Thursday, January 25, 2018

What a Ride!

What a ride! 

That’s all I can say. The day was dragging at Eco Organics with trying to check out flights to Bali with a terrible wifi, barely good only if you stood in the bushes outside the office window. And news of the volcano in Bali. And trying to figure out if I could get a visa to Bhutan. (Not— needed a bank transfer which I could only do in Florida in person.)

What to do? I had to get some hair dye, so go for a ride! My bowels were happy so I could chance a trip on the scooter, I thought.  Sangham was in his beige suit and I in my best capris and purple top, because we had to “dress to impress”— his motto when being out on the town. I had to insist on a helmet, he resisted because it was dirty, I insisted and won. The mission? He had several items to check off on his shopping trip. I just needed henna for my hair. And to get away from wifi frustration.

I  didn’t think that one through very well. Without a go-pro on my chest I couldn’t have captured the chaos, bumps, smells and gasps for you. To my credit I didn’t scream. I just decided to trust because actually I had no choice. I was on the ride wherever it took me, kind of like this year’s trip. Except I believe that my Higher Self is guiding this year’s trip, not a Nepali in a business suit.

First stop? To buy me a surgical face mask. It helped with the dust a little. Of course the sequence of face mask, sunglasses and helmet had to be followed at each stop. 

Then to a mechanic’s store front where a man was wiping grease off his hands and in whose pocket Sangam placed folded cash. For the parts for his tractor.

Then, to an alley somewhere. We waited and an professional looking man appeared with a repaired lap top. “I can’t hold that thing,”  I insisted. It was all I could do to hold myself on the swerving, bumping carnival ride!. Sangham tucked it under his knees up front.Then to TAAM, the organization in which he helps to regulate tourism and trekking and being fair to the porters. He did his politicing, I sat and read a newspaper, then we went on the rooftop for a snack— fried mung beans, flattened rice and curry… and bathroom.

Then upward and onward to the real reason for the trip, I believe. 

To the store of the Buddha Citta beads. This friend of Sangham’s owns a plantation of this shrub-like tree which produces these brown beads.

 I bought an 108 length one, and two bracelets to give away and then twenty spare beads to give away or plant. Wouldn’t that be cool? Buddha Citta  beads grown in Grant, FL?

We talked about the Buddhist meaning of boddhicitta— awakened heart—and he gave me a present, a bracelet for myself. Sangham was happy and told me to get them consecrated by the Lama at the Kopan Monastery.

Then the most ridiculous segment of the whole crazy trip.  No photos folks!

There was no way I could know which alley to take, or short cuts, or any symmetry to the road system. I just knew it was all pot holes, ruts, dust, jutting rocks, and in Thamel, the destination, it was people. Hordes of people! Cars couldn’t move. Motor scooters barely could, and the procession of hungry shoppers wove in amongst us. It was like Christmas on steroids! I couldn’t take pictures because I was clinging to Sangham’s middle, and when there was a really big bump, I had to clench his thighs with mine, the way you would a horse.  All I knew is that I could not get unseated or I would be dead meat! Why the crowds? Tahir festival! Today is the day of honoring the crow. Really! How?

Well, the first sound I had heard this morning was a, “Caw, caw, caw.” Turns out the harvest of rice the day yesterday had attracted the crows for the gleaning. And boy are people getting ready for this festival! Fruits, vegetables, nuts, pigments of powdered paint. The market place that had been navigable my first wandering in Kathmandu was packed and impossible. Finally Sangham motioned for one rider to push a box of fruit aside, weave foreward,  and for me to hold  back traffic so Sangham could finally move. Yay! And why were we dong this? We went around the circle to end up almost where we started. Why? All this impassable chaos for… mung beans. Six bags worth! But I thought he went shopping yesterday! I had hoped for some festival goodies! But no, they are Buddhist, not Hindu, so all he bought were mung beans.

I madly wanted to get home. 

The dust and crowds and impossible traffic was almost over the top! But nope. On the way home he pulled up to a beauty shop. Closed, of course. The little boy ran out back for us and summoned the owner who happily showed me a box of hair dye. Golden blonde. Of course. From my natural brown to the slightly red in Bulgaria to this. Why not! Turns out that she is Sangham’s “sister” but with a different mother, which simply means she is related but not really a sister. Interesting that the shop was about 10 min walk and I didn’t really neeed to take a scotter.

“This is a cultural experience,” I kept telling Sangham while I chanted Tibetan Buddhist mantras, under my clenched teeth.  “Wouldn’t miss it for the world Just another chance to let go.”  But… he could have just taken me to the beauty shop on on his way. Or pointed me to the place. But no, we had to weave and dodge and count our blessings for 2 hours to get to there And then blond was the only color she had other than black!

“What shall we call us,”  

I asked him, exhausted and wondering about this strange journey as we neared home.  “The old lady and the farmer,”  he laughed. 

Some of my friends are calling me courageous. Sometimes I call myself foolish. Mostly I’m ignorant of what I’m myself getting into, despite the best possible planning, because it’s outside of my control.

On this short segment of the journey the best I can say is, I hung on!


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