Tuesday, September 22, 2009
Friday, September 18, 2009
Sagarmatha, the mother of the universe, as it is called in
The Himalayas, are topped with snow year round. As spring turns to summer some of the snow melts from the mountain peaks and the water collects into icy streams which become rivers. The rivers plunge over the edge of the mountains in dazzling waterfalls. The rivers continue down past tiny villages where mothers bathe their children and wash their clothes. It continues down to the valley past large cities where millions of people live, then down, down, down to the low lands called the Terai where there is never any snow and it is hot and humid all year round.
If you could fly as fast as a small plane from the top of Sagarmatha to the Terai, it would take you less than an hour and you would still be in
If you stroll in the jungle you must keep all of your senses alert. There is no telling what manner of beast could be lurking behind the tall grass watching you silently as you pass by. I know this because I have been there. I have seen the tracks of tigers in the dust across my path; I have been bitten by a monkey at the Monkey Temple; I have contemplated which tree to climb before the rhino charged… There are many dangers that dwell beyond the familiar, and that is something that one should never forget, no matter where they travel in life. Yet, if I had not traveled beyond the safety of what I already knew, neither would I have been able to soar between the highest peaks on earth.
Thursday, September 10, 2009
I have been very productive already. I got about 13 kg of mixed Sherpa Coral at a decent price. It was from our old supplier the Shauji (shop keeper) with one veiled eye. He moved from KTM durbar square right next to
Qazi's shop has very little in stock that I want. They are making some more large beads for us in turquoise and coral. I'm also thinking of asking them to make labyrinth pendants for us. Could you send me a picture from the labyrinth website?
I saw Karma Dolma and she is making cat pillows for us. The biggest problem is getting the synthetic stuffing. She is actually buying pillows and tearing them apart for the stuffing. I heard from some other people that getting synthetic stuffing is a problem. I'll see if Raju has a suggestion when he gets back from Chitwan.
Last night I met Pemba Sherpa who will arrange our trip to
We spent a good hour talking about the Yeti, black and white ghosts and other spooky stuff. I have a feeling that everyone here has a few good spook stories. My friend is going to try to help me find some books written about ghosts in
I love you all. Mommy will be home soon!
Many people have asked me to write about my trips. This is a very ordinary example of what I do. It is an excerpt from a letter written during a January buying trip in Kathmandu.
Friday, September 4, 2009
You would be greeted with great white smiles beaming from light-brown people. Some of them would look a bit Chinese others would look Indian. They would invite you into their shops and offer you a hot glass of milk tea. Then they would ask you if you would like to buy a mask of Hanuman, the monkey king, or a statue of Ganesha, the god with the head of an elephant. Perhaps a shaman's ritual dagger or a Gurkha soldier’s knife would be more to your liking?
Everywhere that you would go you would smell burning incense. Dust, dirt, smoke and exhaust fumes would be swirling around you turning your hair shades of gray and your face black with dirt. Shrines and temples would be all around you, and the ancient homes so ornate with carvings that you could not be certain whether they were dwellings for people or for spirits of a time long past.
No longer able to ride down the narrow rocky streets, you would push your bike past fruit and vegetable vendors, cows, salesmen, and goats, as hundreds of people would crowd around you trying to get past you and your bike. They would be ringing the bells on their own bikes and beeping their car horns very near your ear and then they would pass you. And you might think to yourself, "That car passed me and it was only half an inch from my handle bar!"
When you looked over to your right, you would see that you had almost knocked into a butcher as you were jumping out of the way of the car. Staring vacantly up at you from the butcher’s outdoor table would be a bloody goat’s head. Its body cut into legs and ribs and other sellable quantities. Flies would be buzzing around around it and dogs nearby would be hoping for a scrap to fall off the table and into their mouths. Other goats, in the process of being butchered, would be on the ground in an alley around the corner.
The movement and noise of the people would be constant, like the ebb and flow of the ocean. Behind you, barely audible, a boy would whisper "Hashish? Change money?" You would put your head down, and walk a little faster. Someone else begins to follow you. "Your shoe is broken!" he says. He follows you for blocks while you are still walking at a determined pace. Thinking that you have escaped you turn a corner to find that you are surrounded by open palms... a woman with an infant, a crippled Sadhu on the ground, a child with his drawing for sale.
And you would have to decide, shall I stay and explore this foreign land or shall I get back on my bike and pedal home as fast as I can. And then you would lift your head, and look up above the crowd, and find and opening between the temples. There you would see a golden light illuminating the most enormous white capped mountain range you had ever seen in your life. You would pause to fix the beauty of that moment permanently in your mind. The mystery of what could be waiting for you just around the next corner would compel you stay a little longer.
Wednesday, September 2, 2009
When the dogs begin to bark and the shrine bells ring with vigor, I know that the valley is emerging from its dark but colorful world of the dreamers into the cold bright mists of another day in Samsara. It is too early to find an open restaurant or shop, but by the time that I walk from Thamel to Naxal, just beyond the Narayanhiti Royal Palace, Mike's will be open for breakfast. It is winter, so a young man shows me to a table inside what looks to be a hundred year old palace and he pulls a space heater close to warm me. There I dine alone with my pad and paper and a real cup of coffee. My hand in a fingerless glove, I take notes about my dreams, I sketch new designs, I plan my day, and I wait with anticipation for tourists to arrive and tell me the stories of their lives.
It is a long walk back to Thamel, but I would like to explore Nag Pokhari, 'Snake Pond' on my way back. I wave off the motorcycle rickshaw and walk the unpaved road. Cows and cars and pedestrians whirl around me with great purpose. Nag Pokhari hides behind a wrought iron gate and low dusty shrubs. Inside the gate, is what appears to be a large and ancient rectangular stone swimming pool. In the center of this murky green brown pond is a 25 foot post with a beautifully carved copper serpent's head.
A man arrives with some food in a bag and tosses it into the water. Immediately the water begins to churn and boil and splash about as dozens of carp fight over the crumbs. Suddenly, I no longer see a peaceful pond but a writhing horror of insatiable desire. The ravenous carp are the embodiment of the sea of suffering. Each leap from that pond is the symbol of the soul's emancipation...
I have been busy moving boxes from here to there. We are now nearly settled in our new home in Shaker Heights, Ohio, next to Cleveland. Soon, I will be emerging from my current murky pond.