Katmandu, Nepal. October 2010
Northeast of the city lies Boudanauth Stupa, a UN World Heritage site and one of the holiest places in Katmandu. The stupa’s massive mandala makes it one of the largest spherical structures in Nepal, dominating the skyline. Thousands of tourists of all faith are drawn to it every year, mixing freely with monks dressed in saffron robes.
At the top of the dome, wanting to take some pictures of the surroundings, I came across a young monk sitting in an alcove. He was totally engrossed in counting a stack of Nepalese bills, oblivious of everything and everyone else around him, including me. I couldn’t pass up the opportunity: here was a monk, someone who eschewed worldly possessions, counting the day’s take. I clicked before he could see me. However, another monk had come upon the scene and observed what I was doing. He said something in Nepalese to the young monk.
The money counter gave me a cross look and wagged his finger. “No permission,” he said.
Too late, I thought, the deed is already done. But, I handed over a couple of U.S dollars that he eagerly took with an outstretched hand and added to his stack.