Saturday, June 30, 2007

Hello All,
Lots has happened since the last post. I have now moved to Pokhara which is in central nepal and it is so much nicer. Much like a village though it is considered a city. And my god we arte at the base of the Himalayas, the Annapurna Range to be exact completely astounding. When i go to work at seven in the morning i am just accosted with this majestic beauty, and itr is so unassuming too. I walk this dirt road to the orphanage i worek at now and theres lush rolling hills, cows and cowshit everywhere as well as yaks. Thenm you look up and the clouds are at the base of the hills then these enourmous white mountains tower over you, very unreal. Anyways, very much enjoy Poklhara's village like feel, and when goiung along the road nowall i have to look out for are the yaks, cows and suicidal chickens that seem to periodically bash themseves into my wheels. Oh also the leeches, they are a bit frighteningfg. I a not kidding when i say that they run at you to leech onwhen it rains as it oftewn does here, i see then running towards my wheels, climbing then then trying to latch on, quite disconcerting. But i was told to take up smoking to burn them off w the tobacco, but i have settle with carrying around chewing tobacco. I work with another volunteer, Nikki, from England who is absolutely lovely. I really adore her and it seems as if we haave known each other for ages. Though i am faced with the age old problem of everyone referring to her and believing that she is my caretaker. People constantly ask her what kind of food\tea i like or want, if i need to go to the toilet, if i,m hot/tired/upset/ able to pee on my own/ can talk/etc etc. But at this point in life, i am too trired, too warn out, too hot and am too preoccupied with taking care of myselfd and working to really give a flying fuck. Though we look after each other, she helps me get in places and i go on 'dates' with nepali men that are a little too foeward, so i ward them off her,
Which reminds me, Nepali men are probably , this is very much generalizing, most irritating group of people i have ever known. Its almost indescribable what is so frustrating and insipid about them but just the fact that when i am reading a book outside, tey literally sit down beside me and stare at me. By the end of one chapter i accumulate at least 3 or 4. Plus it seems there is always alterior motives behind everything, plus they have noproblem driving my wheelchair without asking. The other day this abnoxious guy kewpt driving the chair whilst i was reading ad i kept slap[ping his hand saying 'no garne' (dont do that) and finally i gave him a huge slap in the face, far stronger than i had wanteed but it sort of stunned him and he went off.
Well, i am working with Nikki andl 27 kids, and i have finally questioned why exactly i am working with kids, not that i dont love them, just that i defenently will not be pursuing anything with kids later on. But i suppose this is where help is most needed. The kids at the orphanage i work at are all Tibetan, fromn a region called Upper Mustang. This region is so facinating because it liuterally isd an adjunct to tibet and is so so remote and desolate. the nepali gov, makes tourists pay at least 75 $ a day too visit because its quite dangerous and remote. Supposedly they even have their own kiing and queen, and really interesting fact is that when the elder brother marrys a woman shwe marries all the brothers in the family, different eh? The kidsa are rascals and are really wonderful but a very obvious hard life. The home is run by this darling monk, i love him to death, you feel the urge to just hug hi, when you meet him. I work 7-9 in the am and then i work at the managers office writing english brochures and info etc, then work from from 4-8 in the orphanage, not bad. Saturdays are holidays for the kids so today we took all of them to the lake which was lovely, i turned into a lobster though! The kids loved to swim and collect foish with their scarves, plus one mudhole really attracted them and it was quite hilarious to see 27 llttle naked children covered from head to toe ibn mud running accross the fields.

Still difficult but it is worth it, will be happy to come home and sure i will appreciate te struggle.
So happy to hear from you Chris your words are always so touching and good for the ego! Do hope to see you very soon!
Uncle Nicky!!! See your bored enough in meadow view (?) to check my blog!! just joking really really happy to hear from you, Yes i have not seen one handicapped person so maybe thats why i seem to be a rolling show as well as an ATM!;)
Miss Emma u got my email of secrets so that i hope will kep u occupied for a while!
love you all and please write, i am horrible at responsding but know i really really love notes.

Thursday, June 21, 2007

I remember this movie i watched when i was a kid 'Matilda' i believe? Anyway i feel like im turning into the evil headmistress Ms Hunchable(??) with my little children. The school disipline is much like if not worse than Peru, I was handed a long bamboo stick the other day and they told me to beat them if they got unruly. no worries the kids are not abused in the orphanage and are treated with love as far as the resources are available. But anyway, none of you would recognize me in under the tin cowshed roof where i teach, yelling at the kids, looking at them with that dominating look we all get from our mothers. So far its worked, this is not saying that i've lost my kindness :) but i have got surprisingly tough. Probably could be said irritable, my dear Emma you have competition now i believe :). But the bamboo stick was thrown away at the dismay of the orphanage aamaa (mother). My little collection of children is increasing from the origional 13 to now 17, some of the orphans bum from village to village living from hand to mouyth, working on locals sympathy, so when thewyv pass through thisa orphanage i get to harrangue them for a few days. Its so strange to see these 6 year old vagabonds, witrh a sac over their shoulder and knowing far too much of the world. My hours are irreguylar since i teach the whole day when the 'bandhs' are on in k'du and only after school when school opens.

I live in a good hostel thouygh there is a bloody korean nightclub above which loves to have kareoke a frikin night. The hostel is run solely by young men which is funny because supposedly they have never seen an american girl travel alone before and love to play with my chair. Their good guys and they usually buy me drinks after work, much needed, and talk about the japanese girls their in love with! Its very entertaining, plus one is madly in love with one of my friends from soka that lives here, so whenever i go out witrh her i try to invite him along.

thamel where i live is the tourist area so quite expensivce to eat, but i was extremerly happy to find a very local resturtaunt near me, it was a bit worriesome when one of the guys brought me there though. He is completely trustworthy but this resturaunt is down a dark sketchy ally filled with cannebis fumes, quite an adventure. But i can get a mountain of good spicy dal bhat with chicken for 60 ruppees ( 90 cents ) rather than the pasta or western food for 300.

Anyway, i am safe and doing alright for the moment, no worries really, ill talk to you all soon.

more updates soon,


Tuesday, June 19, 2007

I've been thinking lately, for the most part because i've been quite ill with either a horrible cold or food poisioning, and if i would ever have a word that can describe the people of nepal it would be 'resignation.' Knowing full well that this is a horrendous generalization and merely comning from a foriegner only having been here 20 days. However i think within my delerium that this is my greatest struggle here. I only thoughjt of this while reading the autobiography of Che Guevera, a necessity of any college student i must say, and realizing the percieved passion and fire lacking here for social injustice. While i do not advocate nepali's running into the streets and starting a social revolution, for even with all the glory the contant revolutions within Latin America recieve it is quite obvious the latin American societies do a full circle revolutionizing the revolution, I feel theres this apathy within daily life. I was going to be sent to teach english in this very rural village up in the Himalyas next week however the local 'bandh's have closed the schools and everything else for 5 weeks!! Five weeks these children are not getting educated, not to mention the other various bloody bandh s during the year!! Remarkable, no f#$% wonder literacy level is so low. i apologise but seriously...

Also the books i teach the children at the orphanage out of are incorrect and the assignments the english teachers send home are completely wrong. A few days ago one of the girls Jennishaa brought home a notebook having her copy the word 'aeroplent.' Don't know about anyone else but i've never heard of the word, and of course because children have innate faith in their teachers and books, they are ever so reluctant to make the corrections i point out. Though we are making progress......slowly but surely.

Today i watched idly, before i began Che's biography and realized that i was sliding into the habit of Nepali lethargy, a cow. Now i know this really souds like im off my rocker but bear with me, the cannabis fumes have not gotten to me yet. This cow was plodding away down the middle of this highway, very slowly, very malnurished and i even saw a lunitic motorcyclist hit it, yet it kept plodding along. Without being horribly arrogant or niave or whatever you may call me, i feel this is quite symbolic of this country. Just slowly going down this global highway mistreated, submissive, starved, not going to kick or scream, yet also in a strange way resiliant. People are determined to live here, whatever standard of living they may accept. It drives me so f#(&%^ mad though, i must say.

Upon my reinvigoration by the latin american 'fire,' either that or my stomache has purged itself of any apathy or self-pity i have left, I am going trekking daily with Carga's wife in the kathmandu Valley. I decided that for the first time i really dislike the place im at so until i leave for Pokhara, a smaller city in trhe mounbtains, next week, i am going to explore! i havbe always prefered nature to cities so i am going to explore nepals notorious wild.

Like it was said in the beginning i am here because i need to learn somthing, however painful the lesson may be. At this juncture i have to think that i need to really understand the meaning to 'you make your own life and your happiness,' So frustration and self- pity which for me often leads to physical implosion, have led me to anger ultimately lighting a fire unfder my ass. Which believe me was dearly needed.

rest assured though, i know many are thinking this, i do know when the line of 'is it worth it?" has been crossed. And in fact i'm thinking of returning home early August insatead of late.

Thank you so much Ariana, i love you too and kiss Dante for me, you'll get used to the smell :)!

And Elany thank you for your antedotes, while i have not encountered a caste system here i know i would in india, pleas keep writing!

And Betty and Russ, sorry to hear of the heat, its monsoon season here so its blistering hot and it rains!!!!!! Glad you two are well!

much love namaste

Thursday, June 14, 2007

Very very tired so just a forewarning that this entry may not be quite as lucid, not like any of them really are. Recently i have been working twelve hour days, not including the walk to and home from the orphanage. No worries this is changing today, i am only going to work a couple hours in the morning, from 6 till 10, otherwise I'm going to be in a bit of a state. The kids are wonderful and are learning quickly, they are really wonderful to be with but I'm having a very hard time with the director and adults constantly asking for money. I'm not sure3 why it bothers me so much but its constant harassment and always dropping hints like we really need a TV telephone clothes, mobiles. Plus now the neighbors are coming over to the orphanage with their children saying they don't have any money to send their children to school. Its strange that now its such constant harassment i feel like not giving any money, not that i can afford it anyways. But I'm giving money to my program director to buy rice and dal for them forthis month, this way I'm not giving money directly to them and yet helping. i apologise if this seems like a depressing post but Kathmandu is definitely not my favorite place, its actually quite depressing. The people seem to have this desperation that i know is valid but so hard to be around when u are looked at like a rolling ATM. It sounds horrible that i am saying this since this was the reason i came, but i was expecting the culture naively to be similar to Latin America, which i felt connected to.Don't get me wrong people here are wonderfully helpful and kind, it just thew negative aspects are a bit overwhelming. Kathmandu is very polluted and as said before very much a city of rubble and broken down colonial era houses.
My hostel is wonderful and they built a ramp for me to get in an out since there is no other accessible hostel which is under 300 rupees. I have met up with my friend Yuko from Soka that lives here, we had a nice time out with her friends, all off the elite diplomat class. I'm meeting other volunteers slowly, but its still a bit lonely, all well, i welcome the experiences good and bad!!!!!!
more later now malaai nindraa lagkyo (I'm sleepy!)
PS Thank you elany, your comments are wonderful i love to hear from you and your experiences here!! Love to hear from everyone!!

Sunday, June 10, 2007

Namaste everyone!!

This week has been so incredibly hectic and frustrating though exciting all the same. I have now moved into a hostel where I'm living on my own near the tourist district of Thamel. With all the patience o could conjure up, i still could not stand having to be dependent upon someone to carry me up the three flights of stairs, and not being able to go out whenever i want. even though its a bit lonely, it seems my independence trumps all. Plus there's a lot more to do and see here. The hostel is definitely rugged but nice, i have running water and electricity most of the tome. Plus i only have to walk (roll) half hour to the orphanage where I'm working. This is quite nice since i go there at 6 in the morning till 10 when they go to school and then come back bout 6 till 10 in the evening. Long days but the kids are really good. There's only about 12 which is quite enough, but easily manageable, plus they are remarkably well far...

One boy Soloman is quite brilliant, I've been teaching English to most of them and he picks it up very well. He's also taken a liking to teaching me Nepali which is quite needed.

To be very honest its very hard here, very very rugged. I definitely feel like one of those stereotypical volunteers who turn into these unshaven, dreadlock wearing people, who sit on the edge of the mountain chanting OM. No worries not quite there yet. The roads are the most horrible kind of combination of mud, gravel, rock and broken cement, of which i sincerely hope my chair survives. The toilets are worse than Peru because its a novelty to find a western toilet, they are all squat toilets which i have to do acrobats to aim in, but getting used to it. Plus they all have open facets on linoleum so the floor is always flooded, making it amazingly slippery.
The Nepali culture is very unique, at times it drive me insane but all to do with culture shock i suppose. Due to high unemployment and poverty levels there is a lot of loitering done by men, and i say men because the women work at least 19 hour days holding a job plus caring for the children household and what not. But they unabashedly stare at me, its quite funny when i actually stop traffic, with the people staring .
The other strange thing is 'bandh's which close down the entire city, schools, shops, offices and traffic. A volunteer couple from Sweden told be that when they were teaching in a village, 5 out of the 6 weeks they were there the schools were closed because of 'bandh's.' Usually they are organized by marginalized groups such as the native tribes, but like Badri jokingly said, i could announce a 'bandh' for marginalized disabled! All i need was a press conference and to burn a few tires and cars and effigy's in the middle of the city. But anyway i don't mind bandh's since i can ride on the road without traffic.
Anyways more later and i will post pics as soon as i can, sorry Melissa!
And Michelle i am deeply deeply saddened by your rejection.............
Jack, loved to hear from you and Doreen, i think of you often!!!

Monday, June 04, 2007


Hope everyone is well!! Arrived in Katmandu a few days ago, forgive me for the time lapse, i have composed this thing over three days because the electricity keeps going out. Like Sovahn said Katmandu is like stepping into history, there's more carts and bikes on the road than cars yet because of the new ridiculous investments in vehicles made by the King there are extraordinarily expensive cars like Rolls Royces going around the cows and yaks in the road. There's open fires everywhere and people cooking Dal Baht, which is quite delicious by the way, many of the roads are lined with tents and makeshift homes. unlike in Lima the shantytown is actually within the city and their is only a few pockets of wealthy areas, mostly around the Palace and Prime ministers home. The only way to really describe Kathmandu is that the rural villagers and farmers have basically brought their farm to the city in the mists of dilapidated post-colonial homes. Right now i look out my window to a good size maize, bean and potato patch and am woken up at 5 every morning to the neighbors rooster. Scared the shit out of me the first night to see a yak staring at me through my hotel window. Also its completely normal to see a herd of cows laying in the middle of the pseudo highway. But i love it really, it has such depth and character. its truly unlike anywhere I've ever been. I live with my program director Badri, his wife and their two year old daughter, Arati. She is darling and I love her to death, she calls be Didi which is 'older sister' and i call her 'Bhohini' which is younger sister. Her mother and father both work, so until i start my work i look after her along with Badri's nephew. I never knew it was so difficult to go to the bathroom with a 2 year old around, i finally gave up shutting the door! Ill send pictures soon. But the house is actually on the third floor of a very rundown old colonial house, a Sherpa, Hartaga, i have hired carries me and my wheelchair up which is incredible! I also can't easily take the taxis which are rickshaws or tiny one seat cabs, so i am driving my chair literally across the city. On average i do about 15 kilometers which is tough because i am in the road fighting for roadspace along with the motorbikes, rickshaws, cows sheep, Mercedes, and tractors. Quite a sight. But Hartaga goes with me which is really nice since there is no signs or decent maps around. over the past few days i have visited the temples around Kathmandu, which are truly remarkable. Yesterday i went to the Monkey Temple, a huge Tibetan Buddhist temple overlooking Kathmandu, it was so gorgeous with the prayer flags cascading from the top of the temple down the mountain. I had to walk with Hartaga to the bottom of the steps and it was a little shocking because tens of people started to crowd around me and touch my hair and try to lift my legs and pull me this way and that. Quite hilarious sight it must have been. But then a young man picked me up and started carrying me up the millions of stairs, and his friends started carrying my chair up. Hartiga said it was the nepali version of thew 'white night' fairytale. Anyway, he was very nice and it was lovely talking to him in broken nepali atop this mountain. At this point i am visiting different orphanages and disabled homes to see of where i might be of best use. It looks like i will be teaching in this very poor disabled home on the outskirts of Kathmandu for 5 days a week then a local orphanage 2 days a week. Both are in these basic cow sheds with a hole in the ground for the toilet. I am quite shocked that i have managed to figure out how to go to the bathroom here, it is far worse than peru and needless to say very organic. The one where I'm living is a very small room that has a open faucet for the shower and the toilet is off the ground but doesn't flush.
The food here is good but heavy, i have bhat(rice) three times a day, and i have dhal bhat (rice with lentils) at night and bhat with eggs in the morning.
Anyway before the power goes off i will save more for the next blog.