Namaste. I hardly know where to begin.
Landing at the cusp of dark to find that my guest house has not, as I expected, sent a car to meet me. Thus, I began this trip in the traditional manner - trying to bleed as little as possible to the local taxi driver and also rebuff his thousand offers of help setting up tours and purchasing mobile phones and the like.
Finally arriving at my guest house, NewaChen (http://www.newachen.com/thestoryofnewachen.htm) and being taken into the embrace of a friendly and warm atmosphere that immediately put me at ease. Rasita, the beautiful, elegant and intelligent hostess of the traditional Newari home that has been transformed into an inn, dealt with the taxi driver in short order, showed me to my room, and invited me to join the following day's celebrations.
The grandfather of the obviously well-off family that owns the guesthouse was being honoured for having ascended to a divine stage of his life - having achieved 77 years, 7 months, 7 days and 7 hours, he is now considered more than mortal if not entirely divine. An entire day of ceremonies included priests chanting invocations, offerings being made to hindu dieties, and the elder himself bestowing blessings on all involved by placing the red tikka mark on their forehead. I was humbled to be also included in this ritual, and wore my tikka with pride.
The colors of the ceremony and the followin reception were incredible in heir variety and brilliance!
Today I am on my own. I have met with Thakur Krishna Uprety, who will be my yoga instructor, and left with no clear impression of him beyond kindness and patience and a desire to be relaxed and at peace with what we are embarking on. The proof of the pudding, however, is under the crust, and I will await our actual instruction beginning next week before making firm conclusions.
As for impressions of Nepal and Kathmandu so far, I also have little to share, this being my second day:
- NOISE! Cars and motorcycles constantly beeping horns at every minute of every day. Silence is certainly more valuable than gold in this bustling city, and my practice of meditation will indeed be challenged by these constant reminders of the world - as will my sleep!
- Beauty: I must include this because the beauty of the Nepali women is stunning, and has been remarked on by several other guests I have spoken to. It is not just the physical beauty ensconced in lush-coloured saris - it is the elegance and carriage that captivates and intrigues.
- Cold water: A cold shower is not a big problem, it is merely a part of travelling in this part of the world. And it certainly wakes you up!
- French: The other guests are all francophone, and speak little English. 10 years ago I spoke French in Paris with giddy glee at the knowledge of words and phrases rushing back to me - now Korean phrases and syntax litter garbled sentences that barely encapsulate intention, idea or emotion.
I will desist for now, but promise to try to update regularly and to post some pictures. I am woahfully unprepared for this trip in more ways than I expected (curse my nonchalance in approaching this endeavour!), so do not have a cable for my camera (amoung other things) - but I will endeavour to correct this situation as I get my bearings!
Best wishes to all and hoping to hear from you all on e-mail or facebook! A selection of photos of my trip so far - including Nova Scotia, London and Brussels - can be viewed (with no sign in) at: http://www.facebook.com/album.php?aid=3686&l=1bb53&amp;id=508337957