Friday, October 31, 2008
Last weekend I was in Thamel, the tourist area of Kathmandu, and ran into one of those typical Nepali scenes that make you chuckle – or shake your head – and reach for your camera. A group of young men, greased and blackened by the fumes of boiling tar, were trying to lay new blacktop in one of the area's busier intersections. While they had an impressive Komatsu roller for pressing and smoothing, they didn't have any fancy technology for mixing or heating the tar, just a barrel and a fire, nor anything but an improvised bucket for spreading. What they lacked most, though, were a handful of barrel-chested men with sticks to keep the street closed so that they could do their work properly and uninterrupted. As it was, people were walking, riding, and driving over freshly laid, still steaming blacktop.