Sunday, October 30, 2011

Penguin Sunday or Panty, Panty, Panty!

Sunday dawned bright and beautiful and the monks were being treated to a day of swimming at Penguin Swimming Pool by volunteers from Canada, Misses Elizabeth and Emily. After lunch the roundup began and the walk down the hill commenced.

The Progression

The Only Penguins in Nepal

Arriving at the pool the boys disappeared into the changing rooms and they all came out to sit-wait upon the steps for the “whistle”. One little one appeared who had removed all his garments and was in the natural state of dress. The pool manager began to yell, “Panty, panty,panty!” Everyone looked around and for a few moments no one did anything. A brother monk from class IV came forward and tugging at my arm indicating that he had underwear and trunks on and that he would go in and give one pair of bottoms to the other monk. Dilemma averted, no walk up the long hill to retrieve underwear or trunks.

The Whistle Blows

Like the proverbial ducks to water the monks swam, dove, ducked, caroused and thoroughly enjoyed the afternoon. The water was cold and the little ones would come out for a while and stand still in the very strong sun, regaining their body warmth and return for more going down the water slide.

Class IV Student Jampa Tenzin

Kunga Sangpo with Jamyang Gyaltsen

Misses Emily and Elizabeth on Catching Jampa Sangpo

Monk Monkey#1 - Kunga Sherab

Monk Monkey 2, Kunga Tenzin

Kunga Tenpa and Kunga Gyaltsen

Monks with Andrea, an Artist from Spain

Resting with Dhaks

A Perfect Day

Monday, October 24, 2011

Saturday Spick-et Special

Saturday begins like every other day with assembly and then classes, but only for a half day. The afternoon is busy with cleaning: your room, your monastery, your clothes, and your body. The little ones visit the outside spick-et with guaranteed cold running water; they strip, soap, rinse and mostly run dry.

This is the pull back view of the spick-et. It is on the edge of the property. Heading for class yesterday I snapped this older monk cleaning up. It is Pemsi Lundrup.

(Spik-et also know as Spigot)

Now You See It , Now You Don’t or Vice Versa

The multi-storied temple rises against the Himals, creating a contrast of hues to outdo a Crayola Box. Tibetan colors and symbols adorn the windows. Level one is being used for puja (prayer service) even while the fine artwork continues. Murals are filling the walls with many artists coming from great distances to complete the work. The temple will celebrate its grand opening blessing during Losar 2012.

This guest quarters to the left had only one story when I was here in 2009-2010. In the future the multi-storied building will house the Shedra (college) students on one side and the guests on the other.

Taking a few steps back, the true picture of industry is revealed. Lama Kunga-la had 9 crews working here last week. Nearly all the work is done manually –even the carting of stones and bricks. Women climb the stairs and ladders, every day, with baskets swung over their shoulders, a support band resting on their foreheads. Piles of stone and debris litter the area. Diggings occur here, there and everywhere. The good news is, power cuts occur much less frequently than in 2009-2010, for the very few power tools.

 Morning time often brings surprises, such as this one which occurred on the path I usually take to go down to the main monastery building. 

However the glory and majesty of our hilltop setting remains unchanged.

Saturday, October 22, 2011

Look Down, Look Up

Hailing a cab we head out to Swayambhunath, one of world’s most glorious, ancient, enigmatic and the holiest of Buddhist Chaityas. (a shrine that includes a stupa)

Swayambhunath, also known as the Monkey Temple, is a soaring compound which according to legend rose spontaneously out of the lake that was in the Kathmandu Valley. There are two ways to approach the temple: the steep stone pilgrim stairway constructed in the 1600's with approximately 365 steps, mobbed by troops of rhesus macaques, or the bus park near the top of the hill.

Look Down

Look Up

"This perfectly proportioned monument seems to hint of some celestial perfection with its gleaming gilded spire and white washed dome. "
 All four sides display the eyes of Buddha. Ek, the Nepali number for one appears as the squiggle below the eyes, signifying unity. Between the eyebrows the circular protuberance is the third eye symbolizing the insight of Buddha.

Look Up Some More

Look Way Up

Now Look Down

And Around

And finally not to forget the true residents of the Monkey Temple. The only primates with a broader geographic distribution than rhesus macaques are humans. The Hindus regard these monkeys as holy. 
PS - these holy monkeys can bite! 

Friday, October 21, 2011

Meanwhile, down the street...

Heading out toward Thamel we start another day of exploration. Along the way we pass,

The National School of Sciences

 Uniformed Students

Interesting Structures

Dinner Perhaps?

Men Stuffing Mattresses
(much softer looking than the hard-a#@ ones at the monastery)

Garland Maker


Small Stupas

after meandering along for quite a while we see a sign Neelgiri School, so we start up a path off the beaten track to find this institution. After many twists and turns up a narrow, bumpy stone track we arrive.

And don't we just end up knocking at the gate, meeting the principal, receiving a tour and making a pledge to come back and teach a lesson tomorrow! Educators unite!

Thursday, October 20, 2011

Splitting the Tariff

Since we are a duo, rather than a solo we qualify for a hotel upgrade! Welcome to the Hotel Shanker, Lazimpat, Kathmandu, a short walk from the chaotic roadway, the hotel provides western comforts including breakfast buffet, replete with omelet table and the be all end all - AIR CONDITIONING. The old palace offers well kept grounds and interesting views. 

Yeah, this was one view, directly out of our room window,  that gave us trouble. Upon further observation this foot belonged to the kid white washing the building. It also served as his only stabilizer. Check out the long shot to see just how high up he was - we were on the fourth floor. If you look closely you can see the bamboo like scaffolding.