Thursday, December 31, 2009

Three Squares a Day

Cup Serves as Plate for Bread
(there is a cup under that piece of bread)

Breakfast consists of round, unleavened barley bread; looks a little like a primitive pita. This is served with either a small helping of lentils, or kidney beans, or peanut butter; very occasionally red jam – the one I love to hate. It's a mixed fruit jam and evidently my taste buds are not properly developed to enjoy this conglomeration. Hot butter tea, little black tea, butter and a salt is available and also sugar tea, little black tea, milk and way too much sugar. 'Course you could opt out for just a cup of hot water which goes a long way on a freezing cold morning.

Dal Baht

Lunch is always dal baht; rice with a watery lentil soup to pour over the rice. The lentil mixture changes, color, consistency, and taste daily. Out of respect, the staff table is served first. However we do not begin eating until all the student bowls are served and prayers have been said. This usually translates into a dish of cold rice, and a moderately warm lentil mixture. This is my greatest challenge; ok one of my challenges. When I first arrived and it was not so cold the food stayed a little warmer, but now…

There is usually a vegetable mixture with the rice, most often cauliflower and very firm; perhaps some onions, occasionally potatoes, and rarely carrots. A small orange, comparable to our tangelo or a small banana is available 90% of the time; both are quite good.

Dinner is the meal I love to miss. It is always Tibetan noodle soup; rather wide homemade barley noodles in a saucy mixture, some unrecognizable or some bitter green vegetables floating around. It is served steaming hot and remains so. Once or twice a week white steamed dumplings accompany the meal. In all fairness I must say that Lucca loves this meal. In the beginning I just ate it, then I was reduced to eating some of the noodles, now every day I hope that I am not hungry at dinner.

But thankfully for growing boys there are always seconds.

Monday, December 28, 2009

Puzzle Boy

This little one found my room. Actually it wasn't me he wanted, it was my puzzles. (thanks Renee) I usually bring some to mealtime as there is about 15 minutes before and 15 minutes after when we can have free play. His name is Kunga, well about half of them are named Kunga, I forget his second name. I call him puzzle boy. As you can see here I served him peanuts. The children have a snack every day at 3:00. Hot tea with milk and sugar, or hot water if there is no tea, and some kind of flaked cereal that they put in the hot liquid to make a mush which they then eat with their fingers.

I don't teach his class, level 1 perhaps, but he is very bright and a self-starter. Together we created his own puzzle. I had brought with me some postcards/greeting cards, so we took a ruler and lined the back of the picture with cutting lines. Then I showed him my wavy scissors. He ended up with a 19 piece puzzle, an artistic rendition from a Greenwich Village post card; he worked it like a pro.

Proud Puzzle Maker and Owner of His Own Puzzle

Playing Old Maid in Ms. Foster's Room
Guess who has the Old Maid


Yesterday was a half day off and our full day off there was going to be a bandh. So we really wanted to get out of here. You know, a day off is a day off; a half day off is a half day off. So off we went to Mandipul, 6 volunteers and one monk all to see Avatar. Not my choice but I love to people watch so I was game. We took a bus and then walked a while through Old Town; finally arrived at the cinema.

Found out that the movie was dubbed in Hindi; not our style, so we declined and our group split up.

Lucca and I headed off, thinking of the Gurkha museum. But Lucca wanted to get her hair cut, so we did that. It took an hour; cut dirty hair, wash with head massage then dry. Totally different style of cutting; mostly letting hair lay against the head and trim. Turned out fine. Total cost: 2 NR, about 3 bucks and no tip.

I stopped at shop selling fabric; quilters always stash. Found some rich reds and turquoise shades of blue.

Later as we were on the street looking at DVD's I heard a "Ms. Foster" ring out. It was one of the monks who came up to say hello and he asked if I knew of such and such a store which had an excellent selection of DVDs and CDs. He led us to it; I bought 5 DVDs, average cost, $1.10. I was able to purchase two foreign films; one Iranian and one Mongolian, with subtitles. 'Course these are all pirated through China.

Before he left I asked him if he knew of a restaurant in town that served western food. He walked me out to the street up half a block and pointed out a restaurant on the 3rd floor call "Almond". Thanks, I responded and returned to the video store.

Later Lucca and I went to Almond. It has a nice view of the town square, but the air in the room was definitely 'smokey', not from smoking but from the pollution rising from the street below. We played it safe and each ordered a cheese pizza. I also ordered a green salad. Conspicuously missing any greens it was good to get some raw vegetables, a commodity not available at the monastery. Those five servings of fruits/vegetables are simply impossible to fulfill. Yes, my body does notice the difference.

While eating next to a window there appeared to be a commotion outside round the square. A huge truck full of Maoist police was going by totally out fitted in riot gear. Mm... A few minutes later a group of marchers passed along with lit torches chanting something. Even the wait staff went to the windows to look. I asked the waiter 'what's happening'? He confirmed that they were the Maoists, evidently making a show of arms to communicate to the populace that tomorrow everything would be closed for the bandh, or else shop-keepers, street vendors, restaurateurs, taxi cab drivers, kids trying to go to school would answer to them. Of course the poor rural farmers are not affected; so again that communist attitude that anyone owning anything, businesses, cars, or products is the enemy. I did not take my camera to the window for this one; traveler survivor skills kicked in.

Friday, December 25, 2009

The Best Christmas Present Ever

Yep, you heard it here first: the ever warm, woodsy scented blazing flame of an open fire. As we scouted places in which to have our Christmas dinner, they only made it to the list if they had that fire. The Moondance restaurant fit the bill perfectly. Alas no turkey dinner, we settled for a thin crust pizza that was a "ten".
While we were eating, Christmas Carols were playing, not Bing or anyone else well known, and a small tree lit up the darkness. (The interior of all shops and restaurants are unaccountably dim; never enough power.)

While walking and browsing and stopping for a coffee, we went into a shop named Pearl Arts. There we met Ghulam Rasool, originally of Kashmir, and his wife. I purchased a shawl and his wife demonstrated to me how she had embroidered it by hand. She used a hooking tool to pull the embroidery thread through the wool.

Ghulam invited us for tea, a common way for a shopkeeper to treat a guest/shopper and we sat down. His son, still in high school went to make the tea, and brought back a lovely black tea with cardamom and cinnamon.
Ghulam is a rug maker, he showed us some of his work and also shared the preliminaries. First he finds a pattern he likes, sometimes from Iran, and gets a photograph. He then graphs it and creates a set of carpet language directions. It is a complex process resulting in a beautiful product; somewhat expensive but surely a worthy work of art. The pattern in the picture is for a 4x6 foot rug, 18x18 knots per sq. inch. (that is if I understood him correctly)


Lucca and the Rasool Family

Lakeside got busier and busier as the evening wore on; many cars, motorbikes, street vendors, and pedestrians falling off the sidewalk. It did feel a little like the hustle and bustle of a holiday. OK not really. Just busy. 

 The shops seem endless and many are same-same. But occasionally one looks especially enticing.

Felt Items from Yak Wool

So now I end with the beginning. Upon arriving at Lakeside we ate our 1st western food of the day. I had scrambled eggs and steak. The eggs were great, so was the toast and butter; we shall not discuss the steak. 


Thursday, December 24, 2009

Merry Christmas from Pema Ts'al Sakya Institute

Early Morning at the Front Gate
  Christmas Day

Today the sun is shining, as I sit at my computer with a hot water bottle between my legs, two shirts, one vest, a long sleeve fleece and a yak shawl around my shoulders, pashmina around my waist and two pairs of socks. Last night we had rain and lightning; the 2nd time since my arrival.

This morning was lovely and breakfast was a jam fest. Little ones walking around with their books, cramming for exams. Exams started yesterday and take place for a week. Subjects include: Math, Nepali, Tibetan, English, and Science. Lucca and I enjoyed quizzing the youngest ones studying for English. There are no other such adorable "sponges" as these little monks. They love to learn; they love to interact even more.

I asked one of the older monks what were the animals on the top of the gate representing. He explained that they were deer; a male and a female. I was doubtful until I was finally able to see one "point" on the deer to the right. He explained that there were many stories about Buddah and the Deer Park. Here's a link to a worthy read:  

Class II is my youngest class; about 4th grade level English. Rather then hold my class in their room which is dim, cold and an echo chamber, we meet on my piazza.

From left to right
Back row: Sonam Dhondup, Kunga Dorjee
Middle row: Jampa Tenzin, Kunga Gyaltsen, Kunga Leckdup (Kunga has his hands over Jampa's head)
Front row: Richen Dhondup, inset Jampa Rebgy, Jamyang Dorjee, Kunga Soepa

So today there are regular classes but after lunch Lucca and I will head over to Lakeside aka Touristville, where we might find some Christmas carols and definitely western food.

I want to thank all of you who are following and sending blessings this way, for your readership. The monks thank you also. There is so much goodwill in our country and it is received here with much joy.

Merry Christmas Everyone

Monday, December 21, 2009

Why You Stay Put During a Bandh


KATHMANDU: The general strike called by the main opposition party, Unified CPN-Maoist, was a big blow to valour of security agencies, as they backtracked from escorting the country’s Prime Minister to his official residence via the traditional route. It was the first day of three-day general strike under the third phase of Maoist stir, demanding the establishment of ‘civilian supremacy’ and formation of national unity government under its leadership.
Prime Minister Madhav Kumar Nepal — who arrived at the Tribhuvan International Airport from Copenhagen this afternoon — sneaked to Baluwatar via Gaushala, Ratopul, Sano Gaucharan, Naxal and Bhat Bhateni. It has been an age-old tradition to escort the motorcade of the Prime Minister via Sinamangal, Tinkune, New Baneshwor, Maitighar, Naxal and Baluwatar.

Maoist cadres thrashed Haribol Khanal, executive director of Curriculum Development Centre in Bhaktapur for opening the office, defying their strike call. According to Thimi Police Range DSP Bipin Karmacharya, the protesters entered the office and manhandled Khanal this afternoon. “I was working in my office room when 10 to 12 persons entered and beat me up, asking why I was in the office during bandh,” Khanal said. The cadres also asked other employees to leave the office and vandalised three vehicles parked on the office premises.

Yesterday, Dan, from Brooklyn, was just itchin to get back to Lakeside and the Mount Everest orphanage where he has been volunteering. Lakeside is a 20 minute taxi ride and maybe a 2 hour walk from here. It is also the center of the tourist universe; hot water, sheets, English speaking people, laundry places, western food, cappuccino, BACKUPGENERATORS; you get the picture. But he was short 2 AA batteries. After receiving them from a volunteer from NEW JERSEY, he started up his GPS and hoofed it. I said email upon arrival; he did. Dan, if you're reading this, bring two AA to a restaurant in the Village for a free lunch/dinner. Time and place TBA.

Local kids playing in the street during the Bandh as no vehicles are allowed and all public transportation is shut down.

Reach Out and Touch Someone

I have just gotten up and I have more clothes on than I ever imagined; moving is a challenge. Robert has sent me fingerless gloves up to the elbow. They are not here yet but I will love him forward.
It is 7:20 AM and I am boiling water, cause we do have electricity, and placing it in my sink and a bowl around my room.
Even though it is light I have lit the two candles I own. This is in hopes to dispel some of the cold from the air. My room never receives much direct sunlight; not till late afternoon.
I just went into my bathroom to empty my wash bucket and add fresh rinse water. I forgot to roll up my sweat pant and pj legs, so now they are wet. The bathroom here is the type where the shower is part of the whole room. There is a drain on the floor under the sink. Thus when I pour my wash bucket water out towards the drain it goes all over the floor. I did buy flip flops, but now I have wet cuffs.
Just took a sip of hot tea. Mmmmmm.
In the morning when the little ones arrive at the dining room before breakfast, they get themselves a metal cup of hot water - and I mean hot. No American mother would let her child within 5 feet of such hot water nor consider serving it to them. After getting their cup they carry it to their table and wrap their precious hands around the hot metal.
I am now boiling water again to fill up my large thermos, in case the power is cut, I may still have tea or coffee or a little HOT WATER.
When the sun rises this cold will diminish. I see the sun peeking between low  mountains in the east.

Yesterday afternoon sitting at a blue table with two blue chairs in the sun I spent much of the morning correcting 24 essays, and boy was I wishing I had some help. Be careful what you wish for.

 Yep, he's obviously familiar with that "reach out and touch someone" Kodak moment. 

OK, I'm taking a poll, how many of you would have remained seated with only an Iphone between you and your cousin?

Beyond, Bed Bath and Beyond

Loving linens as I do, I was perfectly able to leave them all behind. OK I brought a few towels I made especially for the trip; easy dry ones with just a little embroidery.
I also did not bring a sleeping bag. First I was staying at a hotel in Kathmandu, and then when 'I got me to a monastery'  I figured…
Needless to say, a shopping trip was in order.
Ready made sheets? What was that madam? (or at least that’s what it sounded like to me)
No No.
On to the next shop. And the next one and the next day.
I was shown some type of fabric that would remind us more of a bedspread with sham, no less, but they all had a similar, how shall I say, ummm, odor. Not good.
So using some fabric I had purchased in Kathmandu I got by. And then this. The moment I had been waiting for; a first for me, purchasing sheets off a bolt of fabric by the meter.
Total cost - around ten dollars American

This is the day; this is the day that the lord hath made

Let us rejoice, let us rejoice and be glad in it.
I can't help it but that song was one of the things I liked about teaching in a religious school many years ago; I can still hear the childrens' voices.
Today was the Sabbath and a bandt (stike) day also. No buses, cars or motorbikes. Walking is the available mode of transport. So, after a quiet morning of wringing and wash hanging, it was decided that en masse we would walk up to the Tibetan Refugee Village. The sun was shining, the air felt fresh and the walk was photogenic.

As we approached the village the poverty was striking and the children endearing.

Sunday, December 20, 2009

All I Want for Christmas

Response to Connie
shared with all
Well, Connie I thought about it long and hard. First I thought of something to share with the kids. Then I thought some more. If I could have a Christmas gift from America it would be a can of pledge and a roll of paper towels. No fake. There is nothing available to clean with. I did get some rubber gloves and a bag of like 2 dish rags, but the rags smell so bad (they are brand new from a "department" store) that I need to sneak out one night and bury them.

Otherwise things have steadily gotten easier on one level and more stressful on another. I have 24 students in the Shedra class; the college philosophy students. They were assigned an essay which they are writing by hand. I have to correct and conference with each one, hopefully keeping the others interested in another project. I pulled an excerpt out of the book I was reading about Mumbai. India, as their neighbor is relevant and Suketa "tells it like it is". (The author Suketa Mehta earned a place on the Pulitzer Prize finalist list, title: Maximum City Bombay Lost and Found.)
My goal is to try and get the computer lab running, yes they have 4 computers, but no one knows how to use a word processor. They could then write on MSW save to my memory stick and then I would have to go into town to print. Yeah, nothing's very easy. Even getting into town is a chance; will there be a bus? Will there be room? Will I have to ride on the roof? Will I fall off the roof? You know things like that.

Now for the inside view:

Thursday, December 17, 2009

New Temple

Built into a mountainside the monastery has an enviable view and a large property. The spaciousness allows the monks to walk around and be as contemplative as desired without distraction. All through the day I see the senior students, sitting, reading, studying away from the hubbub of the main building.

The entrance way is on the ground floor with the dining hall on the north end and a classroom wing on the south end. The two flights above serve as an office, guest quarters, and bedrooms. There is an open courtyard in the south wing; much air and light filter in.

Upon exiting the 3rd floor, you find yourself on a new level ground. A temple is being constructed to your right and a row of guest rooms is a path's walk up ahead to your left. On this second level there is a precipice that drops down into the valley with its distant sounds of life and music often floating up. Oh yes, and much horn honking.

Morning View from My Bedroom Door


It is on this open plain behind the monastery where a new temple is being constructed. Every day as I open my door I can see and of course hear the construction activity. However this is a veritable "manual" labor activity employing both men and women.

From the pictures you may see the level of teamwork and rhythm established to pass the cement up the chain. The mixed, wet cement is placed in a hub cap, OK probably not a real hubcap but it looks like one from here. It is presented to guy two who passes it to guy three who chucks it to guy four standing on the top. Guy four has just tossed the last empty HC down, so look closely and you will see a saucer like item just below midway. Guy four then catches the next laden HC, turns and pours the cement into the correct area. He then tosses empty HC down, waiting for the next one full of cement.


Presently there is not enough money to finish the project as a total of 450,000 American dollars is needed. Work will proceed as funds come in.

On another note, yesterday a volunteer team of a father and daughter from Australia arrived; Robert and Amanda. In fact I had them over for coffee last night. (In no way does this look like any time we have shared coffee together at one of our homes, so don't think we were living it up.)

Upon their arrival they were immediately asked to teach a class. After their initial performance, Lobsang the school secretary requested that they teach hygiene while they were here. This is of course is very important and much needs to be put in place. HOWEVER, teaching kids to wash their hands with soap when there is no soap???? Teaching kids to use warm water, when there it is only available sometimes??? Teaching students to blow their noses rather than let the green mucous run down, when there are no tissues??? Well, there was one strategy for containing illness that we could teach them and it could be utilized: coughing into your elbow.

So I close with a snap of laundry day – all clothes are washed by hand. Fresh clothes are given to the little ones once a WEEK. (No wonder the flies like them by Friday.) And when the monks returned from the camping trip they WENT DOWN TO THE RIVER TO WASH THE BLANKETS. Yep, and I am sure they have a special rock of their own, well worn though it may be.

Tuesday, December 15, 2009

Life Before the Internet

Yes, I remember it well.

Breakfast at 7:00. Hang around till 8:00 or so. Start trek. First out from my room across the field entering the monastery from the back and on the third floor. Descend. Walk though entrance hall, out front door and through imposing but welcoming entrance gate.

Down the hill, wait for goats, or walk through same.

Out to road with some walking space and some open sewers. Cars, motorbikes, buses speed by. Walk up hill toward Tibetan Refugee Camp where there is a cyber store. Ascend extremely steep and narrow, no railing stone steps. Cyber shop very old, very dusty but one can connect to the US on phone for 6 NR (Nepali Rupees) a minute; about 7.5 cents a minute. Poorly lit booth, hard to see but call goes through to home.

Internet connection, not sure of fee, but extremely old computer, small screen and squeaky keyboard. But I can get to my email. Responding is something else all together because as mentioned the keyboard needs a few cycles in the dishwasher. Nice chat with the young man that runs the place and always I inquire about tomorrow's hours. (Not that it helps much; the Nepali word for tomorrow translates into sometime after the day after tomorrow. ???

One day while waiting for the cyber cafĂ© guy I get shanghaied into purchasing a Tibetan Rug; NOT CHEAP. But I rationalize that I need one for stretching and also sitting outside in the sun on my "patio". (More on patio later) Another day while waiting I wander up the street and find Tibetan spiritual items shop. Shopkeeper is a young Tibetan girl; her English is passable. I check out the merchandise and buy some incense – Potala, a brand which I can and often do purchase in the Village. (Greenwich Village NYC) She keeps busy sewing prayer flags in the shop while waiting for customers. A family comes in to buy some fabric for a kata scarf. I wander back to connect to the world - maybe.

Monday, December 14, 2009


This is not possible. I just registered my blog account through Word. If this works life will grow lovelier. It's 6:30 in the morning, I am wrapped in a Yak blanket and still freezing, BUT I have power so will test this and check to see if it does post.









"God damn right it's a beautiful day"

Just finished washing my hair for the first time at Pema Ts'al; last wash 7 days ago. This went well. Since I don't have hot enough water for the shower, I washed it in the sink with lukewarm water. Not too bad. But lo and behold I decided to risk tripping the breaker and plug my international hairdryer in - Yippee do, not only did it work, I found a live plug in the bathroom. I am in hair heaven.
A good end to a long day; a very long day at the hospital. Lucca a very lovely German girl volunteer came home from Lumbini where the school had been camping for a week. They were attending a festival of 4000 monks  all congregating at Buddha's birthplace. Yes, Buddha was born in Nepal.
She did not come to breakfast the next day; I did not know she existed. But then she appeared and was sick, so we talked and I gave her Vit C, cold medicine etc. from my stash and we hung out. The next day she was so so but now she had a fever; Tylenol brought it down. The following morning she did not appear as she was very weak and could barely get out of bed. The monks had offered to take her to the hospital but up to now she declined. I told her if she wanted my opinion that it was time to go.
So to the hospital we went. First we waited till one of the monks could go with us. Two hours later we walked down the hill from the monastery, (are they all on hills?) to wait for a passing taxi. Gee was I dumb, I thought we could just call one. So we waited. Lucca and I found rocks to sit on. Two water buffalo pass, roosters' crow, and overloaded buses glide by. And we wait. After at least 20 minutes, a taxi comes by but there is only room for two. Lucca and I get in, the driver lets us off at a little market spot, actually not that far down the road. We wait for the monk. He arrives shortly; haven't a clue how. We find a taxi to take us to the hospital. Fifteen minutes later we arrive. It is a large prominent building and the sign states that it is a teaching

First reception, paperwork, then pre-exam, all walking, walking and Lucca is getting weaker. She begins to lie down on benches where ever we can find them; finally to a lie down bench outside the examining room. The female doctor is an ENT specialist; I know this because there is a sign in English. The doctor proceeds to adjust the metal disk suspended around her head by a band on an angle, turns on the light bulb, and reflects the brightness into Lucca's throat. Really. Then she checks her eyes, her lymph nodes and says she is very sick. We then proceed to the next place, I ask if we can't get a wheelchair, and I am told that would be another place???
At the next place they take her blood pressure and it is 90 over 60. Not good. Now she can barely keep her head up and of course she has absolutely no desire to stay overnight in the hospital. I kneel down and say to her softly, "I think you should stay." "OK", she responds. So Lucca is admitted; actually we take the elevator up to another floor, no wheelchair except the empty one we pass by in the hall. There is no bench when we arrive so she slides to the floor leaning against the wall. The monk confers with the 5 nurses at the nurses' station. They simply watch Lucca and me kneeling next to her. About 15 minutes later we are led to a room, semi-private where they then make the bed and Lucca falls in. Sheets are clean but grey; blankets WWI vintage. The monk then goes to get/buy her medicine. I find her another blanket. Monk comes back with a full bag of medicine; nurses proceed to set up a drip; Cipro, glucose and something else unknown to me. They use her shawl to support her hand.We talk about astrological signs while they stick her. No double birthday months in her family.
Now she needs food, the doctor says clear liquids and a lot of them. Well, just don't you know the hospital does not provide food. Again the monk goes out to get black tea with lemon from a shop down the street; we return the cup later. After that stays down we bring her more food; chicken broth soup. She eats it all in thirds, resting between each portion. The bed does crank up, but where is the crank? The nurses, referred to as "sister" return to reset the drip. We talk some more and then make plans for the monk to return with her MP3 player and dinner.
The monk tells me in the cab that "sister" said some family should stay with her through the night; this is customary. The monk explains that she has no family here, can't the they watch her. Sister says they have too many patients.
I come home and hand wash the pj's and t-shirt that had been soaking in the bucket since 6:30AM, rinse, rinse, swirl, swirl, heat hot water for final lukewarm rinse. Wring, wring, smack against a rock. OK so there is no rock, I left it down the river. Finally hang.

Sponge bath time - night all.
Listening to the Eels, Mr. E's Beautiful Day, with the refrain, God damn right it's a beautiful day", on my Iphone, while typing. Utterly right on. Thanks Jared.

I had to search through several closets to get Lucca enough blankets. Lama Rigzen went out to a pharmacy to purchase the prescribed medicines. Then the nurses administered the Cipro IV.

Saturday, December 12, 2009

Many Days

Many days have passed since I was able to publish to my blog. All that has changed. I now have Internet access in my room at the school, when there is electricity, and when I am not teaching or tutoring.

But rather than overwhelm you like I have been, let's start with the morning view from my room. In the far distance is a lower peak of the Annapurna Range, some lower hills, the back side, top floor of the main monastery building and some beautiful flowering Bougainvillea. (?)
Turning to the left are my neighbors who rise a bit earlier than I but sometimes I catch sight of them scaling up to the roof. Here's a glimpse.

The "genome study of the Rhesus Macaque shows that humans and macaques share about 93% of their DNA sequence and shared a common ancestor roughly 25 million years ago."  (Wikipedia)

So besides being my neighbor he's my cousin.

Every night is cold and every day warms up . I wear a t-shirt AND flannel pj's and two thick and heavy blankets at night, and a hot water bottle to remove the day's ills from my back, and strip down to the lightest t-shirt in the sun by midday, only to bundle up for going down to dinner at 6:30. The monastery has no heat as far as I can tell. Breakfast in the dining hall is freezing and the windows are wide open. (What about the monkeys?) I wear a t-shirt, nylon vest, fleece and pashmina wrap and still I am cold until the steaming hot victuals enter my system  

So now for the best part of all -  my new students the ever energetic, all male population of young Buddhist monks. This was taken in the dining hall on a day off. My dear friend Anne had at the last moment a few days before my departure, dropped off some supplies and they included a cutsie deck of cards in the shape of snowmen. They are playing "High Card Take All." The kids informed me that they only play cards at New Years. Losar, their New Years is not until February.  Oh well all bad influences come from western lands. lol

Tuesday, December 8, 2009

The Honeymoon Is Over

Or why don't I ever read the fine print?

No hot water
Power cut with no schedule
3 flights up stairs in the monastery plus unlit path walk to get to room
No heat
No sheets
No pillowcases
No chair for computer use
No toilet paper
No students for two days!

And I must never forget to close the windows when I leave or the monkeys will get in AND WREAK HAVOC.

Not to mention I need:
Gallon of Lysol
Rubber Gloves
Bag of rags

Flew from Kathmandu to Pokhara; half hour ride $91 ticket 179 rupees airport tax, about $2.50 US.
Small plane, as we waited outside plane in a line to board got to see two men struggling with my heavy luggage. Oh, yes that cost me about $30 extra.

Wednesday, December 2, 2009

Petite Discoveries

Removing earplugs relieves one of the belief that the water they showered in last night has polluted their sinuses

Kathmandu does have dogs assigned to bark all night

Earplugs are now more valuable than "universal sink stopper"

Tax on restaurant food is 13 percent

SC - (10% service charge on the restaurant bill) is also a mystery to the waiter; but no "it is not a tip"

Tax, plus mystery service charge plus tip equals additional 45% of the food cost

All universal electrical plug kits are not equal (not sure what to risk frying first)

Well, at least I'm cozy in my room at the Kantipur Temple, Thamel, Kathmandu, Nepal.

    More Cab Views

    Common transportation mode, inexpensive but accident prone.

     Many wheels, many people, many face masks.
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    Cab Ride

    This street was one of the less congested. As you can see motorbikes abound and riders wear face masks to protect themselves from the pollution, to which of course they are making a "healthy" contribution.
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