Prose from Jeff Rasley

Welcome to Kathmandu 1995

Where are the traffic lights and street signs?

Water buffalo, cows, dogs, goats, roosters, and chickens wander across and sleep in the streets.

Masses of people – women in beautiful flowing saris with dabs of paint on their foreheads and men wearing clothes of every conceivable style from leather biker-jackets to loin cloths – walk, run, push carts loaded with lumber, bricks, or raw meat.

Street vendors point at their goods and shout as we pass by.

Shop owners gesture enthusiastically or doze, and beggars hold up withered limbs or a malnourished child.

We pass men shaving and women washing their long black-hair in buckets of water right beside the street.

Cars, busses, trucks, motorcycles, bicycles, rickshaws, tuk-tuks, and animal-drawn carts flow chaotically by.

Road surfaces vary from stone, brick, pock-marked pavement, or rutted dirt.

Odors of incense, spicy foods, diesel and auto exhaust, sewage, and body odor assault us. Horn blasts, shouts, conversations and arguments in a polyglot of languages, bleats, barks, bellows and clucks of animals, and the grinding gears and strain of rickety vehicles on the verge of collapse create a surround sound you’d never hear in Indiana.

Our car pauses beside a bright red rickshaw. Its driver stares at us with dark perplexed eyes, then opens his almost toothless mouth and laughs as we pull away.

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