The neighborhood of Boudha in Kathmandu, Nepal is over 300 miles away from Tibet, but feels like a direct portal to Lhasa. The streets are filled with Tibetan women wearing elegant chubas, cowboys from Kham wearing their long black hair in upswept braids, and young monks dressed in maroon robes who mix with Newaris and other ethnic Nepalis. Tibetan monasteries dot multiple street corners and the mantra “om mani padme hum” reverberates throughout the main stupa from before sunrise to after sunset.
Sometimes there are days and nights without electricity in Boudha but the residents still fill the streets and the stream of pilgrims who circumambulate the stupa remains steady. The quiet backstreets are filled with pilgrims going about their day; some Tibetan women go to the tailor to have custom dresses called chubas made, others go about buying food with their children in tow. Mostly, people seem to be coming from or going to the stupa to do their circumambulations, their errands only serving as punctuations to their greater devotion and spiritual life.