Impressions of Kathmandu-ようこそネパール！
By Anthony Wilder Wohns
The following is a scattered collection of my impressions of Nepal, which has quickly become one of my favorite countries in the world.
After spending more than two months in Japan this summer I flew to Nepal via Kuala Lumpur. As soon as I walked off the tarmac and into Tribhuvan International Airport, I realized that Nepal is a world away from Japan.
After the customs official added another dollar for himself to the ¥2500 fee to enter the country, I walked out met my parents and Dr. Sushil from Tribhuvan University Teaching Hospital. As we drove to the hotel, I was impressed by amount of traffic. Honking motorbikes sped through momentary openings in endless rows of Maruti Suzuki taxis and the occasional Toyota SUV. Some large roads had been improved or expanded with grants from the Japanese and Chinese governments, but many roads in the city are dirt/asphalt combinations in various states of repair. This correlates to daily bumpy rides across the city. After coming from meticulously kept roads of Japan, adapting to the new conditions took a few days.
Another interesting thing that I noticed while walking and driving around Kathmandu is the ubiquitous language and technical schools. Banners for these schools can be found across Kathmandu advertising
“Learn English, Hebrew, Japanese, Korean, Chinese, French”
“Study abroad in Japan, Latvia, India”
“Learn Computer Programming”
Signs advertising these specific languages, countries, and skills can be found all over the city. The inclusion of Hebrew was particularly surprising to me. Even after asking several people, the best answer I could get was that “Israelis love Nepal.” Some of the signs spelled Hebrew “Hibru” and Korea “Koria” which made me suspect the quality of services offered.
The temples of Nepal are very impressive. I particularly like the eyes that are found on many of the Buddhist stupas. Of course, there are many aesthetic similarities to Japanese Buddhist temples, but in general I find that Nepali temples and monks are much more colorful and ornamented than their Japanese counterpart.
Another fun experience is seeing the monkeys that are found around Swayambhunath and Pashupatinath. These monkeys are very entertaining, particularly the baby monkeys, but they can be aggressive as well. We saw a monkey leap and grab a big mango out of the hands of a surprised Chinese tourist before it escaped to the safety of a tree.
I have found the people of Nepal to be extremely kind and friendly. When we were lost on the streets of Kathmandu, I believe that you can ask almost anybody for assistance and they will be only too happy to help.
As for the hospital, I am most impressed by the expertise of the doctors, residents, and nurses. For example, yesterday I attended an outpatient clinic with Dr. Shilkapar, Dr. Gopal, Dr. Wohns, and Dr. Steffen. From 2:00 until half past 6:00 Dr. Shilkapar saw perhaps 40 patients. His efficiency and knowledge was extremely impressive.
This picture is of Dr. Wohns and Amit (a neurosurgical resident) during surgery.
The hospital itself was built in 1992 in cooperation with the Japanese government.
I was able to help out a little bit by preparing cotton gauze for surgery.