Friday, December 23, 2005

Merry Christmas

Dear Friends and Family,

Sorry it’s been so long since we’ve posted anything here on the B-Log. We’ve been busy…..
Sam has been working hard on the Buddha Boy movie. He’s been translating the interviews, writing the subtitles, figuring out various programming entities, and more…
The film is now ready to post on the internet. Watch out Steven Speilberg, Sam Chapin’s Buddha Boy will give you a run for your money.
Since my last cold shower I’ve had a couple more. However, now that I’ve been going to the Ex- pat gym with our friend Tina I’ve had couple of very very long hot showers to make up for frosty ones. Ahhhh yes!
So besides yoga, writing, shopping, recording studio work, Passage work, much eating, drinking and merriment, we’ve had a few adventures. There was going to Sam’s house in the hills. Here you can hike for hours, live like Little House on the Prairie on you’re not on the Prairie and there’s a CD player, and peer out onto the endless mountain filled sky. We’ve gone to Pashipatit (please excuse my spelling mistakes, I’ve reverted back to childhood quite a bit here and now I’m using inventive spelling on many words). Here of course were the funeral pyres and monkey craziness. We walked to the Monkey Temple… struggling on the many stone stairs to get to the top. There was the butter lamp lighting at Bodha the Tibetian stupha. How can you miss a delicately lit monument under a harvest moon? Hmmm? Plus we made another pilgrimage to a cave. I believe Guru Rinpoche live in this one for 25 years. However, I’ve been know to get my meditation caves messed up so feel free to fact check with the big guy. You can see the picture of Sam and friends on the top of a big hill covered with prayer flags munching on a picnic after our cavernous experience.
I don’t know when we’ll post our next message. Hopefully once before we go to India on the 30th. No computer, just proper traveling for a couple of months ☺ But, please check every now and then anyway just in case.
We hope ya’ll are having a fabulous holiday season. Ours is great! Off to the Bodha stupha for a little holiday peace walk, the to dinner at a fancy spot, and tomorrow a Christmas brunch at our house ☺ We love you!!

Much love,
Laura & Sam

Some nice photos around Kathmandu

Our trip up to Sam's house above Kathmandu

Saturday, December 10, 2005


Just when you thought it was safe to let your guard down and relax, you entered the shower. You think the geizer (sp) had been left on long enough. But 35 minutes just isn’t enough for a girl that needs conditioner, or shampoo for that matter. The warmth lasts just long enough to get some initial comfort but quickly you’re tricked. Teased. Like a bad relationship, everything is great in the beginning but bam it slaps you in the face and you think, “What am I doing? I’m not happy! Where am I?” You’re left brutally uncomfortable dripping with anger and swearing at everything.
But, then you remember the boy that sitting under a tree in the middle of the jungle wearing only a few yards of fabric. He’s at the base of Himalayas. At night here the temperature is only about 40 degrees right now. The forest floor is cold, hard, and damp, and there are a myriad of animals that can come out to paw you at any moment. Maoists surround him. You think if he can sit there for 6 months and 20 some days, I can endure a cold shower.
Plus you think shit, there are people in this very same town that shower only every couple of days or weeks. They join others around a community tap when the sun is at its peak and they wash away the diesel fuel that’s blackened their exposed skin. These people don’t complain, they don’t lash out at the people around they just live and smile and they accept. They move on and give their pain away to a higher source.
So for the sake of not feeling so damn selfish, I give my bitterly cold shower to a thirsty pilgrim somewhere in the Sahara. Enjoy.

Thursday, December 08, 2005

Buddha Boy from Nepal intro with photo

Here is a picture of Ram Bahadur Bomjan who for lack of a better name is being called the Buddha boy.
Below mixed in with pictures of us and the area are pictures of his mother Maya Devi as well as his brother.
This story continues here.

Buddha boy from Nepal part 1

We first started to hear about the Buddha boy sometime in late November just before we left the United States. It is amazing how fast the news of this type can travel in the Internet age. It took decades and centuries for news of the Buddha to travel around the world. This instant type of news also leads one to be overly skeptical of everything.
We first saw a photo of Ram Bahadur Bomjan the Buddha boy on the front page of the Himalayan Times (In my opinion Kathmandu’s best newspaper) while on our flight from Bangkok to Kathmandu (which was delayed by 2 days and then several hours as the King of Nepal had taken one of the fleet of two planes with him to Africa but that is another story). We thought that it would be very interesting to go and see him and see what all the fuss was about. I was especially curious to see the scene when I saw the photos of Coca-Cola balloons in the impromptu market that had grown up around him. I figured that this would turn out to be some kind of stunt somewhere between the Indians levitating for the tourists below the Red Fort in Delhi and the ill conceived Nepali scams of fake currency that get busted up when they catch someone selling 1000 rupee notes for 600 rupees in the bazaar. But when we heard about a group of friends of ours who were organizing a trip down to see the boy via the oldest road in Nepal we jumped at the chance to join up. With the crew involved we knew it would be a great trip even if this boy turned out to be a total and obvious hoax.
The plan was laid to travel by a rented bus from Kathmandu to Hetauda via the old Tribhuvan Rajpath highway. This was the first road ever built in Nepal. It was built in the late 1950’s by the Indian army and is really an incredible feat. As the crow flies we only had to travel about 45 km (28 miles) but this involved an ascent of about 4000 feet followed by a descent of almost 8000 feet via what is surely the most switchbacks ever laid up together so that the total travel time about 7 and a half hours (including a quick stop to eat rice as one does in Nepal). In Hetauda we stayed at the Avocado Motel, which is a decent place with a nice garden although I guess many of the avocado trees have been cut down to make way for expansion. From Hetauda it is about one and half hours drive to where the Buddha boy is sitting.
After we arrived at the motel and got suitably relaxed we decided to watch a movie about the Buddha boy that someone else had purchased. This was a very amateur style film with shaky camera work and bad sound but the opening 10 minutes was shots of the huge traffic jam that occurred supposedly every day on the road to the Buddha boy. This scared the hell out of us so we decided to get up at 5:30 am and leave as soon as possible. We managed to make it out just after 6 am.
Since we were traveling as a group of “tourists” (I put this in quote since many of us on the bus had been in Nepal longer than the young Nepali soldiers who came on to check us) we were not subject to the crazy checkpoints that Nepalis have to endure. This consists of lining up bus by bus and waiting your turn to get off your bus with your belongings and then walk about half a mile while your bus gets searched. You are also subject to search at several points along your walk. The line of buses looked like it would have added about two hours to our travel time had we not had the magical tourist only banner hung on the front of our bus.
Forty five minutes later we saw the red cloth gate on the side of the road that signaled the beginning of the road through the jungle to the Buddha boy. We were not stopped at the gate and there were only a few people hanging around with no police in site. The track through the jungle was a bumpy narrow dirt road that would be hard pressed to accommodate two buses passing in either direction. Luckily there was no other traffic, our early start was paying off already.

This story continues here.

Buddha boy from Nepal part 2

After fifteen minutes of driving through the jungle we came to a small makeshift bazzar and parking area overlooking what in the monsoon would be a huge river but what was now a small stream. We were advised to park there and walk about two kilometers through the jungle to see the boy. There were a few dozen makeshift stalls just being setup. They were mostly for tea and snacks but a few were selling rosaries and other trinkets. We walked on into the jungle on the same sort of dirt road we had driven in on. There were a few other people about and the odd bicycle passed us occasionally but mostly we were alone in a beautiful stretch of jungle. There were a few more stalls spaced out at random but the general feeling was of a peaceful stretch of jungle.
We then arrived at another red cloth gate with a likeness of the Buddha boy hand painted on it. People were removing their shoes and leaving them in a large shoe corral. No one told us what to do; we just did what others were doing, there was really no one in charge. After taking off our shoes we proceeded down a dirt foot path flattened by the soles of the many that had come before us. The path lead us through the middle of a large tree with a hole in the trunk large enough to walk through. This was the tree where Ram Bahadur Bomjan the Buddha boy had started his meditation. What we heard was, that in the beginning of his meditation, curious villagers came and some poked him with sticks to see what he was doing and if he was dead. He subsequently moved to a nearby tree that provided better protection, which is where he is now. After passing through the tree we moved another 100 yard or so down the path until we came to the site. Ram Bahadur is sitting in the folds of a large Pipal tree, around him are two large concentric circular makeshift fences. The outer one is about 75 feet away from where he sits. Just inside the outer fence was Ram Bahadur’s brother with a few other boys from the village. They were there keeping people quiet and making sure no one disturbed the Buddha boy.
We managed to convince his brother to let us inside the first fence so that we were able to get to about 30 feet from where Ram Bahadur is sitting. To me he looked almost like a statue. He is sitting very still and wearing a grey cloth that looks like it has been outside with him for six months. The whole atmosphere around him is very peaceful and the site itself is very beautiful. Flowers are strewn along the ground and everywhere are Tibetan prayer flags. There are a few spots to light butter lamp offerings and one small wooded box to make donations.
Seeing Ram Bahadur sitting there was enough to convince me that something real and big was happening here. That combined with the fact that not once were we asked for money. Not for parking our large bus, not for the watching of our fancy imported shoes, not for taking pictures or video. Never was it even suggested that we make a donation. We spoke to the Buddha boy’s brother for a while. At one point we asked if they needed anything for their work here. He said they needed nothing just for their brother to succeed in his meditation.
We also spoke to the Buddha boy’s mother whose name is apparently the same as the historical Buddha, Maya Devi. She told us that she usually comes about once a week to see her son. We asked her why she does not come more often to which she replied that someone had to do the work around the house. She was quite shy and clearly preferred to blend in with the crowd and not be noticed. It was clear to me that neither the Buddha boy or his family were profiting from this whole thing at this point. Maya Devi (the Buddha boy’s mother) was in some simple clothes and looked rather tired and worried we did manage to take this one picture of her smiling. She did say she had been worried about her son but she was no longer and said that everything was good.

Wednesday, December 07, 2005

What we do in Kathmandu 1

What we do in Kathmandu

Since out last posting we’ve had many escapades. We’re really excited about our journey to see the boy meditating, ‘buddha’. But first we’ll recap the events that lead up to our pilgrimage.
We’ll start with the language lessons that are going well. My teacher Sushila’ji’ is a great language teacher. She’s expressive and fun and patient with my bistaarai brain. I really need to be less timid when speaking to people so that I can actually use what I have learned. Sam’s been good at helping me out with my self imposed homework, even when he’s ensconced in learning his new music software, ekdaam raamro!

After lessons there’s a thulo amount of things to check out and in my case they often involve shopping. We went to Thamel which is the tourist hot spot to look at hand-made jewelry, pashmina, beads, knock off North Face gear, and much more. Plus we went to a Christmas bizzar and felt that holiday feeling at the sunny Hyatt Regency.

Of course things wouldn’t be complete unless we hung out with friends and drank hot millet beer out of a bamboo straw! Tomba, ekdaam mitho!

Last Saturday the crown prince came into town. We didn’t see him but we saw his jag and Sam’s friend the travel agent J

Most importantly we’ve seen lot’s of great people, both kind friends and miscellaneous kindred spirits.

Thursday, December 01, 2005

Trip to Patan

Laura and I went up to Patan which was formerly a totally seperate city but is now a part of Kathmandu. We visted the durbar square which was where the king of Patan used to live. The mountains were out in the distance and it was a beautiful day. Laura got a good shot of a cow with a flower necklace taking a piss. The also spoke Nepali to this man holding his baby. He was happy to have his photo taken and it turned out pretty nice. The new camera is working great.