Kyabje Trulshik Rinpoche's new monastery at Situpaila/Kathmandu, Nepal.
The 5th Shedra East ended a month ago. Afterwards we all dispersed into the four directions. I had planed to travel to Sikkim and then to Bhutan in order to participate in the 2nd event of the Dilgo Khyentse Rinpoche Centennial Celebrations and also to attend a weekend teaching by Sogyal Rinpoche in Bhutan's capital Thimpu. But my destiny was a different one...
Dilgo Khyentse Yangsi Rinpoche with lamas during the celebrations at Shechen, Kathmandu.
After the end of the Shedra I spent a few days in Kathmandu to relax and do the last things that needed to be taken care of. I left the city on the afternoon of April 29th in a night bus to the eastern border town of Karkavitta. Three years ago I had made exactly the same trip, so I thought I knew what was awaiting me. My girlfriend Greta and I entered the bus which was of lesser quality than the one of my first journey, as far as I can remember. In that moment the pre-monsoon weather blessed us with a strong shower of rain. It dripped down onto our seats while the bus was making its way out of the Kathmandu valley. It takes the bus a while to drive down the mountain roads before reaching the flat plains of the Terrai region in the south of Nepal. While the clouds darkened the sky the bus driver thought it would be a good idea to drive down the slippery roads fast and to overtake any possible vehicle. Already then we were feeling pretty anxious, but as there are no other buses going into our direction nor any guest houses to stay in we stayed seated and practised for a safe ride. The night was rough, we caught air from our seats dozens of times! And then, the darkness of the night was just about to give way to the first signs of brightness, I realized something funny was happening to our bus. In the next instant of my consciousness I found myself lying in the bus, realizing we must have crashed! I felt dizzy but fine. We had been sitting on the left side of the bus and it landed on its right side, to our fortune, I guess. I got up quickly and realized I was bleeding from the head somehow. Immediately we gathered the bags we had brought into the bus and left it through the wind shield which had completely shattered. Greta wrapped scarves and a katak which was blessed by Chatral Rinpoche around my head and then tried to find our main bags and organize transport to a hospital. After a few minutes we were in a kind of ambulance that eventually took us to the Neuro Hospital of Nepal's second largest city of Biratnagar. During the ride the driver thought it's important to stop for a pee! With us was a guy whose foot got cut off through the accident! Having arrived at the hospital it took a little while before I got a CT scan and my head got cleaned and stitched. Greta was with me all the time and making sure the doctors took care of me well and paying attention to sanitation.
A hooligan after a fight? A cyborg? An actor with makeup? The first day in the hospital!
In addition to our personal situation the Maoists had to begin another of their (transport) strikes in Nepal. After having abandoned the journey to Sikkim we also had to let go of going to Bhutan for the Khyentse Rinpoche celebrations and the visit of Sogyal Rinpoche. That was sad!
Immediately on that day we received tremendous help in every area by an international network of lamas, family, friends, and institutions. This accident and the situation in the hospital was a great lesson for me. Basically from the first day onwards I turned my mind more inwardly and stopped 'having to do things'. Even though I generally enjoy my activities, often they are governed by this neurotic thinking. I was mainly resting and connected with the Three Jewels and people around me in my heart.
One day, after the doctor had given me his ok, together with my friend Norbu I left the hospital to drive in an ambulance to the police station close to the place where the accident happened in order to get our luggage back. At 5am we got into an ambulance that the hospital's administrator had arranged for us. Because of the strike only ambulances (with injured people!) are allowed on the streets or police vehicles. The police station was supposed to be approx. 2h away from the hospital. Being in Nepal it was not really surprising that the ambulance's gas tank was almost empty when we got into it! The two factors of 'early in the morning' and 'having a transport strike' created the perfect conditions for us to fuel the car! It was only at the fourth gas station that they were willing to provide us, an ambulance with an injured person, with gas! This country is truly crazy! We were expecting to be stopped by Maoists at some point or another, but from that point onwards everything went smoothly! I was practising pretty much the whole journey. Instead of Maoists the greatest threat to our safe drive were the hundreds of goats, dogs and cows that occupied the streets and just didn't give a damn about a car approaching them with 80km/h! The police officers were very friendly and helpful. They hadn't taken anything from our stuff! Without our lamas', sanghas' and friends' support I am sure it wouldn't have been that easy if not impossible at all! I was glad we got the luggage back.
The moment after the crash
We spent more than a week in the hospital. We flew to Kathmandu and continued our trip to Delhi. We stayed at the same hotel as Sogyal Rinpoche, who was happy to see us. He gave us a strong blessing to remove further obstacles. But not only Rinpoche was at the hotel. When arriving on our floor, armed security was guarding the other end of the floor: His Holiness the Dalai Lama was residing there! The hotel is very close to the airport so he was ready for an early morning departure for teachings in the US. Someone had detected his cook and two of his Tibetan bodyguards. Wow! After some inquiry we were told His Holiness would leave at 2am. After a short nap we woke up at 1.45 and went down to the lobby. We waited and waited and finally went up again only to find out he had already left at 1.45am! We missed saying goodbye to him by only a few minutes. What a bummer! We were really sad about not having been able to greet him and offer katas, and also missing the possibility of having His Holiness blowing on my bandaged head, hehe.
Sogyal Rinpoche at Ka Nying Shedrup Ling, Kathmandu
After a long journey I arrived in Hamburg, where I am now resting and recovering. Soon I will make my way once again towards the east, to study Tibetan in Namdroling/India...