Kathmandu: Swayambhunath

Kathmandu Saffron drips down the white stupa like spaghetti sauce on a fat diner.

He asks if I am fit enough to climb the 365 steps to the top of Swayambhunath. I assure him that I am but I have to stop a couple of times to catch my breath.

We are climbing up the back stairway to Swayambhunath when we encounter a craft stall with some fine brass figures. One in particular catches my eye. I spend some time admiring it and naturally the man who owns the stall is encouraged. I always have a hard time with impulse purchases. I need time to convince myself that I’m making a good decision. I decide that I’m not prepared to buy this figure. We tell the stall owner that we will visit the temple complex and see him again on the way back down. We continue on to the stupa and the other monuments. We are just about to descend using the main stairway at the front when the man appears. “Where are you going? You promised me that you would stop by my stall on the way back down.”

I ask if the rain will offer temporary respite from the horrendous air quality, washing the filth from the air as it falls. He says “There is fecal matter in the rain.”