we walk past vendors with the popular yellow chrysanthemums and entre the uneven grounds of the pashupatinath temple, a hindu temple of the lord shiva on the bagmati river. as non-hindus we do not enter the temple, but instead briefly explore the area.
below the temple is the arya ghat, a widely used cremation site. what was obviously once a flowing river is dried up this day. boney cattle roam the soggy river bed, and a monkey scrounges for bits of dropped food. they are not the only scroungers though. two young boys are also loading onto an old rusted cart, chunks of burned wood that had been used in the cremations. i don’t know what the boys will use or sell the wood for, but it is obvious that this task is the result of the poverty they live with and in. i look at a skinny, almost hairless dog and wonder about its life. this place is hard to be in…
as we sit on the bank opposite the temple, we witness three cremations at different stages of completion. the fire is mesmerizing and i think about what the mourners of the deceased are thinking as they go through what seems to be an elaborate process of bidding farewell to the fleshly existence of their friend or family member….
nepal is one of the poorer countries in the world, and it is a hard place for me to be. i learn to become “hard”, to ignore the pleading of beggars, to not think about the young men asleep on the pavement that we step over on the way to a restaurant, to act in a way that i think of as rude when confronted by aggressive vendors from the kashmir region. i shall not forget this place. i will keep sharp memories of the dirt and dust, the poverty, the noise and the chaos of the lanes and roads. i will also smile when i think about the buddhist vendors (easily recognizable by their soft manners), the frequent power outages, and when i think about the garden of our guesthouse, a little oasis in a foreign land….
and a little friend we made who lives at the guesthouse… 🙂