A Look at Life Outside the World’s Largest Stupa
Photos and Text: Emma Mosemann
If you don’t know where you are going you would miss the tiny blue gate that leads you into a world all it’s own. Half dressed children play marbles on the mud steps, women scrub clothes, and babies toddle around playing with whatever they find. There are rows and rows of small brick rooms, each about six by six foot in size. The tin roofs of the houses make the heat unbearable in the summer and let the cold winds sweep through in the winter. A small pump in the center of the community is put to good use as it is the only water source in this community. Women flock around it with their buckets, hauling water for laundry, dishes, bathing, and making the daily tea. At the end of each row of houses, there are two toilets, squatty potties behind a tin door. This community is located outside the biggest Stupa in the world, Boudhanath. The people living here are Indian. They have come from India most of them in hopes of finding better work or sending their children to school. Unfortunately, most of them haven’t found jobs so their livelihood comes from what they make begging on the streets, shining shoes, painting henna designs, or selling small souvenirs. Their lack of material goods hasn’t really affected their community in a negative way though. What belongs to one person belongs to everyone, the smallest amounts of food are split between several families. Even the children lucky enough to go to school come home and teach the other children how to read and write. If you take the time to stop and talk here you will always be invited in for a cup of Chia (Indian tea). Even though the living situation in this community is what would be considered, less than desirable, for many people in the western world; this culture has much to offer in modeling what a close knit community looks like and how it operates.