Shopping for Buddhas

Jeff Greenwald, Author HarperCollins Publishers $9 (165p) ISBN 978-0-06-250358-9
Waist-high snow, a flying lama and the first escalator in Kathmandu are among the many attractions Greenwald experienced during his stays in Nepal. His often flip tone belies a serious purpose, and his account of shopping for just the right statue of Buddha illuminates various aspects of Nepalese culture. He discusses some of the gods and beliefs of Hinduism and proposes his own list of possible bodhisattvas, whom he describes as people who ``recognize . . . their peculiar function'' in life (including Mother Teresa and John Lennon). He learns of the Nepalese concept of perfect art, seeks the advice of a guru who wears Ray-Bans and faces the maneuverings of shopkeepers who cater to foreign buyers. Nor does Greenwald overlook the darker side of this country, now undergoing political upheavals. Nepal has been the site of documented human rights abuses, its royal family exploits the country's resources and may be central to promoting drug trafficking there, foreign aid to this impoverished country is distributed among a small number of people, and valuable works of art from temples are being smuggled out of the country. Greenwald is a contributing editor to SF Magazine. Author tour. (Aug.)
Reviewed on: 06/05/1990
Release date: 06/01/1990
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