Junctions in Lalitpur: Defining a path or a journey?

(Text and photographs by Veneeta Singha)

If you walk around Jhamsikhel near Kathmandu, at any time, you will find numerous points, people and passages of interest — of interest in numerous ways but storytellers and stories bear a finality of impact through their documentary capacity and readability. Recent years have given rise to a burgeoning culture of gaffes and gulleys that defy social providence. As an inhabitant of Kathmandu, I have witnessed change, unprecedented change, in the city and the surrounding areas. However, it can be said that change is a point of passage in and of itself.

The crossroads, in any built and structured terrain, are a necessity. A spatial necessity and modern conundrum, then, must be given their due (and much-deserved ink). I have walked and driven by many junctions and the Nepali tinkune (three-cornered junction). Some moments and messages therein, however, are too trite and trying on the nerves to articulate in any coherent and comprehensible manner. My commiserations do lie with the everyday people who have little choice but to clean, coerce and continue as beacons of civility. I even saw a friendly dog go on the obligatory patrol round. It was a heartening moment.

Over this winter, I sat at a café and watched the world go by. It seemed the world was in a hurry and some had meagre plans. Often, there were forces at play at the crossroad junction that merited closer scrutiny but we were lacking in our search for the motivational speaker. People, points, passage and a prohibitive rush for access had turned into the proverbial eager beavers who were chastised in nursery rhymes but, nevertheless, turned up for the tea party. It was not the quiet neighborhood I had anticipated. And, time took over the rest of the movement and wifi.

Does the city ever really sleep? Does the crossroad ever sit quiet, empty and sparse after the well-fueled engines of activity are gone? Does the frenetic interplay of presence and consequence log off and become grid-aware? Certainly, Jhamsikhel will thrive and collide well into the future. It will sing songs of experience. It will amplify and broaden the Nepali narrative with its newly acquired memoranda and memorabilia. It will hasten that jaunt of city life. It will call upon many to decaffeinate. But will the crossroads from which Jhamsikhel has earned its stripes call upon any to witness the passage of time?

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