Welcome back folks.
Nepal is getting more amazing as time goes by. My two immediate goals, buying a rug and seeing Everest up close have been accomplished. We now have something like twelve days to see what we can see. Like I already told you we have a guide. He is very thorough, thoughtful and attentive. He planned out the rest of our day after Everest. It turned out to be a long day that went by quickly. Every time we saw something, it was more amazing than the last thing we saw. Except of course for Everest. Maybe if I see a Yeti, maybe that would be more incredible.
Everest is something I expected to be incredible. The rest of the day was all new and all exciting. The internet, YouTube, other people’s blogs and the guidebooks did little if anything to prepare me for the surprises of the rest of this day. I feel like I could just post pictures and let you go ooh and ahh, but you know me better than that.
Ravi turned us over to a guide named Ari. Ari’s entire family is in the tourist business in one way or another. Ari ran a hotel on “Freak Street” back when Hippies drove here from Europe in VW buses and rented rooms for a buck a night and bought hash for 2 bucks an ounce. It was a kinder, gentler time. George Harrison found his mantra here. Cat Stevens hung out here before he converted. From what Ari told me, the area around Freak Street was all about sex, drugs and Rock ‘n roll. I’m sorry I missed it. I paid my pilgrimage even though it is like visiting the Haight these days.
It was an easy place to visit because it is one of the streets that runs of Dubar square. Dubar square is a spiritual center for Hinduism. It was on our agenda as the first stop. The square has many temples, all of them quite old. It also has the old Imperial palace. The old-old imperial palace is quite old.(When you call something old in Nepal, well, it is REALLY old. Every building on this square was in use before 1600.) Then, one of Nepal’s kings went to England. He came home and built a big English style palace connected to the old one. It looks like a turd on a wedding cake.
Directly in front of it is an old temple surrounded by levels where people can sit. This, according to Ari, was always populated with hippies smoking hash in the good old days.
This photo shows the entrance to Nasal Chaw. Neither word is pronounced the way you just pronounced it. A Chaw in Nepal is a special courtyard or square, or maybe just an intersection. This Chaw is where all the coronations took place since the Royals took over from the Gods, until 2001 when the last king was coronated. He lived in that ugly building in a previous photo until he was dethroned in 2007. He now lives in a modest home in the suburbs. Inside this nasal place is a statue of the God of Justice.
I said a little prayer for justice for all, and this guard guy laughed at me. I hope I made his day.
Then it was time to see a (the only) living goddess. This is a big deal in Nepal. The whole scene plays out like this. The goddess is chosen from a very large Nepali, Buddhist family. Not only does the bloodline need to be pure, but there are 35 other physical characteristics that must be met. Eyes must be just right, dimensions of nose bone to cheek bones, stuff like that. She is normally chosen as a pre-toddler and serves until her first menstrual period. All that time she lives in a palace in Dubar Square where she is unbelievably pampered. So much so that she cannot be touched by anyone other than her immediate family, and her feet can never touch the ground. This girl does not take her first steps until she has her first period at which time she is cast out of the ranks of the holy and turns into a normal person. I have read that is a tough transition. A little rougher than getting laid off from GM I would think. People pay homage to her in many ways. People like Mary Ann and I drop a hundred Rupees into a box. The goddess’ family gathers what it may for twelve years or so, and then they are on their own. Until recent times she never married and stayed a virgin her whole life because it was believed that if a man had sex with a goddess, even an ex-goddess, at climax he would explode like a firecracker. Hmmm… Anyway nowadays she can get married. Also in modern times she receives an education, which they never did before. I saw an interview with an ex who is now about 20, and going to University in London. A very beautiful and bright woman, but I imagine that the men-folk, even at Cambridge, would be just a bit intimidated. I can see it now;
“Hiya baby. Hey I am eighth Earl of Naughtyham. Wanna dance?”
“Hello sir, I am the 8000th Goddess of Nepal. Wanna carry me around the dance floor?”
Anyway back to my narrative. We went to her palace where she makes a quick appearance in a second floor window most days at about noon. There were about twenty German tourists there, and us. A rule is plainly posted on the wall. You CANNOT photograph the Goddess because if you do your memory stick will explode like a firecracker. Then one of her handlers, maybe daddy Goddess, come to the window and states the rule, if not the consequences, plainly to everyone. She made an appearance. She is a beautiful little girl. She probably had 5 pounds of make-up on and twenty pounds of silk. Nepali legend says that if she looks you in the eyes, your entire life will be blessed with luck, fortune, and your climaxes will only seem like you exploded. I tried to catch her eye. I did everything other than dance the funky chicken. No luck. Then touring Hans raised his huge friggen Nikon with a sports photographer sized telephoto lens, and snapped a picture. End of the show, and I was just getting started on my attention grabbing scheme. Bummer. Anyway, it is not every day you get to see a living Goddess.
Then we started wandering around the rest of the square. Temple after temple after temple. Because this is a must see place for tourists, vendor after vendor after vendor. I got my mantra here just like George Harrison. I don’t know what his is, but mine became, No, no, no, fuck NO! One guy was selling flutes. They were beautiful rosewood flutes. I told him I was not a musician. Didn’t work. I told him I could never learn to play a flute. Didn’t work. Then I stopped and told him the gods of music denied me the ability to make any music. He handed me the flute. I blew into it and such a horrific sound came out the end of it that he agreed with me and hurried off to find some other old hippie that wanted to be George Harrison. Then I met up with some Holy Men. There were a few of them around. Now I really do not know if these were really Holy Men anymore than the staff characters at Disneyland are really ducks or mice. But they were so cool looking that I had to pose with them.
Then a Holy Man called Mary Ann over to him. I love this shot.
- From Dubar square we made our way over to the Monkey Temple. Fact is, you see monkeys all over Kathmandu, but at the Monkey Temple they rule the roost.
- The Monkey Temple is the home of a very large Stupa.
- The eyes are the eyes of Buddha. They adorn every Stupa. This reminds me of life in the ME where you can always hear the call to prayer. Here, Buddha can always see you. You better live right.
- Then I was amazed when the guide took us to the sacred river where they deposit the cremains of Hindus who die. What I did not expect to see was the entire process of the cremation, from the blessing of the body to the actual funeral fire. You will have to read my next post to see this cultural experience of the end of life.
- The post after that will be, as promised, the Kama Sutra, complete with all the erotic carvings from the temple where it all started.
- Stay tuned!