I still can’t quite grasp the fact that I have only been here for 11 days. In many ways it seems a short time but in others it feels like so much longer. I have seen and done so many things. Just walking around this busy, noisy city is a multitude of experiences every time I go out. The people busy with their lives sitting in their small shops selling a vast array of goods from fresh vegetables (some I do not recognise, but so many very familiar) to sweets, cigarettes, electrical goods, clothes and so much more. The shouting of bus destinations at the chaotic( and I really mean chaotic!) bus station, the people weaving in and out of the ever flowing traffic to cross the road. The tourists wandering the small streets of Thamel, the tourist area, having beers and coffee in a plethora of outlets all advertising their services in English, including the Premiership matches! So much seen already, but oh so much more to see, experience and learn in the next 2 years.
Monday to Friday is spent at Nepali classes. We are in groups of 4 and it is very intensive, but enjoyable! I have never been confident learning languages, but I am determined to go for it! Considering I have only had 5 lessons, and with many, many more to come ,including a full 7 days living with a family in a village, I am keeping up reasonably well.
The major issue in Nepal at the moment are the elections, due to take place on 10th April. Much electioneering going - rallies and marches. VSO have instructed us to keep clear of any activities and not to comment on the election in any way as it would compromise their position as an NGO. I am quite happy to comply as I haven’t a clue who is who and what they stand for. There was an article in the Kathmandu Post about the 7 Communist Parties saying they are Communist, but they all want different things and even contradicting each other. There are many more parties with demands. An interesting time and hopefully it will pass off peacefully.
Friday was Holi here and what fun they, and we, had. A country that has a water shortage did not seem to be bothered by the amount of water bombs and even bucketfuls that were being thrown over anybody who came in reach. We wimps of volunteers decided to observe from the safety of the Guest House roof. Oh how wrong we were. To begin with all was calm until the young guys who work here joined us and then it all took off. Not only were they throwing water bombs down on to the street they were aiming at families on the roofs of there homes across the street and of course they were sending back to us. But, that did not satisfy the Nepalis on our roof, they then started throwing buckets of water at us. I managed to keep reasonably dry, but a few of the group were well and truly soaked. One Australian guest was not only soaked, but covered in the coloured dyes they also throw. I saw him yesterday and he still has a faint red/purple glow to him!
There are two of us who will be working out of Bhaktapur so we went to visit last Saturday. We travelled by bus, successfully. The centre of the city is a World Heritage site and you have to pay to get in - 10dollars,750 rupeea or £7.50’ish. As VSO volunteers we can have our passes validated for the whole time we are here once we have our work visa’s. It is a very interesting place with temple after temple, lots of lanes some reflecting everyday life others with the obligatory tourist shops. Most of the eating outlets have roof top areas where you get the most amazing views which will be even more spectacular around October time when the haze that shrouds the higher peaks clears. Oh the curse of the car fume!!
I will now attempt to add some pictures!
Until next time, farewell and Nameste.
It is now the next time. 2.4.08
The internet service here is so slow and I have been so busy with language classes, briefing sessions with VSO , going out to eat most nights and fitting in with the load sharing(power cuts) that this is the first occasion I can devote my time to my blog and only my blog.
What have I been doing outside all of the above? Well at the weekends I generally rest one day and visit somewhere the other. Last Sunday I went with my colleague going to Bhaktapur with me and her husband to visit the Monkey temple here in Kathmandu. It is one of the World Heritage sights in Nepal and an ancient Buddhist temple. The walk from our Guest House is about 2km, not too far but at the end is a 300 step climb to the temple! The steps start off reasonably OK but then take a near vertical position for the last leg. Needless to say I took my time, stopping every rest place and then for the last part every 5 steps. I did it though and it was well worth the effort. The views of Kathmandu were great, but again would be better without the dust and exhaust pollution. I am reliably informed that with the rainy season the pollution clears dramatically and I may even see the high Himali!
The temperature is slowly rising each day, but with it has come the most amazing thunderstorms. We have had two recently, but the on last night(Tuesday) lasted for well over an hour and the rain was torrential. Luckily I got back to the Guest House before the rain came and spent the late afternoon watching the storm and trying to read in near darkness, and it was only 3.30! I am sitting in a Café called New Orleans at the moment writing this and it looks as if the rain clouds are gathering again. Not to worry, I have my umbrella with me!
Next week we have the VSO annual conference. All volunteers in Nepal are gathering for it with those in the far outlying areas already here. They mainly have come from the Terai areas where political activity is greatest. There are constant political rallies in all parts of Kathmandu and the loudspeaker cars belting out their message to the people, and no, I do not understand what they are saying. They speak too quickly for me! You may have seen reports of police action against Tibetan protests at the Chinese Embassy, well that is not too far from us but far enough away not to bother us. The next week will prove to be interesting! Watch the news for updates.
Last Saturday I went to a Quiz night at the local pizza place, Sal’s. It is run by an American and seats about15 people at a time. The pizza’s are tasty and the company fun. The VSO team numbered 3 and we came a respectable last! Will try to do better next time!
I will end now as my coffee and apple pie have turned up and it looks as if the rain is about to start. So, farewell and
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