receive their food. Guests in the drive-thru will complain about 10 or more minute waits, when our screens tell us they have only been waiting four or five minutes. Their actual wait was the four or five minutes that we track because this is when they first request our service, but their perceived wait begins the moment they pull into the parking lot and join the line because this is when they begin interacting with our business. While in line, they are experiencing pre-process wait times; after placing the order, they experience in-process wait times.

Establishments in the hospitality industry do what they can to cut down on guests' wait times. For example, theme parks offer services like Disney's Fastpass or Universal's Express pass in order to cut down the time waiting in lines so guests have more time to buy food and merchandise. Stores like Target or Wal-Mart offer self-checkout to give guests that in-process wait time. Movie theaters allow you to check in and get tickets on a mobile app and some quick-service restaurants let you place mobile or online orders. So why do people still get so bent out of shape about being forced to wait?

On Toy Story Land unboxing day, I witnessed a woman make a small scene about being forced to wait to exit the new land. Cast Members were regulating the flow of traffic in and out of the land due to the large crowd and the line that was in place to enter the land. Those exiting the land needed to wait while those entering moved forward from the line. Looking from the outside of the situation as I was, this all makes sense. However, the woman I saw may have felt that her wait was unfair or unexplained. She switched between her hands on her hips and her arms crossed, communicated with her body language that she was not happy. Her face was in a nasty scowl at those entering the land and the Cast Members in the area. She kept shaking her head at those in her group and when allowed to proceed out of the land, I could tell she was making snide comments about the wait.

At work, we sometimes run a double drive-thru in which team members with iPads will take orders outside and a sequencer will direct cars so that they stay in the correct order moving toward the window. In my experience as the sequencer, I will inform the drivers which car to follow, they will acknowledge me and then still proceed to dart in front of other cars just so they make it to the window maybe a whole minute sooner. Not only is this rude, but it puts this car and the cars around them at risk of receiving the wrong food because they are now out of order. We catch these instances more often than not, but it still adds stress and makes the other guests upset. Perhaps these guests feel like their wait is also unfair or unexplained, but if they look at the situation from the outside or from the restaurant's perspective, they would understand why they need to follow the blue Toyota.

The truth of the matter is that your perceived wait time is always going to be longer than your actual wait time if you can't take a minute to focus on something other than yourself. We all want instant gratification, I get it. But in reality, we have to wait for some things. It takes time to prepare a meal. It takes time to experience a ride at a theme park that everyone else wants to go on. It takes time to ring up groceries. It takes patience to live in this world.

So next time you find yourself waiting, take a minute to remember the difference between perceived and actual wait times. Think about the eight aspects of waiting that affect your perceived wait. Do what you can to realize why you are waiting or keep yourself occupied in this wait. Don't be impatient. That's no way to live your life.

Cover Image Credit:

Aranxa Esteve

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My Biggest Physical Insecurity Was My Filipino Skin

Self-acceptance got easier after becoming comfortable in my own literal skin.

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My entire life revolves around being Filipino. Things like the food I eat, my hobbies, my interests, and my values are all somewhat determined by this core piece of my identity. Despite this, there was a point where I was insecure about how being Filipino determined so much, especially how it determined what I looked like.

A majority of Filipinos can be described physically as having tanned skin, dark brown eyes, wide noses, and short or petite statures. Unsurprisingly, this is exactly what I look like, and most of my insecurities actually stemmed from these physical traits that I was born with, but mainly my skin color.

When I was about ten years old, I remember being enrolled in a week-long youth soccer camp during the summer, and the very last day of the camp involved outdoor barefoot tournaments. I hadn't become conscious about my skin until the end of that day, which explains why I chose to neglect the brand new bottle of spray-on sunscreen that my parents had packed me. I had just learned about melanin that past school year, so I thought that my melanin would be enough to protect me from the sun, but at the end of the day, I was at least five shades darker than when I had been dropped off.


Jana Gabrielle


I knew that there was nothing wrong with dark skin, but for some reason, I was embarrassed by the fact that I could even tan that much. It was even more embarrassing when I was innocently asked to take a picture with my white friend who was obviously considerably lighter than me. Ever since then, I stayed aware of how long I stood in the sun, and I even adopted the habit of carrying sunscreen with me wherever I went. I obsessed over DIY skin lightening methods at such a young age, and I even snuck my mother's "light beige" skin products to my room for me to use throughout middle school.

This went on through part of high school until one summer when I realized that I was constantly turning down my siblings' requests to hang out at the pool because, as stated by them, "You just don't want to get darker." I tried to become more confident in my own skin, reflecting on stories my parents told about their childhoods in the Philippines and how they were constantly outside under the sun. Another thing that boosted my confidence was when a cousin told me that it was once common for Filipinos with lighter skin to be associated with the powerful, wealthy nobility and upper class while those with darker skin were often associated with the hardworking, resilient lower class who spent their days toiling in plantations and at sea. Considering how much I value the hardworking spirit, this was surprisingly a really inspiring point for me. This isn't to say that those with lighter skin don't work hard, or that all people with darker skin belong in the lower class. Instead, it shows that anyone of any skin tone or color has something to take pride in about themselves.

Skin color was not my only insecurity, but once I wholeheartedly accepted it, accepting the rest of who I was by blood and by birth became a lot easier. Over time, I took less shame in my tan skin, our unique home cooking and food, my quirky native language, and my family's traditions. I think the biggest obstacles to overcoming such culture- and race-based insecurities are just the circumstances that I grew up in. I'd like to think that if I had grown up in an environment where the majority population was Filipino, I would have less likely faced this insecurity. However, in both American and Filipino societies, standards for how one should act, speak, what one should believe in, and especially what one should look like have been set by history, popular culture, and majority groups.


Jana Gabrielle


As a young immigrant and minority POC in the US, my mere seventeen years of life seemed to be so full of measurements and comparisons to those around me, but along the way, I learned that feeling comfortable with myself should not involve anyone else's acceptance – just mine. I learned to embrace what I now know about Filipino culture and made being Filipino the centerpiece of my identity. It's much easier said than done, but at the end of the day, my skin is my skin just as my heritage is mine to love, appreciate, and share with others as I please.


Jana Gabrielle


Jana Gabrielle

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Jana Gabrielle

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