Friday, September 4, 2009

Claire Danes, Communism, the God who Feasts on the Sun and Moon, Barchester Towers and Kathmandu

I went to Nepal for about a week to renew my India visa. After dropping off the application on Thursday, I had until Wednesday, and wanting to get out of Kathmandu proper, I took to the ridge around the valley. Kathmandu basically sits in a valley. There's Kathmandu, Patan and Bhaktapur -- the ancient capital. But just a matter of kilometers away is country life. Since I'm condemned to Delhi, i was looking for a more rustic experience, so I fled for the foothills. This picture is the view from the ridge right over the Kathmandu Valley.

Two sisters. I think the elder looks a little like a young Claire Danes. But I am always finding the celebrity equivalent of the people I meet. Just today in Delhi I met a man who bore a striking resemblance to John Malkovitch.

A no-good gang of kite-flying goons, laying waste to the countryside in pursuit of rupees and pens. Notice the one boy's t-shirt.

Anthony Trollope's Barchester Towers, a mammoth of Victorian fiction. One of my favorite sentences: Wit is the outward mental casing of the man, and has no more to do with the inner mind of thought and feelings than have the rich brocaded garments of the priest at the altar with the asceticism of the anchorite below them, whose skin is tormented with sackcloth, and whose body is half flayed with rods.

This house quite literally sprouted.

A half-day's walk too me to Changu Nayaran, the second-oldest temple in Nepal. Here the sun is setting over the the pagoda.

This is the underside of the main structure within Changu Nayaran. It's unusual for the strong colors, and the animistic chandelier.

A tender moment -- a shepherd with her baby goat.

And a boy with his pup.

And me with my pup.

A moss-covered stupa in Thamel, a subset of Kathmandu.

A hartal, or protest -- I believe for the Communist party.

I bought a few thangkas, or Tibetan scroll paintings, from my friend here, Sumon. He gave me a good deal, I hope.

An example. This one is a kalachakra mandala -- behind it is complex Buddhist philosophy. Basically it represents the enlightened person, along with the four cardinal directions and the five essential elements. But simply as a geometric design it's a worthy specimen.

Rahula, variously the God of Planets, a fierce incarnation of Shiva, the bringer of disease, the defeater of the Nagas (snakes), or the swallower of the Sun and Moon during eclipses. This kind of black thangka became popular in Tibet as recently as the 16th century. Notice Rahula's nine heads, each one representing a psychological state of mind.

1 comment:

Dave Johnson said...

Beautiful shots Steve. You'll have quite a collection in your life time. And I like the headlamp pic- looks like you have a blowtorch on. You should be able to live on sales of your imported goods for a while.