Things have quickly returned to normal in Kathmandu. This is more than evident from the attendance in offices, the queues for driving license, passport, etc., the usual traffic jams and slowdowns in many places, and most of all, in the large number of school buses plying the streets from dawn to dusk. It’s such a pleasure to see smartly uniformed school children carrying heavy bags on their shoulders, and with bright smiling faces. It seems that the fear is no more thereof earthquakes; minor aftershocks have ceased to be even a subject of conversation.
People are now more interested in carrying on with their usual affairs, such as making (or planning to make) more money, striking up romantic relationships, arranging cozy get-togethers on weekends, and so on. The school leaving certificate (SLC) results are expected soon, and teenagers will be either flocking to join colleges of their choice here or applying in colleges abroad. In short, all the usual things those make Kathmandu life so vibrant. The tourist hubs like Thamel are coming out of their forced hibernation, the airport is becoming busier, and the sparkle of Durbar Marg dazzles all. New Road being after all New Road, is as busy as ever.
All this is not to say that Nepal is bereft of problems left by the devastating April 25 earthquake; considerations are underway to end the relief stage soon, and to begin the process of rehabilitation in places affected by the quake. Of course, not many are waiting for others to do so; most people living in the affected villages have already started building suitable shelters to cope with the coming monsoon rains, even if they may be temporary. The government, in conjunction with international organizations, has almost finalized plans to rebuild such places with more permanent structures. Vibrancy is in the air. Everybody’s talking about a ‘New Nepal’.
So, this is as good a time as any to visit this beautiful country. You can take it for granted that you will be welcomed with more warmth than usual, which is saying a lot, as Nepali hospitality is world renowned. You will probably get better bargains, and you will be witness to the resilient nature of the Nepali people, who despite many adversities, have learned never to stop smiling.
It would be pertinent to point out here that Nepal is not only Kathmandu; places like Pokhara, Chitwan, and Lumbini are worthy destinations in their own right. They have not been affected by the earthquake and continue to delight all visitors with their fantastic natural beauty, their fabulous wildlife, and their message of peace to one and all. Nearer Kathmandu, the scenic sites of Nagarkot, Dhulikhel, Banepa, Panauti, and so on are awash with the freshness of pre-monsoon rains, the lovely terraced paddy fields around them lush and green. Their world famous resorts continue to provide comfortable accommodation and great cuisine, besides, of course, panoramic views of the lofty Himalayan peaks.
Earthquakes may come, and earthquakes may go, but the supreme natural beauty of Nepal lives on forever, as does the indomitable spirit of its people. As last lines, it should be pointed out that for visitors interested in volunteer tourism, this is the best time to come to Nepal. You’ll have the opportunity of visiting many remote villages, meeting many people, experiencing local lifestyles and culture up-close, and in addition to all this, you will be getting a really heartwarming welcome wherever you go to.