The next market soundscape in the World Sounds series comes from Kathmandu in Nepal. I visited Nepal back in 2008 to see a friend who was working for the UNESCO office in Kathmandu. The majority of our 15 day trip was spent trekking through the Annapurna circuit in the Himalayas, which was a fantastic journey and a great opportunity to experience the peaceful serenity of the mountains (more soundscapes of that to come later in the series). However, the calm of the mountains was quite the opposite of my first impressions of the country. I had never visited a developing country before and the first big impression was the noise of the city.
We landed in Kathmandu and were immediately greeted by about a hundred offers of a taxi service, all being shouted at us. But once we hit the road, it was the noise of the traffic that really shocked me – it’s incredible! The use of car horns in Kathmandu is far more frequent than anywhere else I have ever visited (even today, I consider it to be the noisiest city I’ve been to). I’ll definitely feature some traffic recordings later in the series to demonstrate just how bad this is.
Kathmandu is a very tiring city, mainly due to the excessive noise pollution. As a visitor, you can’t help but stand in awe at the way the locals just get along with their lives despite the constant bombardment of noise that surrounds them on a permanent basis. There are, however, a few areas of the city where the traffic noise is slightly less present, and many of these offer the experience of rich soundscapes. As ever, I found the local markets to be a fascinating sonic experience, so set about recording them whenever I came across one. The following recordings were captured at two different sections of a very long streetside market near to Durbar Square. Predominantly a food market, the street was so full of pedestrians that traffic couldn’t easily pass through. So, of course what better way to announce that you are trying to drive through than to use your horn! It makes for an interesting soundscape that offers yet another different market ambiance.