In the Hood

Spring had arrived and it was a sunny day. Great time for a walk in the neighborhood. I put on my tourist look: shorts, The Exorcist ball-cap my daughter gave me, and my camera with a giant telephoto lens bouncing on my gut that in some cultures would appear as an obvious phlallic display.

One of the first things I noticed was a “weed” growing against our wall. I wondered how tall it would get?

Two years ago this month, this dirt park was filled with make-shift tents when people abandoned their houses after the big earthquake.

My sister and brother. Camp Anza was a WWII mobilization center. You can still see the barracks if you drive down Cypress Avenue in Riverside today.

Really a step-up from where I grew up in Camp Anza (now Riverside, CA). Our ballpark was a corner of the parking lot of a nearby factory. It was only dirt, with a fence backstop. It was also used by the factory workers for softball games that could send hard-hit balls into the toxic waste drain that bordered the field.

Finally after an earthquake, then followed by an economic blockade, construction is in full swing around the valley, including in our neighborhood.

Need a wrench? The window of a hardware store.

 

The next time you complain about your job, think about this poor guy with the load of cane on his back. He probably has the same worries you do. You know, like where is going to sleep tonight and what will he eat, then again, maybe you don’t have those worries.

Here is some trivia for you. What famous movie featured a Lifebuoy quote?

Answer: A Christmas Story – After his mother washes his mouth out with Lifebuoy for swearing, Ralphie dreams that he is blinded and his father cries out, “I told you not to use Lifebuoy!”

Below the min-bus conductor looks for more riders, though I have no idea where he could put one. During the embargo, you would see riders on the roof, no longer though.

Lots of traffic on the road and lots of ways of getting around.

Water tankers are very common as running water is still a pipe dream.

Sometimes it is easy to only see the dust, the pollution and the chaos of life in the valley, but it is also colorful and full of life. Cheers to looking for the later.

My favorite photo of the walk.

 

An Indecent Proposal While Exploring a Tourist Hot Spot

This has been a stay-at-home spring break for us which is easy to do when you live in the middle of a mix of fascinating cultures.

We went shopping in Thamel, the tourist heart of Kathmandu. While Linda bargained with vendors I wandered the streets with my camera. The tourists have returned and the shops were generally busy.

Signs of prosperity

We had lunch at the RoadHouse Pizza where the featured product is baked in a wood oven.

Hot work

On our way back, our driver suggested we stop at a nearby area where a large chariot was being prepared to celebrate the upcoming rains (amongst other things) called Rato Machendranath Jatra. The chariot will be moved to various sacred spots in the city during the next month.

The chariot is that very large “tree-like” structure.

The chariot will be pulled by human power.

Cable service may be disrupted

The yoke of the wagon.

Kids on the chariot. When we were there, no one was climbing up and down the structure. Two years ago, just before the giant earthquake, two people were crushed under the wheels as it was being moved.

While waiting at the intersection a man approached me from behind “Want a massage? Ultimate end, you decided. Great sex.” No, this is not one of those Paul Theroux stories where I will go on to describe in detail a sexual encounter with a prostitute. Nope, not my thing. There are many stories of Nepali girls sold into labor only to end up in prostitution, a sad result of poverty and a lack of respect for humanity. However, I shared the story with someone and they suggested that the guy may have been the masseur, not the pimp! Good point. What a sad life, nothing great about it at all.

Masseur or Pimp?

 

 

An interesting week in Kathmandu


The monkeys have been very bold of late parading about school and on the electrical wires outside of our house. But I’ve always had a fair distance between them and me. That is until this week when I returned to my classroom after lunch to discover two monkeys walking down the hallway on the third floor. I quickly ran into my room to get the iPad to take a picture of them but they were gone. So I slowly walked down the hallway and saw two more out on the window ledge overlooking the Pre-School playground. I think they were eyeing the “monkey bars” No sooner did I snap this shot when another monkey hidden by a pillar starts climbing over the railing just two feet from me! Aaaaaaaa! With my heart pounding I quickly ran back to my room and shut the door. Fortunately the custodian came by to tell me to stay in my room while he shooed the monkeys away! 

Road Block

That evening I searched for 5 rupee bills (5¢) for the morning. The start of the festival Shivaratri began early in the morning with children stretching rope across the roads. In order to pass by you need to pay them some money. They were delighted with the 5 rupees I gave them. I only encountered 2 groups along my way to school. They use the money to buy wood for the bonfires they would light later that night. They sit vigil around the bonfires at the various Shiva temples throughout the town.

Today was a school field trip to one of the Tibetan monasteries near the school. We sat on our cushions on the floor and watched the monks perform traditional dances to send away all the negative energy from the past year to welcome in the new year beginning tomorrow. The dances went on for 2 hours and the kids were all troopers sitting for that long.

The costumes were fascinating with beautiful embroidered brocade and papier mache  masks. We had front row seats in front of some lovely elderly Tibetan women.

It would have been a great week but one thing was missing. My sweetie! He is in Mumbai at a tech conference.

So as Dorothy said to Toto, “We are not in Kansas anymore!”

-Linda

Election Day

Election day in Nepal was a holiday. More than that, the Election Commission decided it was a vehicle free day. The only vehicles on the road were police, emergency, or army.

good day to walk the cows

The road never looked so large

Badminton on the road

No traffic means clear skies

A Journey Through Space and Time

It is about space and time.

After 17 years in one spot, an eternity for global nomads, we have moved to a new country. So much to do, so much to learn, so much to process, and so little time to do it in. Or at least it feels that way.

It has been a big adjustment moving to Nepal. Life literally moves at a different pace, a new rhythm to live by. (Just now the power went out, as if on cue).

We walk 5 minutes to and from work each day. Passing a Kumari shrine, a carpentry shop, one beige cow and its very ancient handler, a construction project on a house that would not pass code in California, at least four dogs, numerous motorcycles, a few cars and vans, all along a path that is not more than 6 shoulder lengths in width and a distance of less than 100 yards. It is pleasant, but it can be a challenge.

We wait for space to clear on our road near the back gate of the school and the Kumari Shrine. One of the trucks is moving goods from the carpenter’s shop.

The road gets ridiculously narrow as it winds past the corner of the school and down to the main road which leads to the school’s entrance. Fortunately we have a key that lets us in the back gate. However, we have had the misfortune of being on that road in a vehicle as another vehicle comes around the corner and the two face-off. It can quickly turn into a scene from “Soylent Green,” which Science Fiction readers will know was based on the book “Make Room” by Harry Harrison. A simple journey can take a long time.

Make Room! Note the car behind the motorbikes and the pedestrians. We backed up.

Another day, and another adventure in space and time in Kathmandu. According to Google Maps, we could have walked for 40 minutes to our director’s house for a mid-term celebration, but it was Friday, it was raining, and I still had my school bags.

So we took the bus with many of the other teachers instead. Did I mention it was Friday, or that it was raining? Plus, it was also the first weekend of Dashain, a Nepali religious festival that like so many cultures involves a lot of shopping. The roads were jammed.

Every inch of the road was filled with metal and humanity.

We had left at 4:30
Lots of good stories were told. Some watched the latest episode of Downton Abbey. We got to know our fellow teachers a little bit better and we were richer for it. At least we had a seat to ourselves. A few inches from us, another bus, balancing precariously between the pavement and drooping shoulder tried to pass us and almost tipped over in slow motion. I got a picture of one of the passengers.
Not blown-up or shot with a telephoto
Space and time were on the side of the passengers….. this time. 
We reached our destination and it was a wonderful party, but as it has been said before, it is the journey, not the destination that will be remembered.