Three souls at the stupa


She didn’t give it much thought. She turned each wheel with clutched fingers, stiff wrists and pushed her way to the next one with non-cooperative legs that seemed to want to be still. Yet she pursued, 108 times around the sixteen sides of the stupa, blissfully ignoring her body’s counter will. Pushing through, ignoring the pain in her knuckles, the cold on her fingers, the fatigue on her calves from holstering her body upwards every time a wheel was turned. Yet, silently and doubtlessly acquiescing to her faith.


He read on Lonely Planet that the Boudhanath Stupa was a sight not to miss. As a diligent traveler and re-teller of his sight-seeings, he did not hesitate or even question the instruction he was given. Inside, iPad in hand, backpack filled with two full bottled waters, hand sanitizer and prayer beads dangling, he observed. Not sure what was happening, but yet respectfully watching, from a distance seemingly unbridgeable between himself and the hundreds of devoted Buddhists circling the stupa. And in their ignorance of each other, neither tourist nor devotee realize their common ground. For he, too, followed to heart his truth. Lonely Planet’s truth.


No one knows when the dogs first claimed the stupa as their own. They’ve just always been here. Some were bred and raised under the dome of Buddha. Others wandered in accidentally. They’re not all the same size, height or breed. Some look ill. Others, hungry; or just defensive. At night, they claim their turf. They brawl, make love and ruckus under the moon, eat, piss and shit as they wish. At daytime, consciously standing their ground, they scatter their furry bodies over the path of koras, a blunt statement of territorial affirmation. We zigzag around them. We know. They have been here since times unknown. They’re the primordial dogs.