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Julien Tempone

Julien Tempone

From 15/08/2010 to 06/11/2010

The first day I arrived in Nepal, I’ll admit I was terrified. I concealed it though, the insanity of Kathmandu traffic, being lost in Thamel and being harassed by hundreds of drug dealers were experiences after all.I had no Idea what the next three months had install for me. I did not even conceive that this was to be one of the most eye opening and goal reaffirming experiences of my life.

I have a great deal to thank VIN for, if not for VIN I would not have met a group of people who have become amazing friends, amongst them a passionate Belgian lawyer, an exceptionally compassionate Canadian social justice teacher, an incredibly warm and friendly English/Bulgarian couple, a Mexican Okrah king and an Aussie akin to me; amongst many others, all of which made my stay so fulfilling.

I thank VIN for this connection, being a stranger in a strange land can be daunting, but under these circumstances fierce friendships are made, and I know that those close to me in Nepal will always mean a lot to me. The things I have experienced… from the nightlife of Kathmandu; tequila rounds and reggae bars, to my Annapurna Trek of the Himalayas; and the amazing quiet and peace of that place, the monsoon rains and tea houses in the hill sides, the goats, the buffaloes, the holy cows, going up a mountain on a motorbike with a monk, canoeing and bathing under waterfalls, sipping incredible coconut smoothies in Pokhara, bungee jumping at 160 meters, Jitpur; being woken at the crack of dawn my a mad rooster, riding upon the roofs of the rural buses through the lush green hills of the Kathmandu outskirts, witnessing the Dashain ritual and the slaughter of the goats, delicious masala tea, addictive chilli dal bhat, countless games of Bagh Chal with Nepali old men, playing soccer with young boys and girls, meditating in Asura cave, and my pilgrimage to the birth place of the Buddha.

I have more to thank VIN for, Palyul Urgen Dorjee Chholing Gumba, my Buddhist Monastery in Pharping – just outside of Kathmandu – became my home in Nepal. It was a place of swaying prayer flags, young monks playing, older monks practicing lama dance, teaching English and playing games with a hundred monk students under a tree in the hills of Pharping, and a sense of peace and serenity that left me awe inspired from my first morning and still makes my smile today, upon my last.

My days consisted of being woken at five by the roaring chant and rolling drums of Puja (morning prayer), running through the beautiful foot hills of Pharping, reading, studying and relaxing in a secluded glade of my own, taking tea in the village with the llamas and walking up to the monastery under a star strewn sky, showering from a bucket, playing Frisbee with laughing young monks, teaching 150 students under a tree in the hills, playing soccer upon a plateau in the forest, becoming ridiculously addicted to Bagh Chal (a Nepali board game) and meditating in the beautifully decorated silent rooms.

These experiences I would trade for nothing, there is nothing now I regret, and these were the best of days in which I really understood the message of Buddhism and Taoism. Be content. Do what comes naturally. Be compassionate. Be loving. Be open to new experiences. Everything passes, so all the more reason to treasure it. I have been all of these things here and have found my experiences to have enriched my life, altered my perspective and strengthened my resolutions and passions in life. Every moment has helped me along my path. Without hesitation, I urge you to go, if you are seeking something, longing for something bizarrely different and exceptional, or if you’re a compassionate soul out to help out; In Hunters words: buy the ticket, take the ride. I’ve gained more from these days than can ever be returned.

Julien Tempone

Monastery Volunteer

15th Aug, 6th Nov

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