Part of the reason I travel is to learn more about the way people in different cultures live; my life is shaping around ideas I have learned and things I have seen throughout my travels. I also travel in the hopes of finding a place that suites me, a place that I someday may be able to settle down in. Its been eight months since I arrived in Asia and although my quest is far from over I certainly have reached an important mile marker in Kathmandu, Nepal.
Traveling throughout South East Asia I was hard pressed to find an art or music scene. It was rare to see a gallery, exhibition, or concert and even more rare to meet someone personally involved. India showed some promise of a music scene in a few of the more touristic parts but even then I found it all but inaccessible to an outsider. So when I got to Nepal and stumbled upon some live music on my second night in town I was surprised. As it turns out it wasn’t luck, rather there is a buzzing music scene here with a plethora of live performances from jazz or original pop music to cover bands and even some bona-fide rock stars. The moment I started to notice this was the moment I started to feel at home.
Then it got even better upon realizing that I wasn’t alone in my possibly pretentious taste in coffee. Organic & Fair Trade Himalayan coffee is big business around Kathmandu so it comes as no surprise that it is actually harder to find NesCafe than it is to find freshly brewed organic coffee (Yay! Finally!). There is even a place called Karma Cafe where you pay what you would like, or what you can afford, for coffee in the form of a donation. No fancy menu, no set prices. A little added bonus is that Karma coffee just happens to be below a Jazz Conservatory so there is usually some smooth tunes to be heard in the background.
Last, and more certainly not least on my list of things that make Kathmandu feel like home is the food. The Nepalese have nailed it with Momos and Dahl Baht which are staples of the diet here. However Kathmandu, because of its tourism, has everything from falafel to burritos, croissants and donuts. Admittedly I shouldn’t be searching so hard for Mexican food in Asia but I’ve rolled he dice a few times and suffered through just as many bad burritos until I came across the RoadSide Cafe. Miles Davis’s Kind of Blue was lulling through the air and it was the first thing I ate that actually tasted like Mexican food.
So with music in my ears, food in my belly and friends to drink coffee with I will spend a couple more months here as a city dweller. It’s not what I set out to do as I was always more interested in being in nature but there’s something in the air that is keeping me interested in Kathmandu and its a place that has earned my recommendation.