It is that time of the year when the streets of Ason get inundated with swarms of Kathmanduites, New Road, more than usual, bustles from dusk till dawn, hordes of pedestrians on the footpaths and even more line up and wait for their last jam-packed buses as they head home after a long day of shopping. Ironically, as Dashain finally arrives with all the merriment of festivities, Kathmandu transforms itself into a more peaceful, quiet city after most of the population has left town.
Home to almost two million citizens, Kathmandu is one of the fastest growing cities as people move in from all over the country. The cultural mélange is reflected in the festivals, businesses and even in the fashion scene which has made this city a widely inclusive hub in terms of diversity. However, it is very easy to lose oneself amidst the busy lifestyle, chaotic traffic and stifling crowds in the streets of Kathmandu. So it comes as no surprise then that people look forward to Dashain not only for the festivities but also for the peacefulness that returns to the valley that one experienced only some decades ago. The unrelenting noise of traffic, the dust and smoke in the air and the swirling crowds that usually rattle one’s brain are replaced by a peaceful ambience. With fewer people around, fewer motor vehicles on the roads, schools and offices closed, and most people preferring to stay indoors, Kathmandu reminds everyone of how beautiful city life used to be once upon a time.
Kathmandu, during the fall, is the most pleasant of all seasons; the congenial weather with slightly chilly mornings and evenings and balmy afternoons make for a pleasurable time. Given that Dashain is one of the most widely celebrated festivals in the country, it multiplies household chores for the women folk. If you are one of those people who love to see the other side of Kathmandu, when it is calm then mornings and evenings is the best time to be out and about to experience it. Put on a light cardigan or a cozy sweater you have been keeping for this particular time of the year, and take a stroll. While in normal days, people walk at a faster pace and the roads have clouds of dust swirling around, during Dashain, the streets are quiet and the air feels fresh and breathable. It is safe to pull down your head scarf (or dust shield) and do away with the mask. Even the busiest quarters of Kathmandu, where normally traffic jams are the order of the day, it is hushed: it appears as if the pulsating city is resting, taking some time off from the maddening rush.
When everyone is knee-deep in their work and engrossed in their daily lives, we don’t realize how much beauty there is around Kathmandu. It is difficult to see past the tall buildings, automobiles cluttering the roads and the mangle of telephone wires, and observe what this city has to offer us. So why not this Dashain, when the mood is much lighter and the weather is perfect, take a moment to appreciate Kathmandu and ruminate over making this place we call our home, cleaner, safer and an idyllic place to live in.