Friday, January 26, 2007

twins, water taps, trash and hermitages

Twin bro Dan flies back to Chengdu tomorrow, I'll be giving him a lift on my hog in the morning to the airport. I am sad to see him go, he is the last of a garland of visitors I have had the past 10 weeks. Mixed feelings, however, as his departure will also allow me to refocus on my research program; moving ahead with my translation, reading and interviews. I will start a daily English class with the monks in Chapagaon, and get some time to clear my head.

Dan ( and I with the set of 8 year old twins at the Chapagaon monastery where I have been residing. Their names are Jigme Sherab (Fearless Wisdom) and Jigme Nyingje (Fearless Compassion). It is for monks like these that I wish to raise money when I travel back to the United States.

A few weeks ago I was involved volunteering with an NGO (non-governmental organization) here, Terre Des Hommes, helping them put on their Children in the Shadows film festival (, which screened freely for the public films about courageous children in the most adverse of situations. We set up a screen in the historic palace and temple area in Patan, and a few hundred local Nepalis came to see Salaam Bombay on that cold evening.

A nice example of a traditional water spout in Patan, with a small Buddhist stupa at the top, a Buddha image below that, and a sea monster on the stone tap itself.

Next to one of the cleanest and well flowing old taps on the road out of Patan city in the Kathmandu Valley is another tap, which is traditionally for the untouchable/unclean/outcaste members of the locality. It is difficult to see in the photo, but it is separated from the trash pile by the brick wall in the background. Behind it is an old and typical resting place for travellers. Together with the resting place and tap is should be a Ganesh temple nearby, to make obstacle clearing offerings for your journey.
The woman is tending a slow burning fire of trash, mostly paper and plastic. Most people throw their trash on the ground, which gets swept into piles that get burned. Tons of plastic are burned on the street daily in Kathmandu, a significant health hazard.

Rather than throwing this trash on the ground and burning it, the people around this area have been stuffing it on top of their brick wall.

Yesterday Dan, Ian (another Nepal Fulbright Scholar), Josh and Jessica (an India Fulbright Scholar and his wife) spent three beautiful hours walking from our apartment up to Nagi Ani Gompa (nunnery) in the Shivapuri National Forest. At this point on the trail, we came over a hill and could clearly see Nagi Gompa, our destination, perched on the ridge in the distance in front of us.

Some monks and nuns at Nagi Gompa, relaxing during a break from the prayers and rituals.

After Dan leaves tomorrow, I am planning on walking up to Nagi and camping until Thursday, in order to participate in the 9 day long continuous prayers and rituals. It will be a good opportunity for me to meet and converse with Newar Buddhist nuns there, who are amazing practitioners, many of whom have spent years in solitary meditation retreat.

1 comment:

Tom said...

A picture from this post has been ruthlessly kiped by Blogmandu, the Buddhist metablog.