So, here I am, back in Kathmandu, along with the rest of the Budol 6 as we will henceforth be known! The bandh was called off by the Maoists on 8 May, although they will continue with ‘peaceful protest’ against the current political situation.
In Banepa and the surrounding area it was therefore largely business as usual, although the picture from Kathmandu was a little less clear. The press contained reports of continued pockets of agitation as some of the Maoist cadres felt that if the prime minister was not going to leave office, that their efforts had been in vain. In the light of the changed security situation, VSO have decided that they will resume our language studies in Kathmandu, rather than return the remainder of the group to Budol. The rationale is understandable: there are a number of upcoming events that would require our attendance in Kathmandu, and with the relative uncertainty about the immediate future, the logistics are easier to manage if we are all here. There is a real disappointment amongst the six of us however, as we have all felt welcomed and accepted into the community. The goodbyes bear testament to that, although I have the good fortune of being able to return there once again when my placement begins.
The lifting of the bandh did allow one last trip to another part of the district, and the opportunity to see King Harvest in all his glory. Whole families at work lifting potatoes, cutting and threshing grain, and preparing the ground for the next crop. Outside of every house a tapestry of various grains, pulses and garlic bulbs being dried in the sun.
…and finally arrival at Panauti, a town blessed with an array of temples and buildings whose bricks and mortar are a slowly crumbling time capsule of its history. Once a major trading centre, Panauti sits at the confluence of the Roshi Khola and Punghamati Khola. A third ‘ invisible river’ called the Padbamati is said to join the other two rivers at Panauti, making it an especially sacred site. The Indreshwar Mahadev Temple was founded here in 1294, although was rebuilt in its present form in the 15th Century.