Almost Home

I like to take the car when I travel to and from Kampala from my home in Arua, almost 500 kilometers away. When alone in the car with the driver I get to see everything and take photos all I want, like this highway in front of me.

The bridge in front of me is the sign I am almost home after a little over six hours in the road. Two more and I will finally be at the comfort of it.

Meantime, I enjoyed watching the clouds in front of me and marvel at the blue skies that welcome me back in the north of Uganda.

The Water Bag

It has been cold in Arua in the past couple of weeks, well okay for over a month now and for someone coming from the tropics its welcome season. I had enough of the hot weather that a little bed weather is all I need to enjoy my weekends in my house.

With the heavy downpour looming I am anticipating a nice soup for dinner or a chilly night covered with a blanket and a nice grilled sandwich while watching marathon movie of John Wick.

The First Temple I Visited When I Was In Nepal

Who would have thought that when I accepted the job in Nepal to support my organization respond the destructions brought by the earthquake in 2015 it would also pave the way for me to visit holy site after holy site … I started a pilgrim without me knowing.

I was happy to meet Nepalese returning from their work abroad, like our driver and many new physical therapists to help in rebuilding Nepal. They are willing to leave their high paying job because they know that their family and country needs them. It is good for us as outsiders to work with them knowing that their intentions are the same as us … to help and support the nation building.

The Monkey Temple

Found the middle of the busy streets of Kathmandu, the Monkey Temple was named because of the abundance of monkey around the hills that joins the pilgrims as they climbed the stairs to venerate their gods.

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Buddha welcomes you to the temple … start your ascent!

In Hindi, it is the Swayambhunath Stupa and temple complex. It is on a hill that can be seen from far if you know where to look. Hindu worship animals and as you already know the “cow” is a “holy cow” to them.

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The view from the top of the hill … overlooking one part of the densely populated city of Kathmandu in the late afternoon as the smog rises up covering the sky

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When you see them in the middle of the streets, you drive around it, or you completely stall the traffic until it moves out of the way, you cannot shoo them away, or you will have the evil eye upon you!

Reading up on Swayambhunat made me feel sad when I saw the destruction around the complex brought on by the devastating 7.2 and 6.8 earthquakes within one month apart in April and May 2015. Most of the buildings, statues, and murals that toppled to the grounds can be said to be over 100 years, and in that jolt, they fell like Lego bricks and nothing could have prevented it.

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Fallen bell

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One of the altar with the Buddha eye in the center

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Prayer bells … you can see the shine caused by the hands of those passing and pray

It is wonderful to see that the spirits of the people didn’t falter, they come in droves and continue life after the destructive earthquake. With the contributions from all over the world – the pilgrims and the devotees had made constructions and reinforcements of the structures possible. The community was able to start rebuilding early.

The photos are some of the devastations I saw when I visited the temple during one of our weekend breaks. There was less and less aftershock by that time, and there are more and more people allowed to visit and worship again in the temple.

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The peace it brings to the pilgrims amidst the rubbles

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More climbing required … the price is at the top of the stairs

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The stairs … along the way you will be welcomed by HIndu gods to guide your way, to the enlightenment

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Constructions commence. The community reinforced the structure to prevent further collapse

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One of the last standing column/stupa that’s reinforced for safety and reconstruction

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One of the stupa that didn’t make it … it was reduced to a stub

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The temple complex with the round bell for everyone to turn as they pass by praying

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One monkey contemplates the outcome of the destruction the earthquake brought to his temple

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Monkeys are part of the life in the temple

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Bells left hanging secured by those huge chains

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Rubbles blocking the way to the other side of the complex

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Cracks in the wall of an old building that houses monks looking after the temple complex

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It all comes down to this … more rubbles

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More structure damage … some of them are condemned to be demolished completely

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Debris everywhere … the red building is an old library and bookstore

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Houses of monks destroyed during the quake

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Piles of rubble from buildings that collapsed during the shake

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One of the stupas and housing complex for the monks

Hooka

What’s with the photo?

One morning we went out to have brunch in one of the restaurants by the pier in Beşiktas. Actually, it was more lunch than breakfast because it was nearing noon when we arrived. But since we’re in Istanbul and a weekend life doesn’t start until midday.

That morning was the day after one friend returned to Turkey after a grueling short mission in Bangladesh. She passed by to unwind and forget the horrors of the Rohingya exodus from Myanmar… she’s a psychologist just so you know.

Being a good friend and an enabler when she said “I like to smoke shisha” I immediately said yes, and we capped our brekky with fruity smoke – apple and blueberry an alternate to real Apple since I don’t usually eat them fresh.😄

The coughing was normal for me since I am not a smoker and when I am attempting to get the thick smokes out, I have to inhale deep and blow slowly. I didn’t manage to look like I knew what I was doing.

Shisha or hooka is a social activity in the Middle East. I only do it with people I know and like to hang out with and it’s not all the time – maybe I do it once or twice a month when I was still living in Turkey. Smoking it is an acquired taste and if you don’t usually smoke you might want to keep it to a minimum and choose the flavor that doesn’t give you headaches like apple, watermelon, and the popular blueberry. or best to not do it at all!

Have a nice day!