Note from admin: Nico starts out by apologizing for this episode being late. And, as a matter of fact, there has been an additional delay due to me not getting the post online until now. The reason is that we’re between houses, living in a camping place, and all things Internet are lagging a bit behind… With that said, here it is – Episode 32. Enjoy! /admin
Sorry for being late with my report on my stay in Kathmandu… Asian time, hahaha.
Well, that was quite a transition, going from Hong Kong (and luxury stay in Bali) to Kathmandu. The airports that I had been in until now were (independent of the “poorness” of that country) always very modern and up-to-date, but the airport of Kathmandu beated everything (in the opposite direction that is); it looked as if I had been travelling back in time to the 50’s or 60’s, so old-fashioned, simple and dirty (toilets! Pfui….), incredible.
I arrived late at night, so took a taxi to the Boudha Inn, saw a lot of poverty along the way already in the dark (that was confirmed when I drove back to the airport one week later: so much chaos, hooting, dust, poverty and filth, streetdogs and apes, people that had to work 7 days a week, and for what, I asked myself). So after my arrival with the taxi, Pratik (from the Inn) came to get me at Buddha gate (the entrance to the Boudhanath Stupa); very nice of him indeed, to come so late and help me with my luggage and to lead me in this dark derelict hallway besides the Stupa (the next day that hallway appeared to be a covered little street with lots of shops), and upstairs at the Inn on the second floor.
My room: a little space, with a hard bed, one chair, a little window at 1,8 meters high, bare walls, and (I’m happy to say) my own bathroom, with sink, shower and toilet (seen in that order from the door), and that’s about it. So just the basics, but that was OK for me, because this week wasn’t meant for luxury. Pratik told me that there was a very nice breakfast place on the first floor, so I was happy with that.
Well, I can tell you, nights on a hard bed with street-dogs that start to give a barking concert in the middle of the night are not the most easy thing, haha. But one even gets used to that after a few days, I even started to love it in a way. Especially also because Pratik was always ever so helpful in daytime to help solve any problems I had.
Anyway the breakfast place downstairs indeed was very nice and cosy, and I had my breakfasts there every day of my stay. Also for my lunches and diners I got to know very nice places: a vegetarian, vegan, raw-food restaurant “Bliss” for lunch and a rooftop restaurant (above the Inn) for my diners, where they got to know me soon and welcomed me very nicely every day.
The owner of the Bliss restaurant (Kathryn) appeared to have been the cook in the/a restaurant in the Siddha Yoga ashram in Oakland (California), which made her the fourth person I meet on my world-trip that has a connection with Baba Muktananda, the Guru of my Guru! Of course we talked about it and had a great time (not too much, though, since it was working time for her). I’m so happy to see with these “coincidences” how small our world actually is. Absolutely love it!
For the rest this week has been pretty simple actually: not done much, besides walking my rounds around the Stupa every day.
Imagine: the big Budhanath Stupa, which has been badly damaged at last year’s earthquake and is under restoration now, in the middle, around it a walkway of around 8 meters broad (in average), with al kinds of restaurants, shops and hotel accomodations possible around it. Furthermore (the most important of course) an endless stream of people, walking clockwise around the Stupa, day in day out, all year round, praying each in their own way. Most of them are Nepalese, but there are also a lot of Tibetan refugees and Indian people, besides the occasional westerners (of which there are not too many).
There is a big variety of people: Buddhist monks (a lot of them), lay-people, fake-cripples (one moment you see them limping and leaning on sticks, an hour later you see them walking home calmly with the same sticks under their arm), real crippled and blind people, beggars, well fed and clothed people, but also the hungry and poorly clothed, people who walk normally, others who make long prostrations on the ground, take three to five steps and then make the next prostration, very young children and very old people and every possible combination between them. In short, the whole gamut of wealth and beauty, of shortages and defects, actually you meet the whole of life there in one day, the whole drama of the wheel of samsara. And sometimes it’s confronting and sometimes beautiful, and sometimes both, like this blind poor boy sitting on a bench who fantastically sang his Nepalese songs; it was very touching, I listened to him for a long time, gave him some money and grasped his hand warmly.
For the rest I had a few not so nice meetings with beggars ( but OK, that’s part of the game here), but I also came across some very nice people, like that older woman that recognized me from the previous day and said hi to me (and we joyfully shook hands together); like this monk that came by and looked at me (sitting on a bench) and was giving me this incredible smile that I will never forget; like those three kids that I gave my bottle of water and who drank from it and were totally joyful with shining eyes and were clapping hands with me; like this one young Nepalese man that I met during my walking (Sabin), with whom there was a very nice click, and with whom I had a drink at Bliss and two days later my last breakfast before leaving on Sunday. Very grateful to all of them!
But a special meeting was the one with this very young boy, that was walking with his mom, turned his face to me and asked: “what’s your name?” I said “Nico, and what’s yours?” He answered: “Siddhik… Where are you going?” At first I was thinking something like “that’s none of your business, kid”, but then I said: “I’m making my rounds around the Stupa, like you and your mommy are doing, I guess.” And then his mother shook him and they walked away. Later on I was thinking: Holy shit, this young kid didn’t ask just something by answering his question “where are you going?” He just summarized the themes that I have been travelling with in the back of my mind, in one “where are you going?” This is THE question!
At first I was kind of panicky when I realized this, because I tried to intellectually grasp it and find an answer mentally (and I realized I didn’t yet), but then I knew it had to come from somewhere else, from beyond the mind, and that I as well just could let go and use this question as a sort of koan, that doesn’t need a verbal answer, trusting that life will exactly unfold as it is supposed to be and that at the right moment the right impulses and right actions are going to pop up in my being.
I myself have been walking around the Stupa between all of those people, making my own rounds in my way, at the start of the week very slowly and calmly, but at the end of the week walking firmly, with big steps and feeling as if the sky of my mind had cleared up totally. While walking I have been observing the games of my mind and ego, first in a blending of irritation and judgment, later on it became more and more just witnessing and smiling softly to the ones within that think they are so important but are not. So that has been the benefit of this week, that I learnt (while walking) to watch quietly and with a friendly gaze whatever was going on inside.
And it was so great to be able to do that regularly for an hour or more, because it triggered this big empty mmmmm quiet space in me that I love so much and is always there but normally cluttered with all the things that go on in daily life. It is that space where is the source of my love, my joy, my peace and of all the things that passion my heart in the outpourings of word and voice that I can’t withhold. But weirdly enough, in the end I came to the conclusion that I still had been focused (although it had been in witnessing) on the horizontal plane (mind and ego) and had missed the real listening to my heart and to the higher soul of the Stupa that had tried to come through to me in the course of the week. That could have been the next step, if I could have stayed longer.
But I had to plod on, travelling to the next phase (actually it feels like the last line of three weeks has started now, me being in Beijing at the moment).
And it is from my hotel room near the Tien’anmen square, that I send you all the love from my heart,
Nico – Traveller of The Earth
As Nico ends this episode, he begins the next: in Beijing!