I gotta be in Kathmandu

Trip Start Oct 22, 2007
Trip End Dec 12, 2007

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Sunday, November 4, 2007

Namaste, I've finally made it to Kathmandu, Nepal. A fascinating, provocative world would be an understatement. A vibrant tapestry of an old world society, a visual feast, Kathmandu's narrow, outrageously congested streets provides the traveling Westerner an instant submersion into an exotic land. Ancient medieval temples, vibrant colors, Hindus, Buddhist, Tibetan and Nepalese, chaos and commotion. Oh yeah, and holy men and holy cows!
Religious ceremony is an ongoing way of life hear for both Hindus and Buddhists, ceremonial practices and offerings that date back several thousand years continue today like a recurring mystical dream.
I walk several blocks from my hostel and you see Hindu women dressed in their colorful saris and scarfs. Round the corner, several Tibetan monks, dressed in their traditional maroon and yellow robes, idle along the road chatting. Further still you pass several holy men, known as sadhus, enroute to the sacred temple compound, Durbar Square. You've also passed several thousand touts, bycyclists, peddle-powered rickshaws, cars, motorbikes, local Nepalese opening up shops and early morning travelers like myself. Space is at a minimum here. The aromas range from pungent curry and roasted corns to pungent garbage and who knows what else. Yet, through this maddening, crowded Far East labyrinth, all the people I pass are courteous and polite.
Even the python named Madrina was affectionate. Two Hindu men sitting on a street corner begin playing music. For some reason the music sounded like an Irish jig. One gentleman began to open a basket which I presumed to be for donations. A wrong assumption in Kathmandu. This particular basket contained a small cobra. The man opens another basket, out pops another cobra, the final, largest basket containing python Madrina. Which member of Monty Python was she? Yes...these men were snake charmers and I was quickly indoctrinated with Madrina draped over my shoulders. How lovely!

The Kathmandu business community is definitely on an enlightened path, judging from their marquees;  third eye restaurant, nirvana paint supplies, dharma massage, and siddhartha bike repair.
That afternoon I trekked through Kathmandu neighborhoods, along rubbled, dusty streets, to reach the spectacular Buddhist stupa Swayambhunath, affectionately known as the Monkey Temple. Hiking up the steep steps to the stupa, a holy man suddenly approached me, put a red dot swab on my fourhead and draped flower petals in my hair. My initiation ceremony?

The stupa overlooks the Kathmandu valley. Numerous Tibetan monks, as well as Hindus, consider this a very holy place. Always reverent to tradition, pilgrims pay tribute, giving offerings and in a clockwise movement, circumnavigate the stupa, spinning the heavy metal prayer wheels as they walk around. Several of the prayer wheels are three meters high...spin that!
Graced on the top of the stupa, are the penetrating, ever-watchful, omnipotent eyes, that follow you wherever you go.
There truly was a special, spiritual presence to this place, enhanced by the present and pass spiritual souls that have ventured up the steep steps to get here.

To see more of my travel photos, visit www.michaelmcguerty.com

To read more of my travel writings, please visit www.pecoskid.com
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