Thursday, April 21, 2011

The Rinpoche...

• Our last day at D.T.s and our last day with our young Monks • Always good to leave on a high • Our core group of young monks were: Rinchin Tsering, Dargay, Nyiama Tsering, Rabi, Pema, Singhe, Nyima Setar (and Sindu the dog) • These boys have left their mark on me  • Power was to be off till 3:00, so our morning ritual of hitting the Internet cafe was put on hold till after class • Walked the base of the steps of the Stupa after breakfast • A lovely older woman was sitting contentedly beading a necklace (I thought she was in her 80's, she was 71 - long hard lives here leave their mark) • Spoke with a couple of the women vendors, and they told us just how hard it was to sell one item a day here, approximately $8, and that they only had another month of good sales before the monsoon season hit - a really good day was $20, but they were rare • Women Buddhist monks were serving Daal with pitas to the street people at the base of the Stupa • After our Daal Bhaat we made our last trek up the stairs to the Monastery - this was our hottest day yet with the sun beaming down on us, & without the usual breeze • We were greeted by faithful Rabi - within 5 minutes all had shown up, all but, Pema • I guess Pema had to show me who is the alpha, as he didn't show up till we were leaving • Our last class, like most of our classes was a shot in the dark with a lot of improvising and changing on the fly • We thought we may go back up to the Stupa, but decided half way through the class, that why disturb things, and continue on with the word find books, drawing, reading fairy tales, singing songs and the review of the days of the week • The stranger from the day before came and walked through our class • The young Monks told us it was the Rinpoche •  Rinpoche  means “precious one”  - in most cases, the title is bestowed upon one who has been recognized as the reincarnation of a great teacher • This Rinpoche was the head of this Monastery who visits here for one month, once a year - he lives at a university in India, where he is the head, for the rest of the year • All was good • Rabi thanked us at the end of the class, saying he learned from us - what a compliment, as he was the brightest in our bunch • We let them keep whatever supplies we had brought (crayons, pens, notebooks etc.) • Pema showed up as we were walking to the Monastery office - we had one last lesson with him, he earned his goodbye chocolate and off we started • We went looking for Karma, to give back the marker for the whiteboard, I knocked on the door to the office, only to be looked down on by someone on the roof, motioning us to come up • The Rinpoche • Pema looked impressed • We were honored that he invited us into his private quarters for tea • The stranger who was listening at the door the day before, was the Rinpoche • He told us that this Monastery was founded in the 1930's and that approximately 60 Monks lived here full time • Finally we had a chance to tell someone in authority,  that his young Monks really should have a set curriculum for English, as they do for their other studies - and the Rinpoche seemed quite receptive to that • A lovely, lanky gentle man, with large beautiful almond shaped eyes, and all of 30ish, the Rinpoche asked us if we were interested in seeing his previous lives? • How do you say no to an offer like that? • We were guided through a door covered by a Holy Door Covering into a small room off his "living room", which housed photos, his private Stupa & a shrine with relics of the two previous Rinpoches of this Monastery - his two previous lives • Wow - now you don't get offers to see & experience this everyday • The Rinpoche couldn't be nicer, wanting to show us what he had and it seemed he couldn't give us enough • I had asked for the address of the Monastery so that I could send photos to the Monks, and he gave both Kitti and I his business card with private email & cell phone - how modern • He also gave us a calender with photos of him being honored on it • The whole event now seems almost surreal - I mean meeting the Rinpoche, in his private quarters and seeing his two previous lives - not on your basic tour guide of Kathmandu! • We left his quarters and started walking by the Monks living area - Pema came out to wave his last goodbye with a big smile • We both had connected and left our marks on each other • Hit the Internet cafe in Swayambhu for the last time at 10 rupees for 30 minutes - it has been great to stay in touch with home - some friends have lived each day with me • We had our final tea at D.T.'s while waiting to be taken back to the hostel for my last two nights • We did mention to D.T. as well, that both the Monks and volunteers would benefit from a set curriculum for their English studies •  D.T. gave Kitti and I Holy Door cloths, like the Rinpoche had going into his room which contained his previous lives • The cloth contains the 8 signs of the mandala • A big hug goodbye from D.T. - even Gudu gave me a hug with his shy little smile, though I was afraid I was going to crush him • We really are lucky! • Back at the hostel it was pretty quiet and Kitti and I could have had our own rooms, but felt we didn't want to be separated yet, so put our luggage into one of the empty rooms & gave ourselves more space • All of a sudden these once thought of flattened mattresses felt down right plush, compared to what we had at D.T.'s house - strange how that works • Kitti and I said and did our usual sleep ritual, and I'm sure I was out within 5 minutes.

Our local garbage man at D.T.'s.
He whistles and you bring him your garbage.

Women Buddhist Monks handing out breakfast.

Always helping who they can.

This lovely lady beading happily posed for me.
When I showed her the photo, she took off her head scarf
& had me take the photo below.

Vanity at any age - in this case, 71 years.

Water wherever they can find it.

The veggie market always gave me great sources of photo ops.

Our local chip delivery man.
You can see one small bag coming out the front.

Another street tailor - the scenery is always changing.

Kitti giving Pema his last lesson
to win his Canadian chocolate loonie,
with Rabi in the background.


  1. I am going to miss reading about D.T., Pema, Sindu and all of the young monks, and reincarnated chief monk, Rinpoche, (I would love to have seen a picture of him) as well as about the people of Katmandu that you interacted with every day, even the monkeys. It has been a journey into another way of life that is so different, yet truly one that connects us all, as they went about their lives, even half a globe away. Every day I waited for the next blog to appear so I could know more about these sweet boys and all of the people that became a part of your life, and adding a whole new texture to it during your stay in Katmandu. Now that I have connected emotionally to them, through cyberspace, I don't want it to end. It must be difficult for you to leave them behind, after investing so much of yourself , into such a short period. Even in that short period, the bonding was so evident and the caring that was mutual. I will miss them all, but how fortunate for you to have had the opportunity to have lived with them and the memories are always there, ready to be retrieved. What an experience......

  2. How wonderful it has been to make this journey with you; so different than anything I have ever done. Thank you for the gift of your blog!

  3. This trip was a journey on many levels and has taken time to digest it fully. This was fully embracing,and living life on a new plane for me. Time will tell its true effects on me. I'm glad you have enjoyed reading about my experiences.


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