scaffolding

Posted by Ellen

In the best of times, such as when this photo was taken about four years ago, repairing houses and other buildings in Nepal involved scaffolding made from stalks of bamboo lashed together.

In the worst of times, such as right now, even this sort of construction work is an unimaginable luxury; all hands, and all hours of the day, are consumed by pawing through rubble, hoping or fearing to find relatives and friends and neighbors, and also hoping to find scraps of food and clothing and blankets, anything that might help the survivors cling to life.

There's nowhere to look for the basics of survival except in the rubble. There was no surplus of anything in Nepal to begin with, and only a single sizable airport for bringing relief in from the outside world.

Before these men could climb up on the scaffolding to lay brick, the sacks of mortar had to be brought in on the backs of people or donkeys; the streets here in this UNESCO World Heritage city of Bhaktapur, near Kathmandu, were much too narrow for cars or trucks.

Now even the country's best roads are ruined, and travel through the narrow lanes and paths is generally impossible. Some villages that used to be a day's walk or more from the nearest highway have not been heard from since the quake.

Bhaktapur was once a great royal court city; grand palaces and temples survived there for more than a thousand years. They're not there any more.