Jazz Night in Kathmandu
Jazz Night in Kathmandu
As I boarded the bus for downtown Kathmandu, all I could think of was that I was grateful that I was traveling with seasoned bus riders. I was joining a small group of volunteers going to Jazz Night, a weekly tradition for this group that included Suranjan. Jazz Night Kathmandu takes you to amazing night life of Kathmandu.
Reading the sign on the bus, Suranjan informed us that we would have to transfer to another bus in order to get to our destination. Buses in this region aren’t the size I was expecting – they’re more of a large van than what you would define as a bus in America. Not wanting to waste any time, the driver started hauling down the road before I could even choose a seat to sit in.
The ride to Kathmandu from Khahare is a spectacular one. The sights out the window are just so different from the ones I’m used to seeing, both foreign and domestic. As the city approaches, my nostrils begin to slightly burn, since Kathmandu’s pollution levels are pretty extreme. A mix of cigarette smoke, car emissions, and road dust create an abrasive sensation for your nose, hence some people choose to wear face masks on the streets. I answered no, and he smiled and said, “Okay. Well, get ready!”
When our second bus dropped us off, we were immediately whisked into the chaos that is downtown Kathmandu. Crossing the road is actually a comical act. Cars are coming at every direction, motorcycles carrying up to three people are weaving in and out of traffic. Horns compose a frantic rhythm for drivers and pedestrians to heed to. Was it possible to cross multiple lanes of traffic without perishing?
Then it was mine and Simon’s turn. A regular, Simon copied Suranjan’s hand motion and we somehow made our way through the intersection and onto the sidewalk. The sidewalks, however, are no less treacherous.
It’s funny how the moments when you are fearing for your well-being are actually the times when you tend to feel the most alive. Observing the interactions between friends and the bartering between customer and vendor brought peace to the chaos. Not to mention the welcoming smell of momo’s from every corner store.
Eventually we made it to our destination – Jazz Upstairs. We walked to the third floor which contained the venue. In the main part, there was an intimate bar and performing space. We were there to see Kathmandu’s famous jazz musicians, who play a two-hour show every Wednesday and Saturday night.
The drummer, having just returned from a one-month U.S. tour, was the life of the party, performing solos that made people stop dancing just to watch his hands move at incredible speed. But when he started to play, the entire piece came to life.
Given the great time I had there, I doubt this will be my last visit to Jazz Upstairs. Tune in soon for more updates and in the meantime, YouTube Nepali Jazz!
Julia Abbiss | USA | Photo: Duke Nepal