The Encounter with the Monk

Back in Kathmandu, I had to see a doctor, for the stomach didn’t stop running. I kept going to the bathroom frequently, until there was nothing left but just watery stuff to come out. So much water! It spoilt my holiday. I was worried I’d caught something like typhoid, or cholera, or dysentery, for the day we went to see the caves we ate in this really traditional Nepali restaurant. And the woman ripped us off, charging us an outrageous price for very bad food. It wasn’t really a clean restaurant, and you can easily catch diseases from eating in such a place.
So we went to the clinic and had some tests done, and the doctor told me it’s nothing to worry about and that I it’s Nepal’s way of welcoming tourists. Well, that was comforting. They gave me a whole load of medicines to swallow. For a day, I kept inside the hotel room. We didn’t go out, only chatted on the internet, and watched movies (can’t remember which one, but it was a funny one). And then, when I was ready, we went to see the Boudhanath Stupa.
It’s similar to the Swoyambounath stupa, where we saw the thieving monkeys, but this is older and more famous. It’s often used as a symbol of Kathmandu, the way they use the Eiffel Tower for Paris. This stupa is huge, and from the air it’s quiet a spectacle, so I’m told, though I didn’t get a chance to have a really good aerial look at it.
Well, it’s a Buddhist place, full of pilgrims coming and going. But the thing is you only walk in one direction, clockwise, because it’s a circular structure. And everyone walks in one, clockwise, direction. You can’t walk anti-clock wise, even if you forgot your bag just a few shops back, you have to go all the way round to reach that spot again! And it’s quiet a distance, for it’s as big as the pyramids. Well, not that big, but you get the picture?

At one point we ran into a monk, who welcomed us into a monastery. Again, being off tourist season, we got a private guided tour. Normally, you’d have to do it with loads of other tourists. But the catch point is that after the tour, you make a donation. We did. And he gave us blessings, put a white cloth around our neck—it’s a Tibetan culture to welcome you someplace. And we took photos with the monk as well—he was so captivated by my boy friend’s height and color. And he gave us his email address to send him the photos.

Later, he took us to the roof of the monastery, where we had this grand view of the Stupa. Something many tourists fail to see, for they remain on the ground. Then he took us into a prayer room, where there were some Buddhist saying prayers. They gave us incense sticks to burn, and put stuff on our foreheads—the rituals had started, but I got scared. Later, Dilman, who understands Nepali, told me that they were saying something like, “That black man talks Nepali? Then don’t ask him for money.” But at that time, I didn’t know what they were saying. I remember a time in Ethiopia when we went to this temple and got ripped off by the monks themselves and I feared something similar was going to happen.
I urged Dilman to get me out of there, and we went out. He told me there was nothing to fear, but we couldn’t go back in. Well, this is when the monk came out and became really nice to us, talked to us, and told us the meaning of his name. When I go back, I’ll surely have to look him up. I should remember to send him his photo as well.
The sunset was coming fast, and though the monk was talkative and nice, we had to say goodbye to him. We ran to another building, which had a rooftop restaurant, with a splendid view of the stupa with the sunset in the background. Well, this picture says it all!

There were two African men in this restaurant, one was a footballer, the other an intern of some kind, and after dinner, they took us to the nearest pharmacy where I could buy more medicine. They had an interesting story. The footballer, had been to many parts of Asia. He travels from place to place, playing football. There’s a whole community of them in Nepal, apparently, African footballers, mercenaries, who follow the buck more than they follow the ball. It’s a story worth writing about, or turning into a documentary, as Dilman, who is obsessed with such things, told me. Am writing it just to remind him of it so later he won’t have to forget the encounter.

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