I Speak the Queen’s English, Study Photography, and Celebrate Dashain in Nepal

Visibility is poor in Kathmandu. Can you see the tall mountains just outside the city? A faint outline? Nope. The air is dirty and it’s hard to breathe. Early morning air is already smoky as thousands of monasteries, homes, and shop owners burn blessing fires. Soon cars and motorcycles fill the streets. By 9 am you can’t take a deep breath. My lungs are tired. Both Hindus and Buddhists burn herbs for blessing. Kathmandu is full of ceremonial smoke. But how much smoke is needed to purify a city?? Waiting in Kathmandu  Last Monday the Bhutan Immigration Office said I’d have…

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Bhutan Approves Marriage, I Fall in Love with Red Rice!

174 couples interviewed for foreign marriages last week, but the High Court approved only 26. Here’s the list of qualified couples. We passed! Somehow I feel accepted not only by Lama’s family, but also by Bhutanese culture. Yep, here’s the marriage certificate from the High Court. Trust me on this, though it’s in Dzongkha. See my name? I’m in Kathmandu for a few weeks, as my Bhutan visa expired October 6th. Notice the hazy air quality is different from Bhutan? We’re waiting for our Marriage Certificate to be printed in English. Soon the Immigration Office can issue my new visa…

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I Speak Dzongkha, Marriage Probably Approved

Another interesting week in Bhutan. Our Marriage Certificate looks very positive. We’ll find out for sure tomorrow when results are posted. I’ve been studying Dzongkha and continue to meet relatives in Lama’s enormous family. We harvest chili peppers, a mainstay of the Bhutanese diet. My sister Ghalem’s garden is enormous, so they eat lots of fresh veggies including cucumbers, beans, squash, pumpkin, corn, etc. Chili peppers were introduced in Bhutan in the 16th century after Portugese ships brought them to India from the New World. They’ve really taken over here. Peppers are spicy, easy to grow, and are very healthy…

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Blessed Rainy Day, More Blessings, and Marriage Cliffhanger

The Blessed Rainy Day in Bhutan is something like the Autumn Equinox. It marks the end of the monsoon season and the beginning of cold weather. Families traditionally gather for an early breakfast of thup (porridge) with yak cheese. My Lama made this the night before. We’re all enjoying it around Tenzin’s table. This video illustrates Bhutan’s tradition of the Blessed Rainy Day. On this day all natural water resources in the country are considered sanctifying. Citizens are encouraged to rise early and take an outdoor bath to be cleansed of “bad deeds, obstruction, defilements and accumulated bad karma”. I went…

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My 2nd Exciting Week in Bhutan

This week my Lama showed me some new facets of himself, his family, and life in Bhutan. Our campsite by the river was relaxing and refreshing. Bhutan has so many rivers filled with clean, gurgling “happy water”. The air is clean, the sunlight is bright. I feel myself relaxing more every day. Lama introduced me to his four mothers. This is Khandu, the one that nursed him as a baby when his birth mother had no milk. He visits her often to treat her and give rejuvenating massages. His other three mothers are sisters who live together in the farmhouse…

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I Arrive to a Warm Welcome in Bhutan

  We make a steep descent into Paro airport, considered the most hazardous airport in the world, due to an extremely short runway and thickly forested mountains all around. Here’s a video of our descent. Paro Airport Inside, Paro airport is impeccably clean with high ceilings, hand-painted columns and walls. Calm, healthy men and women in traditional clothes complete the tranquil scene. In Bhutan, professional workers wear the national dress – that means a Gho with cuffs for men, and a Kira wrap with silk jacket for women. Notice the five kings pictured above? In comparison to Nepal’s chaotic airport,…

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Bhutan, Land of the Thunder Dragon

This week I’ll be in Nepal 3 days and Bhutan 4 days.    “When you realize how perfect everything is you will tilt your head back and laugh at the sky.” Gautama Buddha Mina and I happened to be walking around the Boudha this afternoon. She admired my prayer-wheel earrings. I took them off and and gave them to her as a gift. It was great fun to see her surprised face! She invited me to sit down. We exchanged phone numbers and Facebook addresses.     Are you ready for this? The government of Bhutan requires our marriage be…

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Relaxing into Asian Ways

Gradually unwinding into a new rhythm of life. Listening, absorbing timeless traditions of calmness, respect and patience. Doing is inaccessible to me. I must learn to let go, to receive love and service from those around me. Sweet, pungent aromas and deep energy infuse the “Sleeping Vishnu” statue. The most memorable moment of the week so far was the Budhanilkantha Temple. Also called Narayanthan Temple, it has an huge statue of Lord Vishnu reclining on a bed of nagas, or snakes. Vishnu is part of the Hindu Trimurti, Trinity of dieties, along with Brahma and Shiva. It is said that…

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Sharpening scissors in Kathmandu

 Motorcycle is the most efficient way to get around Kathmandu. My friend Dawa’s son came to pick me up for lunch. He drove fast as we swerved and bumped through the mud, rocks, and traffic. I got to experience first-hand the unthinkable risks that motorists and pedestrians accept every day. Wanted to make you a video of the ride, but was desperately hanging on with both hands. We are so fortunate. After lunch I noticed a funny feeling in my body. Went into the kitchen and asked what kind of oil they’re using. Uh Oh! Refined GMO soybean oil from…

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How do you say “Hello” in Kathmandu?

So happy to be in Nepal. Leaving behind the frenetic London mindset, I’m instantly immersed in the timeless atmosphere of invisible wisdom, total unpredictability, gentle kindness, and chaotic clash as ancient, modern, Buddhist, Hindu, and Western cultures stretch to coexist. “Hello” is a pretty good way to start a conversation. Nepal is a crossroads of many cultures. There are 123 different languages spoken as a mother tongue, with Nepali being the official language. Like Hindi and Sanskrit, Nepali is of the Indo-Aryan language family using the Devangari script. Tibetan and Dzongkha are of the Sino or Chinese language family, and…

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