i just love this place so much that i had to come back again on my last day in nepal.
One of the many meditational gestures the buddha uses is like an ok sign (hey whats next. Buddha giving the thumbs up!). Actually it’s more like 2 interlinked ok signs and actually indicates Buddha turning the Dharma wheel of life. That’s pretty much what we’re all doing at Bodhnath, around and around the stupa we go, it’s quite a long way 500m round(?), a slow perambulate, circumnavigate. Sunwise. turning, turning the Wheel of Life
A bit like being on a Roundabout!
I’ve got the hurdy gurdy carousel Magic Roundabout tune in my head.
I don’t think i’ve ever felt more spiritually connected with a building, awesome. From the moment I arrived there, gazed up at the Buddha eyes on top of the Stupa, the whole top all glowing golden in the subtle sinking sunlight.
I climbed up with some of the other devotees, above the base of the Stupa, just wave after wave of feeling heart happiness, I sent Warmth and thanks to all the people I love, holding you all, one by one, for a moment, in my heart
Looking up at the prayer flags as they furl and unfurl in the breeze. They were strung out like washing. A long, long line, 50 metres from where i stood, up to be tethered right at the pinnacle. Actually the Stupa looks like a big old be-tentacled Octopus!
Their colors. Red, White, Green and Blue.
I stayed at one point where the flagswere lowest and densest, they brushed against my brow and i felt happy. Gazing up through them as the sway, sometimes hiding, sometimes revealing the Buddha eyes. Peekaboo.
Have you ever seen footage of a Forest of Kelp, somewhere off the coast of California, On attenboroughs Planet Earth, I believe. Long, Long ropes of vegetation, coiling and uncoiling, eerie glades of submarine sunlight. it was just like that!
Before I get too carried away with my proesie, for the tibetans it’s half religious ritual half social event
feet firmly back on the ground, on i went, saying ‘Om Mane padme Hum’ actually feeling the words reverberate in my breast (think KoyanaSquaatsiii. ho ho), twirling the prayer wheels
yet also keeping a smile and a look for the gaggles of girls, they’d always be in threes, skipping around, holding hands, cheerful.
little kids giving each other piggyback. One legged hopalong cassady beggars
Next a pick up truck full of crimson robed monks goes past. beep beep. Everyone chases it!
Finally the truck comes to rest and the monks start giving out bags full of biscuits. bundle! he monks were near lost neath the heave and scrummage of bodies. greedy grasp of hands. Hilarious.
Next they opened one of the shrine images. A Silver mekong type buddha, volutously robed
Before him was a space for offerings, quickly there grew up a huge pile of Rice, biscuits and apples, later to be given away to the poor and orphans
It was all gloriously medieval and modern and just joyful
the taxi driver on the way over was a very interesting fellow……
My other big friend Kely is an ozzie, 28, very attractive, one time life guard, she’d spent the last year and a half working in London and was now dawdling slowly home.
She’s always worked in the cosmetics business, something for Estee Lauder, I haven’t yet asked her what she makes of my moisturiser free, sun ravaged visage. ha the cracks are beginning to show, i’d be better off investing in polyfilla.
her home town is Coffs Harbour and she lived in Sydney for years, both places i know quite well
Her boyfriend is also called Kelly! freaky narcissism! I thought it was Oedipally bad enough that both my mum and pam are both called pam (they look nothing like each other i hasten to add)
she met boyfriend Kelly in Africa, apparently he’s a kiwi and a hunky brickie. He keeps on sending her texts saying ‘What are yer wearing?’, apparently this is a common text topic from blokes. me and coz have been adding suggestions as to how she should respond.
I think we all got a bit carried away as he texted back from a family bbq with an agonised ‘please stop’. ho ho
She’s down here in Bangkok now, so it’s been good meeting up with her in the evening and comparing adventures
she looked at the room i’m staying in and rejected it with a ‘her on earth would stay in this!’. the answer me, well yes indeed it is an airles shoe cupboard. Just a fan and a flophouse mattress, but it’s cheap… and the cafe downstairs is great .. and i’m going to have to get used to sleeping in the stifling heat soon.
Mostly tho’ it’s because i went to 5 other places and they were all full and i couldn’t be bothered hoiking my backpack on my shoulders anymore!
Kelly is staying in a slightly more salugbrious air con pad. natch
Anyway confusing myself, so much still to tell about nepal, which was just a blast! missing the cool and the absence of tourists already
Kelly was working in an orphanage in Pokhara (‘cept for when her mum came out and they went off trekking together!)
Sounds like all the kids were snot nosed but lovely.. and really appreciated all the attention, neither her or coz were particularly impressed by any of the organisations involved.
the guy who ran the orphanage was a christian bod, his own children were in the orphanage too and got preferential treatment, the previous volunteer had brought all the kids socks before she left, but the owner had confiscated them! they were only to be worn for best, which rather defeats the point of the gift!
Kely had got them all clean knickers before she left, but was continually concocting plans as to how to smuggle them onto the kids. life shouldn’t be so hard
Makes me think of how lucky my kids are and for that matter how we all are in the west
We all moan and grumble about debt, about being unhappy, but really are just billionaires, I am one of the most privileged people in one of the wealthiest countries on earth, at the wealthiest time in history. It’s nothing profound, just stating the bleeding obvious, i, and all of us just should find someway to just be happy.
Healthcare in Nepal is fairly rudimentary. If someone gets run over (and they all drive like demons possessed. ‘Slow Down’ ‘Chill Out’ I find myself shrieking at the fume spouting traffic, 10 times a day!), if someone gets runover and is injured, the driver who caused the accident has to pay compensation to them for the rest of their life.
Grimly, if somebody is runover by a truck, it’s not uncommon for the truck driver to reverse back over them, to finish them off.
Back to the more mundane grumbles of the volunteers, the guesthouse they were staying in was undergoing building works, had a 9pm curfew, no common area, was noisy, away from lakeside, no garden and was costing them 300rps a night (nearly what i was paying)
ust by chance Mike the head of the volunteer organisation POD was over staying that week, he hadn’t visited in 4 years, a bit of a show down meal followed
Mik was a pleasant enough fellow. Very Public School, properly spoken, upright posture and an ex army officer. A nice bloke, but not really one to drink with till dawn.
Broadly speaking i’d say the volunteer organisation was trying to do the right thing, heart in the right place, the volunteers had to pay quite a lot of dosh to work in the placements, but where the money broke down was interesting, firstly the salaries and infrastructure back in the UK, then there were the huge fees to teh tibetan bloke who organised the volunteers locally
In a nutshell none of the cash actually got through to the poor people who needed it
Despite all the good intentions in the world. money just finds money. sad really.
Kathmandu – Durbar square
the courting couples tuck themselves away around the corner of each temple
The roof supports for each of the pagodas are lewdly carved in the evocative postures of the kama sutra, they wink, wink, nudge, oogle down encouragingly on the youngsters
for some reason i have the squeeze song ‘pulling muscles from a shell’ revolving about my noggin. ha
Nearby there is a shrine with a banyan tree growing straight out of it, the Banyan, so fully grown now, that the shrine is near shattered
There is some palaver at the Royal Palace, into earshot comes that dreadful Tibetan Din!
A mish mash of drums and cymbals, with the occasional ominous bellow of horns, a real awful oompa pa pah rumpus…. oh and ornamental umbrellas … as along comes the procession, no clue what it is about, but, pleasantly, involves a lot of colourful parasols, everybody is done up to the nines in traditional garb, solemn but smiley
I always used to travel with one of those brollies on a spring, georgii markov, push the button and out it zonks, very business man james bond, ‘cept mine was green and red.
i went up mount sinaii with it up, in the desert it doubled as a very useful parasol!
the bus ride to Pokhara
peering out the window, the road sweepers use reed brushes to sweep the dust from the pavement to the road, then pleasingly from the road bact to the pavement, cyclically karmic
the rivers are just clogged up with rubbish, plastic just never goes away.
I’m playing my mp3 player, the songs on it are just the ones i borrowed from the library before the cd drive on our old computer packed up. Mostly world music and folk, but also even Stephen Fry, reading a few chapters of Harry Potter and the Chamber of Secrets.
I tried to get some more music from my brov, the day before i left i popped down to see him in his office at the Marina, it’s in one of those little yellow and white sheds, on a pontoon, right out amongst the yachts. When the waves are up, and the tide a swell, the entire office bobs up and down in a queasy fashion!
The problem being that my cheapo, 34 squid mp3 player, dang near bust my brothers posh mac! ooops that would have been a disaster, all his Scott of the Antartic scripts lorst in the Antartic wilderness!
I have decided that as i have 628 songs i may just as well play them all once through consecutively, then again. mostly because i cannae be arsed learning how the pesky thing works, but also pleasantly passive and once more round and round karmic wheel of life. giddy. is 628 a lucky buddhist number? hope so
another bus passes us, beep, beep, honkety honk, this one is called the ‘open heart bus company’, ha, reckon i’d like to be on that bus!
i’ve worked out why theres just so much horn parping, the trucks, all crudely cartoon painted with shiva, buddha or some other useful road demons god, also have a big ‘please honk’ on their derriere
The system is when you wish to overtake you honk, the truck checks whether it’s clear, honks to say it is, you overtake, honk your thanks, then the truck driver honks once more, well just because he can! Generally this works well, ‘cept our driver, like most, seems to reckon it’s a good idea to overtake, uphill, with a fully laden bus, wellying the acellerator, is a bit like flogging a dead horse. we slow motion skiddaddle by, emotion blurr
Natch it’s always a blind bend and a steep plummet away to the bottom of the valley. Fun really, hair pin bends give a great view to the plush green countryside. terraces, they are kind of visible contour lines?
A stroll to the peace pagoda in pokhara
The first step is to hire a rowboat from down by the ghat, my ‘driver’ is a young burly water boatman, a cheery fellow, he enquires if i wish to have a row, nah think i’ll conserve my strength for the hike, so instead i dandle my hand in the cool water, feeling the pull and plunge of the cool water at our passing, lolling about like the lady of shallot!
It’s a big old, deep lake, on a clear day the entire Annapurna range reflected in it’s placid depths.
I’m not a huge fan of lakes, like in the Auden Poem (“praise of Limestone’?) i feel that the spirits and demons of lakes are spiteful and capricious, like the swiss really!!
I wonder if theres a Loch Ness Monster in here? Asleep if she is… Nessum Dorma?
Gone Fishing? Yetti Netty Nessy?
… Anyway, there really is a tiger in the hills hereabouts, i’ve now heard so from at least 3 people, one dog i met, a sturdy mastiff, as they mostly seem to be, was called tiger, the reason being that his mother had been taken by the tiger.
apparently they have quite a taste for dog meat, so, not safe at all to go roaming with your trusty hound!
the Tigers make some sound, a strangled screech, which is neither a cough, nor a roar.
Once to the other side of the lake, it’s a steep steep climb up to the pagoda (nothing compared to the hills to come!), not much there, but the walk back down through the forest is a delight, all glades and dappled sunlight. dragonflies hover and bathe in the sunshine, then zzzip away to the next patch of light.Butterflies meanwhile, oh gaudy melodrama, they erratic flap, then tragic flop. lovely colours!
Somewhere down below the path a couple of water buffalo burly rustle through the undergrowth. For some reason i am reminded of Obelix and his wild boar.
Birds tweet tootfully in the canopy, near invisible but to all but the most resolute Bill Oddie, not quite sure how, the one i spotted had a red breast and was much like a bull finch but brighter!
I stop at one place and all ’tis mellow, it’s like a spirit point, i just visualise, in turn all the people i love and see what happens. I’ve been doing it a lot this holiday, the best times are like now out amongst nature, else when transfixed in front of one of the shrines, or failing that in the time when your mind is calm and you are just slipping away to sleep. Something about the brain wave patterns? Any roads, if you just empty your heart, it is amazing how beautiful the things are that come to fill it. Hope the people i’m sending too can in some way feel it? Hope also you know who you are. keep safe. Spirit peace. Love
getting ready for my trek, i relaxed with a day in which my mission was to mostly further grow my beard! It’s coming on well. bushy Grizzly Adams, with a lot of grey!
oh and i also had to buy 2 hats, you can do anything with 2 hats, one was a daytime sun hat, plain and beige, with a big floppy brim, to keep the suns rays off my noggin. halfway twixt a pilgrims hat and a cowboy hat, slightly too small, so i had to ram it down over my dreads.
Hmm now i’m remembering when i used to go swimming in Prince Regents at Brighton, lengths, making a wake, up and down, splish splash, to and fro. toiling nowhere. My swim hat was one of those rubbery plastic ones, green, i had to really pull and polythene stretch it over my head. My bunched up dreads bulged out beneath it, it looked liek a giant brain tumour… or maybe an extra from Star Trek
accch now i’m remembering my swim hat at the hot springs pool in Karlovy vary, Czech Republic, we all poodled about amidst the primeval steam, swim hats, beflowered and smartie bright colours. very beautiful!
Oh and the other hat i managed to buy, back in the here, was a pink and purple big knit wooly number, perfect for keeping my ears toasty at night, up above the snow line.
It’s got tassels. result!
Much to my own suprise, I also purchased a Down sleeping bag and a big thick down jacket in dark green, which i like very much. stylish and very puff pastry
I was only going to rent them for the trek, but a bargain at under 30 pounds for the pair, prob being now, to get them home, i’ll have to lug them all through the swelter bucket tropics. rats!
i have never mastered the ethos of travelling light, a naturally cluttered and burdened personality.
I shall be bowed ‘neath the weight of me own belongings
mini the minimalist
well I know i need to gabble on about the trek, but it’s a big thing, so i’ll just tread water with a waffle about the people, friends i made in Pokhara, so far my diary spew has been a bit short of people!
My best mate so far has been Coz, he’s been a total superstar and literally a lifesave. cheers buddy. When i had those 7 nights on the trek when i didn’t bump into anybody, the only thing that salvaged my sanity was that getting back to pokhara, i knew he’d be there for a beer and a gossip.
I met him straight off the plane in kathmandu, in the visa hall, whilst we were both puzzling through the bureaucracy.
He’d been on my plane all the way from London, but i didn’t notice him till Bahrain. apparently i aimlessly bumbled up to the departure gate. ha. but that was because, of all places, i had a mystical experience, feeling, revelation in the airport there! really powerful
We were united by fancying the Dutch women, but as there were 5 of them and beautiful, they were near impossible to approach.
Coz gave me a lift into town and we stayed in the Hotel Excelsior. His room had no hot water, wheras mine always did, a bit culture shocked we both went out drinking together the first couple of nights in Kathmandu.
He was over here to be a volunteer and was off to Pokhara to help the kids in an orphanage, he had a big passion for sports and had bought a huge kit bag full of footballs and cricket gear to entertain the little ones with.
Lifestyle wise you’d think we had little in common, his favourite topic of conversation was filth and smut. as a country boy, from Warminster (Stone henge, longleat way, off the A303!) he also had a passion for guns and broadly speaking blasting small animals to buggery kingdom come.
He loved boxing and had spent his childhood in trouble fighting, left school with 2 gcse’s at 16, a lifelong spurs fan, a substance abuser, a potential suicide
His dad was in the SAS and afterwards had a stab making Wiltshire amateur porn videos.
Coz is tho’ a quality geezer, really good bloke, always with an interesting tale or too, and yet ever interested to listen to whatever tale i was telling.
he’d learnt a lot from the free party scene around where he grew up in the ’90’s and was a big fan of dj’ing and the hip hop vibe, into his mushies and hash.. oh and his mum was a mystic horoscope type.
Quite a contrasting individual.
His life had though just fallen apart spectacularly, even more dramatically than mine
He’d been going out with Anna, a cop for 5 years, they had a house together and he worked as a computer programmer, fair set for a placid middle age.
Then she’d dumped him, he went off the rails, crashed a car whilst drunk in the woods, lost his licence, lost his job, his mod security clearance. Had to go to therapy for various substance abuse and then come out here as a volunteer!
In reality he seemed completely, utterly sane.
After hanging out in Kathmandu, we then met up again when i got to Pokhara, he’d got friendly with another volunteer Kelly from oz (more on her later, i hope) and also with Prasang, a sweet, quite western Tibetan fellow, Prasang looked a bit like Tin Tin and supported Manchester United.
No room at the orphanage, so Coz had just started teaching at ‘Mother of Compassion’ Tibetan school. Apparently on the first day he’d been warned by the head lama (who built the school), the head teacher and the volunteer supervisor, that under no circumstances was he to sleep with any of the female teachers. Obviously a big cultural No No!
One of the female nepalli teachers was always coming on to him, but not a good idea, they would have chopped his todger off!
On his first day Coz had used all the balloons he’d bought over and the other props and after that just had to wing it!
Coz would say that the tibetans are like jews at the end of the Nineteenth century, in a way there are similarities, the Tibetan community are keen not to integrate, they all live in various large refugee camps (4 around pokhara) and are keen to preserve their culture.
theocratic in outlook, this is coming under threat from western influence, gangs and related problems are starting in the camps. Tibetans are also quite remarkably good at making money and also at generating quite a lot of funds from western donors. On the whole there a grand bunch with a mischievious humour
One day after I’d come back from trekking his school was having it’s annual concert. all teh kids from his classes had been practicing their dancing and singing for months! The concert was in the town hall and was in an exposition of Mustang culture (the Tibetans in the school were all from the Mustang province), there was quite a big police presence as Nepal has forbidden Tibetans to gather in numbers, except for cultural events like these.
Coz and Kelly were worried that the event might be like the party for Losar, the Tibetan New year, from a few days before apparently 10 hours of turgid dancing and Dahl Bhatt, culminating in the fabled yak dance, which was 2 blokes in a pantomime horse costume!
This concert got off to a slow start, the crown prince of mustang was there, so he had to be thanked 12 times, then the chief donors of the school, an elderly, wealthy swiss couple had to be thanked and presented with the largest Rosettes on the planet.
then the school Lama made a very serious speech, another made a speech, these were obviously quite political in nature, i was reminded of the political seriousness i encountered when i first went to live in Prague.
The place was packed out, crammed to teh rafters, the entire Tibetan community was out, on the whole a dowdy and poor bunch, yet all in high humour, kids spilling out of every seat, folk hanging off the balcony above. Flicking peanuts at each other and us (and Kelly claims in one case bogies!) A big social event all round.
finally the music started, on the whole it was brilliant.
The main performer was Ani Cheung, a Tibetan Nun, she had obviously lived some years in Canada and sung these tibetan chants and ballards, she had a phenommenal voice, the songs i loved were the acapello buddhist chants, one of them sent me into a trance, visualising once more the folk i love, the songs i wasn’t so keen on were any of those with a musical accompaniment, all came over as a bit twee!
Next act up were Shambala, a rock band with a funky tibetan instrument slant, all of their songs started interestingly, then seemingly went nowhere! Most of the problem were the audience, they all listened in respectful silence, but not an infectious bunch prone to head nodding and leaping uncontrollably about!
For a while i was standing by the side of the stage and was very tempted to do a bit of stage diving or a Talking Heads ‘Stop making Sense’ style boogie. Felt i should be respectful too, just for once.
when the kids came on though, a totally different atmosphere, whooping and hollering, everyone was related to one of them in some way!
The boys, as is the way of teenagers seemed so much younger than the girls, the boys all wore furry hats and had painted on tashes and beards, the girls, no beards, but beautiful traditional garb
All of them had these long, long sleeves, which they wafted in the air chinese silk ribbon style
some of it was quite mustang region line dancing, but on the whole it was just great, everyone loved it!
My favourite bit was when one of the boys fell over and lay on the floor for 3 minutes, one of his mates went over to help him up, very sweet, everybody cheered.
Apparently the boy who made the pratt fall is both the class clown and quite camp, apparently he fell over whilst playing heads and volleys and lay there writhing and clutching his groin for 5 minutes, telling everyone, that he’d ‘twisted his pen’ ha. now theres a euphemism
his nickname is ‘Prime Minister of the Donkeys’, as apparently he admitted to riding a Donkey once, this caused great hilarity amongst the Tibetans, Mustang men they are proud of their horse manship and their famous steeeds.
ooops me times up, it was agreat concert and a good day out, back to moondance for our supper afterwards!
err guess i should first off point out the obvious, none of the photos posted are any i’ve taken! ‘cept maybe a a few
The first after i got into Kathmandu, woke to find that it was a day of riot and demonstrations, apparently the government had raised the price of petrol and kerosene, yet again.
They’d tripled the price in the last year and folk just couldn’t stomach it anymore
Sure it never even made the news back home but they were the worst upheavals, since the king finally, and reluctantly, relinquished some of his power a year ago.
Good to see such a display of people power, all that i witnessed was overwhelmingly peaceful and good natured, but reports in the paper were not so benevolent
The problem obviously is that the economy is quite heavily dependant on tourism, Kathmandu (off season i know), bbut it does seem loads quiter tourist wise than 20 years ago,
any more troubles and the tourists probably won’t come at all. Still power to the people and all that! as far as i’m concerned.
Thankfully the government backed down the next day and all returned to the cheerful bedlam of normalacy.
The morning was spent huddlimg in internet cafes, sending emails and not quite sure what was happening
Every few minutes there’d be a ruckus a couple of streets away and in a minute, clang, clatter the shops would hurtle down their shutters and we’d be locked inside.
At every road junction the protesters had dragged barricades across and lit fires
The fires consisted of burning tyres, periodically these would explode. The sound of an exploding tyre is exactly that of an exploding bomb. They go off with quite a force!
Whats more they burn with an acid stench and the smoke is a black, vulcanised smog, smells horrible, everytime you wipe your forehead, it comes away mottled black with dirt.
as though the pollution in Kathmandu wasn’t bad enough
After lunch i decided that after all it was a good day for a walk and decided to head for the burning ghats of Pashupatinath, the most holy Hindii site in Kathmandu, where they cremate all the bodies
I guess if theres going to be smoke and bedlam, may as well be holy smoke
It was actually remarkably easy walking out there, no cars, so much more pleasant than usual, all the demonstrators i met were in quite a festive mood,
they wore face masks, but that may well have been against the smog, rather than as is the fashion of anarchists everywhere
The times that Police sirens sounded in the distance, the mood noticeably darkened, they bristled.
Many folk came up, asked where i was going and pointed me on my way
The usual questions followed ‘which country’ I remember one small boy who helped me at a wrong turning, he very much reminded me of Finn.
He was non plussed by the capital of England, but, as ever, ‘Manchester United!’
So far as Nepal is concerned ‘David Beckham’ remains the most famous human being on the planet. I countered with ‘Christiano Ronaldo!’
He responded ‘Ronny’, only later did i grasp, it was old Jimmy Sommerville, spud head lookalike ‘Wayne Rooney’ he referred too
Once i got to Pashupatinath i found it a sombre yet calm place, without wishing to be a ghoulish, diana car crash type voyeur, you can stand within 5 feet of the ghats and watch the bodies burn
They are wrapped up in white windings, but all burn through to the skeletons.
There are a special group of men responsible for the burning, they mostly resemble ruddy faced trolls, the job consists of neatly stacking large piles of wood,
hoiking the body on board, then adding presumably sanctifying ghee and tending to the fire
It actually takes a suprisingly long time to burn a body and a large amount of wood, i guess we are not as combustible as i’d imagined
The family stand around watching, none of them seemed that sad, subdued and just getting on with it was the general vibe
The old woman being cremated, which i stood watch over, didn’t seem to have any family, a regular, Eleanor Rigsby.
I guess if there is any message here it is the great leveller of death. We are born alone, we die alone.
Having said that tho’ in the stratified Hindu world view, there are different burning ghats depending on your caste and social position.
I found the whole process oddly reassuring, a very coherent response to death, which allows for ullullating, mourning and the necessary rituals of grief.
Afterwards i dodged the guides and the quick buck ‘one photo, photo’ Sadhus. These Babas are as dressed up as your be Mohawked London Punks.
They doo look an impressive site in their faded saffron robes, the flourish of whiskers and skin caked with dust, all topped off with a forehead red daubed with the Tikka.
Once on the other side of the river, you can see the pre burning rituals, the familly comes from the temple down to the Bagmatti river, holy in Nepal, and here annoints the corpse with the water
poking from beneath the bindings a pale yellowed foot.
It was now that 3 young girls approached me, they were wonderful and lightened the whole affair, they were just local girls, bored at home and out to Pashupatinath for a muck about
The eldest and quitest was about 13, along as chaperones for the younger two, obviously sisters
One was shyer that the other and whispered all her english questions to her sister
the spokes girl tho’ was an incredibly charismatic, beautiful, radiant child. I can’t imagine what she’ll be like when she’s older, but had these incredible almost blue hued eyes, bush curly brown hair
Thinking about it she looked quite Kashmirri. a very striking bunch.
It was all the usual good natured chatter, refreshingly they didn’t want anything,
with the kids in Nepal always it’s just a good natured joke, they ask for sweets, mitaii, rupees and the traditional ‘school pen, just something to say with a good natured, huge grin!
I gave these kids, a couple of English 10p pieces, shiny silver, just so that they had something to show their classmates.
They said they’d show me the way to Bodhinath, the nearby Buddhist Stupa, centre and spiritual heart of the Tibetan refugee community
We set off up the hill, i sang them a nursery rhyme, Sherbaileys fave, the grand old duke of york, the marching up the hill bit seemed approapriate!
They didn’t know this one, but countered with a hindii ditty
we all then joined in for a rousing rendition of ‘baa baa black sheep’ and even more pleasantly incongrously ‘jingle bells, jingle bells’, more Dzingle bells in their version!
Acch i wanted to sing them ‘do your balls hang low, can you tie them in a knot!’ , that would have taken me back to the school bus home from Esher C of E, but rather lewd for 9 year olds.
At the top of the hill they got bored, turned for home and pointed me on my way, the angel child asked me tho’ ‘why are you sad?’
how can you answer a child a question like that! We had just been at a cremation, but generally lonely, heartbroken, a little lost, are we not all of us, much of the time some of these
seems i am.
On to Bodhinath i wandered, got there about 4:00 o’ clock and wow!
At this time of day all the Monks, old women, young children are out.
The Stupa itself is a huge white mound in an ancient square, it is layered like a wedding cake, festooned with brightly coloured prayer flags, all a flap in the wind.
Atop of it perches a pair of Buddhas eyes, with the quizzical, spiralled nose beneath it. I’ll put a picture up, you’ve seen it before i’m sure.
The main action though is below, the whole community circles and circles in a clockwise direction, twirling the hundreds of prayer wheels and chanting the sacred mantra, ‘Om Mane Padme omm’
teh shaven haired monks in their crimson robes, with their rosary beads, one of them has these huge bottle bottom glasses and an impreswsive set of goofy gnashers!
The old women in their big skirts and thick coats, I join the parade, around and around we go
like water swirling away down the plug hole, going nowhere, still going nowhere, which is partly the goldfish bowl point.
But Such a profoundly spiritual and emotional feeling, that of just being incredibly warm, nurtured, nourished and happy.
Stirring a cup of tea, cream swirl with your heart.
It’s one of those places, wheer all you have to do is just be calm, quiet within yourself and listen, just feel the place with your heart and it is just beautiful
Such a strong sense of belonging
actually you don’t need to listen at all, the whole place just pulsates with spiritual energy, as you approach it, it virtually crackles
take time just to step aside from the gyrating current of people and sit grokking the vibe on a bench
waves of heart pleasure, looking at people, curious and uplifted
I’m deffo going back there when i get back to kathmandu
Oh and i bumped into teh Dutch girls from the airplane, all 5 of them, lovely, funnily they greeted me like an old friend, they were staying out at Boddhinath, volunteering in a school there
all a bit culture shocked, but grappling with it, i said if they were ever in Thamel for a beer. achh, the way things just drift away, when maybe they should happen. chance encounter
Anyway, i got on a tempo (shared cab minibus type thing) presumably heading back to the city? yrt because of the protests it dropped us in the middle of nowhere, somewhere out on the ring road!
The other passengers seemed equally bewildered!
Out here there were soldiers and police everywhere, they looked like they’d been in running battles. all young, strong, a little spooked and sweaty
they had battens and shields and all sat poooped out on the grass
brought it home to me that a fooolish tourist, lost and wandering far from safety hadn’t been the bbest of ideas
they all pointed in different directions when i asked for Thamel?!
all the signs were in Nepalli, it was dusk, a powercut (they’re daily occurences, always seem to be at sunset too!) and everywhere mounds of rubbbish
hey ho Finns compass to teh rescue, the one he got free with a pair of Karrimore shoes
Using this, shanks pony, i trudged wearily but happily back to the Hotel. Quite a day!