With the exception of small neighborhood shops that resemble bodegas, almost all of the shops here in Nepal’s capital specialize in jewelry, kitchen goods or something else. They’re conveniently bunched together, with spice shops here, shoes there and books around the corner.
Merchants display their goods not only in shops, but outside of temples and on corners. Narrow streets lead to even narrower alleys lined with bangles, televisions, office supplies and beads. Motorcycles and rickshaws squeeze by. Horns blare. Fumes fill the air.
On Monday, Champa and I joined our niece-in-law, Bindu, on a shopping trip that began on New Road and wound through Indra Chowk and other bazaars. We stopped at a jewelry store to repair a ring, a kitchen store to buy metal plates and a hat store for a Nike cap. We climbed two flights up an insanely narrow staircase to an attic stuffed with fabric. While there, I kept thinking to myself, “Please, don’t let there be another earthquake now.”
Along the way, we visited a temple and snacked on momos, samosas and cold drinks. Then we drove across town to one of Kathmandu’s few department stores, Bhat-Bateni, where Bindu bought some kitchen appliances and we bought decorative shopping bags made from rice paper. Finally, we drove to visit Kumar, a tailor who works near our nephew’s office, to pick up a shirt I’d ordered two days earlier — $14.50, custom-made.
By the time we reached home, after 7 p.m., the electricity was already cut off, so we turned on a battery lamp and collapsed on sofas, our purchases strewn around us, waiting to be unpacked the next morning. Our day was a success. We’d shopped ’til we dropped.