Friday, January 29, 2010

The One-eyed Yellow Idol

I stopped off in Kathmandu for a few days on my way back from my recent trip to Tibet, the first time I’ve been in the city for years. How things have changed? So many of the beautiful old houses have been torn down and replaced by cement blocks. There used to be farm houses and fields between Bodhinath and the city now its built up all the way. Anyway, my brief stay reminded me of J. Milton Hayes quaint old poem about Kathmandu which my mum used to recite to me with appropriate dramatic facial expressions and hand gestures.

There's a one-eyed yellow idol to the north of Khatmandu,
There's a little marble cross below the town;
There's a broken-hearted woman tends the grave of Mad Carew,
And the Yellow God forever gazes down.
He was known as "Mad Carew"
by the subs at Khatmandu,
He was hotter than they felt inclined to tell;
But for all his foolish pranks,
he was worshipped in the ranks,
And the Colonel's daughter smiled on him as well.
He had loved her all along,
with a passion of the strong,
The fact that she loved him was plain to all.
She was nearly twenty-one
and arrangements had begun
To celebrate her birthday with a ball.
He wrote to ask what present she would like from Mad Carew;
They met next day as he dismissed a squad;
And jestingly she told him then that nothing else would do
But the green eye of the little Yellow God.
On the night before the dance,
Mad Carew seemed in a trance,
And they chaffed him as they puffed at their cigars:
But for once he failed to smile,
and he sat alone awhile,
Then went out into the night beneath the stars.
He returned before the dawn,
with his shirt and tunic torn,
And a gash across his temple dripping red;
He was patched up right away,
and he slept through all the day,
And the Colonel's daughter watched beside his bed.
He woke at last and asked if they could send his tunic through;
She brought it, and he thanked her with a nod;
He bade her search the pocket saying "That's from Mad Carew,"
And she found the little green eye of the god.
She upbraided poor Carew in the way that women do,
Though both her eyes were strangely hot and wet;
But she wouldn't take the stone and Mad Carew was left alone
With the jewel that he'd chanced his life to get.
When the ball was at its height,
on that still and tropic night,
She thought of him and hurried to his room;
As she crossed the barrack square
she could hear the dreamy air
Of a waltz tune softly stealing thro' the gloom.
His door was open wide, with silver moonlight shining through;
The place was wet and slipp'ry where she trod;
An ugly knife lay buried in the heart of Mad Carew,
'Twas the "Vengeance of the Little Yellow God."
There's a one-eyed yellow idol to the north of Khatmandu,
There's a little marble cross below the town;
There's a broken-hearted woman tends the grave of Mad Carew,
And the Yellow God forever gazes down.


Anonymous said...
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Anonymous said...

(Bhante, I had to delete my previous comment for editing as I realised I hadn't read your post properly. For me, this is not out of character.)

It's a shame about Kathmandu, Bhante. To someone who has never been there, the mere name 'Kathmandu' suggests a city of exotic wonderment, filled with mighty pagodas hiding secret wisdom (and quality camping gear).
But of course nothing is permanent - as the Buddha has made clear.
All is flux and nothing endures but change.
But does progress always have to mean greater ugliness?

Buddha said...

"Progress always have to mean Greater Ugliness"...That was nice one...Mushinrosha

Btw when my mom Visitied kathmandu on a Badri Trip ..she was Shocked at the Large Scale Animal Sacrifice for the Local Temple in Nepal..i do not remember the exact Place.
I do not know how the Take Pride in telling that Siddhartha was Born in Nepal , while they Themselves Grossly violate the First Precept.

Shravasti Dhammika said...

Dear Buddha,
I know of no Nepalese Buddhist custom that requires animal sacrifice. However,animal sacrifice still plays an important part in Hindu pujas. Have a look at
The Rana government half-heartedly outlawed human sacrifice at the end of the 19th century, mainly to please the British, but it continued well into the 1940’s and has still not entirely died out.