A Note from Joe: The Nepal Chronicles, Chapter 3
The latest installment of Joe’s Nepal Chronicles. You can read the chronicles from the beginning.
Day 4ish and Monkey for breakfast!
Twelve hours sleep, bed by seven, jet lag gone. We head to the roof for breakfast. Sitting on the roof we look out on the Gold temple and watch our Bhuddist friends and neighbors say their prayers. You can almost touch our excitement, our first full day in Kathmandu. We were awakened by a dove hooting like an owl on the back side of our window.
Sitting together eating muesli, toast, and something that looks like a corn flake but sure as hell does not taste like one. Mary’s eyes widen, a shout comes up, “Monkey! Monkey! Monkey!” And all of us turn and stare with our jaws touching the floor. A monkey saunters across the roof beside us giving us the eye.
Our Nepali friends laughing at our amazement. Prim hears our story and starts to tell us of the monkey temple in Swineboo. Eoin and Aidan light up, taking our rooftop monkey to be a sign. We walk to the square and hail a taxi.
So in its own beat box sort of way we bob and weave through motorbikes and people. We duck and dive around three wheel buses and five wheel tractors. We beep beep beep to gently warn the young Buddhist monks that we are coming behind them.
In the craziness there is a gentle rhythm, in the horns there is a softness. They bounce off your ears as “hello my friend I am behind you and I wish you well. We are pulling out in front of a thousand of you cars and motorbikes and we mean you no harm. We thank you for welcoming us.”
We pass the butcher shop with the dead plucked chickens, throats cut and staring at us. We start to climb a hill, disappearing into a pothole that is wider than the road. On our left, an army barracks which seems odd because the city seems so peaceful. On up and up we go, glimpses of the holy city.
Arriving we are greeted by monkeys and monkeys and monkeys and monkeys. All seemingly enjoying the attention we are pouring on them. We walk up, we walk down and everywhere we go monkeys surround us.
We climb the steps to the temple and as we walk around we are greeted by a new friend. He regales us with history and stories. He tells us of the Holy man Mantras, the 16th century drought, the coming rains. He shows us healing books and chakras; he plays the drums on my head. He vibrates a bowl along my back and he tells me of healing.
We travel on and sit with a Buddhist Monk, our friend introducing us and sitting in. We start with Buddha’s life, story and progress to the Mandelas of life. Moving in circles from the outside in, watching the stairs of life till we find our soul.
Bowl bought, mantra spoken, Namaste exchanged and Dhanyabads given we walk on following the sign of the monkey in search of our soul. Returning to Patan we walk the markets, checked the shops, and stop in the music store. The proprietor regales us with stories of how he is the fourth generation of drum makers. We play drums, mandolins, fiddles that weren’t fiddles, and we blow horns that would have fit in the sound of music.
Mary walked away with the store owner’s newest invention. A Nepali didgeridoo that made the beautiful sounds of the ocean as you turn it upside down. Waves breaking over an Irish beach, rolling over sea washed stones.
A remarkable thing happened returning to our house carrying this 6-foot tall didgeridoo that plays the sounds of the ocean. We were met with genuine stares of what the hell are they carrying.
As we entered Dohar Square we were met with the incredible inquisitiveness of a beautiful people. Every stall owner approached together. We played the sounds of the ocean for them. They took it and they played it. A deep discussion followed as to how our music maker was created. Such a wonderful instrument, was it funneled inside, did he mix rice, metal and stone, how does it flow so smoothly? What was truly amazing from this conversation was that we were no longer tourists, we were the same, humans with a Nepali didgeridoo, our ideas equal, our thoughts welcome.
The day ended sitting on a cushion raised high in the air sharing food, and thoughts, and religion, and nature, and nurture, talking and listening, learning and expressing, laughing and embracing. Four hours of incredible food and all the things that make us human, all the things that makes life worth living.
As we sat there the city closed. We walked to find a taxi, all lights off, all people sleeping and the city now a city of dogs. The dogs of Kathmandu seem to sleep all day and run at night, resembling college kids. They also are in complete harmony with the city. They live side by side with the people, wild in that they do not have masters but tame in their existence. No chasing cars, no barking at passersby, just calm till night when they run, the city emptied of people and theirs to rule.
Kathmandu and its people have opened its arms to us, pulled us close, hugged us tight, we have been instantly relaxed into its gentle rhythms and easy ways. I go to bed playing a gentle beep beepedy beep lullaby in my head.
Chapter Four coming soon!