these reports from Nepal go in most-recent-on-top order as is the blogging custom. Scroll to the very bottom for the beginning entry and read back to the latest entry here at the top.
For information about trekking and other travel in nepal, contact Indra at [DamaruCulturalToursAndTravel], Kathmandu Nepal, 977-1-417032 or mailto:firstname.lastname@example.org. He and his family will be glad to help you plan your trip and will take very good care of you while you are in Nepal. And to tell them I said hello!
Friday, October 31st, 2003 - homeward bound
Flying out in a few hours, so this is the last report from KTM. Inevitably, people will ask: "So how was your trip?" Thinking about this last night and noticing how difficult it is for me to answer this, partly because there is often not the time to really say... but mostly, i think, because i simply don't quite remember who i was when i came here, just three and a half weeks ago.
Thursday, October 30, 2003 – last day and TrekkingReport posted
Resting, cleaning, packing today… one last lassi, belly permitting, at the Stupa View Restaurant and a couple of laps around the stupa itself… om mani padme hung… om mani padme hung… playing from shops all around it… another bright sunny day here… before flying tomorrow afternoon.
Monday, October 27th through Wednesday, October 29th, 2003
gone trekking... <grin>
Sunday, October 26th, 2003 - perspective
Some perspective on KTM... first, it's a valley, bounded on all sides by mountains, and then more mountains. In 1993 there were 535, 000 people living here. At least that's how many were counted. In 2001, only eight years later, the population had more than doubled to 1,093,000, with some tremendous growth spikes in recent years. Much of the growth has come from folks migrating from the rural areas, so the place and it's basic systems have been fairly well overrun in the last many year.
This is one reason why monasteries like Bairoling are so important, they are taking in little boys and raising them in relative health and safety, and giving them some good education, community, and work ethic. See the MonksAtBairoling for the beginnings of our little monks sponsorship site, with info on individual little monks.
Going to get another kind of perspective today, flying out to Pokhara... hoping for a glimpse of the big mountains on the way.
Saturday, October 25th, 2003 - hello!
Yesterday went into KTM again to have another go at a little shopping. That accomplished, i set out on a smoggy, often crowded like a stadium after a ballgame, walk to xavier jesuit high school to have dinner with two of my dad's old seminary buddies. After I got out of the touristy shopping district, where they sell bags and silk scarves, and into an even busier shopping area, so thick with people I couldn't even choose my own walking pace. Limes, underwear, socks, watches and other basic, non-touristy stuff for sale. We all just surged and moved together for awhile and then I got out in the clear (but not clear air) and walked another ten or fifteen minutes through this busy city... until a guy walked up, flashed a smile and extended a hand. "Hello, Michael!" says a guy who I also immediately recognize, smile and shake with. He's one of the participants from the ImagineNepal workshop. We talk for a moment and then go our separate ways. I walk another twenty or thirty minutes to dinner, smiling and laughing to myself the whole way.
Friday, October 24th, 2003 - distance
Our numbers here are dwindling as some of us begin to make trips out and also some go home. We send them off and are aware of their bodies going, but their flavors linger on in this space. Also, we check in with those who did not make the trip but who have been reporting on our zapchen listserve feelings of being left out. We marvel a bit at the fact that we have been, almost all of us, wrestling with some forms of our own stories about being disconnected or left out. Interesting that we've also had an article turn up here, forwarded from Julie's brother, from the Manchester Guardian that reports that scientists have determined in clinical testing that being snubbed socially is the same as physically stubbing a toe. Emotional and physical pain creating identical brain response in some specific locations. With the speed of contact and communication and change in so many organizations and communities, is there any wonder there is so much suffering and pain? And then there are reports of trauma and death from friends and family here, and those feel quite real, too... even at this distance. I hope that the company I keep from here is felt equally well by those at a distance.
In the meantime, here in Nepal, there is time tonight for dinner out with old/new friends and exploring old old city of Baktipur tomorrow. Sunday through Wednesday is Pokhara and a short couple of days of near-trekking. Thursday resting in KTM. Friday flying home through Frankfurt. Or so the plan for my distant future goes for now.
Wednesday, October 22nd, 2003 - wow
today is last day of the retreat... resting in not knowing and still having everything be okay. a bit more of poking around in kathmandu and some time, i think, to get out into country near pokhara. no hiking for the knee, though. well, maybe a little.
in the afternoons here, all the little monks come over to the lush grass of the guest house courtyard gardens and run all over the place, turning somersaults, climbing the railings, tossing film canisters like balls, and generally doing anything they can think of to show off for our group. also cuddling up and holding hands and sometimes dragging us into the fray. <grin> yesterday i had a little hackysack kicking circle with the girls who clean the guest house. this morning same with some little monks. we played with a little wad of some sort of rubber bands, as they don't have a real hacky sack. i played veeerrryy gingerly, as i don't have a real right knee yet, either!
it's clearer-than-average afternoon here now. i can see the white peaks of the himalayas over the green mountain ridge that rings the ktm valley. guys in the field across the street wielding armful-sized bundles of rice stalks in bright, hot sun... banging and banging them on the ground to get the rice off. looks like an awful lot of work for a bowl of rice, but as long as we have bodies, we must have bowls, i suppose.
net effect of the retreat is a general sense of being quite a bit bigger than when i got here. more space inside and outside. summed up as aaahhh.... as julie says this morning, aaahhh... as a sigh, as a hum, and as a breath that touches everything.
and in the morning paper here today a friend here reads us thomas freidman's new york times column. in it, he says that america used to export hope but now we have turned to exporting fear... so that we are obliged to import the fears of the rest of the world. a bit strange to be reading this from here. and still there is the aaahhh...
Tuesday, October 21st, 2003 - can you imagine?
if you can imagine christmas mass or services mixed with halloween trick-or-treating, you have something of the idea of what a 'tsok' is... a feast and an acceptance of whatever comes your way... we had tsok here yesterday and we all got bags of stuff: candy, fruit, yogurt, chips, eggs, and more... practice was to accept it all and taste it all, without favoring, grabbing or pushing away any of it.
later in the day, a few of us went shopping in downtown kathmandu... if you can imagine the concession stands at a ballgame, mixed with the inside of a shopping mall, mixed with a formula one racing track, mixed with a bumpy mountain road, mixed with a REALLY smoky bar, all shaken not stirred... you will have something of the flavor of driving home in the taxi last night.
quote of the day, from breakfast this morning... it is uncertainty that makes everything possible. (drukchen rinpoche quoted by julie henderson)
Sunday, October 19th, 2003 - bits
Some bits of news from the last few days... the knee is doing better, not right, but better... made a long day out to see some sacred buddhist sites... spectacular views and a bit of delay when one of our four-wheelers sheered off 5 of its 6 lug nuts on the rough mountain road... practice has been a sort of humming into and around cells (and some of our even smaller bits), allowing and inviting body (and all perception with it) to change from the inside out... been watching the play of little monks in the guesthouse garden, running around and turning somersaults (sp?) and also sitting and learning english words from flashcards, and playing with small trucks and other gifts brought by the group... posted today the first MonksAtBairoling/IndividualMonks info for MonksAtBairoling sponsorship program that will be hosted at GlobalChicagoNET?... today is a bit of a rest day, skipping the sites visits iwth the rest of the group to do some resting of the knee and have a slow shopping trip down by the stupa here in boudhanath.
Tuesday, October 14, 2003 – ImagineNepal
Spent Monday working with ImagineNepal in second annual OpenSpaceTechnology conference and workshop day. Notes at ImagineNepal. The knee is much better. While others here are doing Tibetan mantras, mine is “don’t do something stupid… don’t do something stupid… don’t do something stupid… “ as I just want to avoid a quick bolt up the stairs or turning quickly and torquing ankle/knee/hip again.
Not sure if the leg will be strong enough for trekking by the end of the retreat here, but it turns out that trekking is not possible anyway. Yesterday our local guide on such matters informed me that the prices have peaked in the last couple of days… from 1000rs to 2000 to 4000. He says that’s an indication of something ‘happening’. When prodded he adds that some people have come back and reported some ‘unpleasant occurrences’ in the areas where we would usually be doing 7-day treks. He says simply that trekking as planned is ‘not recommended at this time.’
There are still good opportunities to fly into the two main towns up there, check out the scenes there, and make some 1- and 2-day trips in those areas. In the meantime, the last of our group of 30 germans, americans and aussies arrive today. the retreat starts in a few hours at 10am. And we’ll check the sports news tomorrow morning for the cubs report.
monday, october 13th, 2003 - and then grounded
picnic out in the countryside was an all-day affair. the monks were up early and buzzing with excitement... 4am. had more different dishes for 150 or so than i could count and the biggest pot of rice i've ever seen. later in the day joined in a big soccer game between the monks of bairoling and monks of amitabah. all players put 50 rupees in the pot for the winners, about 80 cents USD! turns out i was on the amitabah side. we lost decisively... but later i found out my friends and hosts at bairoling had won, so i really couldn't have lost. my playing was cut short by a bad knee twist which made for an anxious evening and long day of rest, relaxation and lots of healing attention from the folks i'm here retreating with. progress and healing has been stunning really. today is the workshop in OpenSpaceTechnology for the future of Imagine Nepal program here in Kathmandu. GO CUBS! Game 6 Tuesday.
Friday, October 10, 2003 - On The Ground
...mostly what i'm practicing here just now is patience with a shortage of routers out of nepal. finding that all runs a bit faster at 4am. gotta be up that early anyway, almost, for morning puja sitting.
flights over were smooth enough. gorgeous view of nearly full moon and mars(?) over the wing on the way across the atlantic pond. paris was quick, just 24 hours, some cold soaking rain and a couple trips to the eiffel tour, one in rain and one later in the dark to see the whole thing glittering with what must be a few thousand strobe lights. the space under that thing is something i never expected, so massive. really enjoyed all the little spaces of paris... just one cozy little space after another, and spaces inside of spaces, making larger wholes. recognize this as the basis for all kinds of quality of life and notice that i don't find it much in many other places. hiked a few miles through the city with my friend beth on weds morning, plucking up pastries along the way, en route to the airport train.
greeted here in nepal and delivered to the monastery here. the monks all a little bit bigger. same with the holes in the streets. everything seems busier than last year. looking forward to working with imagine nepal folks on monday and hearing more about how it's been in this last year. big end-of-examinations picnic with the monks in the mountains today. the horns and chanting of morning puja is calling now.
Sunday, October 05, 2003 - Practicing in Nepal
Tomorrow I fly out of Chicago for a quick, friendly visit to Paris on the way to Kathmandu, Nepal, where I'll spend the rest of October.
The agenda includes working with the ImagineNepal program in OpenSpaceTechnology, some days of practice retreat with Julie Henderson and the MonksAtBairoling, and a bit of time afterward for trekking about and visiting friends. The OpenSpaceTechnology will be a revisiting and continuation of work we did at Capital College when I was there last year. The retreat is a further exploration of the basis of SomaticOrganization and more. The trekking, my first up-close-and-personal with the Himalayas.
The whole trip will be a practice in pulsation, between self and all, cushion and kathmandu city, monastic retreat and client emails, open space and open heart, personal and professional, practice and play, up and down. Pulsation, that is, as the basis of all life. Connecting everything to everything.
And where there's email, however slow, there is wiki and blog. Because the wiki pages will load faster and easier there, the weblog moves into the wiki for this trip. Not sure at all where this story will take me. Will post there what i can.