Wednesday, November 4, 2009

Letters form Nepal 2

5 am in Kathmandu.

Arrived at the hotel in Kathmandu last night after a day of heavy consecration of the new Dirkung Kagyu Rinchen Ling Monastery. The Chakrasamvara consecration rituals performed in the last two days were long and complicated. Every gesture ritualized and involved with offerings, appeasing of deities, local elementals, invocation of the Lineage Protectors and the one thousand years of unbroken line of enlightened Masters, who are beautifully artistically painted on the temple walls.

Seating in a line of the many lines of monks and nuns (more than 150 monks, about 8 local nuns and two westerners) in our red and yellow robes, heard whispers of legends telling stories out of time and space of such old ceremonies in sacred and secret places.

His Holiness Kyabgon Chetsang Rinpoche lead all the rituals from his throne, and then lead the circumambulation of the whole premises, which is compound of several buildings surrounding the magnificent temple in its traditional Tibetan architecture and the court yard. At the back stage of the Temple Hall stand three gigantic (more than 20 meters high) statues of Lord Jigten Sungom, founder of the Drikung Kadyu Lineage (one the main four Lineages of Tibet), The Lord Buddha, and a four Arm Avalokiteshvara, all covered in gold. In front of it sits an almost 2 meter high throne of His Holiness, along with The Drikung Kyabgon Chetsang Rinpoche side by side with the throne of other Drikung Kyabgon Chungtsang Rinpoche, who shares the lineage control from Tibet.

The lamas were finally comfortable enough with me to allow me to move around freely to take my pictures after I had offered my service to them and shared info on my web site. During lunch time, while transferring images to my computer, I lost around 500 pictures in the process, very painful... Fortunately, in the afternoon there was a repetition of the previous day's consecration ceremony and I was able to photography it all over again. I will have time to photograph the temple images and walls covered with sacred paints again in the next few weeks. I am sorry for the loss of individual pictures of the baby monks, and the very old monks and yogis playing or sitting around in the sun or the kitchen. I will have to go after them again trying to capture that special moment of a window into their souls.

My camera acted out, like my other ones after heavy use. Poor contrast and color for some pictures but I continued non stop, I am sure it is something I am doing wrong when I am working with heavy sequences.

A Chinese woman from America, whom I met in Arizona, told me again and again how much she appreciates my pictures. She prays for my health every day, she says, so I can continue to take pictures for posterity. Someone left a box of crackers in my place as an offering I think, another left me a flower, and still another a candy. Some European women were really happy to see a western nun looking in charge of something in the whole masculine environment and moving freely around His Holiness. All monks and Rinpoches bless me with lovely smiles for camera and to myself. In the next few days it is expected to arrive at least 1,000 guests between monks, nuns, Rinpoches and westerners. There is still a lot of construction work being done to finish the hosting facilities and the court yard for the great event of the inauguration.

Outside, the sun is coming out on top of the houses and behind the little towers on roofs, typical of Nepalese and Tibetan architecture (although with some differences). I am planning to work downstairs a little before going out to photograph Boudha and do some shopping before going back to the monastery. The hotel ground has beautiful surroundings with gardens and flower vases within closed gates, allowing you to forget the chaotic poverty outside. The streets leading to the Hotel are just a dirty road clearing in the jungle of the city, a narrow lane in between large constructions and poor houses. The rich and poor, always side by side here. There are no paved roads, only trails. At a distance I see and hear water falling from a tank, a sign of old broken systems leaking resources. I remembered seeing the same in Paris.

Last night, I walked courageously outside the compound of the hotel to look for a place to eat dinner treading the uneven path covered sparsely with stones. I found a door with Tibetan symbols and an invitation to eat. All business are construed out of their own homes, I took three high steps on a ladder of partially destroyed cement into a nice little courtyard surrounded with flower vases and an adolescent boy asked me in perfect English, if I a wanted to sit inside or outside. I said outside, feeling like I was in a classy restaurant and he gave me a well printed menu. The little garden had only three tables. One was occupied by two Tibetans having an intense conversation. Inside, I noticed two unaccompanied Tibetan women vividly talking to each other while having dinner. I recognized them not only for their faces but also for their traditional dressing. They all said, with their hands joined together: Tashi Dele, Ani La, the traditional caring compliment of Tibetans to monks and nuns. I had a delicious chicken low main with coca cola.  Here soda is safer than water. Then, I walked back to the hotel on the dark narrow trail with a small lantern on my hands. Soon, a young  monk walked alongside and talked to me (I felt to protect me). He introduced himself, a Tibetan from England of the Nyngma Lineage, and he walked me to the Hotel gates where the lovely old Tibetan gate keeper greeted me Namaste, with joined hands, Tashi Dele, Ani La.

Outside the window the sun is shining over the colorful Tibetan prayer banners hanging between the buildings. At a distance children playing in a school, and crows and other birds sing their songs, it is cool and fresh. I am going to have breakfast downstairs in the garden.

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