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Morning In Kathmandu

April 21, 2012

in Nepal

Wonder what I do when in Kathmandu when I’m not trekking? The beginning of the season always starts with planning and shopping. Planning to be sure everything is in place for the treks, and shopping for all the jewelry we sell in the US to raise money for our nonprofit.

I’m jet lagged and reluctantly conscious at 4:30 am when the first bells ring at the nearby Buddhist monastery. It’s always a pleasure to hear the deep regular tolling in the dark, then the scuffle of feet towards morning prayer, but I’m not getting up yet. An hour or so later, I meditate. This season I’ve decided to meditate every day for 20 minutes starting today. I’ve been craving the stillness, and I haven’t been very good at carving out space for it in my California life. Then I unpack and regroup and head out for tea.

All restaurants have nearly the same breakfast menu, so it’s mostly a question of where I want to sit. Tourist restaurants offer fruit-yogurt-muesli or eggs-and-toast plates with chai or coffee, while local Tibetan breakfast is spicy chunks of potato with thick pita bread and a bland milk tea. One of the monasteries has a garden cafe full of flowers and a healthy pile of fresh fruit with the yogurt. It seems a good place to start the trip.

Later I join hundreds of Tibetan Buddhists to walk circling the stupa, beneath the glowing golden tiers and soft painted eyes which are iconic only in Nepal. Stupas are prevalent in many types of Himalayan Buddhism, but the painted eyes looking out in four directions are classic Nepalese style. The Buddhists chant prayers and spin prayer wheel, all before they eat, but I was too hungry for that. My body still thinks it’s dinnertime.

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