Joe Cam: The Daily Commute

I have a scooter, I have a GoPro, and I have the bustling streets of Kathmandu. It’s the perfect combination.

Every day, I get on my scooter and drive the 5 or 6 kilometers from Patan Durbar Square to my school in Naxal. I’ve been teaching a 7:00 AM class since the end of September, so I’ve been leaving at 6:00 every morning. It’s before Kathmandu’s rush hour and the streets are virtually empty, save the other poor souls who are up early enough to see the sunrise on their commute. It’s rare that I even need to apply the brakes at this time of morning.

All of my classes are in the morning, so when I leave, it’s right in the middle of Kathmandu’s extended rush hour. I haven’t figured out yet just what those hours are, but basically any time of day that’s not between 10:00 PM and 7:00 AM is the busy time. In the morning, it takes maybe 15 minutes to make the drive. But now, it can run up to 45 in the stopping-and-starting mayhem of downtown Kathmandu. I was told that cars are extremely expensive here and are generally considered a status symbol. For the most part, I don’t see a lot of them. But taxis, micros, autos, and buses dominate the streets. Scooters and motorcycles navigate in tight formation, weaving in and out of the shifting labyrinth between the larger vehicles. Usually, there’s a large cluster that sticks together; a free-for-all where traffic laws break down. It moves like a single organism, flexible and precise. While we look up and admire the formation of flocks of birds, those birds look down at the amoeba of scooters in similar fashion.

I’m gonna be honest here — this is not my usual route home. I took the scenic route for some more interesting footage, and I got lost. Once I pass the big white gate, I’m in my neighborhood. But once I cross the narrow bridge, I’ve left it again. It’s my daily commute with some exploration rolled in; the second video of Standard Passenger. I anticipate making more videos like this.


The Commute, kinda


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