Ripples Following Ripples ~ REALITY CHANGES

A 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 lot better.

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 some analgesics.

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!

< Previous  -   Next>

Home  -   Against The Stream  -   As It Is  -   Because I Care  -   Behind The Mask  -   Boleh Tahan -   Just A Thought -   Let Me See  -   Lotus Petals  -   Not This, Not That  -   Parting Shots  -   Ripples Following Ripples  -   So Many Roads  -   This, Too, Will Pass  -   Wait A Minute!  -   Your Questions, My Answers  -   Download  -   Funeral  -   Links  -   Contact