Stories from the Road: A Storefront in Patan, Nepal

Stories from the Road is a collection of stories about my own photographic adventures in South Asia. Sometimes the stories are exciting and sometimes mundane and at times emotional. I hope you enjoy the pictures and the story.

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Today I will share a photograph from my recent trip to Kathmandu, Nepal. It will set the tone for the week. The Photo Focus will be from an Indian photographer who traveled to Kathmandu after the 2015 earthquake. Furthermore, this week I will make a third post, South Asian Photo 101: Mukunda Bahadur Shrestha, he is considered the father of modern photography in Nepal. I hope you enjoy the week of Nepal!

Last week I arrived in Kathmandu on the 20th. I was there the following two full days and left on the 23rd. On my second full day there, the 22nd, I went to Patan (Lalitpur). Last year when I was in Kathmandu I did not make it over to Patan, so I wanted to make sure I made it this time. (To see photos and a video from the trip go to southasianphoto.com‘s facebook page.) I took the bus, it was quit enjoyable but long. Everyone on the bus was very nice. The Ring Road is a road that loops around the entire Kathmandu Valley and it is very dusty. A nice Nepalese woman gave me a mask so I did not have to breathe in the dirt. When we got to my stop several people on the bus let me know, so I would not miss it.

I had a map with me so I took it out when I got off the bus. It appeared that I just had to follow the street straight ahead to reach Patan’s Durbar Square. So I started walking. Once inside the neighborhood I was immediately greeted with old architecture and temples to photograph. At one point I notice the seen shown in the photograph above.

I was drawn to the scene because of the reflection in the window. If you are familiar with my project Udaipur Remember, you know I like layering within a photograph. I was also intrigued by the Buddhist sculpture inside the window. Buddhism in Nepal is influenced by Tibetan Buddhism. However, there is an interesting fusion of Buddhism and Hinduism in Nepal. The overall image gives a nice layering of modern times and the past.

All of the action in the photograph is happening in the bottom two-thirds of the photograph. In this area the scene is hard to read as the statue in the background has multiple arms that give a sense of movement. This is partially overlapped by horizontal white lines created from the reflection of the metal shutter across the street. Behind the reflection there is another smaller Buddhist sculpture and the reflection is interrupted in the bottom right hand corner by a scooter, so you can see its outline. The reflection continues up the window class, in the dark spot the viewer sees backward letters spelling farm sales dei. The scene is framed by a brick wall on the right, cement on the bottom and the metal frame of a doorway and ceiling on the top and left.

Approximately 26% of the Nepalese population is Buddhist (http://nepal.saarctourism.org/buddhism.html, accessed: 09/27/2016). Nepal has a strong Buddhist heritage because Siddhartha Gautama, the man who became The Buddha was born Lumbini, Nepal. He then traveled throughout India spreading his message. Through pilgrims and traders, Buddhism spread through East Asia and the Middle East. Today much of the Buddhist sculpture seen for sale in Nepal is influenced by Tibetan Buddhism. There are two main Buddhist pilgrimage sites in Kathmandu, Swayambunath Temple (which I have discussed in another post) and Bodhnath Stupa.

This photograph is a nice reminder of the quiet walk I took up the street to Patan’s Durbar Square and a nice visual that represents the multilayered nature of religion in Nepal. My main interest in this photograph is its composition. Time will tell what the photograph will mean to me in the future.

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By |2016-11-11T05:24:25-06:00September 27th, 2016|nepal, Travel|0 Comments

About the Author:

Betsy Williamson is an assistant professor of art in the state of New Mexico. Before coming to New Mexico for this job she was an adjunct professor throughout Dallas/Fort Worth, Texas, teaching photography and art appreciation. Between September 2015 and May 2017, she took a break from teaching to pursue art, research and life in India. Now she is back to teaching and part-timing it in India.

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