It’s hard to believe, but this was almost my last day with the Madrasa Discourses summer intensive.
The official last day is July 14, but that’s going to be devoted to discussion and reflection (so basically, classroom stuff), and I don’t really expect that there will be much in the way of blog-worthy material. July 13, on the other hand, was very much blog worthy.
The day began early with what else but filming for an NBC documentary short about what we’ve been doing these last two weeks in Nepal, and the mission of the Madrasa Discourses founder, Professor Moosa. Filming mostly just involved sitting there and pretending to be attentive while Professor Moosa pretended to lecture us, as well as a few shots of us sitting around and pretending to talk to each other.
Hopefully though, some of the footage of me — even if it’s only an elbow — will be used for the actual television spot, which will be aired during the commercial break of one of ND’s upcoming football games this September. It’ll be my elbow/shoulder/half an eyebrow’s fifteen minutes of fame!
For the filming, we went up to the rooftop of the lodge, which, for whatever reason, I’d never actually been to before. And what a shame too, because it was quite a spectacular sight from above. I know I’ve talked extensively about the beautiful mountain views in Nepal — so much so that I’m probably beginning to sound like a broken record — but it’s honestly one of the most beautiful areas I’ve ever seen.
With such beautiful views, and with the end of the program drawing so near, everyone decided it was a great opportunity for group photos.
It’s something of a sad thought, but I guess I’ll probably never see some of these people again. They live in Pakistan, or India, or South Africa, and being realistic, when am I ever going to be able to visit those countries? Or if I ever can, would we even remember each other enough to get together? I made some really fantastic friends over these last two weeks though. If ever there was a group with whom I would want to share two weeks in a foreign country with, it was these guys — even if we’re likely to never meet again.
After filming, it was time for a final group field trip into Kathmandu. This time, we went into Pashupati, a Hindu spiritual site, and Boudhanath, another Buddhist stupa.
Pashupatinath was cool, even if it did suffer a little from “Just Another Ancient Temple” Syndrome, which I’ve mentioned a little before on this blog to describe the rapid exhaustion of the novelty surrounding the old religious buildings in Nepal. It’s fabulous and fascinating and completely different from anything in the US — but it’s pretty similar to a lot of what’s in Nepal. At some point, an ancient temple is just another ancient temple.
Pashupatinath had cremations though, so that was very different. And some naked little boys swimming in the river next to the cremation site. No photos, don’t worry.
While we were at Pashupatinath, one of the Indian guys saw me eyeing one of the marigold flower chains, and he offered to buy me one. I was a little hesitant, since I thought the marigold chains were meant for the Hindus visiting the temple, but he seemed to think it was okay. Maybe I acted a little inappropriately but…they were flower necklaces. I love plants. How was I supposed to refuse wearable plants?
After Pashupatinath, we went to Boudhanath, which, next to Swayambhunath (lots of -aths, huh?), is probably the most recognizable tourist site in Kathmandu. It was also, to my untrained eye, really similar to Swayambhunath (Seriously though — it was another big round structure with a pointy golden Buddha at the top).
Boudhanath was probably the most spectacular of the manmade features I saw in Nepal, simply because it was so massive. Like I said, it was pretty similar to Swayambhunath in terms of architecture, but it felt so much bigger. You could probably jog circles around Boudhanath and get a pretty good workout.
I didn’t do that though — instead, I went into a coffee shop and chilled for a while. It had been a long day, and I was anxious to get off my feet. And I think most people in my group were too, because the coffee shop was a very popular place to go.
Normally, I hate tour groups, but this one hasn’t been so bad. I guess for one, it’s not really a tour group — not in the sense my senior year New York trip was — but also, since literally everyone here is an adult, we’ve been given a lot of freedom to kind of just do whatever we want. Still, that doesn’t mean the schedule didn’t get absolutely overwhelming at times, and even if there was an opportunity to rest, it was usually at the expense of doing something fun. I can’t imagine trying to travel to Kathmandu alone though, without anyone from the area and without being able to speak the language. Honestly, I feel like going with the group of adult male and female South Asians, who were at least slightly familiar with the language and culture of the area, was the best way to go short of actually having a local Nepali friend to show me around.
I have a few more days in Kathmandu still before it’s time to fly home, but it’s just another girl and me traveling alone. Boudhanath was a nice way to close out my time with the whole group, though. Nothing like a massive Buddhist stupa to serve as a backdrop for parting ways with your new Muslim friends.
That’s about it for today. Thanks for reading, and I’ll see you in the next one with more updates on my trip to Nepal. Don’t forget to check me out on Pinterest, Instagram, Facebook, Bloglovin, Twitter, and Tumblr! For business inquiries, shoot me an email at firstname.lastname@example.org!
Skirt: Some market in New York City