Monday, May 28, 2007
Wednesday, May 23, 2007
all over, perfect squares of red, green, yellow and white mark themselves out against a blue sky. cheap block prints by the millions sending out prayers into the universe. riding on himalayan winds. the almost murmur of prayer flags fluttering in mountain air is a most becalming sound. second only to a pedal type sewing machine.
to get carried away in buddha country is fairly easy. a strong gale, sudden idealism, inexplicable feelings of belonging - the possibilities are infinite. faced with that, some of us weaker souls hang on. desperately to whatever we've known and most importantly - rationalism.
i'm a believer.
Wednesday, May 16, 2007
the drummers are frenzied. black lean arms blur into the still of the night. lamps flicker. incense hangs in the air. hundreds of eyes expectedly dart around. beads of sweat are wiped. and then the sound of a centuries old anklet rings the night. satan himself is in our midst. mephistophilis. quid tu moraris?
Monday, May 14, 2007
a very long time ago, one tigress - standard specimen of the genus tigris, although this one could fly - decided to make the trip. from tibet to bhutan. and carried on her tawny back the precious load of saint padamasambhava or guru rinpoche. and the exact spot she chose to touch down, a 300-nugultrum-cabride away from paro is bhutan's ground zero. druk mecca.
all these centuries later, a more incredible sight does not stand. perilously perched on a 1000 ft tongue of rock, is an 8th century temple founded by guru rinpoche who chased away all the pagan spirits and introduced the way of the buddha.
up in the clouds, bhutan's middle finger to vertigo also traditionally promises the easiest channel straight up to heaven. but taktsang itself is nowhere near an easy climb. from 1000 ft above monks and raptors smirk as you begin a painful ascent. almost immediately all those years of smoking creep up on you.
thermal undies are both a good and a bad idea if you're walking up to heaven. it's cold. sure. but around every bend you break into a sweat. so you strip. and then the sweat freezes on you. ladies and gentlemen. we have a vicious cycle in our midst.
as always sheer human will triumphed over nicotine, impractical dressing and what i suspect were the beginnings of altitude sickness. to present the most spectacular holy place on this planet. gives you a big lump in your throat.
a windswept string of prayer flags arches across to the opposite hill face. in between a wooden bridge hops over a waterfall that plunges onward. giant prayer wheels churn away. a strange beautiful red bird shrills the thin mountain air. oh. oh. oh. heaven is on the near.