Tag Archives: Kathmandu



nepal woman

Bhaktapur. Kathmandu. Lamjung. Shermatang. Lean closer. Can you hear the soul of Nepal? It whispers. Cries. Prays: Our heart lies buried in the rubble, in stones turned to sand. Oh, humanity, come to our time of fire! Lift every stone. Lay your hands upon our valley. Dig with us. Dig as we retrieve our country. Our dal bhat of memories that have always filled our bellies and strengthened our resolve. Dig, as we retrieve our families. Our stories now loose in the Himalayan wind. When the ground shook, it took. Our breath. Our floor. Our ceiling. Now the sky is everywhere it is not supposed to be. Where have our rooftops gone? Even mighty Everest has sloughed its skin. In the dust, we search for kin. For friend. For then. The way it was. Now, our mothers cry sacred lakes of tears. Fathers wield their hurt in spears that have no landing place. What is this blistering of our souls? In the holiness of our bones we ask, who will rebuild our temples? Our shrines? Our holy places? The gardens where we gathered?  Now we hear our valley whisper through the dust: Grace will bring up what has been laid low. Sure as the silence of the leopard stalking in snow. But we are frightened. Where is Shanti, our willow of Peace? What will become of our Samjhana, our tribal memory? The world is upside down. Reality unzipped itself, surrendered its tectonic shelf. Our dud chia has soured, become butter tea. Strange fruit hangs from the banyan tree. Gather. That’s what we must do. What we must be. Gather in tea houses. In streets and fields. On glacier tongues and river sheets. Earth has opened, pouring us into each other. Now we are, in this seasoning of our grief, a great ladle of Tibetan stew. We Namasté on the same ground that swallowed us. We bow down to what has fallen down. Look up at what will make us rise again. We are splinters dreaming of being a tree. A valley whistling bansuri flute song, harvesting wind. Wind Horse bucks and snorts and grazes, near. We smell its musk, and fathom: We again shall drink from the brook of Peace. We perform sky burial ten thousand times. Sky buries us in Mercy, fills with great flocks of prayer flags, migrating to our truest temples and shrines: the one beating of our Nepali heart. We will need time to sleep. We need pani, pure water, in this time of the great earth monsoon. Oh, Holiness, break through the rock and pull us into light! Sing us songs of safety. Cradle us through the night. Someone wake the pahelo sun, our children need their hope. Put the world back together. We want to walk on solid ground. Our valleys run with sorrow, and yet our children… our children expect to eat and drink and bathe and breathe tomorrow. They are the vines to which we must hold. Their gossamer eyes tell the sacredness of Hope. Of grace on the bellies of prayer wheels. Of grace on the lips of singing bowls. Ek. Dui. Tien. We begin our count from scratch again. Pokhara. Banepa. Gorkha. Lalitpur. Helambu. We breathe with you.



April 28, 2015

Jaiya John










                                                                                              Me with a rather distracted-looking Kumari in Patan


I remember clearly a programme I was watching on TV in the 70s.  The living goddess Kumari was being paraded through the streets of Kathmandu.  Nepal in those days was still emerging from the cultural heritage of the 18th century; and to see a young, pre-pubescent girl deified as a virgin goddess and being worshiped was really, for me, beyond the wildest dreams of Kew… 

In the late seventies I had the chance to work as a volunteer in Birganj, a busy, bustling town on the border with India, unbearably hot in the summer months and sub-tropical in the winter.  Outside of the confines of the campus where I taught post-graduate students the art of teaching English, there was very little opportunity to communicate with the locals except in their own language, Nepali.  So I ventured out onto the streets and the bazaar and learned a kind of bastardised version of the language, a mixture really of Hindi, Bhojpuri and Nepali. 

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lama n

 Lama Ngakpa in his room

Keeping an open mind, I decide I would like to have my prospects foretold by a Lama.  The idea of rolling the dice, reading the tarot, seeing angels in tea leaves, stirring the entrails of a dead goat, laying silver on the palm of a chiromancer or allying the state of one’s being to the configuration of the stars and planets used to be a no no with me.

But as there is a limit to our knowledge in a universe of infinite possibilities, and there is a diminishing amount of time in this life during which to discover just that little bit more at least about oneself, I decide to give it a go with Lama Ngakpa in Boudhanath, Kathmandu. Maybe I have become too cynical by shunning an opportunity to try something new, I think:  thus this new willingness to open myself to the experience of having my fortune/misfortune told.  Simply put by my daughter when it comes to her fate and fortune governed by the horoscope in her daily download, It should be fun.

The Lama’s room is next to a Buddhist clinic a few minutes from the main Stupa. Continue reading


The Three Interrelated Ds: Death, Dan, Development



                                              A funeral procession in Boudha, Kathmandu


Death is the theme of today. Mark died ten days ago in a dramatic incident on the then hairline curling road to Nuwakot when he threw out his toddler son from the vehicle he was driving and fell to his own death. This was maybe helpful to all, including his wife and son and himself, since he was a drug addict and apparently beyond help. Death is the greatest blessing in life for all living creatures, whatever their circumstances. It heralds a further life for those who belong to certain religions, such as Buddhism; for others, the atheists, it is the end of all life as it is usually understood; for agnostics it is a question mark, what might arise?

Many people prepare themselves for death more than they fight for life. Continue reading