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.