Tuesday, July 22, 2008

Weekend before last, our friend and trekking guide, Sudip, took Carly and I, by bus, to Dhulikhel on the rim of the Kathmandu Valley, then hiking the rest of the way up to the Namobuddha Monastery. The stupa itself is ancient but the monastery is only about five years old. It's an peaceful place up on a hillside overlooking the valley and terrace farms. We discovered that the place is very sacred because the Buddha was here first, then eaten by a tigress who needed to feed her cubs before being reborn at Lumbini, his official birthplace. Who knew?

While the destination was amazing, the journey was a laughter-packed adventure as well. We climbed up to a Hindu shrine that is now part of an Army camp and witnessed a woman possessed by spirits doing a Reiki healing on herself. We stood alongside the soldiers and watched. During a rain shower we took shelter at a local shop/bus stop and met a local village woman who played matchmaker. She felt very strongly that both Carly and I should have husbands and tried to interest us in the village men as they passed by. Next we encountered - well, actually, Sudip and I were spooked by - this strange 'Holy Man' who came out of his cabin while we were looking at his fish pond. He said he had many PhD degrees from the UK and his area of study was the human mind. Sudip is of the opinion that the guy is likely from India and perhaps did train in the UK but has taken in too many exogenous chemicals since them. After a brief conversation we moved on before he could exert some mind control over the three of us. I mean, you can never be too careful when encountering a guru in the woods, right?The most "thrilling" part of the weekend, however, was riding on TOP of the bus back to Dhulikhel. Because of a persistent monsoon we had to change our return plans and hike back down to the road to catch a bus. After watching overloaded buses go by (you know...100 Nepalis for 40 seats) we realized that the only way we were getting home was to ride on top of the public bus. So up the ladder we went to sit with about 30 other Nepalis. Remember that everyone in Nepal, except for the very priveleged, use the public bus system and riding on top is not a novelty for them. With this rite of passage, I conclude that I am now officially and evermore part Nepali. And I'm pretty proud of it.


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