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DVD’s, Parasites and Antibiotics…

24th November 2011

Being sick gives you a good excuse to sleep in, rolling over for a breakfast of twix and cookies. However, if I had a choice I would rather be healthy and up early.

Dhurbary Square

Buddha and I planned to make a run to get some DVD’s at the chinese market but stopped at Dhurbary Square on our way. This is where you can see the “Living Goddess” or Kumari. Tourists usually have to pay a fee to see her, but unfortunately she wasn’t in. The surrounding temples and square were stunning though.



Home of the Kumari

Stray dogs sleeping in the square

Kumari, or Kumari Devi, is the tradition of worshiping young pre-pubescent girls as manifestations of the divine female energy or devi in Hindu religious traditions. The word Kumari, derived from Sanskrit Kaumarya meaning “virgin”, means young unmarried girls in Nepali and some Indian languages and is a name of the goddess Durga as a child.

In Nepal a Kumari is a pre-pubescent girl selected from the Shakya clan of the Nepalese Newari community. The Kumari is revered and worshiped by some of the country’s Hindus as well as the Nepali Buddhists, though not the Tibetan Buddhists. While there are several Kumaris throughout Nepal, with some cities having several, the best known is the Royal Kumari of Kathmandu, and she lives in the Kumari Ghar, a palace in the center of the city. The selection process for her is especially rigorous. The current Royal Kumari, Matina Shakya, aged four, was installed in October 2008 by the Maoist government that replaced the monarchy. Chanira Bajracharya, as the Kumari of Patan is the second most important living goddess.

A Kumari is believed to be the incarnation of the goddess until she menstruates, after which it is believed that the goddess vacates her body. Serious illness or a major loss of blood from an injury are also causes for her to revert to common status.

Eligible girls are Buddhists from the Newar Shakya caste (the clan to which the Buddha belonged) of silver and goldsmiths. She must be in excellent health, never have shed blood or been afflicted by any diseases, be without blemish and must not have yet lost any teeth. Girls who pass these basic eligibility requirements are examined for the battis lakshanas, or ‘thirty-two perfections’ of a goddess. Some of these are poetically listed as such:
-A neck like a conch shell
-A body like a banyan tree
-Eyelashes like a cow
-Thighs like a deer
-Chest like a lion
-Voice soft and clear as a duck’s
In addition to this, her hair and eyes should be very black, she should have dainty hands and feet, small and well-recessed sexual organs and a set of twenty teeth.

Once the priests have chosen a candidate, she must undergo yet more rigorous tests to ensure that she indeed possesses the qualities necessary to be the living vessel of Durga. Her greatest test comes during the Hindu festival of Dashain. On the kalratri, or ‘black night’, 108 buffaloes and goats are sacrificed to the goddess Kali. The young candidate is taken into the Taleju temple and released into the courtyard, where the severed heads of the animals are illuminated by candlelight and masked men are dancing about. If the candidate truly possesses the qualities of Taleju, she shows no fear during this experience. If she does, another candidate is brought in to attempt the same thing.
As a final test, the living goddess must spend a night alone in a room among the heads of ritually slaughtered goats and buffaloes without showing fear. The fearless candidate has proven that she has the serenity and the fearlessness that typifies the goddess who is to inhabit her. After passing all other tests, the final test is that she must be able to pick out the personal belongings of the previous Kumari from an assortment of things laid out before her. If she is able to do so, there is no remaining doubt that she is the chosen one.

(Courtesy of Wikipedia)

(Courtesy of: Travel and Tour Nepal)

Once the girl is no longer considered the Kumari, she can grow up to marry, however, its apparently a tough call to be man enough to marry a former Goddess…

Watching the people in the square was fascinating. The tourists with their cameras, the locals trying to sell their wears. But the most impressive were the people moving supplies, it was downright amazing at how big the loads were.

DVD’s and attack of the Tongan Parasites

Heading to Civil Mall, Buddha and I went to look for a new selection of DVD’s from the Chinese market. Buddha also bought me a cd with some Buddhist chants. As we were exploring I felt the urge to go. Of course the only place was a squatter loo. Now after 3yrs living in Korea this has never been a major inconvenience for me. However, I soon realised this was the monthly attack of the suspected parasites I might have picked up while in Tonga. This usually involves cramps, sweating, more cramps and is generally rather unpleasant. So trying to squat while your legs are rapidly turned to jello by severe cramping rapidly rendered my usual technique for squatters useless. So bracing myself with my hands on the walls I barely survived this wave.

Heading back to the mall feeling decidely light headed and weak the second wave threatened. Unloading my bags and the DVD’s onto Buddha I made a b-line for the mall that was thankfully in sight and, wonders of all wonders, had sit upon toilets. After wave 2 and 3, I felt…better or at least stable. Buddha, bless his heart, just carried my bag and waited without saying a word and just showing concern. I am really disliking this monthly gathering of the parasites…. We hung around the mall for abotu half an hour, just in case and then went to the doctor for my results.

Antibiotics

Well the pee in a little bottle test confirmed it, a Urinary tract infection. So with a fistful of ciproflaxicin 500mg, twice a day for 10days, and the plan to drink a yoghurt lassi as every possible opportunity we headed back to the hotel. The doc said I might have to have another test after the antibiotics were done to be sure the UTI was gone, that would mean Germany.

After dropping off all the new items at the hotel, Buddha took me to a friend of his who sells bags and scarves and such in the Thamel region. I got a couple of scarves and some socks and he gave me a very good price. Then we went to the Buddha Bar. Nope it isn’t Buddha’s, although when he does open his own bar in a few years I think he should call it “Buddha’s Bar”, it has a nice ring to it.

The Buddha Bar has a really chill vibe, with low tables and lots of cushions so you sit on the floor. We had some drinks and some dinner and just as we were enjoying the vibe, 9pm struck and the music was turned up. I hate it when a place does that, thinking that it is now the party hour or something. We decided to call it a night, since I was still feeling under the weather, and headed back to the hotel.

So except for parasites attack, it was a great day. I am sorry to be leaving in less that a week.

 
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Posted by on May 8, 2012 in Uncategorized

 

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Hot Stones = Heaven

23rd November 2011

Seeking Divine Advice

Another late morning meant a lunch time meeting. This time Buddha suggested a rather rich fried cheese with cashews in a sauce and roti. Delicious but super super rich.

Yogi, Hotel Silver Home’s owner, had decided he wanted to get the advice of a fortune teller and so we all set off in a rickshaw. However, since the rickshaw is made for 2 people it meant Buddha sat on our laps, it was all rather amusing and I was tempted to ask why he was on top… but they had been gentlemen and helped me into the rickshaw first…

The rickshaw ride didn’t last long as it turned out the fortune teller had moved out of the area and so we planned to switch to a cab. But first we popped into a curtain shop. Yogi is planning on redoing a lot of the out of date furnishings. He of course straight for the really impractical style, one that would show the dirt, had threads that would pull easily etc.. I pointed these out, sometimes women are just better at these things. He got the idea and started leaning towards a more practical design. But we will see what eventually gets chosen in a few weeks

Then into the cab, it drove us out to the middle of nowhere. Walking between half built houses with no idea how the guys seemed to know where they were heading. We entered a building, went up the stairs and discovered a hundred shoes littered outside a single door. This must be the place!!

Unfortunately, there would also be a longgggggg wait. Yogi decided to come by another time. And we wandered out towards the main road to find our way home. I was still feeling rather under the weather and Buddha, seeing that, said I should go for a massage.

Hot Stones!!!!

Back in the Thamel area, Buddha drove me to the same place where we had sat in the sauna, and proceeded to negotiate a good price for me to have a hot stone massage. I got an hour for $22. Then, to the amusement of the staff, announced that I was ticklish.

Within a short time, I found myself naked and wrapped in a towel lying face down on a table. The room was L-shaped and lying there I heard a voice that was decidedly male. The other masseuse was a guy and was giving the woman perpendicular to me, an ayuvedic massage. It sounded painful.

At first I felt a little unnerved with a guy working on someone else just a few feet away from my fancy… but the minute the hot stones started their magic, I didn’t give a damn! My masseuse was a sweet girl and she was amazing.

The combination of calming music, heated massage oil, hot stones and someone working all the kinks out from toe to head… is about as close to heaven as a traveler can get. After getting a good once over, I stumbled to the sauna and sat there for a bit. I was on the verge of slipping into unconsciousness and called, as instructed, for Buddha to pick me up. Unfortunately they were still busy and so I wandered back home through the streets, picked up a few cards, bought a bag and made some notes.

Scammers

Yogi had seemed a little out of sorts that whole day. It turned out that a guest had taken the wrong key and had “stolen” something from one of the other guests. But there was no way to prove any of it, only an irrate guest claiming an ipod was missing. He insisted on being reimbursed. It did not make it a good day for Yogi.

It also explained why a staff member nearly gave me a heart attack at midnight by banging on my door. In his panic to find the guest who had the wrong key he got the door number wrong and hammered on mine instead. Oops…

For obvious reasons Yogi didn’t feel like being social and Raj had business so Buddha and I had dinner in a little place round the corner. We ate chowmein, fried buffalo momos, chicken noodle soup and 2 friend eggs. There was so much food we could barely finish it.

Massage, good friend, good food… good day

 
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Posted by on May 6, 2012 in Uncategorized

 

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Visiting Facebook…

19th November 2011

Competition Results

We received the competition results with Buddha no where in the top 3. Turns out top 1 and 2 went to students of the bartender school who hosted the event, and also 2 of the competitors who got the most critics from the judges. We all agreed the competition had been fixed from the start, which just made us angry that it had happened. Oh well what ya gonna do… I know go sightseeing and eat!!!

Temples and Shrines

After breakfast we headed out to a small temple on the edge of Kathmandu, Shree Budhanilkatnha Bishnu Bhagwan, a holy Hindu site. The tale goes that many years ago when this area was still farmland, a local farmer dug into his field and discovered a life size statue of Lord Vishnu in repose on a bed of giant serpents. It quickly became a holy site and devotees from all around visit it. Since it is a Hindu site, no photographs are allowed, no leather materials may enter the site and no videos may be taken. Only those of the Hindu faith may enter the gated area surrounding the statue. In comparison to Buddhist sites where everyone is welcome and photos are accepted.

Lord Vishnu, courtesy of Jasmine Strings Blog

The Mall – how else do you spend a saturday

After exploring the shrine we headed for some lounge around time at the mall. It always astounds me to walk in from crowded, noisy, polluted streets into a shopping mall mirroring those found in the Western world. It does make for some great people watching. We had tea with Buddha’s friend who owns a store, watched my first 6D (didn’t even know that existed) film. Or rather 4 shorts in 3D, moving chairs, and air blowing with the occasional brush against your leg. It was hilarious, and Buddha delighted in scaring me during the scary short by grabbing onto me now and then.

Monkey Temple routine

Then it was off to continue what had become an evening tradition, feeding the monkeys. I wished we could bring fruit or rice or something like that vs cookies, but carrying bags of cooked rice or fruit on a motorbike was just not feasible, so cookies it is. We pulled up to our local vendor window where the lady had got to know our routine and started getting the 20 packets ready before we were even off the bike. Finally it was time to reunite with some old friends…

Some of them are almost polite


Checking to see if he has space for one more


Do you think he gets training to look this cute??

A sad truth

As we walked through the temple looking for the different tribes of monkeys that seem to have very well defined territories we came across an old woman lying prone on the ground to the side of the path. Her skin was bloated and her stomach distended. Buddha explained she was most likely a poor person who had come from India seeking a better life and had fallen ill. He encouraged me to give a little something and some of the cookies. He is always careful not to let me just give money away unless he believes the person truly needs it. It is so sad to see things like this and not be able to help in more ways… a sad truth in every country, whether its a westernized world with the best health care or a developing country with barely enough doctors.

Off to Facebook

As the sun began to set we headed off to another of his friends restaurants, named Facebook, offering a range of Nepali foods. The first time I ate here the dal baht (traditional meal with rice and curry sides) was too hot for me. So this time I stuck to something simple and fried… always good. We chatted with a couple of his friends from the cruise ship who were having a late lunch and one of them mentioned he had a sister who owned a pashmina factory and he could take me there some time if I liked. Always handy knowledge to have.

Sauna time

After my long trip and all the motorbike riding Buddha had been doing we looked for a place to have a sauna. The first place seemed very fancy but unfortunately their saunas were segregated. So we headed into the tourist section of Thamel and found another place. Luckily we were the only 2 sitting there wrapped in our towels, it might have felt weird with strangers. We had a choice between a hot steam or dry sauna and took turns in each. Then some hot noodley soup before saying goodnight.

Tomorrow we are off to explore a monastery almost 2hrs outside of Kathmandu… hope my butt can survive a bike ride that long!

 
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Posted by on April 8, 2012 in Uncategorized

 

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Return to Kathmandu…

18th November 2011

side note, I believe I have been writing 2012 on some of my posts, oops, ignore that and imagine 2011 when you read it… Thanks! (of course I guess I could always go back and change them, I could…)

Bus Ride number 3

Returning to Kathmandu would involve another 6+hr bus trip, luckily this time I had booked in advance and had ensured I would have one of the very front seats. So after checking out and saying a sad farewell to my new sister, Laxmi, I grabbed a taxi and headed to the bus station. As luck would have it, the driver didn’t have change, but one enterprising young lad selling baked goods quickly took advantage of the situation:
“Lady, lady, I can make change if you buy something…”
Well I did need something for breakfast. I told him he was a bright lad and would go far and he seemed to like this. Now that I think about it maybe the two were in cahoots… But either way it meant I didn’t overpay the driver and got something to eat at the same time.
I felt a little bad for another chap who had tried to sell me something but I had said no, he just sort of looked on in shock. Am guessing he learnt a valuable lesson.

The front seat I had so hoped for ended up being almost jammed into the glass behind the driver giving no room to put my legs up and the seat was too high to put my feet down, for those who don’t know I am barely 5ft/1.5m tall, you can pretty much use me as measurement. My seat mate was a local travel agent and was kind enough to ask the driver for one of the little stools people use in the aisle when the bus is overcrowded, and I had an instant foot rest. It only got better when the people booked into the row behind us never showed up and the agent moved to that row, providing ample space for me to stretch out.

The bus ride still took over 7 1/2 hrs and I was utterly exhausted at the end of it.

Without much warning and in an area completely unfamiliar the bus stopped mid traffic flow and the driver yelled “Thamel! Last Stop”. All of us piled out of the vehicle rather confused and disoriented, we grabbed our bags as they were unloaded, with the bus still moving with the traffic, and then hurriedly got out of the road.

Luckily a couple of folks were heading my way so I was completely left to fend for myself and in no time I recognised a street corner and knew where to turn. My friend, Buddha, had promised to meet me, but when I called he said he had been invited to participate in a bartending competition and if I could make it back to Hotel Silver Home the owner, Yogi, would come and pick me up and take me to where he was.

Competitions

I had hoped to have time to shower and grab something to eat, but it sounded like we had to go asap. So after they showed me to my 4th floor room (I have always had a severe dislike of stairs, especially after a long bus drive), I washed my face and headed back down. Unfortunately Yogi got side tracked with some duties at the hotel, and Buddha called twice to find out where we were before we finally left.

I was tired, famished and dressed in wonderfully touristy Nepali clothing when we pulled into this rather fancy looking bar hosting the event. A local bartending school was using it as a way to prepare bartenders from around Kathmandu for international competition, with a rather nice sum of over $100 for 1st place. Buddha works as a bartender on the MSC cruise lines, and has for the last 5yrs, he is a natural when it came to that.

He was excited to see me and gave me a big hug then lent on me as we watched some of the other bartenders take their turns. Unfortunately I was so light headed and tired I had to find somewhere to sit. It took almost 2 hrs before it was his turn and he was by far the best of the lot, I am not biased in any way…ok maybe a little.

He had wanted to make 3 cocktails in the 5minutes they had, the judges permitted 2, but with a severe shortage of glasses and then have a glass shatter mid pour and cutting his finger he ended with one… and still a minute to spare. It was called purple rain and I thought it was spectacular, as the 2 colors of alcohol turn a vivid purple when mixed. The judges were well impressed and the only negative comment was that perhaps he seemed too confident. We felt he was a shoo in for 1st.

Buddha doing what he does best

We waited for the results but the flaring competition which was very cool, ended up taking too long, so we headed out to Buddha’s friends place for dinner.

Bronco Billy’s

Bronco Billy’s is a western theme, cowboy type place ,with pics of John Wayne and other stars on the walls. There was a circle of chairs and a big drum for a fire pit. Buddha had arranged it all for me and a few friends, super sweet thought, if I hadn’t been so exhausted. But the food was amazing with chicken and beef ribs (or rather buffalo) all done on open flame and slathered in yummy sauce. The hot rum punch that was ordered for me was also fantastic, threatening to make me pass out then and there. After a great evening it was time to head home, almost falling asleep behind Buddha as we rode through an eerily quiet Kathmandu at 2am on his motorbike. Dropping me off at my hotel we planned to meet the next day for more sightseeing.

Bed oh glorious bed!!!!!

 
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Posted by on April 7, 2012 in Travel, Uncategorized

 

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