We have been living here for four weeks now and life starts to get organized into routines. We cook, we read, we listen to lectures and we hang out (a lot). We are also still finding our place here: where to shop, where to read, how to bargain, what to order at restaurants, how to dry clothes (when nothing dries in the humidity), how not to be the general western tourists and so on. Getting to know everyone and everything takes time, but we’re getting there, and soon (if not already) we’re going to have friends, knowledge and experiences for life. One of them we had yesterday.
We woke up early thinking we were going to hike up to the Peace Stupa (also called temple or pagoda – see photos), but since the monsoon hasn’t stopped yet (even though the statistics says it should be over) we had to take the bus due to the slippery trail. Hence we walked the hundred and so steps up and got to see the wonderful view over Pokhara. It is truly a very beautiful stupa. Despite all the signs urging the visitors to be silent, there were some tourists (including us) buzzing around the great building. Even though tourism is one of the most important incomes of Nepal, I think that making attractions suitable and open for tourists can in many cases be at the expense of authenticity. One example is how the peace stupa is meant to be a silent place for meditation, but most people wandered around, talked and took pictures.
I feel that the combination of being a tourist and at the same time “live here”, can sometimes feel strange. Mostly because tourists are perhaps perceived as a bit annoying, and you don´t want to identify yourself with that, but on the other hand you also want to see the attractions and have cultural inputs. So how do you take in the culture without touristifying it? Because you will tend to always stand on the outside of the culture, however how much you try to not be a stranger. Maybe some places and,(as one of our lecturers quoted on peace journalism, “Certain photographs … can be used … as objects of contemplation to deepen one’s sense of reality” (Sontag, 2003). The peace stupa does in fact have a very peaceful atmosphere where it lays on top of the hill looking out over Pokhara, so as peace-and-conflict-students perhaps we could let ourselves be inspired by that feeling, and not the following insta-post of the view.