At home in Boudhanth
For those readers who have never been here, Boudhanath (or Boudha) is hosting one of the world’s biggest stupa, an amazing monument; blinding white, compact, it contains Buddhist relics and it takes 5 minutes to circumambulate it (“making kora”) —as most local devotees (a mixed crowed of Nepali, Tibetans and even Westerners) use to do daily. It lies about 11 km from the center of Kathmandu.
The neighborhood grew exponentially in the past 30 years so that what used to be a remote place lost in the fields is now a part of Kathmandu city. But even so, I have this strange impression to travel back in time everyday, during my 10 minutes walk to school. I find myself in a medieval Asian village.
I once had a book of drawings depicting ancient times Japanese craftsmen, sitting on the floor, busy with their task, their body folded in a very peculiar pose. In Boudha, as in the whole Kathmandu valley, they still make metal sculpture with a traditional method called ‘repoussé‘. Working directly on a metal (often copper) plate, the craftsman or artist slowly gives volume and shape to it using a variety of small hammers. They sit on the floor of their small atelier completely open to the street. Fully concentrated on their task, smoking, fast hammering. A street dog is warming up from the cold night in the sun. Elder women come home from their morning kora with fresh vegetables from the villagers who sell them at the stupa early morning.
Everyday: the same sultan looking newspaper man on a bicycle, a mother bringing her child to school, this little white home dog busy with his morning duties, a lady burning incense powder in front of her shop, the ’empty man’ trying to warm his heart and his bones (not far from the street dog), a devotee reading prayers aloud on his balcony…
Those and many other attaching figures crossing my way make me feel at home.