leaving footprints in nepal

elderly lady in kathmandu nepalThere’s a common responsible travel saying “leave only footprints, take only photographs”, but actually leaving photos can also prompt some precious experiences, as Emily Hogan discovered in Nepal

“In the back streets of Kathmandu, a thin, weathered, elderly lady sits on the side of the road with a handful of newly-picked flowers to thread and sell to passers by. She is but one of many selling the same thing to the same type of people, all for a few rupees at the end of the day.

I buy some flowers and ask her if I can take her picture. She speaks no English, so I show her the camera and make a gesture towards her. She sits up tall, making a stern face I had not seen before, not a smile in sight. I proceed to take her photo.

The next day I take the picture to her as a gift. She excitedly calls on her nearby sellers to come and see her. She then proceeds to set us up for another photo of her and myself. Urging for it to be brought back the next day as she lays flowers around my neck and gives a beckoning call. She is a lovely lady and very grateful for the photos, and I am also grateful for the opportunity.”

Tour Nepal with Intrepid on trips like these great small group adventures:
Annapurna Circuit – 22 days
Nepal Adventure – 15 days

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* photo by Thai Neave – Intrepid Photography Competition

About the author

Sue Elliot - Like many of us, Sue contracted a serious travel bug at an early age. She's visited over 90 countries in search of a cure, but her wanderlust just seems to get worse. Thankfully at Intrepid Travel she's amongst people who understand the affliction and since 1998 Sue has enjoyed being our blog and newsletter editor. Here you'll find helpful travel advice and inspiring tales from Sue and other Intrepid travellers.

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I also have had a lovely experience with an old lady in K’du. When there I like to roam the old city as, to me, it so much more authentic than Thamel. The first time I encountered my old lady she was begging and as it had pretty well been drummed in to me not to give to beggars but to give to organisations that can dispense donated funds more equitably I denied her request to only seconds later have a brain snap…….in all my years of travelling Asia and the subcontinent I had not heard of “old people” charities…..not sexy enough???…not cute like little children or baby animals???. I’ll be old before too long….I quickly called her back and gave her a lousy 50 rupees for a meal and the payoff was heart wrenching…..a squeeze and being called “Didi” (sister) and the biggest heartfelt smiles. Needless to say from then on each day when I was in the old quarter I looked for her to buy my friend a meal. What happens to the old people who have (apparently) no family and no visible means of support in a country with no Social Security. When I reach her age in Australia I’ll at least be able to feed myself and not have to beg sustenance from strangers. I’ll be looking for my Didi again next I’m in Kathmandu.

What a great story! Congratulations Emily. My daughter & I were in Kathmandu a few years ago & found the people so friendly & clean. We also had some great experiences.

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