Temple Temple Temple – 29 April 2017

Eva Sifis

Mmm, what to write? Do I speak about the 10 Buddhist temples visited, each blurring into the next. Do i speak about the large compound, 4×2.5kms square, vegetated as it was thousands of years ago, with temples built by nations all around the world in a conflagration of Buddhist and Hindu honouring.
This number of 10 including the 2 I sat out as the fatigue induced by the dense 33^ heat sent my head (still recovering from the fall in Kathmandu) into a fug of pain and nonsense.
Whilst sitting in the tuk-tuk, hired for the day, waiting for Mum and Mahesh, i bantered in gestures and singular words, not sure I was understood, but laughing and then wilting on call anyway, with the 3 drivers assembled around me.
I showed them pictures on my phone. Of my scarified face post Kathmandu fall, of my canine friend Bailey on the St Kilda beach near my home in Melbourne, of sunset at Brighton beach in Adelaide. As people living in a land locked land who will likely never see the sea, they were shocked, they were impressed.
They tried to share with me snippets of their own lives. My driver told me in few words of his age, 56, of his children, 7, of his daughters, 6, this last point with a fair note of chagrin I can understand for even though women do most of the work in this land, they are not valued at all and come complete with the need to supply a dowry to marry them away.
Imagining his reality, an older man, working long, lowly paid days that, even though he has a speccy tuk-tuk, with modern features such as a solar-powered back up motor, has no guarantee of customers. He was paid 1,150 rupees for the day (about $15). I cannot imagine having to come up with 6 dowries on that and have to support a family of 9 to boot.
I gave him a tip/gift at the end of the day for he took it upon himself to care and drove a long way to the main road and back to save me the trouble of walking a bridge in the heat of the day. He dropped me near the gate leading to Buddha’s birthplace where I joined the others.
That’s right. I saw and paid homage to the precise spot where the Buddha was born today, along with hundreds of other pilgrims. As the token foreigners there, we were either smiled at sweetly or blatantly stared at. It was quite disconcerting though being approached by an Indian woman at our exit as I waited for Mum who was bringing my shoes to me (I had reached melt down stage and could not walk on the bricks, ablaze with heat) was unexpected. She seemed enthralled and when Mum approached, pulled out her phone for a photo to be taken of the three of us. She looked longingly and explained she had no mother. Touching to say the least.
I was very grateful to be able to retreat to the room at the hotel to while away the rest of the day and here I sit now, wondering what our last week will bring.