The Temple and the Pool of Gold

Where am I Issue 220 Apr, 2020
Text by Maitrie Lopchan


“More steps to climb?” I complained; ascending more than 500 of them had made my legs tired already and I had to stop to catch my breath before resuming the climb. About half way, the view of Kathmandu was simply amazing, as was watching the monkeys basking in the sun: one stretching his body out while his partner was checking him over for fleas, some climbing the stairs just like us, while yet others were waiting to snatch away food and fruits from their upcoming prey (also us).

I was out of breath when I reached the stupa, and I had forgotten my water bottle, so stood just gulping and taking a rest at the edge where the Kathmandu Valley was visible. “Wow, Kathmandu is massive,” I said. I saw a coconut stand on the right side. I smiled and recalled a memory of my young days. There stood a monocular stand, with an array of people waiting for their turn to look from it and see Dharahara or Bhimsen Tower, and check out other activities going on around the city. I was so excited when I looked through the monocular for the first time and opened my mouth like a goldfish when I saw Dharahara, my brother guiding the lens.

I started going around the stupa and saw bunch of artists drawing, they were scattered here and there, sketching the activities going around them. Maybe it was a college assignment. Tourists could be seen taking pictures of the stupa, and going around, and also checking out some souvenirs to take back home with them. Before moving on to our next stop, we saw some tiny little children and a few seniors and teachers, there for school excursion, or what we used to call “Educational tour.” We passed by them and I could not help but hear a sweet word said by one senior to a younger one: “Don’t let go of my hand, okay?” she said.

We climbed down the stairs from the other side. “Welcome, welcome!” said one of the vendors to the tourists who were in front of us. The vendor tried to get their attention and he was successful. I overheard their conversation. “I don’t have much money on me today,” said the tourist. “It’s only Rs.800” said the seller, pointing. “What is it made of?” asked the tourist. “It’s made out of stone,” was the reply, the last thing I heard as I moved on.

The sound of a small artificial waterfall was becoming louder and some of those ahead of us were taking pictures. We arrived at the pool of gold. “Clink” went a coin before plopping into the water. I saw two small stalls selling coins, so you could throw then into the vessel that was in the middle of the small pond along with a statue of Buddha. I was once told that those who get a coin inside the vessel can make a wish, and I could see a few of the people wishing, their hands joined together. “Wonder what they wished for?” I thought. The small pond was filled with coins, and I wondered how many thousands it would make and how many hundreds more were in the receptacle in the center. I came prepared and had brought coins, though I forgot my water bottle, and I started throwing them, trying my best to land it in the vessel. I have heard tht this place has become very popular, I mean it’s also like a small game, just throw a coin in a container and you get to wish. Families were sharing coins with each other: “Here, take mine,” said a mother handing some of her coins to her son. To my disappointment, I finished 10 one-rupee coins without a single one landing inside. I joined my hands and bowed a little, then grabbed my bag and headed back up, where I made one round of the stupa before descending down the long, steep stairs.