Editorial . June . 2012

Cups of Tea

There seems to be no problem in Nepal that cannot be solved by having endless cups of tea. The response to any situation seems to culminate in this most common Nepali habit of, “let us have a cup of tea”. It is then only logical to understand why there are so many tea shops in this beautiful country. Talking of the natural beauty of Nepal, it is with great pride and joy that we saw the climate smart celebrity trek led by our very own Appa Sherpa complete 1555 kilometers of the Great Himalayan Trail in 99 days. The GHT as a concept, and as an aspiration for many, is here to stay and ECS will do its part to continue to bring stories and images in the months and years ahead. It is anybody’s guess to figure out how many tea shops will be opening up on the GHT in the next ten years.

As the importance and value of Kathmandu’s globally unique heritage sinks in, it is wonderful to see restoration of some key monuments. The Jana Bahal in the heart of Kathmandu and Hiranya Varna Mahabihar (Golden Temple) in Patan are getting some well deserved attention and a facelift. Both these sites are great attractions to local and foreign visitors. The best times to be in these monuments are early in the morning so that you can observe some of the rituals as well. We must make sure that these built and living heritage is preserved for all generations to come. Please contribute to such efforts in any way possible.

Getting around Kathmandu and for that matter, any city in Nepal, can be quite an experience. One thing we all will learn very quickly is that the shortest distance between two points is “not a straight line”. If one takes it in the right spirit, it can be quite an efficient way to get around, affordable and a great way to make new friends. The trips will have some elements of surprise each time as well. In order to address the issues of air quality and congestion in the Kathmandu valley, mass transit will be the only real solution. There simply is no land available to widen roads. As it is, too many trees have already been “sacrificed”. It is also really heartening to see the growing popularity of bicycles and the voice to create cycle lanes is getting louder by the day.

The Peace Corps, one of the most popular institutions among the Nepali people, is back after a short break. We would like to welcome them and hope to hear of and see the continuation of the wonderful hands-on and grassroots work that they did in the past. The spirit of volunteerism is what the world needs today to tackle some of society’s toughest problems. In this issue of ECS we bring you stories about Muktinath, the popular pilgrimage site in the Kali Gandaki valley, the insights into maps, glass blowers and their products and many of our regular features. Whatever you do this month, please take time out for the Nepali way.