Since then, it never escaped the mind that a trip to that place had to be made. Having my earlier deputations to Sites a fair distance away from Lumbini, the trip stayed put on the To-Do list. As luck would have it, early this year, the Organisation deputed me to a project, located not far from Lumbini. Landing at the Bhairahawa Airport, I proceeded to the Site. In fact, thanks to it's proximity to the Holy Land, the Gautama Buddha International Airport is set to become Nepal's second Airport to handle overseas flights.
As they say, "Nearer the church, the farther from God". In this case, it became a literal case. The weekly off I'd avail each Sunday would be spent chillin'. A late start to that day, would include hitting the pool late-morning/early afternoon. A few laps in the water, lazing around in Dihydrogen Monoxide, soaking in the sights. Satiated, I'd return to the room & dial for afternoon food. The rest of the afternoon would be spent in the happy space between awake & not-awake, doing nothing worthwhile. By evening, with the day nearly over, a drive to Butwal would be made, eat Masala Dosa, because some amongst us craved it, catch up on a movie, or park backside on a lounge sofa. कहानी का तात्पर्य यह है की, despite being located just a few hours drive away, Lumbini wasn't still happening.
One Sunday morning, the Hotel Manager called, asking if I wished to go to Sunauli, across the border. They were making arrangements for a wedding later that week, shopping for which needed to done from there. Why not, more so, since he owned a Dominar 400, a bike I had yet to ride, till then. One thing about Nepal is that people there don't seem own a bike fitted with anything less than a 150cc Engine. The Apache, Pulsar, Dominar or a Royal Enfield Bullet are much more visible there. The mountainous terrain may have influenced it. Anyway, hopped on the bike & away we went. En-route, chatting, I mentioned to him of my unfulfilled visit plans. A quick detour had us on the road to Lumbini.
The road is, currently, one long unending stretch of Spinal Chord compressing mess. Riding over it, sitting at the back of a bike, primarily meant to be ridden solo, is a test of your faith & desire to reach destination. Changed seats, began driving. With the International Airport under construction, the roads, too, are planned to have a better, butter-top future. But, today it makes for a back-breaking journey, in quite the literal sense.
Of Lumbini, it has the appearance of a fairly recent Construction. Every Nation, having Buddhist citizens, has built a Monastery there. Buddhists in France too, I learnt, as they have an under-construction Monastery there. Germans, too, have adherents of Lord Buddha, demonstrated by their Monastic presence in Lumbini. The place has a generally neat & tidy upkeep. After driving past many Monasteries, viewing them in passing, we resumed driving to India, for our main job. 50 metres after crossing the Sunauli border, the first Stationary Shop we visited had the Steel Ruler.
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