Something weird has happened today. I guess that is part of traveling. I really need to journal every day, otherwise there is just too much to cover.
So today is the first day I truly traveled by myself. The past three days, I have been sight seeing with the friend I made from the hostel. Today he left for his volunteer program.
I started my day with some shopping and getting ready for my trekking trip. I’m leaving for Pokhara tomorrow morning at 6:30am.
Around 2pm, I finally got myself together to venture out on my own. I took a taxi to the Hindu Temple east of Kathmandu – Pashupatinath Temple, which is Nepal’s holiest Hindu pilgrimage site.
When I got there, there was this line of women all dressed up in their traditional Hindu clothes. I got curious and just followed the line. The line kept going and going. It must be hundreds if not thousands of people (most women). It was crazy.
When I finally got to the beginning of the line, I saw the temple. Then I saw a guy who had this crazy makeup (something holy men would wear), I didn’t take a picture cause there was just too much going on, also I didn’t want to do anything inappropriate because it is a holy place.
A guy came up to me and told me that I needed to buy a ticket. I did for a 1000 rupees. Then he took me around and started explaining the burning sites. Before he went too far, I asked him if he was a guide and how much he wanted to charge. (I’m very guarded because everyone is out here to skin me as a tourist it seems. I have been charged foreigner price a lot of times) We set a price at 500 rupees and went forward.
He explained to me the platforms where cremation happens. It takes $150 to have somebody cremated there. It takes usually four hours to burn a whole body. The family stays around and pushes the ashes to the water when it’s done. (Thank God I had a guide right away. I have no idea how I would react if I just stumble upon this)
On the other side of the bridge, Families can wash the deceased by the water. It could be a quick wash for a few minutes or more. Having dead bodies and cremation in public seems so morbid, but it is just our conditioning. Really what we consider normal and what we consider taboo are results of our culture and beliefs.
He also explained to me the temple is one of the holiest places for Hindus. All the Hindus are supposed to go there at least once in their lifetime. Today is a Hindu holiday, that’s why all the people were waiting in line to go inside the temple. (Only Hindus can go inside.)If you think this is already pretty interesting, things got really interesting after the guide left me alone. I was just walking up the stairs and feeling so tired and hot from the heat. A guy with glasses approached me and asked me where I am from. I said, “Are you a guide?” He said, “No. I don’t want money from you. I just think you are really attractive and I want to talk to you.”
I was surprised. I mean guys try to talk to me pretty often in the states, but I don’t expect this would happen in Nepal. I was also suspicious. Too many people tried to get money from me. I really don’t know his intentions.
I said I really just needed to sit down because I was very tired. He took me to a bench at the top of the hill. We got to know each other a little bit. I told him I was married and I didn’t want to waste his time. He got my hint and dropped me off by the bridge. But in about two minutes, We ran into each other again. He asked me why I didn’t go to the place where the Holy men live (To go there, you’ll have to pass where people wash their deceased relatives), I said I didn’t feel the energy there. (I was just scared about dead bodies. LOL) He said, all right, I would take you.
So we went to the Holy Man, this one lived in a cave house. My new Nepalese friend told me I shouldn’t offer him money, I could offer him food. They are not concerned with materialist things. Fake Holy Men(The ones with crazy make up would charge you if you take photos of them) Real Holy Men don’t ask for money.
So I bought three cucumbers(there was a food vendor there selling cucumbers for snacks) and brought to the Holy man. You could tell he is the real deal. His eyes were so kind. It’s like he was smiling through his eyes. You could feel the love radiating from him.
After I gave him the cucumbers, he peeled the skins of one cucumber and one apple, sliced them to biting sizes and offered them on a plate for me and my friend. (Wow, how generous for someone who lives off donations! ) He said I could ask him questions. My friend could translate for me. I had three questions. Be aware that some of this could be lost in translation.
Why do people have so much anxiety and so many mental problems?
He said, there are three types of people in the world. One that could control their senses and their mind, they are the ones that can create things. One that rules (like dictators and monarchs) . One that does whatever he wants to do and has no control over his senses. This is the people who turn to drugs and alcohol. You need to control your senses and your desires.
He also mentioned something about Chinese people. They used to be respected. But now they are not. Because of greed. They are very materialistic. (I agree actually.)
What does him think about the saying “Follow your heart”? ( I asked that because he seemed to be opposed to the western idea of follow your heart. )
He doesn’t think you should follow your heart. You need to control your senses and your desires. When you have passion for someone, you need to be aware that it is temporary. It is not the ultimate truth.
I really need to think about this one because it is so different from the western philosophy.
How to deal with the uncertainties of the future?
He said, if you do the rights things, you would not need to worry about anything. I was going to ask how would you know if you are doing the right things, then I realize your heart knows when you are on the right path, staying true to yourself and do the right things. I was like shit, he is right.
Towards the end, I wanted to take some pictures of him. I realized that I brought my Polaroid. I took two photos of him and gave them to him as gifts. He was really happy about it because most people who took pictures of him use digital cameras.
To Be Continued…