I don’t visit Boudha often. But when I do, I only visit the site for work. For a long period of time, I’d blamed it on the commute. It is a hurdle to get to Boudha with the constant traffic and the dust. Sometimes, you could get stuck for an hour in Chabahil, and it’s not good if you are hungry. But, today as I went there, for another work trip, I realized it’s more than just the commute.
As I met A on the Boudha gate, the first thing he told me was he didn’t know why he’d said yes to my Boudha trip proposal. He was all cranky and although I tried to remain cool, I knew, a bit of crankiness was also sipping out of me. I needed to go to Boudha to research on the food culture there. Boudha is popular for being a Tibetan hub with big and small Tibetan monasteries scattered around its Tibetan communities.
So while navigating Boudha and failing, A. confessed that this was the first time he was feeling disturbed when here. This was his sanctuary. He’d told me stories of the times when he used to come here early in the morning to watch people do Kora and calm down. But now, he was getting angrier as the moment passed by. “This isn’t the right time to come to Boudha, it’s either early in the morning or in the evening,” he said. And suddenly it struck me why I don’t visit Boudha often.
To be honest, I can’t navigate Boudha. I feel lost, not knowing where to start or end. It doesn’t have the familiar gallis and chowks. Instead of the familiar brick and stone path, there is pitch and concrete. I don’t even know the locations.
I hate using online maps but if I had to go around the place without one in Boudha, I would keep on going round and round, not reaching my destination. It has happened a couple of times. Once, alone and the other time with Pandey, when we ended up at the main road, after walking for hours searching for the best laphing place. Eventually, we ended up eating Chinese back in the main square. So every time I try to navigate Boudha, I end up getting crankier because of exhaustion and hunger. Because of course, I would fail. And I would fail to navigate Boudha because to properly navigate a locality, I would need at least a proper day out. I need to walk and walk and walk And like A. said (while many others had also told me the same thing before), the afternoon is not the right time to come to Boudha.
But I am not a morning person. I can’t wake up at 4 and come here to experience the serenity the area provides. And I get too worried and anxious to get home in the evening that I don’t visit the place during that time at all. Just wondering whether I would get a bus home and even if I did catch a bus at 5 (which is still an early evening), it would take me at least 2 hours to get home all exhausted, makes me anxious and that just cranks me more.
Of all the time I have been to Boudha, I think it’s just twice I have come back happy. The first time was my first visit to Boudha with Kaka. I remember being all surprised to see a large square inside the alley that I used to pass by as a kid in my school bus. And I loved how the square was surrounded by clustered houses like in a Newar settlement. The last time was the last visit before this. Although I was still worried about getting late, I had informed home about being late and well I was getting dropped home comfortably.
Besides these two, the rest of the time always ended up being exhausted I have for many times, failed to find the place I wanted to go to and ended up going somewhere else. I have returned hungry, after spending half the day in a tiny shop, working. I have returned home angry. I have returned home (or half of it) walking on heels. I have always come back sad, worried and defeated. Mostly defeated. Maybe that’s the reason why I don’t visit Boudha often. Except for work.