A Rimpoche Blessing & Someone Asks: Are You Pregnant?

My Lama and I went to a blessing with Lama Tsering Wangdu Rinpoche, a wonderful 80-year old Tibetan Rinpoche in Kathmandu, that I studied with for many years in Portland OR. I found out he has a monastery near the Boudha and is very popular. I was excited to see him after 10 years, so we walked to his monastery just 2 minutes from where we’re staying. There were many people waiting to see him. His sanctuary room is very beautiful, and I wanted to take a photo but it is not allowed. We brought him a big bag of Bhutanese red rice as an offering. He was very happy to see me again. He loved meeting my Lama, and gave us a beautiful blessing for our future.

After we came downstairs from the blessing one of the Tibetan ladies asked me if I was pregnant. I didn’t want to appear shocked, but I’m afraid my jaw dropped. It made my day! It felt like being asked for your id in a bar, but that hasn’t happened to me in 45 years. Ha Ha!! I replied “I don’t think so.” My Lama husband thought it was very funny too. It was an amusing moment I won’t forget.

I have come to love this crazy city of Kathmandu. It holds the wisdom of thousand of years of Himalayan teachings, eons of clashing cultures, along beside traffic snarls, the low state of humanity, filth, dust, iPhone power in every hand, dismal poverty, immense wealth, and still infinite beauty in every person. Smoky ice cream with liquid nitrogen is a new craze. Immersed in this colorful chaos, an underlying peace, oneness, harmony and joy embrace everything. Instead of making me tired, it energizes me.

 This shop window displays a flaming golden statue. When reflected, the Stupa appears on fire. Oh, and I’m waving at you.

The festival of the Buddha descending is called Lha-Bab Duchen. In Bhutan is celebrated on October 1st this year, or the 22nd day in the ninth lunar month of the Bhutanese calendar. It marks the anniversary of the Buddha’s descent from the heavenly realm to earth, to give teachings, and to repay the kindness of his mother by liberating her from Samsara. For that reason, this day is also celebrated as Mother’s Day in Bhutan.

This night, every tiny prayer wheel around the Boudha was illumined by candlelight. When the wind blows you can see the amazing paintings under each curtain.

 Padma Sambhava, founder of modern Tibetan Buddhism in the 8th century, sits in this shop window looking out at the Boudha.

My Lama gets a breath of fresh air on the rooftop of our hotel.

Lama’s sister Ghalem came to Kathmandu to visit us. We’re shopping for winter supplies that are expensive and hard to find in Bhutan. It’s quite a trip. Ghalem is an expert negotiator.

Ghalem and I took a break from our work for lunch buffet at the Yak Yeti. This is the desserts section, which I passed up of course.

Arun’s silk shop in Thamel, Kathmandu offers absolutely the best silks around, so all the Bhutanese flock to his store. My sister Ghalem is shopping for silks for the extended family. A group of monks show up too, and it’s an amazing scene of silks and money flying everywhere. All their fabrics are pre-measured and pre-cut, so they can serve all the hundreds of clients that show up into this wee store. I bought four pieces to make two outfits of jacket and blouse combinations for teaching English. All Bhutanese public employees are required by law to wear the national dress. That means a Kira for women and Gho for men.

We took a break in Pharping, an hour drive outside Kathmandu, to enjoy the clean air. I took a moment to play with photography and focus of flowers and a statue.

Here’s another shot of flowers with a statue of Padma Sambhava in the background.

In this Pharping photo, the focus is on the flower in the foreground. The monastery is a blur.

A long exposure of a bicycle-riding everything salesman. He sailed past me near the Boudha. I like the impressionistic effect.

I took a stroll to the bizarre department store BhatBhateni, and stopped at the Hyatt for lunch.

The lunch buffet at the Hyatt was amazing. I chose chick pea chapati, grilled chicken, black lentil dahl, salad, and homemade pickles. Yummy

Here I’m focusing on the cookie…just playing around with photography options.

The Hyatt entrance is quite imposing. Too bad we can’t breathe the air in Kathmandu.

Focusing on the flower arrangement in the Hyatt lobby, with light coming from background.

Every home in Bhutan has painted windows of this shape, including the monasteries.

Here’s a long shutter exposure of a monk turning prayer wheels.


OK, the zaniest craze here in Kathmandu is an ice cream shop in a mall that sells smoky ice cream cheese balls made with liquid nitrogen. Huh? We were stopping for a quick lunch of momos. But everybody else was eating smoky cheese ice cream balls and breathing smoke. What will they think of next?

Thanks for stopping by. Next week I’m going back to Bhutan. Thimphu is already cold and wintery. Did you know there’s no central heating in Bhutanese homes, schools, or public buildings? Please wish me luck!

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