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 India, they show me the pouch. They heard it was the very best. Well, it is certainly the cheapest. What did your grandmother use? Mustardseed oil.
I told them about soy and other genetically modified foods. We now have clear links to increased risk of all cancers, especially liver cancer, arterial plaque, high blood pressure, and reduced brain function, although none of it is unreported in mainstream media. No GMO labeling in this part of the world. Dawa and his wife were grateful. I love the flavor of mustardseed oil, which is traditional in this area. That’s a great oil for them to use. Also ghee or coconut oil.
I did healing treatments all around for Dawa and family. They are of Tamang origin, a major ethnic group in Nepal and Tibet. I’m very happy that Dawa’s mother-in-law’s eyes are brighter every time I see her. She’s telling jokes and walking around without difficulty. Dawa’s wife says her mother refuses to eat any oil except ghee. Smart lady! I ask her age, and nobody knows. She doesn’t know either.
The Nepalese caste system encompasses hundreds of ethnic groups, using the classical Hindu model. Your birth caste is considered a reflection of accumulated karma. Although you can change many things in life, such as your wealth, lifestyle, and where you live, your caste is permanent. My friend Dawa’s family are Tamang, so they are considered part of the Masine Matwali, or “enslavable alcohol drinkers”, even though they are not slaves, and they do not drink alcohol.
Gautama Buddha in the 6th century BCE actually tried to eliminate the caste system. He taught that the quality of a man’s character is not determined by his caste. He pointed out there have always been despicable Brahmins, and meritorious untouchables. However his wish did not come to pass. Since he was born a prince in the Shakya clan, perhaps the successful spread of Buddhism may have been largely fueled by his compatriots in the wealthy classes.
Sharpening Scissors in Kathmandu. This shopkeeper creates beautiful handmade cloth covers for ritual implements used in monasteries. Today he’s having his scissors sharpened by a brilliant and ancient method. I observe the caste system at work.
Most delicious lunch of the week: Chicken Sizzler at the Butsugen Hotel in Kathmandu where we are staying. Highly recommended. Owner Diki Sherpa uses the best quality oils and ingredients, so the food is clean. Just wanted you to hear the sound!
Every day begins with a puja and chanting at our room altar. My Lama’s chanting is very beautiful. He offers prayers and beer to Padmasambhava and Namgyalmo for the happiness and benefit of all sentient beings. My morning silent practice is very different, however they coexist quite comfortably.
Dinner on the roof of the Shambala hotel was a special treat, with Lama and his friend Pema Dorji. It has a restaurant, swimming pool, and panoramic view of all of Kathmandu.
Dzonkha Lesson #1
I’m studying Dzongkha, the language of Bhutan. The Lama gave me a few phrases in so I can try to communicate. Click above to hear his audio.
Please don’t laugh. I’m practicing Dzongkha. If I’m going to Bhutan as a personal guest of the Lama’s family, maybe I should learn a few phrases of the language. I hope to memorize them, but had to use my book today. Ha Ha!
Kathmandu is built on hills around the Bagmati river and its eight tributaries. The city skyline is colorful, magical, and dilapidated, encompassing all methods and qualities of construction in close proximity.
Streets are often charming with colorful flags and shops on each side.
Each day I work for a few hours on my company bookkeeping, which I had no time to do in the rush of moving. It’s GOT to be done we go to Bhutan, as every day will be busy. I’m almost finished!
Walking around the Boudha Stupa every day you will see every ethnicity in the world. Especially Tibetans, most of whom came in the 1950’s after Chinese occupation of Tibet. The Boudha is very close to our room, so I feel fortunate to walk around it several times a day.
My Lama is the male head of the family, the only one with a Masters degree, and the only Lama. It is considered very great gift for a family to have a Lama. Here’s a simplified family tree. I’m trying to learn the names of his family and friends before we go to Bhutan. I have just 10 more days to get this. Ha Ha!
Streets in Kathmandu are a mishmash of shops, food, electrical wires, friendly smiles, trekking stores, and handicrafts of all kinds.
Come join me for a drive through Kathmandu streets with Vishnu, my charming and expert driver! He’s wily, generous, and he knows all the shortcuts.
You can find just about anything on the streets of Kathmandu. For example, we’ve been searching for Tiger Balm in every pharmacy all week. Yesterday we were walking down a crowded street and almost tripped over a man holding out a box of Tiger Balm. I walked right by, but the Lama got it, stopped, and our search was over!
An afternoon around the Boudha. Walking around it in a clockwise direction eradicates bad karma, and raises your spirit. No kidding!
I was surprised to see my Lama using this digital ring. When he can’t carry his heavy mala beads around, he uses a tiny counter. It’s called a Mini Hand Digital Japa Counter. It’s an easy way to count the chants every day. Sacred sounds are powerful. Each cycle assists in purifying the body-mind-spirit. Yep, find it right here on India amazon.
Today we visited the Dwarika 5-star hotel, to see the Musumusu Pashmina store owned by an Italian friend. It’s a stunning destination, lush with fountains, tropical plants, and this Ganesh statue. The peace and quiet inside is in stark contrast to chaotic streets outside heavily guarded walls,
Lama’s sister-cousin Pupdem arrived today on a flight from Paro to Kathmandu for a few days. She is an Olympic-level winner in a Khuru contest in Bhutan, and the prize was an all-expense-paid trip to Kathmandu. Khuru is a traditional Bhutanese sport which involves throwing darts outdoors to a target approximately 66 feet away.
Lunch at the Dwarika Hotel was OMG amazingly delicious Indian-style food, reasonably priced, and since it’s the low monsoon season, we were practically the only customers. We had Bhutanese red rice, mushroom-pea curry, and dahl. WOW!
Thanks for checking in! My travel log happens every Friday – probably.
I have absolutely no idea what will happen next week. Ha Ha! We’ll be somewhere in Kathmandu, waiting for our September trip to Bhutan. Warmest best wishes!