Wednesday, July 20, 2011

Home Security in Kathmandu

We feel very safe here in Kathmandu. As long as you are not involved in illicit business or political affairs, violent crime is rare. Other than political and financial corruption, most of the crime we hear about involves burglary and petty theft. These are also not exceedingly common but are things to be wary of, especially for an expatriate who might be targeted (other than a few well-worn electronic devices, if they only knew how little we had to offer them...).

Most homes in Kathmandu are surrounded by high walls, presumably built for security reasons, although the refuge they offer from the city's loud, dusty, chaotic streets may also be a factor. One unfortunate side effect of these walls is that they make the streets here even less hospitable and pleasant than they already are. Just over that cracked, crumbling wall on the side of the road is in fact a lush Shangri-La garden. You could see and enjoy it from the street if it weren't for, well, that wall.

The actual Garden of Dreams park/restaurant is a great example of this. From the outside, yikes:

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But inside, oh my:

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Just to make sure you don't go peeking over the wall or, you know, attempt to burgle the place, some walls have added low-tech glass or rusty nail security features along their tops.

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In addition to a security wall, some households in Kathmandu employ guards to keep watch over their property. Other households use old fashioned man's-best-friend security systems. Upon moving into our new apartment, we quickly noticed the dog across the way who likes to hang out on the roof.

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Claudine named her Janice (why not?), and it is almost a daily occurrence for us to see her playing on the pitched roof, sometimes joined by the little girls who live there as well. Not the first place I think dogs and children should be playing, but nonetheless it's a little slice of life in our neighborhood. Don't let Janice's sweet roof rompings fool you, however. One evening Claudine and I walked by this house and were greeted by a growling -- nay snarling -- Janice letting her bared teeth do the talking: "Don't you dare set foot on this property." Point taken, Janice.

It's no motion-sensor light, but it gets the job done here in Kathmandu.

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