The streets of Kathmandu still show signs of the 2015 earthquake, bricks spill into the streets from a side alleyway and the entire city seems to be coated in a dust that drifted off the shaking mountains only to cover the city in a permanent mask . I walk down the street with my camera clutched in my right hand, trying to look confident and comfortable. It’s not uncommon for young boys and men to zip by on scooters and snatch whatever you have around your neck or in your hand. This particular area feels like a likely place to get jumped so I unclip the leather buckle of my watch and slide it into my pocket. The sun dips in and out of the cracked structures that line each side of the street. As I walk, looking for angles of sunlight or an interesting composure to capture, I hear the beating of a drum and the swell of music faintly sweeping through the streets. With no destination or objective for the evening, I naturally follow the music and arrive at a small archway that I would have passed by unknowingly if not for the musical presence reverberating off the courtyard walls.
Stepping through the arch and into the courtyard, I see a celebration taking place.Traditional dress is the fashion of the evening, with bright red sarongs partially revealing the abdomen being the choice of many women. Most of the men wear a stiff looking suit and circular hats. More noticeable than the clothes are the permeating smiles worn with ease by those attending. The marching band is composed of roughly 15 musicians sitting in a semicircle, dressed in red and white uniforms which accentuate the dark skin underneath their cotton garb. I’ve always found other ethnicities more attractive and intriguing in appearance than European Anglo Saxons, the women in the courtyard have a confidence about them that makes them more striking than the average woman walking down a street in Seattle. I feel slightly out-of-place, being very caucasian and wielding my large picture machine. After a few smiles and nods, I feel comfortable shooting some photos. A woman comes over and plops her child down in front of me and motions with her hands to take a picture of her kid. “Sweet, works for me.” I think to myself.
The band continues to wail away with various clarinet solos mixed throughout the performance. The actual wedding is taking place inside a closed off structure of cloth, I don’t go in out of respect to the family and the the couple to be wed. Many of the people attending the wedding begin going into the tent, leaving the band performing to an almost empty square. As I begin gathering my things to leave, I catch a glimpse of the mother and the bride through the doorway. The connection between them is strong and I wonder to myself how humans across the face of the earth, with a thousand different cultural norms, all inherently know how to express love without more than a glance. I step through the archway and back into the street as mopeds and taxis creep along the clogged veins of Kathmandu; thankful for a sojourn into a few lives other than my own.
‘Til Next Time,