Thursday, 15 October 2009

Joe Simpson - Storms of Silence

I'm currently re-reading some of my fave Joe Simpson books as I ready myself to return to the Himalayas. He really is such a good 'down to earth' writer that I can really relate to. Mixing up epic mountain yarns, some excellent historical interest of where he happens to find himself and hilarous accounts of pub brawls. Someone you could sit down and have a pint with, someone who comes across as real.

I thought i'd quote an excellent passage from his book 'Storms of Silence'.

"The prayer wheels must be passed on the left and spun clockwise. The very action of doing so is both a mark of devotion, an affirmation of faith, and bestows spiritual merit both on the passer-by and by the person who erected the symbol. They affect how you travel through the land. Nothing seems to be done by chance. Shapes and colours, everything bears some significance. On the fabric of the prayer flags and painted mani rocks the colours are also symbolic; green for water, blue for sky, red for rocks, yellow for earth and white for colours. Inside the spinning water-driven prayer wheels and printed on the flags are mani prayers. The wind and water, rain and sun speeds their invocations throughout the world. Even the design of the chortens, or stupas, reflect abstract Buddhist concepts. The square lower plinth represents the earth, the rounded dome is water, and the spire is fire, often in thirteen circular segments to indicate the thirteeen steps to enlightenment. On top is the symbol of wind and sun.
Rocks, trees, streams and springs are believed to be dwelling places of secret spirits. Even the mountains have gods. Each of the twenty-one Sherpa clans has its own mountain or area as its deity. Pumori, Kantaiga and Thamserku are all sacred mountains, as is Chomolungma, the Tibetan name meaning Goddess Mother of the World, or Sagamartha, the Nepalese name meaning Mother of the Universe. It is also and less imprssively known as Mount Everest, named after the Surveyor General of India who never even saw it.
When I arrived at Phakding (Everest Base Camp Trek) I settled into a friendly lodge on the banks of the Dudh Kosi and was again entranced by the sense of mysticism, the exciting feeling that anything could happen. I sat in the sunshine, drinking chang, and admired the display of flowers on the balconies of the lodge. A cooling breeze came up from the icy surge of the nearby river. I knew why I kept coming back, kept saying yes."

This kind of sums up why I too just want to keep going back to the Nepalese Himalaya.

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