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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7 Signs You're From the 732

Only the best part of New Jersey.
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If you're from New Jersey, you know how badly the state's looked down upon by outsiders (thanks a lot, Jersey Shore). But you know that all of those false accusations aren't true- the Garden State is your home and only you're allowed to make fun of it. Although Jersey's small, there are different regions and everyone thinks that their's is the best. Here are seven signs you're from the 732, AKA the best part of Jersey:

1. You know that Central Jersey is a place.

One of the biggest arguments is whether or not Central Jersey exists. I live in the middle of New Jersey, so it's pretty funny when people say it's not a real place. I'm not from South Jersey, and definitely not from North Jersey. Also, it's close to both Philadelphia and New York, not just one or the other. Perfect location.

2. Everywhere you go, you see a Wawa.

Legit everywhere, and you go there 24/7. All hail the holy grail.

3. Surf Taco means a lot to you.

Every time I come home from being away at school the first place I go to eat with my friends is Surf Taco. Even when I am home, Surf Taco's always on my mind. Who doesn't love a good taco with chips? P.S. I highly recommend their Teriyaki Chicken Taco, you won't regret it.

4. You go to all the summer concerts.

There's really nothing more fun than summer shows outside, and you already know that PNC Bank Arts Center and Stone Pony Summer Stage are the hot-spots. 'Tis the season of tailgating and enjoying a good show with your friends.

5. Two words: Pork. Roll.

I don't care what Chris Christie has to say, it's pork roll. Quite honestly, Taylor Ham just doesn't sound right. And what's better than a pork roll egg n' cheese on your favorite bagel? Nothing.

6. You live close to the beach...

Spring Lake, Manasquan, Asbury, you name it. You know these areas and where all of the good food spots are in each of them. Living so close to the beach makes for the perfect summers, but with summer comes the bennies.

7. ...So you can easily spot a benny.

If you're from Jersey and you don't know what a benny is, you most likely are one. Bennies usually come in packs; they bring lawn chairs and tents to the beach, wear socks and sandals, and have the "Jersey accent" because they're either from New York or close to.


Cover Image Credit: Wikimedia commons

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K-Pop Taught Me Even If I Don't Understand The Words, Music Is A Universal Language

It doesn't matter if you don't know what they're saying, just appreciate the music.

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With artists and groups coming from all over, it's no surprise how diverse the music industry has become. Recently, the Korean pop market has made its way over to the States. BTS, a K-pop group under BigHit Entertainment, have been trailblazers for this genre. Performing at the Billboard Music Awards, snagging the title of "Top Social Artist" TWO times in a row — these are just a couple things these international superstars have accomplished. Since Psy's "Gangnam Style" in 2012, this is just another look into the K-pop industry for many Americans. After BTS hit many popular talk shows with Ellen or James Corden, many people began to become more open to the idea of Korean music. However, there still is the same question: "how can you listen to that if you don't understand it?"

Recently, BTS' "Fake Love" cracked the US Top 10 list. It should be noted that this isn't the first time Americans have made a non-English song popular. In fact, we have quite a history of it. Remember Luis Fonsi, Daddy Yankee, and Justin Bieber's "Despacito?" Or how about Los Del Rio's "Macarena" in 1996?

It annoys me when people are opposed to K-pop or music of different languages because they can't understand it. You don't have to understand it. What hooked me into BTS was the rhythm of their songs, how addictive and catchy their music was — even if I didn't speak Korean. I used to be one of those people who refused to listen to K-pop because why would I waste my time listening to something I couldn't understand?

But when I allowed myself to open up and appreciate their music, it opened doors to a whole new genre I was missing out on. I discovered new artists, new music, and interest in Korean pop culture. I think that's what it's really about. Those who are willing to discover new kinds of music can gain an appreciation for different cultures and it can create a sense of unity. It is about bringing people together — regardless of race, religion, language — music can find its way to speak to you.

Because I was able to venture out of my comfort zone to listen to different music, it helped me become more open-minded. I listen to music — whether it's in Spanish, French, Korean... anything — because music has no language barriers. It was created for everyone to enjoy.

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