The streets of Putalisadak are dusty and smoggy all the time. Strains of music rise from the multitude of music classes, drums thud away. People are wrapped up in their own lives, thinking a billion thoughts, taking a thousand steps. Sounds of sizzling meat and tantalizing smells of hot momos wafting from small bhattis are enough to make a person stop thinking about his business reports and consider a bite to eat. Horns blare out, traffic slows down, pedestrians swear at drivers and drivers curse back under their breaths. Oblivious of all this, a girl crosses the street briskly, looping an iPod cable in her fingers and bobbing her head ever so slightly to music only she could hear.

If she has to go anywhere, she walks. She cannot bear the speeding microbuses and safa tempos that just want to cram in as many people as possible no matter how uncomfortable. Neither will her mother allow her to buy a small scooty to ride because she fears her only child will get into a road accident and get injured, or worse, killed. She didn’t press her parents for the scooty however, she prefers to walk. With her trusty iPod playing all her favorite tunes, she hums to herself, lost in her own world, her own thoughts. She looks at the people passing by, searching for emotions in their faces in the few seconds she will see them. She catches their eye, looks disconcertingly deeply then drops her gaze and continues, forgetting them already. She passes with indifference the young men on the streets teasing and hooting at her, but smiles at babies and calls out softly to stray dogs playing at the footpaths.

She had left her house two hours ago. She had casually called out to her mother that she was going to be gone for a while. Her mother had grumbled how rarely she stayed home, and how messy her room always looked! But she didn’t try to stop her from leaving. She didn’t have anywhere particular she had to go or anything she had to do; she wasn’t stressed out and in dire need of solitude. She just wanted to take a walk. She shuffles in her plain, slightly long jeans, her arms limp at her sides uncluttered with watches or bracelets or handbags. She has some money in her pocket in case she wanted to buy bottled water on the way. Her cell phone rings alone back in her room.

She has walked everywhere aimlessly. She finds herself in Thamel, bustling with people; so many tourists, so many beggars pulling at her shirt, too many urchins pressing her to buy cheap print postcards! On a whim, she enters a restaurant and buys herself an ice cream, a huge swirl of vanilla and chocolate on a fresh waffle cone. She walks out and continues walking, licking her ice cream daintily and smiling cheerily when people stared at her having ice cream when it is not even afternoon yet. Eating the cool melt-in the-mouth goodness and the crispy sweet waffle has made her exuberant. She skips down the sidewalk, a huge smile on her face, the napkin that had been wrapped around the ice cream cone still scrunched up in her hand. She is walking faster, faster, faster. She starts running, not noticing or caring about the pointed stares and the clucks of disapproval from passersby. She laughs. A short time later, she is back to Putalisadak. She passes the armed police loitering at the junction. She steps carefully over the litter and garbage near the sidewalks. They don’t matter today, not right now. She sings along softly to the song playing in her iPod, “Mr. Blue, don’t hold your head so low that you can’t see the sky…Mr. Blue,It ain’t so long since you were flying high…” She turns the corner, and there’s home. No matter where she went there was always home, warm and cozy, waiting for her. She runs up the stairs and calls out “Mom, I’m home! I’m home.”