19 Dec 2019
With its chaotic traffic, massive swirls of wires hanging above ground, crumbling buildings and air pollution, Kathmandu is not a place that readily comes to mind when one is thinking of retreat and rest.
Yet, in the midst of the valley’s madness, intricately carved and perfectly symmetrical woodworks & stoneworks adorned doorways and windows, creating an air of unmatched serenity and inspiring me to seek alignment from within.
From this valley of unpredictability, where power cuts happen regularly unannounced, craftsmen go about calmly setting semi precious stones against impossibly detailed & highly decorative silver works of filigree.
Perhaps this constant practice of melting, cutting, shaping and welding metals to minerals to create objects of beauty has alchemised in these workers a high tolerance for the ugliness of difficult customers, exploitative employers and other hardships.
Then there are the buddhist arts (tangka) drawn free hand in such breathtaking precision and with such a pleasing balance of colours that the seller has to keep reminding us with great pride, “this not machine made…this MADE BY MAN,” as we stared in mute wonder, at the scroll he unveiled before us while cars honked impatiently behind us.
Like the mangy fur of a dog that holds a clean heart, Kathmandu has shown me that using observable evidence to appraise someone’s inner world or history may be convenient and even natural, but it’s still not the truth.
Kathmandu forces me to cover my nose, slap on sunblock, drink only boiled water and take other safety precautions, while liberating me from prejudices and insularity at the same time.
I’m deeply honoured to have been allowed to visit Nepal year after year since 2011.
Namaste. Tashi Delek.