Ripples Following Ripples ~ REALITY
shower was so refreshing after being without for 2
weeks, and afterwards, I went for lunch of samosas
~ the first food of the day ~ and then to search for
a shoe-repair place, as the soles of my trusty sandals
had split on the final day. I got new batteries for
my blood-test kit, only to discover that the old ones
were working normally again out of the mountains;
it really must have been the altitude affecting them.
The black toe-nail didn’t wait to grow out but
suddenly came off completely, without pain. My heels
were cracked and sore, and it would take some days
for them to be-come normal, like after Jomsom.
One day, I stopped at a thanka-shop to have a look,
and got talk-ing with the owner, Sanjay,
about Dharma. He was happy about this and invited
me to visit his guru ~ Swami Ramanandagiri,
Nepal’s leading Sanskrit scholar ~ at Pashupatinath;
I accepted, and he took me on his motorbike. It was
pleasant meeting the old bird ~ same age as me, actually;
his English was quite good and we had a nice exchange.
After talking at some length, I requested him to say
something to me, and somewhat hesitantly at first,
he did ~ something about Shankaracharya.
Once he got going, he became more confident, and I
found his ideas quite in accord with my own. He is
known as 'the angry swami' because of his refusal
to accept any nonsense from his audiences, even to
the extent of scolding people for as much as looking
at their watches during his talks. Well, I could relate
to this, as so many times during my talks, people
have been chatting in the audience, and sometimes,
I’ve stopped and asked them not to do so, as
it’s inconsiderate of others; if you want to
talk, I said, better don’t come here, but go
outside or stay at home; instead of making merit by
attending a talk ~ as many people think they will
~ you will only make demerit by talking during it.
And this, while someone was translating for me, so
people could not make the excuse of not being able
to understand. Good on you, Swami-ji. I quite agree!
At 5 o’clock, I had to excuse myself to return
to Chetrapati for my bike, which I’d left for
repairs, although I would have liked to stay longer.
I took a taxi back.
Someone named Jivan, whom I’d recently met,
said he’d like to go to Trisuli with me, and
I thought it would be good to have a companion, so
we made arrangements, and rented him a bike. At the
bus-station, we loaded our bikes onto the Trisuli
bus, and de-cided to sit on top to watch that no-one
sat or walked on them. It was quite a bumpy ride to
Kakani, where we got down and began our ride. About
20 minutes later, however, he came off and in-jured
his right ankle. He tried to go on, but it soon became
clear that we’d have to go back. We got to a
place where all the buses stop for people to eat,
and after being ministered to by kindly people at
a restaurant, we got a bus back to Kathmandu. By the
time we got there, his ankle was quite swollen, but
he said it didn’t hurt much. I gave him taxi-fare
to go home, while I took his bike to the hire-place
and paid for the buckled wheel to be re-paired. I
later went to see him; he’d been to a doctor,
who told him his ankle was not fractured or broken;
lucky for him.
Really wanting to do the Trisuli ride, I set off again
2 days later. It was a lovely day, but shortly after
the place where Jivan came off, I hit some loose gravel
on a bend and also came off. My spill was worse than
his, as it became immediately clear, from the pain
as I lay there on the road, that something was quite
wrong. I struggled to my feet, but knew my right shoulder
was dislocated, as my arm hung heavily down, although
my hand was functional. My right forearm, left palm
and left shin were abraded. Just then, a bus came
up the road and stopped for me. My bike was put on
the roof, and I got in with some difficulty, my arm
hanging down; a seat was found for me at the back
~ the worst place. People were quite kind and solicitous,
but I was in considerable pain, and al-most fainted.
Half-an-hour later, a seat became vacant in the middle
of the bus, so I moved there. Soon after, the bus
jolted as it hit a large pot-hole; I felt a stab of
pain which made me wince, and a click in my shoulder
as it went back into joint, after which it felt a
The trip back to town felt much longer than 90 minutes,
of course. I negotiated with a taxi-van to
take me to my hotel. I didn’t bother going to
a hospital, as I figured nothing was broken or fractured
and it just needed time to recover. Instead, I had
my arm and hand dressed at a medical-shop, and got
After lunch, I had a nap and slept quite well, although
I knew I’d be sore for a few days. Then I went
to see Sanjay, and sat talking with him and his brother
for about an hour, during which I told him I was a
monk. From there, I went to do my email, but couldn’t
read and reply to it all as the connection was extremely
slow; there was one from Ashok, Jivan’s brother.
Washing clothes, shaving and showering was a bit hard,
but I managed. Would I learn anything from the incident,
I wondered? Was it a karmic lesson for my lack of
sympathy and even annoy-ance towards Jivan, and my
arrogance in considering myself an experienced rider
and him not? Pride goes before a fall, it is said.
Although it wasn’t easy, I was on my bike again
the next day, even though the slightest bump on Kathmandu’s
moon-scape roads sent shock-waves up my arm. By this
time, the bruises were showing, and oh, it was like
the aurora-borealis, with all the colors of the rainbow!
I decided to go to Pokhara and spend time recovering
there rather than in Kathmandu, so got a ticket. The
bus left on time, and I had a seat behind the driver,
where it wasn’t too bumpy. The trip was uneventful
except for a lengthy delay at one point because of
a terrible accident, unfortunately, all too common
on Nepal’s perilous roads. I’d wondered
what hotel-offers I might get upon arrival, but Khem
of Paramount was the first to greet me, and so it
was more-or-less decided that I should stay there.
Hera was also at the bus-park. He told me he’d
worked only 4 days since I last saw him, but how to
know if he was telling the truth? I’d seen before
that he didn’t always.
I got the same room at Paramount. Crazy dope-smoking
Raj had left and been replaced by a young guy named
Bishal. He helped to carry my bags to the
room, and then offered my some hash, but I reprimanded
him for this, and he apologized.
As soon as I’d showered and changed, I went
into town, only to find that the cyber-cafes had uniformly
raised their rates to Rs100 per hour. I connected
only long enough to tell people on my list that I
wouldn’t be in touch until I returned to Kathmandu.
Back at the hotel, I asked Khem if anyone could help
me with my arm, and he suggested Bishal, who readily
agreed. He gave me a good work-out, for which I paid
him Rs50; he was very pleased, and helped me over
the following days, but it became more pain-ful; I
felt nauseous and the right side of my chest ached.
I decided to go for an x-ray, and Khem recommended
a nursing-home nearby, but when I got there they told
me the x-ray machine was out of order, but otherwise,
an x-ray there would have cost Rs500 and the doctor’s
consultation-fee $25 on top of that. I went off to
the government hospital far away, and through the
procedure of registering as a patient, Rs200, getting
a referral-form, paying Rs100 for the x-ray, and lastly
getting the x-ray itself. The hospital smelled none-too-clean,
and I could easily imagine infection stalking the
corridors. I had to wait 45 minutes for the x-ray
film, but gave up waiting to see a doctor for the
assessment as there were just too many others in line.
I went back to the nursing-home, where I complained
that $25 was too much. Clearly not wanting to lose
a fee, they said I could put what I felt like in the
donation-box, so I saw the doctor, who soon informed
me that there was nothing seriously wrong and that
it would take 2 or 3 weeks for my arm to fully recover;
meanwhile, I shouldn’t do any strenuous exercise.
I put Rs500 in the box, feeling lucky that I got away
with paying a third of that originally quoted.
Almost every day while I was in Pokhara, there were
thunder-storms with lots of rain, and of course, frequent
power-cuts as a result. From the balcony outside my
room, I observed egrets fly-ing past on their way
to work, contrasted against the dark clouds; in the
evenings, they would return to roost in their regular
places, looking like great white flowers on certain
trees. One day, from early morning right through until
evening the next day, a solitary hoopoe uttered its
call non-stop, probably in search of a mate, but obviously
getting no response, poor thing. Several brain-fever
birds also made their rising-crescendo calls.
When I’d had enough of Pokhara, I packed my
stuff and prepared to leave. I gave Bishal Rs1500
~ for him, a month’s wages ~ and he said he
would use it to buy ear-rings for his wife.
The bus-trip was uneventful, and we reached there
at 2 pm, and I got my previous room in Snow Lion,
but it was hotter then, and there was no fan. Yappy-dog
across the way barked as usual, but when I yelled
out of the window ~ at almost 10 p.m. ~ “Shut
that bloody dog up!” the owners must have
understood and taken it inside, as it then went quiet.
Unfortunately, a score of other dogs in the vicinity
did not. I went looking for another hotel next morn-ing,
but it took quite a while to find one I considered
satisfactory, thinking it would be much quieter.
A student-led strike – Maoist-inspired –
meant that almost all shops were closed, and there
was no transport except rickshaws; it was strange
without cars and taxis on the streets.
I moved to the new hotel and shortly afterwards, my
water-heater burned out and blew the fuse in my room;
I had to get someone to fix it, and blamed it on my
mozzie-zapper. My illusions about that being a quiet
hotel were soon dispelled when a band started up in
a nearby night-club, but I didn’t mind it so
much ~ even though they went on until 10:45 ~ as they
played lots of old ‘60’s songs. When they’d
finished, a yapping dog ~ which had been unable to
compete before – started up and went on for
about an hour, so I had to resort to using blu-tack
in my ears, but I did not sleep well owing to the
pain in my shoulder.
The next night was even worse, with horribly-repetitive
Nepalese music and singing, and when that came to
an end, there were other sounds. But nothing was as
bad as the loud voices and laughter of some people
~ who I later learned were Israelis ~ in an adjacent
hotel, which went on until at least 3:30! I then under-stood
why Israelis have such a bad reputation in Nepal!
After them came Yappity for a while, and
then I eventually dozed off for about 1½ hours,
determined to make finding another hotel my priority
in the morning, which I did. After checking several,
I chose a room in the Yeti Guest House at
Rs225, so went back to get my stuff, explaining my
reasons for moving. I also requested ~ and was given
~ the stack of Bibles from their bookshelf, that had
been brought in by some Americans, obviously with
the hope of influencing some ‘heathen’
Buddhists and Hindus into converting. I made an offering
of them to the Bhagmati River-Goddess.
There is a Rajneesh centre outside Kathmandu, and
since I had long been looking for one of his books
called “Christianity, the Greatest Poison”,
I visited Arun Swami, the secretary, to ask about
it, but he said there was no such book, unless published
under that title by a private publisher.
I was awaiting a reply from D.V. to my query as to
a suitable date for my return to Malaysia. He’s
a busy man, and often unable to get to a computer.
Eventually, I heard from him and went to make my booking,
but the earliest I could get was a week hence.
Yeti Guest House was much better; finally, I’d
found the quiet I wanted; there was no music, and
although I could still hear dogs barking, they were
not very near. Even further away, across a piece of
waste ground behind the hotel, I heard the occasional
call of a peacock, and some brain-fever birds.
Sanjay offered to drive me to Chobar Gorge, the outlet
for the riv-ers of Kathmandu from the valley. An old
myth tells how this came to be: Long ago, Kathmandu
Valley was a lake, with only the hill of Swayambhu
standing above it as an island. The Bodhi-sattva Manjushri
then came with his Sword (the Sword of Wisdom that
cuts through defilements), and with one stroke, cut
a way through the valley-wall, draining the lake,
and leaving a beautiful and extremely-fertile valley.
The water that now flows through the gorge is black
and noisome from Kathmandu’s pollution.
I began shopping for gifts and souvenirs for some
of the many people who’d made this trip possible,
and spent a lot of time look-ing at and haggling for
thangkas and other things. During this, I met someone
I’d helped before ~ a young woman named Puja
~ just after I’d been thinking of her; she had
her baby on her back, and was pleasant, as always.
I bought two of the bags she was selling, and allowed
her to overcharge me.
DV had told me to sell the bike for what I could rather
than take it back to Malaysia with me, as I had intended
to. Finding a buyer for it, however, was not easy,
but eventually I did, and was glad to get it off my
hands, because although it had served me well, I’d
also had quite a lot of trouble with it, and had frequently
needed to get it repaired. I got the equivalent of
$100 for it.
The scabs on my arm and legs were all dry by this
time, with no more pus, but the pain my shoulder remained
~ another souvenir of my trip in Nepal; there were
so many, some of which I was happy with, and others
not. But life is like this, is it not? ~ a mix-ture
of many things.
Altogether, I had spent 3½ months in Nepal,
and had some great times there. I’d lost some
weight, of course ~ at one point, I was down to 70
kgs and felt delighted about it! ~ but after my bike-incident,
I couldn’t exercise as I usually did, and the
lost weight began to come back, and more besides!