Tuesday, January 17, 2012

Pokhara, day 2; Tal Barahi Mandir Lake Temple, Devi's Falls

To my displeasure, it was another misty day in Pokhara.

I could put off my visit to Kathmandu for one more day, but that only leaves a couple days for Kathmandu and a day for Lumbini.

In the morning, I went back down to the lake and then to the Internet cafe. It was just the young guy there working. He joked around with me some, asking if I had any sisters in Canada he could marry. Jokingly, I told him there was one sister who he might like! I think he was serious about wanting to marry her though!

Eventually, Durga showed up and we went down to the lake, a bit further down, where a long wooden boat was ferrying people to the Tal Barahi Mandir, a tiny temple, in the middle of a tiny island, in the middle of the lake. We went inside and offered puja to the shrine, and Durga pressed a tilak made of rice and red tikka power on to her forehead, then did the same to mine.

From the island you could spot the World Peace Pagoda on top of the ridge just on the other side of the lake and looking directly north, I could just make out the faint outline of the Annapurna range, taunting me in the mist.

Afterwards, we took a taxi down to Devi's Falls, not far from the airport. On the way, she called her dad on her cell phone, then offered the phone to me to speak to him. I was really nervous, not sure what he was going to say to me, but he was extremely polite and gracious, welcoming me to his country and hoped that I enjoyed my time with his daughter. His English was perfect, he sounded like a very intelligent, dignified man. I started thinking about what the men at the Internet cafe said about her choosing me, and that I should marry her, and I started imagining meeting her father and living happily ever after in Nepal. It was a pleasant fantasy, but when I looked deep inside, that silent voice told me this wasn't the place of happy-ever-afters, at least not mine.

Devi's Falls is an interesting place, were the Pari Khola stream disappears underground. There's supposed to be an echoing roar, but this time of year the water is low and not very loud. Actually, the stream turns into a gushing river when it rains, but right now but isn't much more than a trickle this long after the monsoon. The path the ancient stream has cut into the rock is very interesting, though. I kept expecting the Fraggles to come bopping out in search of the All-Knowing Trash Heap (the place was unfortunately littered with trash).

Across from the falls in a Hindu temple, the Gupteshwor Mahadev cave, that features a huge stalagmite worshiped by the locals as a Shiva linga. Photography is prohibited in the cave, but in the back is an opening to another cavern which leads to a view of Devi's Falls. There wasn't much to see this time, but during the monsoon, the cavern is flooded right up to the ceiling.

On the way back into town, Durga invited me to her house for tea and to meet her sister and nephew. Her sisters husband wasn't there, but had just come back to Nepal after three years of working in Korea, saving money for his family. It was a very simple house, one large room, that had their two beds, and a small kitchen in the back. There were no chairs so she told me to sit on her bed, which I hesitated to do, not sure if her sister would approve, but her sister told me to sit. Durga went into the kitchen to make tea, and I chatted with her sister. She was very surprised to hear that I lived in Korea and said talked about her husband being back and how it was the first time he'd seen his son who was born just after he left. Durga came back with our tea and sat on the bed next to me and the three of us continued talking until it was dark. Eventually, her sister got up to go to the washroom and I said to Durga that I should head back to the guesthouse but Durga told me I could sleep there. I was really surprised when she said that, and wasn't sure what to say. Of all the things that could have gone through my mind the first thing was, I didn't have my contact lens solution, then, it's too bad I already paid for the guesthouse. I wasn't sure what to think, but I accepted. For better or for worse, her sister had different, most likely wiser, judgement when she came back, and after they spoke quickly back and forth in Nepali a few times (it wasn't difficult to guess what they were discussing), Durga told me her sister said I couldn't stay there. Really, I didn't blame her. They called a taxi for me and told me to be careful getting back in the dark, and Durga told me to call her again in the morning.

I did get back to my room physical intact, but my head was definitely spinning...

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