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We've been named as a official selection in the Southern Circuit of Filmmakers Tour, March 17-24.

Shows are in Hapeville, GA 3/17, Madison, GA 3/20, Orangeburg, SC 3/22, Gainsville, GA 3/23, and Manteo, NC 3/24.
Learn more by going to the SouthArts blog.

View the theatrical trailer for A Gift for the Village

Tuesday, July 27, 2010

from Jane, July 27

Hi Friends, Yesterday was my 52nd birthday, and our team spent it in great places. Our dear friend Sunil, whom I met as a driver for The Kathmandu Guest House 15 years ago (who now counts as family, and who has been to our homes in Virginia, and who has welcomed us into his home more times than is conscienable) took us out of the congestion and into the countryside.

The Kathmandu Valley is shaped like a circle, twenty-five miles in diameter, ringed by the Himalayas. On some edges of the valley there is still a sense of clean air, pastoral green, and wildlife. We went to those greener places.

We started in Patan, a former kingdom unto itself, with possibly the richest collection of wood and sundried brick pagodas and ornate resplendent Hindu and Buddhist temples in the Valley. We saw the Temple of the Thousand Buddhas, temples to preservers and destroyers and creators, temples to rare forms of certain gods and goddesses, temples so old that their central stone images--having been touched so much over the centuries--are soft illegible stone forms, worn down like fading sandcastles. We saw tables and tables of split coconuts, red hibiscus flowers, marigolds, neem leaves, and sequined gauze napkins, offerings to the images.

In the shops, we saw some of the best bronze statues in the world, and small exquisite Buddhas carved with the help of the artists' magnifying glasses into the spines of conch shells. We saw crystal Padmasambhavas and crystal phurbus, studded with emeralds and raw rubies.

We visited an old village, Bungamati, a sleepy two-street settlement which is a carver's village. I bought a sublime camphorwood Buddha, smelling like eucalyptus and peppermint all at once. Pema and her husband Tenjin Serap Thakuri found us--thanks to our friends' cell phones and Tenjin's motorcycle--and she presented me with a red birthday blessing scarf, a wooden sugarbowl, and a bronze protector Buddha. Hand in hand, I walked with Pema, past the watertank where the water buffalo were being allowed to bathe and dally; past the small clusters of mallards, past the old women with their earthen feet crossed at the ankle, past the medieval brick homes with their huge braids of red chilies and garlic hanging Rapunzel-fashion.

We drive on to Chobar Gorge, where Manjushri's sword--in mythological time--cut the earth, and the Kathmandu Valley, having once been a lake full of Nagas, drained.

We visited many amazing places, like the hilltop village of Kirtipur, where the fierce god Bhairav is worshiped in his tiger form, Singhabhairava. Dozens of cobwebbed buffalo skulls hung on the old mural walls there, with ghee-gooey bronze bells in huge metal snarls, and weapons in the multiple hands of all the wooden hipshot gods and goddesses on the second- and third-level pagoda temple struts: each weapon, a way to cut your own ego, to remove your mind from old habits of self-worship and other forms of illusion that lead to our old friends, sorrow, anxiety, and confusion. I for one need the whole arsenal.

Back at the Guest House, I had a message from the Cultural Affairs Officer for the American Ambassador here in Kathmandu. The Ambassador requested that I write a brief biography of Tsampa Ngawang, the amazing individual in the painting I began in 2001, which became the ostensible Gift for the Village. The Ambassador also requested an early copy of our documentary, so that he could tailor his remarks on the evening of the 31st, when we attend an event at his private home, in honor of our film. A runner from the American Embassy picked up A Gift for the Village this morning. I was told I will be asked to speak about our project, to forty assembled dignitaries and guests. What an honor, to have our film requested by the Ambassador! As another honor, the Ambassador has also extended airplane tickets to Tsampa from Jomsom to Kathmandu and back so that he and his daughter Lhakpa Dhoma can also attend the film event at his home. So Amchi Tsampa flies to town today.

Thanks for my birthday wishes, from my old friend Waruna, in the hills of Sri Lanka, and from my children, and from such great friends. Much love from Kathmandu, Jane

2 comments:

Barbara said...

Happy Birthday....a little late...
Everything is fine and will send you an email as soon as it is working again.
Barbara

Tammy said...

Happy Happy Belated Birthday!

-The Veit Clan