Electricity and water never run continuously here in Nepal, though now, in the rainy season, they work for about 18-20 hours a day (since much of the power is generated hydroelectrically). People here get used to getting by. Places that cater to Westerners always have backup generators. Here a young man is watching the family store in the evening, doing his homework by candlelight. 

I have a “comfortable” room in the Om Guest House here in Boudha, Nepal, in a quiet part of town next door to the Hyatt Regency. Of course, there is a large wall separating us, and one night in the Hyatt costs what I am paying for my entire 20-day stay at the guest-house, but I’ll bet they have nicer sheets.

Living in Madison, Wisconsin, USA, it is easy to forget that we live in a world on the edge. Coming from Istanbul, where protests against government overreach are being responded to by tear gas and water cannons, I was nonetheless surprised to find soldiers around the Stupa in Boudha, Nepal. There were no soldiers here at this Tibetan holy place when I was here seven years ago.

Stupa in Boudha, Nepal

Today I made it back to Nepal. Seven years it has been, and I had no idea I was so connected to this place.

My first sight of the Stupa in Boudha stopped me in my tracks. I looked at it and it looked at me for a long time. Joy, tears, presence, absence, reverence, connection and understanding were exchanged.

In my religion I have no place for this, but I know it is true.

I just read an interesting article, “Boundless Love,” by Alberto Ambrosio, a Dominican here in Istanbul. It is about the religious meaning of love in Sufism, based on Ismā’īl al-Anqarawī’s commentary on Rumi’s three volume poem Mathnawī.

Here is the community of Dominicans in Istanbul, Turkey. Dominicans arrived here in 1231 and built St. Paul Church at the foot of the Galata hill some time later, across the Golden Horn from Constantinople. Constantinople fell to the Ottomans in 1453 and was renamed “Istanbul,” and in 1475 St. Paul’s Church was converted into a mosque, which is still used today (the Arap Camii). The friars retreated into another building a few hundred meters up the hill given to them by an Italian trader and used his chapel as a new church dedicated to St. Peter.

I spent the day yesterday reworking the network in the house here in Istanbul. This is something that I do in just about every Dominican house I visit. The brothers have Internet but only here and you have to do this to get it to work and sometimes it just stops and we don't know why... the usual stuff.


Over the years I have learned to always accept invitations, if at all possible, when traveling. It is the best way to meet interesting people. I have met more than my fair share of carpet salesmen here in Turkey, and had a lot of tea, but yesterday evening I had more interesting conversation with a “former Muslim shaykh” who has since left the faith.

Getting a haircut is a very culturally-bound ritual, something I did not know until I started traveling. In any country there are all sorts of norms as to how one behaves in a barbershop and well as wildly different prices between low-end barbers and high-end stylists. Making matters worse, I don't speak Turkish so I can't ask the right questions or understand the answers.

Undaunted, I set out to get a haircut.

Hagia Sophia in Istanbul

Istanbul’s Hagia Sophia. Massive, impressive and inspiring, with 1800 years of history written in layers upon its walls and furnishings, though the stories they tell are more about empires and the men who build them than about God.

Built in just five years, from 532 to 537 AD, it was as the largest cathedral in the world for 1000 years, but served as a church for only 900 of those years, and during that time was beset by waves of religio-political movements that all left their mark. But such was the case even before it was built.