Final days in Kathmandu

View from Helena'sView from Helena's

A leisurely final day together – breakfast at the dizzying heights of Helena’s, some shopping and late lunch/dinner at Pilgrim’s feed n read. M leaves early the next day and I’m left on my own.

Thamel streetsThamel streets

The next day, I start with a tasty low-cholesterol breakfast at Pilgrim’s. I write and read a little, happy to have been recognised by the staff. Invited to music later. I wander Thamel and buy a bansuri, spend some time in the store playing guitar and thwacking drums. Wander off feeling blissfully happy and carefree.

Try to get an electric Safa Tempo, but get conned onto a normal tempo to Boudnath. 15 rupees later, having been squeezed into the low roof Suzuki, I spill out in front of Boudnath stupa. I pay 100 rupees for entry and get given a leaflet, before realising it’s free. It’s pretty, but no real connection, I spy a roof top cafe and seek it out.

Watchful eyesWatchful eyes

The Saturday Cafe fills a spot and I sit, read and write, eavesdropping on conversations high about the stupa. Hours float by, soup and chiya. I wander off to find a gompa – the oldest in Boudnath.

Butter lampsButter lamps

Wandering through narrow side streets, I sheepishly poke my head in and ask if it’s ok to look around. The monks speak great english, I slip my flip-flops off and slide through the curtain.

15 pairs of eyes swivel in my direction, still chanting.

I feel very out of place. Nervously namaste-ing, I creep in. A monk motions for me to sit just as a huge cacophony starts. The tantric drums pound through my body. I sit transfixed and gradually settle into the experience. I scatter rice as the monks perform full body prostrations. Then comes a point in the puja where something is poured into the monks’ hands, they sip it then wipe it on their shorn heads. A monk approaches and pours some of the bright yellow liquid into my hand. I follow suit and wonder what I’ve just consumed. Later they offer me bread (that is familiar to me as yau char kway) and some sort of hot drink – maybe involving yak butter. It’s sweet and warm, but looks like dish water. Unsure whether it’s right for me to take part, I decide to accept as an acknowledgement of our interconnectedness. Puja finishes and I’m swept into a sea of locals circumambulating the stupa. Dazzled and intrigued, I finally head back to Kathmandu.

Dusk at BoudnathDusk at Boudnath

I visit Pilgrims’, intent on chilling to sitar music, but something doesn’t feel right. I reject the linen clad bearded hippies and head for Japanese food, contemplating the sudden influx of Japanese-ness into my life,

Dinner at O Fukuru No Aji is… spiritual and nourishing. I sit cross-legged, enjoying the calm, reading and writing – a happy closing memory of a great country to which we’re sure to return.