On Saturday, terrible, tragic news came from Nepal… a devastating 7.8 magnitude earthquake leveled ancient temples of the Kathmandu Valley, collapsed houses, and killed thousands. I still can’t quite process what happened. It’s hard to fathom that beautiful, peaceful Durbar Squares of Kathmandu, Patan, and Bhaktapur – which I visited just less than a year ago – were destroyed in a matter of seconds. These sacred spaces, in a few terrifying moments of the ground shaking violently in pointless wrath, became hell on earth.
I know that Nepal will recover and rebuilt. Destruction on that scale – and even larger – happened in 1934 when the 8.0 magnitude earthquake did similarly unimaginable damage. I remember when visiting the ancient squares and temples I was looking at old black-and-white photos of how these places used to look prior to that earthquake. I’m sure one day we’ll look again at the painful before-and-after photos flooding the media now and, with the perspective of time, appreciate the country’s renewal after tragedy.
In the meantime, my heart goes out to all the victims who suffered in this terrible event. And my mind, weary of the images of death and destruction, longs for Nepal’s serenity, temporarily lost but sure to be recovered – hopefully soon. Behold the Garden of Dreams.
This historic, classically designed garden is – or at least was when I was there – an unexpected oasis of peace and quiet in the middle of Kathmandu’s urban buzz. Created by Field Marshall Kaiser Shumsher Jung Bahadur Rana in 1920, the garden is just across the street from the former Royal Palace at the entrance to the Thamel. But it feels like it could be miles away from the city’s tourist core, in a different world really. That is where I go in my mind today to recover some semblance of peace, to remember Nepal’s enduring beauty, and to celebrate the resilience of its people.