Wednesday, November 30, 2011

Mahandrepul Roam

Walking down the mountain onto the road to grab a cab or a bus, we begin our monastery break. After a transfer at Harichowk, we catch another bus, or van to Chipeldhunga to be dropped off at the circle right below my favorite restaurant, Almonds. Time for a walk, some purchases, and a non-veg dinner.

 Riding in the front seat of the van, it is good to know the Gods are with us. On the dashboard, all vehicles in Nepal have deities with offerings; hopefully to balance out the absence of seat belts.
And the next photo on my camera, right after the assurance bit above...

Motorbikes Abound

New Timepiece for Theresa

Fresh Popcorn Anyone?

Or Peanuts?

Deep Fried Street Food 
(a definite pass)

 Fresh Home Grown Vegetables

Oranges by the Kilo
(A definite yes)

Mobile Help

And now for a change of pace- Salways. The last time I was in Nepal, Salways had rats scuttling across the floor during the daytime. They're gone, so is the old floor and an expansion has tripled the store's square footage. Life is good.
Teas and Biscuits - Utter Heaven

Familiar Marketing  (45 NR- about $.60)

One Nameless Volunteer's Checkout Basket

And now for that non-veg dinner at Thakali Bhanchaha, a Tibetan Restuarant in town.

Chicken Momo's (Tibetan Dumplings)

Jackson, Theresa, Andrea, and YT

Saturday, November 26, 2011

Are We Full Yet?

Early, early morning found me in the kitchen watching the cook prepare breakfast.  Two types of tea are served, standard sugar tea: boiling water, dry tea leaves, powdered milk and (too much) sugar, while the other tea, only served at breakfast as a tremendous fortifier is Yak Butter Tea, a Tibetan staple. It is hot, salty and of course buttery. On a freezing cold morning, before you have called forth your western palate and are hungry, it can work.

The staple of breakfast is round bread from barley flour made fresh every morning. It is accompanied with a small portion of lentils or red beans similar to our kidney beans. Some days there is peanut butter rather than beans, surely a western influence.

 To the right you can see the pressure cooker used for cooking the pulses. On the back wall is the wood burning stove. The wood is fed in from the left and pushed down until it is along the entire length below the cooking surface.

There's a rota schedule and the monks all serve, clear and clean for each meal. Kunga Jinpa is going for that first cup of hot morning tea, so his team must be on duty this AM.

Washup occurs outside in this open area with cold running water. Soap was nowhere to be seen. The clean items are piled in plastic baskets to drip dry and for reuse at the next meal. 

The dining hall is large, open, and freezing cold in the winter. The heat from the kitchen is non-existent. When the room fills up with bodies, kitchen sounds, and laughter it is a wonderful very large family experience.

Monday, November 21, 2011

Serious Play

Buddhism is our philosophy but football is our religion”, quoted from a thank you note written by Tenzin Phuntsok (edited by Ms. Foster)  to some famous footballer who sent the monks an autographed soccer ball.

Unfortunately the boys have lost their field to construction needs and have to play on the concrete basketball court. But they always find a way and end up with a smile.

 Ngwang Phuntsok & goalie Kunga Tsultrim 
Notice that Kunga is playing in sandals,
probably due to the  lack of closed shoes.

 Kunga Lekshey & Lekshey Choedar

 Ngawang Kalden

 Kunga Tsepal & Dhakpa Gyatso

Leckshey Tsering

Kunga Choepal

Kunga Khenrap

Tuesday, November 15, 2011


Placed in my luggage was a little bug eye that has 24 perfect squares cut into the lens. Using it to look through you can get a “bugs eye” view of the world. Entomologists tell us that bugs like flies and grass hoppers are able to detect movement more easily with this compound lens. So after our lesson on dragonflies off we went into the field.

In the background you can see the additional 3 floors being added onto the guest row. The new structure will be devoted to the Shedra students on one side and the guests on the other. My door is the one in the photo (ground-floor) to the right. I never came out without a glance up and around as water, construction materials and whatnot came swirling off the levels above quite regularly. (It appears that there is no "heads-up" equivalent in Nepali.)

Thursday, November 10, 2011


"World in harmony" is the translation of the Sanskrit word "mandala". Mandalas are drawings in three-dimensional forms created from colored sand.  In Tibetan, this art is called dul-tson-kyil-khor which means “mandala of colored powders.”

At Pema Ts'al many monks worked many hours to create this particular mandala.They used an illustration for their guide. The sand granules are then applied using small tubes, funnels, and scrapers.

...mandala in Vajrayana Buddhism usually depicts a landscape of the "Buddha-land", or the enlightened vision of a Buddha, which inevitably represents the nature of experience and the intricacies of both the enlightened and confused mind, or "a microcosm representing various divine powers at work in the universe."

Vajrakilaya, the deity for which the mandala was made.

Vajrakilaya Sand Mandala Puja

Puja is the name given to the worship service. (I have heard it used by Hindu's also.)This week there is an 11 day Puja to the deity Vajrakilaya (Sanskrit name). He shows his wrathful face to us to destroy our own evil behavior and he also removes the obstacles and bad omens of life. His face is 3 sided, blue for extreme power, white sided for peace and red is a mixture therefore all reflecting the human condition.
But deep within he is kind and compassionate - a Buddha. Phurpa is his Tibetan name.

The puja also is the biggest exam for students who are learning the entire text of prayers. Each day there is a different leader.
The daily puja goes from 6:00 AM to 5:00 PM with only one hour break for lunch.

Cymbals, 2 Types - Rolmo and Sil Nyen
and Drums Abound

Dungchen Trumpets

Our Dearest Dkakpa Gyatso with Rolmo

Tuesday, November 8, 2011


“2011 OCT 22, KATHMANDU. Two  persons were killed and 13 others injured when a suspension bridge, over the Trishuli River, collapsed at Fisling, Chitwan on Saturday. Three persons are thought to be missing in the river.”

Just a quarter mile down the road from the monastery is a footbridge across the Seti River. It really is a lovely walk.

 It sways and the swaying increases with the addition of more weight. We were passed by locals going back and forth. From the other side, the prayer flags wave and the monastery sits high upon the hill.

On the banks are extremely modest homes with families going about their daily business.  Machapuchare, sacred mountain to the Hindu god Shiva, watches over all.