Saturday, 23 February 2008

disappear 1


In his autobiography, Nobel Prize Laureate Sinclair Lewis talked about revisiting the same place: He who has seen one cathedral ten times has seen something; he who has seen ten cathedrals once has seen but little; and he who has spent half an hour in each of the hundred cathedrals has seen nothing at all.” I couldn’t agree more.

Even if you visit the same place over and over again, you will always find something new to explore. You have to see what you missed the first time, see again what you already saw, see in springtime what you saw in summer, in daylight what you saw at night, see the sun shining where you saw the rain falling. You have to go back to the footsteps already taken, to go over them again or add fresh ones beside them.

Returning to old haunts revives memories and stirs new thoughts. Every other year or so, my friends and I have spent at least a week in Kathmandu, Nepal. It’s a city we love to visit, and its treasures are endless.

Coming back to Kathmandu is a way of taking a measure of our lives. When I walk in Durbar Square and look at the Kumari Chowk and Taleju temple during the morning or evening, or walk around the circular square full of praying wheels and see the details of the Boudhanath stupa with which I am so impressed, or enter the magnificent Bhaktapur old city across which I see the statue of King Bhupatindra Malla rising majestically into the air, I feel a sense of renewal. What follows is a reappraisal of what my life has come to mean since my last visit.

I may stop at the Patan museum and study those ancient Buddhist statues, wondering about its meticulous craftsmanship, or think about the wind chime on the inner interior of the museum and try to figure out how it could produce such beautiful melody. It’s almost as if I can at such moments come to grips with some profound knowledge that I have never quite grasped before.

When one visits a place often, one becomes more of an explorer than a traveller.

Twin sisters visiting a Jain temple, Jaisalmer.

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