This Chariot is Not for Racing!

It started as a normal weekend. A little shopping, getting our haircuts, and a chance visit with friends at a cafe, but it ended with a great discovery. Such is life in Nepal.

In fact this post started in my head as a description of my experience with haircuts in 8 countries around the world but better material was revealed.

Delim, my barber at the Annapurna Hotel does a great job of cutting, followed by a thumping of my head (some call it a massage), trimming my Vulcan eyebrows, and clearing a passage through the brush of my nose. All for only $2.50, not including the relatively large tip of a dollar.

At least a 10x difference from Tony, the big Lebanese barber who by the end of our tenure in Abu Dhabi made house calls.

With Winnie in April 2011

Linda was getting her hair done at the American Club. We usually go our separate ways when doing this except in Malaysia, where our good friend Winnie took care of both of us.

Her brother is Eddie, a blind masseur, who will take care of any tightness, even if it doesn’t exist. Eddie drives a BMW (reading test: look back to the last sentence).

Back to Kathmandu. Linda and I planned a rendezvous at the Himalayan Java Cafe in Thamel. It is a great location above the traffic at the entrance to a part of town filled with travelers. I had trouble getting the free wifi, only because of my inability at spelling mochacafe, “It is not mokacafe, duh!” I had just started my second cup of soy cappuccino when friends from school joined me. Kathmandu may be the capital of a country, but in so many ways it is a small town. Chance encounters with squeals of “Mrs. Willis” are the norm.

When Linda and I completed our rendezvous, we had our lunch at the cafe and then headed by taxi across town to our favorite supermarket in Lalitpur near the edge of the ancient city of Patan. Just before we reached the supermarket, a large crowd had blocked part of the road. We told the taxi to stop and we jumped out.

It was the beginning of the month-long festival of Bunga Dyah Jatra! For a month, the statue of Bunga Dyah will be pulled by rope through the city on a large chariot, built with no nails. Misfortune will befall the city (and the poor person on top of the spire) if the chariot tips.

They were putting the final preparation on the large chariot. Large bundles of rope and branches added weight to the base, but the spire itself supported a man at the very top. People climbed up and down the sides adding branches.

Note the base

Here is a video of what I saw of the construction:

Here’s a link to the Wiki article on the Bunga Dyah Jatra and the concluding ceremony of Bhoto Jatra, which has to do with a farmer’s lost vest! Lots to learn about this fascinating culture.

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