07.01.2011 11 °C
January 7th 2011
I have to admit this has been the longest time I’ve gone without taking a shower..
I’ve been so bone chillingly cold that the thought of cool water hitting my skin intimidated me. But I had to. Just because the folks living in the shacks outside looked like they just crawled out of their own graves doesn’t mean I have to.
So I turned on the water and waited 20 minuets of it before it actually got hot! HOT! I couldn’t believe it!
I must say it does wonders to the soul. I felt fresh and clean and ready to change the world!! Even with the uninvited parasites that have taken refuge in my system that like to keep me up at all hours of the night.. My tail was still wagging!! =)
So I dressed & drank an energy drink that made me feel cracked out and I headed out to check out my hood. I really hit the jackpot on this one. Everything cool in Kathmandu is right around the corner from my place.
I kept taking side streets making landmarks for myself so I’d know how to get back.
I stopped for samosas and chai at a rooftop café. Beautiful. The samosas came out on a little basket made out of dried leaves covered in wax. After that I was ready..
I went deep. I went so deep that I think I wandered into what was the valley of the shadow of death. I think that’s how that Biblical saying goes.. Garbage piled high, dead cats on the side of the street, old ladies in their colorful saries and scarves grilling corn with black ash and dirt on their faces. ….. And lepers.. Dad says they’re not contagious. They’re just shunned from society because of their shocking looks. I didn’t take photos because it didn’t feel right.
The air was dense with smog and desperation. It was time for me to leave…
I took enough photos to put it away for the day.. My mission was to get back to this cool little neighborhood and explore it while the sun was still up..
However, I ended up in bookshop after bookshop. If there’s one weakness I have it’s bookshops and stationary stores. I spent hours in them. I bought, “The Power of Now” by Ekhart Tolle and a journal.. I almost bought pens but I learned from the Dalai Lama that, that would have been a “flashy need’ so I put them away. (all 3 of them)…
The book was also a ‘flashy need’ but after listening to several of his seminars and having the book recommended to me countless times, I felt I needed to add it to the collection of books I’m already lugging around with me..
Now that the sun went down I walked onwards. I saw a group of people walking the opposite direction. I decided to turn around and follow them. It had to have been fate because they walked right into a café I’ve been searching high and low for!
How cool was that? It was a cute little outdoor area with plenty of tables and a fire pit in the center. Inside was brick walls and plants. They had music from what sounded like 1920’s New Orleans playing in the background. The ambiance was nice. I settled for the babaganoush, hummus, and pita, with chai. Delicious, again. I left happy and continued on down a really dark alley way to see if I could find cheaper accommodation, which in turn led me to a cool bar. I’ve been such an introvert lately that I decided I wanted to make friends.
I met several people but the coolest guy was a man who first got bit by the travel bug in 1975. He’s been working odd jobs to support his travel addiction since then. He just came back from a trek where it snowed on him the whole time… Luckily he was from England so he was used to it..
I also learned that he was good friends with a few ex-Gerkas. If you don’t know what a Gerka is I’ll explain it in short before you google it.. They’re the Nepalese fighters who play a fiersome role with the British army.
The selection process has been described as one of the toughest in the world and is fiercely contested. They’ve been known to train with broken bones. They’ve mastered almost all fatal fighting skills and heart and mind manipulation. There are only about 3,500 of them right now and about 28,000 in training. Most of them are fighting in Afghanistan at the moment..
We also talked long about the Kumari. A Kumari is a living female child diety who is considered holy from the age of four till puberty. the best known is the Royal Kumari of Kathmandu, and she lives in the Kumari Ghar, a palace in the center of the city. The selection process for her is especially rigorous. The current Royal Kumari, Matina Shakya, aged four, was installed in October 2008 by the Maoist government that replaced the monarchy.
A Kumari is believed to be the bodily incarnation of the goddess Taleju (the Nepalese name for Durga) until she menstruates, after which it is believed that the goddess vacates her body. Serious illness or a major loss of blood from an injury are also causes for her to revert to common status.
She must go under many tests before the right one is chosen. One of the tests is lots of men with scary masks and bull heads surrounding here in a dark room screaming and jumping around to test her fear. If the child is fearless this is one of the signs that she may be ‘the one’…
She used to bless the King of Nepal However about 10 years ago the prince slaughtered his family and now there’s no more King.. Now she blesses the president… She lives a few blocks away in a temple..
So yes, that was my day.