A bookshelf tells volumes

When we first arrived in Abu Dhabi seventeen years ago, there were no bookstores. There was, and still is, “All Prints,” a rambling collection of books, magazines, and stationary. A great place to find a binder, but not a best seller. The closest bookstore was McGrudy’s in Dubai along the Beach Road. A wonderful store with lots of treasures to discover. With a nearby coffee kiosk and ice store, it was a regular part of our Dubai shopping trips. Nowadays you can find many bookstores in Abu Dhabi, including our own branch of McGrudy’s.

There is little wonder that a major part of our shipments to either the US or Nepal this June will be books. Not only do we have the accumulation of 17 years of books collected here, but I still have my copy of “Borror and Delong’s Introduction to the Study of Insects” from my university days. A handy reference when I get those requests “can you identify this?”

“Yes, that’s a bed bug.”

A lot of sifting and sorting coming up: What to toss, what to read, what can’t we give up.

After a Harry Potter Release

The books we can’t give up tell a story. When I enter the home of a new acquaintance, their bookshelf tells volumes. With us, our collection of guide books define our life experiences:  jungles, mountains, England, New Zealand and everything in-between either chronicle our journeys or our desired destinations. As our children sped into adulthood, their authors became ours, a shared family experience going through JK Rowling and George RR Martin. It was fun to see it go the other way too as they too discovered my favorites “A Canticle for Liebowiez”, Asimov and the works of Ray Bradbury. Which of those books will grace our shelves in either California or Nepal? What story will our bookshelf tell our new neighbors and colleagues?

All of this bookshelf nostalgia is being redefined. My digital bookshelf on my iPad is not shared with casual strangers who cross my threshold though I’m sure there’s an app for that. However this book rambling was inspired by the online discovery of a bookstore in Kathmandu called the Quixote’s Cove. Here’s a description from the site:

“The building, in which Quixote’s Cove is located was built in the early 1930s and has a rich history. During the 1930s and 40s, it was used as a catholic church by the Jesuits and was a central but secret convening ground for the Praja Parishad, the first pro-democracy and anti-Rana regime revolutionary party. As a secret gathering ground, the building has witnessed clandestine meetings between some of Nepal’s most prominent political leaders and poets including Ganesh Man Singh and B.P. Koirala along with Martyrs Shukra Raj Shastri and Ganga lal Shrestha. The walls still reverberate with their spirit of freedom and the words of the poet Lekhnath Paudel, who used to recite his poem there regularly, still float in the air. The bookstore shall seek to revive its past in a more public manner and become the convening ground for today’s thinkers and doers.”

No doubt, some new (or old) books from the Quixote’s Cove will grace our bookshelves in the future. Another story to tell.

Bill and Linda take a Circuitous Journey to the Grocery Store

We took a walk to the grocery store via the corniche and parks with lots of photos along the way to capture the experience.

There were lots of paths to choose from, but it was not the destination but the journey we will remember…
from the corniche side walkways,
to the park side playgrounds.
The architectural surprises are always fun to discover 
 from contemporary mosques to Escher-like towers.
In the end we did bring home the groceries.
Here is the complete slide show:

The walk to work

I have noticed that most blogs about expats life include the “walk to work” pictures. Of course that assumes you walk to work (at least when inspired) and that it is interesting.

This morning the weather was wonderful, so I was inspired to take a walk to school. I’ll let the reader judge the interest value of the pictures. Hopefully next year’s photos will be far more exotic.

Looking for the familiar in the exotic

In the last thirty years we have moved from the US, Germany, China, Malaysia, Saudi Arabia and then got stuck in the United Arab Emirates. In fact we have been here in the UAE for so long that this is our first move since we have had internet access! 

Moving from Germany to China, we scoured Foyle’s bookstore in London and found the classic guidebook Nagel’s Encyclopedia Guide of China. We found some National Geographic back issues in California that eventually led us down the Yangtze and to the sky burial rock in Lhasa. There were no traveler’s guides to China back in 1983. 

When we left Malaysia we found lots of guide books in Hong Kong, but most memorable were the books of Paul Therox: The Consul’s File and The Great Railway Bazaar. 

Again guide books were hard to find for Saudi Arabia, but the book “Princess” had just come out. Scary stuff. Living there for four years didn’t change that impression of what we called “the magic kingdom.”

We interview in the UAE for our jobs here. At that time we picked up the book “From Rags to Riches” which chronicled the early growth of Abu Dhabi, but also foreshadowed the growth we have witnessed.


Moving to Kathmandu

We have traveled to Nepal before, not to mentioned that prior to our marriage, Linda lived there for three years. We know it is exotic, polluted, spectacular, and another challenge. Curiously, now that I have unlimited access to the resources of the internet and another pending move, I find myself not researching for the exotic, but the familiar. I know it will be exotic, but what is it like to live there? Where do I get groceries? How do I filter the water? Can I buy meat that I trust? In the past I couldn’t get those answers. Now I can.

Here are some of the great blogs that I found about expat life in Kathmandu:

27°72′N 85°37′E – The O’Sulivans abroad, two teachers from Portland, Oregon. One of the best blogs of expat life anywhere.

Everest and the Toenail – Like us, empty nesters living abroad. The post about the flight from the US, leaving the kids, hit home.

5+ months and counting….

Preparation for the big move. Part 1

Getting ready for the move. Research, Research, Research! 6 months until the move.

On a previous visit to Kathmandu, I noticed that the vegetation was very similar to Southern California, in fact it reminded me a lot of Orange County before it became a bedroom community. What can I grow in my imaginary garden? The food of the Kathmandu valley are highlighted in “A Taste of Kathmandu.”

If I turns out that space is in short supply in our new home, here was an idea for a vertical garden from the WEPCO of Nepal.

Bill the Pincushion

Bill the Pincushion was a practice character in “Minotaur”, a game created for the Mac by Jason Jones. No matter how hard you hit him, he would just keep moving through the maze. Bill the Pincushion takes on a new meaning with the list of shots (and pills) required for our new home in Kathmandu: Td/Tdap, MMR, Polio, Hepatitis B, Hepatitis A, Typhoid, TyphimVi, Rabies, and Japanese encephalitis. Those are required. Meningitis is recommended.