Kathmandu Street Scene – Waiting to Go

Kathmandu is great for street photography but is probably one of those cities which is either loved or hated.

The air is heavy with exhaust fumes from the many vehicles which seem to weave between other road users, regardless of their method of travel. Road safety seems even lower on the priority list than air pollution. Pedestrians, rickshaws, tuk-tuks, vans, taxis and scooters seem to come from every direction, on foot or wheels it’s a city which requires care to navigate.

Stalls and shops selling trinkets or trekking gear line the bustling streets. Show even the slightest interest in the merchandise and the owner will come scurrying out to persuade the browser to part with some cash. Every other shop seems a tour operator offering a variety of adventure activities, apart from trekking, there is white-water rafting, climbing, mountain biking, jungle safaris and even honey hunting. An adrenalin junkies idea of heaven.

Street photography scene in Kathmandu city, Nepal adventure, adventure travel, photography on Mallory on Travel Iain Mallory-300-217BW

Maybe the quietest street in Kathmandu

It is an extremely photogenic city, especially for those with an interest in street photography. There is something of interest almost every other step, workmen digging up the streets, people sat in doorways splitting bamboo with machetes or making sandals and there’s a shrine around almost every corner. Scores of women flit from trader to trader like bees searching for nectar, looking for fruit and vegetables sold from baskets balanced precariously on old bicycles.

Poverty is widespread, it is impossible to ignore. Begging is also prevalent, beggars are found in most streets. It is impossible not to feel sympathy for them and it’s difficult not to hand some change over. The raw nature of Kathmandu appeals to most travellers but at least one member of our group constantly complained about it being dirty, full of hawkers or beggars and that he did not feel safe there. He is probably not alone in his perception of the city.

Simple scenes like the one portrayed in this image, probably wouldn’t appeal to him and possibly not to others but I really like it. These abandoned trollies, their owners whereabouts unknown, just waiting for them to return. They seem typical of the street scenes in Kathmandu, and black and white appears to suit it well.

There may not appear much happening, but it remains interesting, there is a story, we will all see it differently, have our own version. What do you see?

*This image was taken on a Samsung WB250F wi-fi ready compact camera.


Comments 14

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  1. Lance

    You’ve really captured the essence of Kathmandu. I spent nearly two months there during the Maoist insurgency of 1997-98 – curfews, martial law, etc. were the norm. The choking smoke of trash fires hung in the valley every morning, usually clearing out after lunch. But the scene that always sticks with me are the young children, often without proper clothing, running in the streets begging – for anything. For food. For money. They would even take your trash because it was “exotic.” I would walk in the mornings past the central police station to grab a tuktuk and go to the stupa – all the while with a small parade of children following me. Thanks for sharing your image. It really brought back the memories.

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      Thanks Lance, two months, that a decent period of time to get to know a place and explore it properly. That must have been quite some period to have been there too, and begging children can really tug on the heart strings, difficult to refuse.

      1. Lance

        Iain, Thanks again for your motivation. After nearly 18 years, I finally decide to write about my experience in Kathmandu during the Maoist period and the early days of the civil war. Kathmandu is like no other place in the world and I’m itching to get back there!

  2. fred mucai

    What i see is a city with real people that leave an indelible mark on someone’s memory. It is all very well to visit on guided tours, but you leave without any true feeling of the place if you do not see the day to day events as they unfold. Meeting people and seeing how they survive is the real experience. When you speak about Kathmandu in another country, a native of Kathmandu hearing you will relate.

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