From Boudha, Nepal. This morning I went running up to a Krishna temple with Chandra and Rajeesh. Chandra (center) is hoping to move the USA. He is an excellent cook, a hard worker, and has a good education. Rajeesh hasn’t had a day of school in his life, but he is startlingly clever and can run circles around Chandra and me.

This is the Hindu month of Shravan, a sort of Hindu Lent, where people intensify their practice. One of the practices that is new to area is "Bol Bam!", which means "Speak Shiva!" This tradition was brought up in the last several years by immigrants from the Terrai, the low plains bordering India. But it fits in well here in Kathmandu with its ancient Hindu and Buddhist pilgrimage sites.

I went to mass this morning with the Missionaries of Charity. The Gospel was the Good Samaritan, who took care of the stranger in the road who had been beaten half to death. These sisters certainly live out this Gospel.

The second reading was the wonderful hymn from Paul’s Letter to the Colossians that has the line:

Through Christ God was pleased to reconcile to himself all things, whether on earth or in heaven, by making peace through the blood of his cross. (Col 1:20)

Stupa in the sun with clouds

They say, “In the land of the blind, the one-eyed man is king.” It is something like that when the sun breaks through during rainy season. After a week of rain, the sun gloriously broke forth this morning. In the picture you can see the shadows of the prayer flags on the stupa, as if they are no longer simply hovering above it but caressing it with their blessing.

I used the opportunity to wash my sheets and hang them out to dry—with an effect that was no less glorious than the sunshine. I won't go into detail, but let me just say that I will continue to do my own laundry here.

Pharmacy in Boudha, Nepal

Getting sick in a different culture is always interesting. I obviously ate something problematic and was running a fever, was tired, and felt like I had been kicked in the stomach. The “standard” remedy for stomach ailments is lassi, a very tasty yogurt drink that has lots of good bacteria. I had been keeping up a steady diet of lassi and the problem had gotten considerably worse, so now it was a job for stronger medicine, but what kind? (actually, it could have been the lassi that was the problem. There is a big issue with e coli in milk production in Kathmandu at the moment.)

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.

Today I am leaving Nepal. It has been a long time since I have been so sad.

It is as if someone close to me has died, and I will not see them for a very long time. All the little deaths that make up life, and today, they weigh heavy on me. I guess I am grateful for my sadness, that being in Boudha has touched me so profoundly in so short a time. Seven months is really not that long of time, but my life before Nepal seems to very far in the past.