Wednesday, October 19, 2011

Nepal 18

One of the legendary spots on the way up to Everest is the Tengboche Monastery. Positioned on a fantastic little saddle ridge featuring distant views of Everest (Tengboche being the only time in 10 nights in plywood hotel rooms on the trail that we had a view of Everest from our window), the monastery could be a notable tourist attraction even in a less distinctive location. Instead, it's here, only accessible by foot, a short day's walk from the nearest place you could conceivably land a plane and several days' walk from the nearest actual airstrip.

We arrived there and had much of the afternoon to kill. We figured at some point we'd need to check out the monastery, and wandered in to find the monks in the middle of prayer, which it turns out happens often but not constantly. Maybe all you students of eastern transcendentalism already know this, but it turns out that the monks at a monastery get together and chant. The head monk, I gather, is leading the chants, and the words change from time to time. The chanting sounds like if you took a 45 RPM record of Muppets songs and then and played it at 33, and then used a finger to randomly speed it up every now and again. And then, all of a sudden, all the monks pick up random musical instruments and make AS MUCH NOISE AS THEY POSSIBLY CAN for a half a minute or so. Then they go back to chanting. It's way more awesome than any singing I have seen at any other religious gathering.

In any case, here's a picture of one of the back-bench monks who was just in front of us, with his crib sheet for words to the latest chants.

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