Saturday, January 21, 2012

Recovering at the End of the Buddhist Trail in Lumbini

Something to think on
Thanks, in part, to some quality earplugs, Colin slept rather soundly on his snot-filled mattress (it's like a gel bike seat pad), but I had a fitful night of uncontrollable coughing. We finally got up after hitting the snooze for at least an hour and assessed our post-India conditions. I seem to have a severe case of Indian Lung Death, and Colin is suffering from his up close and personal meetings with the Indian pavement. Colin's muscles seized up, bruises appeared, and those ribs are definitely cracked. After a morning filled with hacking and groaning, we made our way, very slowly, across the Buddhist Development Zone and into the Lumbini Bazaar to look for some lunch, more cold medicine, and paracetamol. On the way to the bazaar, we stopped to look at a large group of people waiting for something to appear on an empty stage. The proprietor of our guesthouse said there was some festival today at which the Nepali President would make an appearance, but all we saw was a bunch of security personnel keeping a close eye on the crowds. 

Colin enjoying a bowl of "buff" thanthuk
We continued to the bazaar and found an open air, upstairs restaurant for a lunch of buffalo momos and thanthuk. Momos are Nepali or Tibetan dumplings (like gyoza or potstickers) filled with vegetables, meat, or cheese and either steamed or fried. Thanthuk is a Tibetan soup with thick noodles that are very similar to what is called, “slippery dumplings,” in the southern US. Colin says that everything was absolutely delicious, but unfortunately, with my Lung Death went my sense of taste. The sensation of eating something requiring some teeth was wonderful to me, and I was able to discern a note of mustard (I think) in the accompanying sauce. The momos were so good, we ordered a second plate of them for dessert. After we finished eating, we stopped across the street at the pharmacy for more cold tabs and paracetamol before making the slow amble back to the guesthouse. We cut through the Development Zone again, walking along a pond filled with ducks and herons on one side of the path and grassy field on the other. As we walked, motion in the field caught our eyes, and we spotted three foxes or wolves(?) hanging out, waiting for something to happen. They were beautiful, with very fluffy tails. It is such a nice change to be where you can hear the birds, see some wildlife, and have a moment's peace.

Does anyone else see the humor in the name?
We actually ended up spending three whole days in Lumbini not doing much of anything but recuperating. My head and chest are filled with goo, and I have very little energy. On one of our trips into the bazaar, we bought bottle #2 of cough syrup, having downed the bottle Colin found in Gorakpur. The one I got has guaifenesin in it, so I have high hopes that it will help me expel some phlegm, despite its dubious name- Brica BM (I hope it's not a side effect). Colin's right side took the impact, and his hip and shoulder are particularly sore.

We did make it to the Maha Devi Temple, which is built on the site of Buddha's birth. The temple itself is a modern and not very lovely building covering the excavated remains of old (back to the 3rd century) temples marking the exact spot of his birth. Once we made it through the temple, we strolled the manicured lawns and talked about the trials of the past few weeks. Our time in northern India was so hard, and we both felt so beaten down by the time we got to Nepal, we're having a difficult time leaving it behind us. As we walked, we came to the meditation park, where we sat on a pallet under a large tree and meditated for a while. Scaattered throughout the grounds of the temple are quotations by Buddha, and one in particular resonated with both of us: “Do not dwell in the past, do not dream of the future, concentrate the mind on the present moment.” This is what I thought over, and over, as we sat under that tree. Before we left the grounds, we stopped to watch some Tibetan women at the pool where Buddha's mother bathed before giving birth. They would climb down the steps and sit at the edge, dipping their fingertips into the water and then wetting their faces with it as they prayed. It's been interesting visiting the various Buddhist sites and seeing the differences in worship styles of the many cultures. 

Lumbini was a great place to decompress after our recent time in India.  Our guesthouse was in a tiny village across the Development Zone from the bazaar, so once the sun set, nothing happened.  We sat on the rooftop during the late afternoons and watched the farmers bring in their teams of oxen and the buffaloes, looked out at the fields, and listened to people going about their daily business.  It was a good antidote.

1 comment:

  1. So glad you guys made it there. I was beginning to worry. Sorry for all of your falls and sickness. Sounds like just recouping was what you needed and in a pretty peaceful place at that. Feel better and hang in there. Kimmie