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What eyes. They hit me like a laser across the temple. I have the photograph. The instant Dorje and I set eyes on each other. It’s an electric picture. His eyes bore into you. They say everything. They’re like a tiger that’s seen dinner.

 Dorje was a monk. He was a major monk. He was always in a hurry. A small, wiry man, my monk mate barely reached my shoulder but I never once thought he was smaller. He was a most remarkable man. Still is.

Just a beginning. There’s a story here.


Boudhanath hits you like a golden gong.  If you have ears to hear and a heart to feel the reverberations stay with you for hours. Go at sunset. Walk in, stop for a minute and look straight ahead. Framed, like a giant Breughel painting, is a scene you won’t forget; a flood of people walking in a circle – a solid wall of pilgrims, locals, monks, monks and more monks heading clockwise with great determination.   

For the stupafied I’d better explain.    

‘…Boudhanath is one of the holiest Buddhist sites in Kathmandu, Nepal. Located about 11 km from the center and northeastern outskirts of Kathmandu, the stupa’s massive mandala makes it one of the largest spherical stupas in Nepal. The Buddhist stupa dominates the skyline. The ancient Stupa is one of the largest in the world. The influx of large populations of Tibetan refugees from China has seen the construction of over 50 Tibetan Gompas (Monasteries) around Boudhanath. As of 1979, Boudhanath is a UNESCO World Heritage Site…’    



‘We’re on a road to nowhere   

Come on inside…’   

Take a very big lotus. Stick it in the middle of a circle. Squash it flat. Take a very big champagne glass and up-end it. Bung it on the lotus. Paint the glass white. Turn that lotus into concrete, make the wine glass solid brick. Break off the upended base. Take a square children’s building block – jam it down the stem till it meets the bowl. Cover with gold. Paint two huge eyes on every side. Take a golden stepped pyramid, stretch it and jam it down on top of the block – then leave your stupa to settle for, let’s say, five hundred years.   

Now comes the best part. Get one hundred long strings of prayer flags, tie ‘em at the tip of the stem – then arrange them right around the circle, so they touch the edge of your lotus leaves.   

Around your stupa, at the base, place a million prayer wheels. Watch as the faithful circle your creation, sunrise, sunset, every day, every month, every year. Round and round, for ever – round and round, the great wind of pilgrimage, round and round – you, me, it; we’re nothing, just atoms drawn around this gold and white thing in the circle, this monumental finger, pointing at the sky.   

‘We’re on a road to nowhere…’   

That Nihilist turn of phrase always appealed to me – but, in my Western way, I’d assumed that all roads led somewhere. Sixty years of life has proved otherwise. There are a lot of dead ends.   

But we travel because we must, stumble forward through the gloom. Why waste time getting anywhere? Best to wander round and round hoping for a blessing, round and round, always circling, hoping for a glimpse, round and round, round and round, looking for the way in.   

Never gonna find it. Never gonna get there.   

Keep circling, Dog.   



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