Title:Thamel: Dark Star of Kathmandu
Remarks:B&W Photographs, Epilogue, References and Acknowledgements.
Size:138 x 207 mm
For long a sleepy rural enclave, Thamel is today the beating commercial and cultural heart of Kathmandu—a dizzying square kilometre of hotels, bars, cafés, bookshops and temples to which visitors and residents gravitate, drawn to its dazzle and its possibilities.
In this unusual biography of the place, Rabi Thapa revisits the haunts of his youth. Tramping around its temples and monasteries, he unravels its layered history as well as the tales of the kings, monks and travelling merchants who laid its foundations. From residents—both Nepali and those who visited and never left—he pieces together the story of Kathmandu of the ‘flower-power’ sixties, the legendary Freak Street, and the rise of modern Thamel. On its streets he encounters the stories of glue-sniffing children, local toughs battling for turf, transvestite prostitutes turning tricks, and entrepreneurs looking to make it big. What emerges is a finely detailed portrait of a place that is not only a vibrant, ever-evolving reflection of the social mores of Kathmandu, but also an enduring staging post for Western fantasies of the East.
Written in the best traditions of flânerie, Thamel combines history, memoir and sharp reportage to tell the electric story of a place forever in flux, forever reinventing itself to suit the appetites and desires of those who seek it out.
Rabi Thapa is a writer and editor based in Kathmandu and London. He is the author of Thamel, Dark Star of Kathmandu (Speaking Tiger, 2016) and the short story collection Nothing to Declare (Penguin India, 2011), and the Editor of the literary magazine La.Lit. His work has appeared in the anthologies House of Snow (Head of Zeus, 2016), Himalaya (Speaking Tiger, 2016), Alchemy (Westland Books, 2011), as well as Outside Online, Indian Quarterly, The National, Himal Southasia, The Sunday Guardian, Mumbai Mirror, Profil, Live Mint and La.Lit. He is now working on a book on the environment.