I got down to the stupa just in time for a bit of practice. The sky was slate, and it started to rain not long after I’d finished.
At the coffee shop I ran into Jasmin, who I had seen there before, and from her learned just what I wanted to know. There is an organisation – the Kathmandu Animal Treatment (KAT) Centre – that is working with medical treatment and, most importantly, sterilisation, of the cats and dogs of the Kathmandu streets. This is why the dogs are in so much better state than I saw 20 years ago. But the situation is very difficult, and the animals in areas where the KAT Centre is not active have to suffer a lot. I won’t go into detail here, but if you are any sort of animal lover, please do take a look at their website and to ask yourself if that might be the place to make your next charitable donations. Anyway, the plan is to get the cat-who-lost-her-kittens sterilised, and the kittens too, assuming they survive, in due course.
I discussed this cat business with Hemraj after breakfast, and he agreed. It helped when he realised that “sterilisation” means… “no more kittens!”.
I said goodbye to the staff at the Friendship at lunchtime – photographs were taken all round, and they even insisted on putting ceremonial scarves round my neck! As Sonam, the manager, said to me, their life is made up of “goodbye, goodbye”.
The last bit of shopping produced this:
The glasses are for the sake of scale. Just the trick to cover the water-spout on the side of the house back in Tuscany!
And finally, Shiva’s son drove me in his taxi to the airport. (This Shiva is the irrepressibly happy general-do-everything-guy at the Rokpa Guesthouse, not to be confused with Shiv the hippie tourist guide.) The distance is not long, but traffic in Kathmandu is so dreadful it can take an hour and a half or even more. Today it took about ten minutes.
Isn’t airport security strange? I got picked out to have my luggage looked at. First question: why did they feel it was necessary to actually look at my bundle of Buddhist prayers and practices? What was going to be hidden there, other than a few bits of paper? Second question, even stranger: as I was patted down, the guard obviously noticed something in the breast pocket of my jacket, namely a hard box, maybe 10 cm long, with contents that were also apparently hard, since they rattled around inside it. So why did he not want to know what that was – a knife? Part of a gun? Ammunition? If you want to know, and you can’t guess, mail me!