Lesson of the Day: PARTICIPATE AS MUCH AS POSSIBLE
|Feed the Birds.|
|Blossoms for sale.|
Inside the Golden Temple:
|Entrance to the golden temple.|
Brightly painted doors, homeless sleeping on temple steps (like the dogs), the most excellent looking carrots I have ever seen, bicycles so weighted down with goods that they can't even be ridden, a whole shop of woven goods including basket slippers. Just an amazing, ancient place.
|Puja with a production group.|
|The Everest Ladies.|
M drove as close as he could to the neighbourhood and then had trouble parking (as there is none - it's more like a free-for-all). There aren't parking spots like we are used to, or entire lots for that matter. You pretty much just find a spot big enough and that's where you park.
It was dusk, turning to pitch black night. We joined the crowd which snaked through the streets as one unit. Some stood to the sides, hung out of windows or watched from rooftops. It was kind of like our own Santa Claus parade, except at night and everyone is moving in the road instead of crushed to the sides. And instead of many floats, there is just one: a heavy temple made of old wood that houses, in this case, a goddess and is carried on the shoulders of about twenty men. We were told that sometimes it is dropped, which must cause injury to the bearers, being so heavy!
People worship, dance, sing and pray, the hub of excitement is centered around the goddess. As we moved closer to her, we listened to a passionate, rhythmic song with lots of drumming and traditional wooden piping. There was a sort of procession led by two female dancers...a bit of a provocative dance considering the cultural views of women as subversive. I suppose this is the same religion that birthed the Kama Sutra. Again, lots of contradictions here in Nepal.
Jackie and I had to link arms, otherwise I would have been swept off and would probably have been lost in the crowd and still be on that street lost and wandering. As we continued along the street, the music blended with a new song up ahead. The entire mood and passion of the crowd and being the only Westerners there is definitely not something to be cheapened by mere words.
We then crept through one of those quaint, short wooden doors into the darkness which opened up onto a back lane, away from the crowd. A few more turns in the labyrinth and we were at M's uncle's house. Somehow during all this, Jackie and I were separated, although the house was so crammed and stuffed with family members that I didn't even notice she was gone until she burst in apologizing for losing me. I had just assumed she was also somewhere in the house. In any case, I was quite comfortable following Rabin up to the roof where we watched the boys play "football" (soccer) with whatever they found up there (the Nepalis are extremely resourceful people) and he explained a little more about the festival. We also had a fantastic view of the full moon above and of the festival winding through the street below and beyond the house a bit.
Two other new introductions to my Canadian palette were two alcoholic drinks: white rice beer and rice whiskey, both homemade and served in cloudy 2L pop bottles. The white beer was almost opaque, white, but had a nice, mild flavour. The whiskey was not to my personal taste - too strong and the rate that it warmed me up alarmed me. I also knew that a few more sips would go straight to my head and someone had already filled my glass of beer while I wasn't looking. Anyone who knows me well, knows I should never mix alcohols. So the whiskey was the third and final item on the trip that I couldn't finish.
Typically in Nepal, guests would be served at a table of some sorts, whether a dining room table ("Western style", they said) or at a living room coffee table. But we were invited to dine in the kitchen with the family Nepali-style (maybe they were impressed with our fondness for their beer). They sit cross-legged on long mats and pads and eat off plates with their hands. A couple of women moved around with huge bowls of food, offering seconds and thirds and then fourth servings.
After dinner, Jackie and I had a conversation via translator with the matriarch of the house (wearing red signifies that you are married; if a man is wearing white it signifies that he is in mourning for his mother).
Naturally, I was up late anyway, packing and re-packing and organizing, trying to fit as many samples and yarn balls into my luggage as I could. Luckily, packing is one of my special talents, having moved so many times in my life. Getting excited to get home now, but also very sad to leave.