Hole in the Donut Cultural Travel
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Shop owner strings a custom necklace in the Pote Bazaar (bead market) area of Indra Chowk in Kathmandu, Nepal

Click on title to view photo in large format: Shop owner strings a custom necklace in the Pote Bazaar (bead market) area of Indra Chowk in Kathmandu, Nepal. Hindu women, especially those of the Brahmin and Chhetri caste, receive a string of these beads at their wedding, which they wear for the rest of their lives as a symbol of their marriage. Though the shop owners at Pote Bazaar are now facing competition from newer shops in malls, the tiny stalls at Indra Chowk are still considered the traditional place to purchase items made from the glass beads. Read More

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Nepali woman squats next to her makeshift vegetable stand in Kathmandu, Nepal

Click on title to view photo in large format: Nepali woman squats next to her vegetable stand in Kathmandu. For many residents of Nepal, the meager sales garnered from makeshift kiosks such as this one mean the difference between starvation and eating, especially since the devastating earthquake that struck Nepal in 2015. She sells fresh fruits and vegetables, which she likely grows on a tiny plot near her home, as well as snacks such as potato chips and candy bars. She wraps herself in a colorful shawl to ward off Read More

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Fresh chiles (khursani) at the Kalimati Fruits and Vegetables Market in Kathmandu, Nepal

Click on title to view photo in large format: Chilies (khursani) at the Kalimati Fruits and Vegetables Market in Kathmandu, Nepal. These exceedingly hot chilies are used in many Nepali recipes. Every Nepali household keeps a stock of these spicy peppers, which can be stored for long periods if ground up and dried. Restaurateurs & residents flock to this wholesale market early every morning to buy fresh fruits and vegetables like the khursani shown above. The market also offers fish from lakes in India, which are Read More

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Six months after the temblor, I flew into Kathmandu to see for myself what life was like in Nepal after the earthquake that killed nearly 9,000 people and made hundreds of thousands homeless. I knew that my adopted family and friends had all survived, but the images of destruction that had been plastered across the TV screen for days on end suggested that most of Kathmandu had been reduced to rubble. As my plane descended, I surveyed the landscape. Here and there, mounds of bricks were stacked up where buildings had toppled and piles of debris lined the rivers, but unlike what the media had portrayed, the city appeared to be largely intact.

Maju Dega temple (left) and Narayan Vishnu temple (right) in Kathmandu's Durbar Square, before the earthquake. Both were totally destroyed.

Maju Dega temple (left) and Narayan Vishnu temple (right) in Kathmandu’s Durbar Square, before the earthquake. Both were totally destroyed.

Maju Dega temple (left) and Narayan Vishnu temples in Kathmandu's Durbar Square, after the earthquake. Both were totally destroyed.

Maju Dega temple (left) and Narayan Vishnu temples in Kathmandu’s Durbar Square, after the earthquake. Both were totally destroyed.

On the ground, the damage was more evident. At Durbar Square in Kathmandu, tears welled up as I surveyed the damage. The Maju Dega Temple, where I had enjoyed many hours of people watching from its upper tiers, was completely destroyed, as was the adjacent Narayan Vishnu Temple. Almost every remaining historic building was shored up with wooden pilings. Centuries-old wooden beams carved with Hindu and Buddhist tantric scenes sat in a tarp-covered heap, waiting for reconstruction efforts to begin. The Durbar Squares (Palace Squares) in Bhaktapur and Patan/Lalitpur, as well as the UNESCO World Heritage sites of Swayambhu, Boudhanath, and Pashupatinath, had also sustained damage, though nowhere near as severe as Kathmandu’s Durbar Square. Read More

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Girl with kohl-ringed eyes and a red tika on her forehead is all dressed up and waiting to perform the Bhailo dance during the Hindu holiday of Tihar in Pokhara, Nepal

Click on title to view photo in large format: Girl with kohl-ringed eyes and a red tika on her forehead is all dressed up and waiting to perform the Bhailo dance during the Hindu holiday of Tihar in Pokhara, Nepal. While performing, female dance troupes sing the Bhailo song, which is only sung during the Tihar celebration each fall. The female groups roam Read More

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Nepali Woman makes fried Sel Roti rice flour rings over an open fire during the Hindu holiday of Tihar in Pokhara, Nepal

Click on title to view photo in large format: Nepali Woman makes fried Sel Roti rings over an open fire during the Hindu holiday of Tihar in Pokhara, Nepal. Made from sweetened rice flour that is poured by hand into boiling oil, Sel Roti are cooked until slightly crispy. After browning on one side, the ring is flipped over using Read More