I hardly leave Baudha, our cozy village-like neighborhood on the outskirt of Kathmandu city. But with a classmate it is fun to go downtown through the bumpy dusty roads. The seat of the Nepal manuscript archives also hosts the archeology department, that mythical place that stamps all statues and artefacts leaving Nepal.
And mistakenly that is where we go first. This tiny grey office filled with administrative rubbish adorns any export artefact with a bright red wax stamp fixed on a little cotton string. It comes with a short handwritten note – you may call it custom poetry.
Soon we find our first link to the actual archives: a red lipstick lady sitting in front of a computer in a deserted office. Kindly she indicates “five number room” a bit further on the same side of the building. Never sure whether we get it right and what we are actually looking for, we follow cryptic indications that lead us in and out of the building. Following finger-pointed directions we reach the stamp-seller. We get a curvy-mountain-road and a straight-bridge-road. These faded images that embellish our application forms perfectly fit with the building.
Eventually we enter the archive wing and a young man provides the microfilm reels. The reading room is spacious and well ventilated. Gigantic monitors expect the rare visitors. Microfilms are like 35mm film, except that instead of playing them 24 images per second, you read one image at a time, a tiny picture that is projected inside the monitor for the ease of reading. Fingers soon get black. It is such a pleasure to examine ancient Tibetan manuscript in this fabulous place.
~Chloé from Switzerland