Without holding the paper with my name written on it, I would be lost. Fortunately, there was a prearranged taxi driver, Jay, who was waiting till I applied for visa and was allowed to enter “a little bit” different world. The world was waiting for me outside of Tribhuvan International Airport.
Although I was here for just a few weeks, I was full of new experiences and perceptions. In the Czech Republic, which is my home country, we live a more boring life, at least at the first sight. Chaotic traffic, honking cars, poor people, very dusty roads and polluted air are my first impressions from Kathmandu, but also the very kind people, always willing to advise when you are lost in the streets, wonderful culture, impressive places and warm atmosphere.
Life in Kathmandu can be described as a mess. It seems that surviving here only a couple of days requires a great deal of alertness and luck. Just crossing the road takes a lot of courage. In the Czech Republic, transport is well organized, road signs are everywhere, with regulations and restrictions as well. And yet, I cannot say that it means that it is always safe. There are careless drivers, who do not respect the rules and knowingly threaten the others.
Like the traffic, chaos reigns in the power lines here in Kathmandu. This is a matter that continues to fascinate me. So many tangled wires, who should sort? Yesterday, I saw on the street repairmen who obviously know the ropes. Electricity related to the fact that in the Czech cities there are lights during the night. Everywhere there is lighting, and it keeps people to stay awake longer, I think. Here in Kathmandu, after 9 PM, there is a relative calm, except for barking dogs. That suits me well.
One of the most serious things here in Kathmandu I consider is air pollution. This is a subject about which there is everyone to start talking. And, that's good. According to the Pollution Index 2016, Kathmandu is the third city in the world with the most polluted air, while in the 2017 Kathmandu is in the sixth position. Causes of pollution are brick factories, old diesel cars, home-made vehicles, diesel generators. But also the fact that the city lies in the valley and there is lack of the wind.
How to solve this serious problem? It is quite challenging. If the ban on the traffic of an old car is enacted, many people will not have money to buy new ones. However something must be done, due to the people’s health. That's important. Air pollution kills people. People must make greater protests, because this situation is unsustainable.
I read in one of Nepal guidebook what most of the tourists take from this country as the greatest experience are the Himalayas and meeting the local people. The Himalayas, I've seen them just away from Kathmandu, so only really nibble. It was a highly symbolic view and I believe that I will see them closer. It is already clear to me however, that a meeting with Nepalese will be my greatest experience that I'll take away. I like the fact that people here, despite all the problems, seem to be more calm. Every fourth Czech suffers from a mental disorder. According to statistics, antidepressants take roughly five percent of Czechs. And two years old Prague Psychiatric Clinic study shows that burnout feel threatened 34 percent of people in the Czech Republic. Although we are materially better, the Czechs are more stressed.
Everywhere there is something good and something bad. In Prague, the Czech capital, there is a cleaner air and greater prosperity, and yet it seems that the people are less happy.
(Jan is a Czech journalist.)