Thursday, June 30, 2005

The Daily Dose June 30 2005

The Daily Dose June 30 2005: Our trip from Kathmandu to Hangzhou, China

Ah, where to begin and so many things to share… It's been two weeks since I wrote anything!

To begin with I'm here outside Dequing, China, a 50K-population (small) town north of Hangzhou (pronounced ‘Hongjoe’), China—this after a whirlwind sight-seeing trip with Subodh, wife Mira and their neice Nisha Acharya to places like Beijing (Ti'an Namen Square, Mao's tomb, etc.) and the Great Wall (80KM west of Beijing). During all this I’ve ‘shot’ many photographs (now happily back to 'shooting' film) and they are available in the Gallery (new Album 'Kathmandu to Hangzhou, China’)

Now, with my Nepali friends departed back to Kathmandu, I'm ensconced in a 'villa,’ in a village near Apollo Development Park, an agricultural facility my friend, and former student, Stephanie Zhao is working for (never end a sentence with a preposition). Thus time to rest, relax and get my Chinese visa extended. I'm afraid, however, I will have to go to Hong Kong to do such. And Hong Kong from here is a 14-hour train ride.

June 19-20th (beginning in Kathmandu): ‘Bhat, but no Dhal!’

What a 28-hour period! I pack and am ready on time, of course, the morning of the 19th. I call Subodh and he informs me that 'Guru' will drive me to the airport first, and then will return for them. Padam arrives with 'Guru and I'm loaded and moving through rush-hour Kathmandu before you can say 'dhal bhat.'‘Guru,’is Subodh's driver who's‘given’name is Krishna (one of three Hindu Gods). He is especially facile with Nepali traffic (dodging and avoiding collisions with everything from bicycles to elephants).

As I ride through Kathmandu I'm somewhat relieved, as I can no longer take the dirt, heat, congestion, and utter chaos of‘distopeia,' a city destroying itself.

At Tribhuvan Airport I wait for Subodh and Mira, paying my 1,700Nrs. / $22U.S. departure fee. The Nepali government 'milks’tourists 'every which way but loose!’ They arrive with two young Nepali woman, ‘Deepti,’ a relative, and another Nepalese woman. The latter is attended by her father, some official policeman dressed in his uniform. This older Nepalese woman is going to Bangkok to rendezvous with her Nepali husband. All of these extra people are a surprise to me. The Nepalese will constantly surprise you!

We go through the lengthy and involved check-in procedure, but I’m relieved of having to pay for excess baggage as the ‘uniform’ has clout. Thai Airlines allows 30KGs (70lbs.), but I'm sure the total of my two pieces (bicycle in box, plus one other) is at least 80KGs (170lbs.).

As I've said so many times, it's not ‘what' you know but WHO that's important. If I'd been traveling alone, I would have had to pay mucho dinero for the excess.

The security is unusually thorough, and I'm not allowed to have extra batteries in my backpack (to carry on board). But, the clerk, after confiscating two AA batteries, misses my extra camera batteries, and thank God as they're the expensive ones.

I'm lucky to have a window seat on the left side of this Boeing 777, and once aloft it allows me to take a photograph of the Mt. Everest complex: (Lhotse, and Nuptse included), a veritable erection above the clouds. Check out this photograph in the Gallery ‘Kathmandu to Hangzhou.’

The in-flight dinner is unusually good too, and it's a pleasant trip, all the way to Bangkok (three hours). I certainly can recommend Thai Airlines having flown with them several times

Taxiing to the terminal at the Bangkok International AP I notice golfers (at an adjacent golf course) playing golf in mosquito-net headgear. You'd have to pay me much money to live in Bangkok! You'd have to pay me a bundle more to play golf in Thailand!

Walking to wherever to wait for our flight to Shanghai the Nepalese woman's husband arrives. I take a photograph of our traveling group (in Gallery). Then Subodh and Mira try to call her brother using the husband's ‘mobile.’ Mira's brother, I find out (another surprise) is the newly appointed Ambassador from Nepal (another surprise). No luck, however. Then one of those things that can only be labeled ‘synchronistic.’ We run right into the man, Mira's brother walking in the opposite direction, he having come to the AP to greet some country official. I'm mean what are the odds, as the man (whose name I should know) didn't know of Subodh and Mira's arrival? Had it been me I would have called ahead to let him know.

Afterwards the six-hour wait for our flight to Shanghai, is an ordeal. What to do in the Bangkok Airport for six hours? Well, this one has a hotel by-the-hour, and plenty of foot massage stalls. If I'd had the money, I might have considered both, or something else if I weren’t a celebate Taoist monk! But, converting dollars to ‘Bhat.’ We buy tea and snack. Note: This trip entitled, ‘Bhat but no Dhal!’ ‘Bhat’ is the Thai currency, as Yuan is for China, and rupees for Nepal and India. And of course, the play on words for the Nepalese food, ‘Dhal Bhat.’ (blat in Nepalese is ‘rice’).

Afterwards we stroll-browse what must be the longest ‘Duty-free’ shopping corridor of any airport in the world! I'm betting it’s 1-kilometer in length, with hundreds of shops selling every known product.

There is even a KFC (Kentucky Fried Chicken) where Subodh insists we eat! I haven't had fast-food fried chicken for twenty years, but succumb to Subodh’s insistence. It didn't kill me, but I won’t eat it again unless starving to death! Sorry ‘Colonel,’ my mother’s was better!

We try to sleep on the Thai flight to Shanghai (which departed at 0100), but it’s pretty‘bumpy,’ the seatbelt sign going on several times (which means the pilot, having to deal with ‘clear air turbulence’ wants everyone, to stay put).

Pudong International Airport, one of two serving Shanghai, is new and immense! We walk what seems like a mile to go through some unusual surveillance, an infared camera hooked up to a computer monitor. They’re concerned about ‘bird flu’ in China, people bringing in plants, etc., and I don't know what else (no doubt street drugs). Then the passport clearance, which involves checking the Chinese visa (bar code) for authenticity.

The Chinese government is very clever when it comes to controlling people--not only travelers, but their one-billion+ population. Note: You’re not allowed to have CNN, the American news channel, here in the ‘People’s Republic’ of China. My joking lament on this trip becomes, ‘Many!’ ‘Many people!’ ‘Many words!’ ‘Many’ of everything.

Traveling with everything I value I'm happy to see my luggage on the conveyor belt and it was no exception that morning. I get a cart and load my two cumbersome and heavy pieces on board (one a bicycle) wheeling through customs without declaring anything.

Outside we are greeted by Nisha and Deepti’s sister, ‘Deeva’ (both having just graduated from Shanghai Medical Schools (the ‘First one and the ‘Second’ one). Nisha, by the way, is Subodh and Mira’s neice and the reason for their coming to China (her graduation from the ‘Second’ Medical University). I'm impressed with these two young women’s efficiency negotiating a van and then we're off to Shanghai, some thirty kilometers to the north.

The thing that strikes me right off the bat is the ‘civilized feel’ of this part of China. It reminds me of L.A., seeing Oleander bushes along the ‘freeway.’

Note: I grew up with Oleander bushes in Arizona and California, remembering my mother’s admonition: ‘They’re poisonous!’ It’s somewhat nostalgic to see the pink and white blossoms, as I haven't for years!

With the traffic, zooming along and bearing right (steering wheels on the left) I feel right at home. Note: In Nepal it’s like it is in the U.K. where traffic ‘bears left,’ and the steering wheels are on the right.

We're dropped off at Nishas’s dormitory apart of Shanghai Second Medical University, right in the heart of Shanghai. After resting and a dhat bhat lunch we tour the University where Nisha has been studying for the past six years. I'm told it's famous for treating burn patients.

Nisha then checks Subodh and I into a nearby hotel (the En Yi). Mira is staying with Nisha in her dorm room.

After Nepali milk tea, served in Nisha's dorm room, we're off to see a little bit of Shanghai. We walk and ride the subway to ‘People’s Square.’ It's a lovely, warm evening the sky full of kites, a large fountain in the center, and flanked by the Shanghai Museum and some large Chinese Government building (whose name I should know). We sit and observe as sunlight turns to neon, while people try to sell us everything from hotels to kites, to food. There are beggars, and of course, I give them what I have.

From here Nisha leads us to Jiyang (walking) street, where there is a mass of people out after the heat. Subodh, Mira and Nisha can’t pass up the bargains, while I'm more interested in observing Chinese humanity. Thus, I wait outside the stores while they're shopping. I'm accosted by a Chinese woman, who wants to know where I’m from (they always ask this question)? Then she asks if I like ‘…girls or boys?’ I tell her girls! She is probably a prostitute, although she didn't pursue anything with me. A bum asks for money. When I hand him a coin (of which I don't know the value) he gets angry and throws it in the trash. I chase down another bum to give another coin to… He is more grateful. Always thank whomever for whatever! Subodh, Mira, and Nisha are now laden with packages, and we take a taxi back to SSMC/hotel.

We pass the ‘Peace Hotel’ on the way back.

We're back at our rooms by 2300 hours (11P.M.), and exhausted. It’s been 30 hours since I was last in a bed. But, before falling into, I take a cold-water bath (angry at the hotel). The next day I find out I had the faucet turned incorrectly! Yes, there is hot-water bathing in China I'm glad to report!

Thursday, June 16, 2005

The Daily Dose June 16 2005

The last from Nepal, this time...

Gosh, so much to do and so little time (or energy) to do. Plus, it’s hot, so hot it takes all of my energy to do anything. I feel like I’m back in Texas, in terms of the weather, and I don’t like that humid feeling.

I’ve stayed too long in Kathmandu, Nepal but ke garne, as Subodh’s uncle died at the wrong time! Shame on him! This caused a two-week delay in our flying to Shanghai. But, since Subodh invited me, and then paid for my expensive Thai Airlines ticket, I can do no less than accommodate.

What am I doing flying to Shanghai, when Kailas is in the opposite direction? I’m taking the long way around! Oh well, it’s the journey that’s ultimately important, not the destination. Although I feel duty bound to get The Heart Stone to Kailas. There is also such a thing as ‘spiritual time’ and I bow to Master in this regard. It’s now been two years since we started this pilgrimage and a wonderful experience.

Karma Sherpa called me the other day and said he’s calling the ‘New Cave,’ restaurant in Pharping ‘Pilgrim’s’ in honor of me!

So, the last two weeks have been waiting in Kathmandu… although I took one trip up Phulchowhi, the highest peak surrounding the Kathmandu Valley. I believe it’s something like 2,100 M ASL, making it a climb of some 1,800ft. above the valley.

I departed at 0500 to beat the heat. This is how I exhaust myself when I’m already feeling exhausted (from the heat). By taking a strenuous bicycle ride! And my Lord, what a grunt, I really was not prepared. Only 100 meters from the summit I poop out, and have to retreat back down. I should have built up to this, but no that’s not my style.

On the other hand, my goal always is to have a pleasant experience, returning to wherever with reasonable strength left. I know when I’ve reached this limit. I could have gone on to summit, but would have suffered too much recovering. Additionally, I do not have ‘summit fever’ anymore (don’t have to reach).

I’ve learned that the highest mountain I will ever climb is myself!

I had had to push up most of it, as the road too steep with loose rock, and this is no particular fun. After four hours of this I’m thinking to turn around.

Then again, what is the most difficult, going up or down? You’d be surprised if you said up. Going down (without suspension) the road so rough the vibration caused me to loose control several times. My hands were actually bounced off the grips, the brake pads smoking! I’m amazed I didn’t fall!

In Godarvari, I stop at Gemini Restaurant, a place I discovered on a previous trip. This is a ‘garden restaurant,’ all outdoors. I sit in one of their cabana’s, all bamboo and thatched roof. But, with modern iron furniture with cushions.

What is it about the Hindu/Nepali mentality that builds something fresh and new, and then doesn’t maintain it? I notice in the months between visits how rundown this place has become.

My shaded spot would have sufficed, however, save the ubiquitous Nepali music, and a group of teenagers in a nearby cabana. The girls, what is it about teenage girls, constant giggling? At one point the group raids the neighbor’s fruit tree. Yes, kids will be kids, but I hope away from me.

Three cups of Nepali tea, and one lemon soda help my disposition. I also partake of my cashews and dried figs. I’m afraid, however, I’ve used a considerable amount of energy, and still have 15KM to return to Manbhawan/Kumaripati, or wherever I live in Patan, Lalitpur, Nepal.

I remember cranking up passing through villages, woman with their containers at the community water well. Where are the men? Asleep! They wait patiently to fill their own, bathing in the process (with their clothes on).

It’s rice planting time in Nepal on the eve of the monsoon. Rice grows in water, of course. Nepal, except for the Himalaya, has a sub-tropical climate.

As I crank past buildings I hear the looms chattering, weaving the cloth of time! I experience the Kathmandu Valley awakening! Life goes on no matter what…

I remember the Buddha on the hill… (Note: New images in the ‘Gallery.’)

And now to China, Mt. Kailas, God willing and the creeks don’t rise too high…

Namaste, dear Nepal!

‘My Nepal, Forever!’

Lime-green kurtas,
Spitting the kissing lips,
Black hair that dares,
Dust, dirt, who cares !
My Nepal!

Incense burning,
Dogs barking,
Dhal bhating,
My Nepal!

Shower-shoed toes,
Blue jeans,
Arranged marriages working,
Children having,
Hands holding,
The honking madness of Kathmandu!
My Nepal!

Brumika laughing!
My Nepal!

The Himalaya,
Gumbas,
Asura(s); Devas,
Everywhere!
Marijuana smoking Shiva,
Hindu tikas,
My Nepal!

Women burdened,
A strap around their minds!
Casting,
Flowers,
The paths walking,
My Nepal!

Malproped English
My Napel!

Stalls selling rupees,
Unchanging and safe,
But not selling!
No ‘out-of-the-box’ thinking,
My Nepal!

Everyone wanting out,
No jobs,
No future,
Ke garne?
My Nepal!

Cricket on TV,
Western infection,
My Nepal
Not ‘noing!’

Families on motorbikes
Polluting!
Ke garne?
My Nepal!

The cuckoo-ing,
Monsoon coming,
Durga Daisain celebrating,
The good Kali,
Cooking refuse,
The stinking Bagmati ‘River,’
Trash everywhere!
My Nepal!

Loving friends!
My Nepal forever!

The Daily Dose June 9 2005

“We are ‘hole’ together!”

They drive to work here in Kathmandu, just like they do in Santa Anna, California, Eugene, Oregon, and Hartford, Connecticut, Paris, France, what’s the difference. Yuppies are the same everywhere! They dress in coat and tie, (suits/saris for women) and then take off in their petrol-saving ‘climate-controlled-box-on-wheels!’ The only difference here is the distance and speed, short and slow! Really the roads are of such poor quality, compared to those in the U.S., it would make more sense to walk or ride a bicycle! But, they ‘Nuppies,’ think they have to act like the ADS they see on western TV. It’s frightening to see their culture disappearing right before my eyes!

Now, I wouldn’t mind if they emulated indigenous and simple people, but they’re so trapped in modernity they wouldn’t know the difference! Just like I didn’t! Or, the fact that Rajesh can’t see this either yet!

“We are coming together! Everything, everybody, everywhere! We are coming together! We are ‘hole’ together!” Separateness is an illusion! And union feels good!

Ke garne? Try to wake people up! Try to shed light in dark corners! Try! Try to discuss the concept of consciousness, and how important it is! For example, there can be no peace without social justice! And there is no social justice without consciousness! So, we try to raise it! This is the only hope for humanity!

Ke garne? ‘We have met the enemy and he is us!’

But, to use words to try and convey is stupid! We’re stupid for trying! These concepts are beyond words! Thus, the only way is with symbols, that point the way to the divine! It’s conceived in our minds! We create our worlds from our minds, words offering commonality! But, try to get beyond! That’s where ‘holeness’ is! This is enlightenment!

I thank the dogs for barking all day long, as I can hear!
I thank the people for blowing snot out of their noses, as I can see!
I thank the cows for causing traffic jams, so we might slow down!
I thank the heat and humidity, so I might know cold and dry!
I thank the low that I might know the high!
I thank the inefficiency of the Nepalese, so we might understand patience!

We are coming together!

The Daily Dose June 7 2005

The Beyond! (for Richard Hammerstrom)

Getting beyond
The word ‘beyond,’
‘Two’ nothing,
‘Beyond’ the word ‘nothing!’
Which is everything
Your world constructed!

Unwind
Your ball of twine,
It’s only a theory,
The word ‘theory,’
Makes us weary,
Beyond sleep!
All replete,
In words!

Getting beyond
The beyond!

‘Supreme bliss,’ are just two words, yet we’ve experienced such! We have created such out of ‘nothing,’ where everything ‘comes’ and ‘goes!’

Today, oh today did it rain in the morning, and hard! I forgot my rain jacket so I had to sit it out in the Everest Postal Care office, after having been online for two hours. But, finally I could stand no more and when it slackened I made a dash, but got wet anyway. It was a warm wet, however, kinda like an orgasm!

There are many sexual metawhors in nature. The sun being male, penetrating the earth. The female moon, playing hide and seek with us.

I’m generally online for two hours every morning… That’s how much ‘virtual’ business I have, plus I can only stand two hours before I begin to go slightly mad!

I deal in so many words and images I’m not sure where I begin and they leave off, or where they leave off and I begin! You know the Ego, as separate, is an illusion! And yet it ‘persists!’ The ‘energy’ that drives ‘the train!’

This is what yoga is all about, getting beyond that--concepts!

I have learned so much about Buddhism and Yoga since returning to Nepal. I’m not sure, however, that either could exist without numbers! The three of that, the five of this, the twelve of those, and the ( ) petal lotus flower! What would Buddhism do without numbers? It couldn’t exist! I’m not sure any religion could exist without numbers…?

Sunday, June 05, 2005

The Daily Dose June 5 2005

The Daily Dose June 5 2005

‘Oh moma, can this really be the end, to be stuck inside of Kathmandu, with the China blues again?’ (slightly altered line from Bob Dylan).

I’m still here in Kathmandu! But no doubt there’s a reason, as the delay has been propitious in being able to help others. I was able to get Guari to Dr. Nita, and finally three letters came to me via HVPN—these from Rotraut Boyens in Germany with things for me to take to Kailasa (this holy mountain has many names). Had we departed earlier I wouldn’t have been able to partake of…

There is such a thing as ‘spiritual time,’ as Silver Wolfe Dancing (in Prescott, Arizona) and I know about! Things happen when they are suppose to happen, not when we want, necessarily!

And such has happened with flying to China. We were suppose to depart last Wednesday, then Friday, then Sunday. Then Subodh’s uncle died on Saturday and now we must wait two weeks, as it is part of Hindu custom for relatives not to travel during a period of grieving. And since Subodh was kind enough, generous enough to purchase my $1,500RT ticket to Shanghai, I will gladly wait!

Rotraut Boyens, is certainly a dakini (angel), I have no doubt! She was the one that handed me $50U.S. in Husum, Germany, a year ago April, and since we’ve started the Loving Kindness Fund designed to help those in need. In addition, to sending me a silk scarf and an amulet to wear to Kailas, she sent Temba Bhotia and Sharmila, a gift for the birth of their son! She doesn’t even know them. In addition, she offered Ujwal some money, not knowing him either. This woman, not wealthy either, is a loving-kindness angel! I would not trade having met her for a million dollars!

Included in her three letters was an ancient reproduction of the Christian ‘Madonna and Child’ with ‘Loving Kindness,’ in German: liebovolle Freundlichkeit

The generosity of my friends like Rotraut Boyens, Subodh Gautam, Hindu Vidya Peeth School, Eric Kaldor, Jim Speer and Stephanie Zhao are making this pilgrimage possible!

But, now Nepal has become monsoon like, with heat and humidity way beyond my level of endurance (35C. / 95F. with humidity)… So, it’s tough to be here, wanting to be ‘high and dry’ (in Tibet). And with the heat and humidity comes mosquitoes and cockroaches, and all the little buggies I’m not so fond of. I’d rather deal with cold than heat any day!

When I think of the hell of Texas (U.S.A.) for 12 years I’m astounded I survived! Not only the hot summers but the unevolved people (‘worst form of white man’)… Hard to explain, but at the same time this ‘hell’ was productive in a sense I was redeemed by having to endure! Profound suffering leads to profound insight!

In addition, to the many unevolved in Tejas, I met supra-evolved people like Silver Wolfe Dancing. We have since joined as spiritual ‘husband and wife!’ So, whereas one wants to judge and complain about suffering, but there are great rewards from it! I can’t imagine my life without Silver Wolfe Dancing, as her love is unconditional! She is another one of my dakinis or angels!

I’ve just read Milarepa’s biography. And for those who don’t know he was a 11th century Tibetan yogi/poet and saint, who endured unbelievable suffering to become ‘liberated’ (enlightened) in one life time (much like the Christ story). For those interested, the title of the book is ‘Tibet’s Great Yogi, Milarepa,’ by W.Y. Evans-Wentz. This I want to turn into a motion picture! Anyone out there with ten-million dollars to spare (needed for FX)?

Today is ‘World Environment Day!’ The only reason I know I was sitting at Everest Postal Care, working online when outside the window an elephant paraded by with marching bands and many school children with ‘green’ banners!

Some irony too, that only someone like me would notice… As they were marching by, they kept having to stop for and dodge motor bikes and vehicles emerging from a side road spewing their poisons. People rushing to work polluting the environment, oblivious to their ‘sins,’ and not even noticing the offering before them! Oh, Jim… It’s all about consciousness!

And thus my bodhisattva vows: Not to work for only immediate family or nation, realizing we’re all but One ‘Family and One Nation’… Humanity!

We’re coming together, everything and everybody! We’re coming together!

On the button I have in my altar here in Kathmandu it reads, ‘All One People!’

On the cover to the book about Milarepa it reads, ‘The book points but that anthropologically the human race is one family, and that external differences due to hereditary racial characteristics, pigmentation, and physical environment are, in fact, purely illusionary!’

Why don’t we understand this? Lack of consciousness! The state of not knowing!

And one of the things I like about Buddhism it stresses, ‘knowing,’ and not just ‘believing!’ There’s a huge difference! It’s what C.G. Jung said, ‘I don’t have to believe, I know!’

We, a group of us, are light bearers! We’re trying to bring an unconscious world from darkness into the light (of understanding)! Stop the violence!

We are coming together! Everything and everybody! We are coming together!

Help us!

Stop the violence! Particularly against children!