What to do in Kathmandu? Mustang Photo Exhibit

in activities, Kathmandu, Nepal | No Comments »

On Wednesday, I was at Baber Mahal Revisted on a writing assignment for Friday, the weekly paper I do regular restaurant reviews for. While there I took a few minutes to check out the new photo exhibition that had just opened the day before at the Siddhartha Gallery.
If, like me, you are fascinated with Mustang, the remote area in northern Nepal with a unique Tibetan culture, you should make the time to visit and see these photos. Taken by Italian photographer Luigi Fieni, they are are a record of 16 summers he spent in Mustang while working with conservation projects there. There are stunning photos of scenery, beautiful gems of local people, and on the top floor a photographic record of the restoration of ancient murals by ordinary people.
The exhibit runs through November 12, 2014, it’s free, and well worth a visit: Siddhartha Gallery, Baber Mahal Revisited, Kathmandu. Gallery hours are Monday-Friday 11 am to 6 pm, and 12 noon to 4 pm on Saturdays.

Perfect Afternoon

in activities, puzzle | No Comments »

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This was taken last Friday–a relaxing after school activity with some of my favourite people. The puzzle was a gift from a friend, and the first time the girls have ever tried a 500 piece puzzle. (She gave us a 1000 piece one, too, so that’s up next.)

I’m not sure who had more fun: them or me; puzzles rock!

 

Serendipity

in daily life, published | No Comments »

I was travelling for a bit in July (more on that soon) and when I got back I had some trouble hunting down the issue of Fr!day that my last food review was printed in. Fr!day (or Friday) is a weekly publication that I’ve been doing regular restaurant reviews for, and the publisher was all out of copies.

While flipping through the daily newspapers and magazines yesterday at Dan Ran, a homey Japanese restaurant in Patan, I had the idea to ask if they had any Fr!day back issues. The waiter disappeared into a back room and returned brandishing a copy.

“We only have one,” he said apologetically.

Happily, it was the right one, and he had no problem with me keeping it.

Which is how I discovered that it’s the second time that I’ve had an article published in a magazine with Madan Krishna Shrestha and Hari Bhansa Acharya on the cover. This comedic duo, known locally as “MaHa” are without doubt Nepal’s most famous comedians, and have been for years now, since a comedy audio cassette tape they made together back in 1981. Since then they’ve moved into TV, film, and sell out live performances, and they somehow manage to touch on relevant and meaningful social issues in their humour, too.

The articles of mine in the two publications below were not related to them in any way, but it made me smile to see them on the covers, and honoured to share the space.

bMaR8601WM                    Friday cover 230

Important note if you’ve tried to contact me

in writing | No Comments »

Unfortunately, due to a hosting glitch, any messages sent to me via the e-mail address on my contact page are lost in the ether and did NOT reach me. I’ve just found out about this and it has now been fixed, but if you’ve tried to contact me at all in the last couple months and did not receive a response, it’s because I didn’t get your message. Thanks for resending any communications, and I look forward to hearing from you.

Something new for me today

in daily life, Food, Kathmandu, rice | No Comments »

I stood off to the side, watching the fun, laughing with them, taking photos. They were working, but it felt like a party.

The thought crossed my mind, “I should try it sometime.” And I told myself that, yes, I would next time I got the opportunity. I’m not sure why I thought that the next time would be better than today, but I did.

She must’ve read my mind, because not a minute later my friend called out, “Have you ever tried this? Why don’t you do it?”

But the mud, my clothes, I wasn’t dressed for this…

The next thing I knew I was kicking off my shoes, rolling up my leggings, and stepping into the deep, squelching mud.

Someone passed me a bundle of seedlings. “Two at a time, two at a time,” they kept calling.

And that’s how I found myself this morning, planting rice.

The mud was not just between my toes but over my ankles and crawling up my calves. The paddy had been dug up before being flooded, and bending over, I stuffed the rice seedlings–which look exactly like long blades of grass–two at a time into the oozy earth, trying to space them evenly.

“This isn’t as hard as I thought it would be,” I thought, “and it’s certainly a lot more fun.” Then I finished my bundle and looked up and realized that the field looked much the same as when I’d begun, and the small paddy was barely a fraction planted.

The rest was taken up by more experienced hands than mine, but I came away with a newfound appreciation for the time-consuming, backbreaking effort that goes into producing a plate of rice. –A job that here in Nepal, is still done mostly by hand, at least in hilly areas, where the paddies are small and often terraced.

Yesterday was National Paddy Day; by this time most of the rice should already be planted. But the monsoon has been patchy so far, inconsistent, so not all farmers have been able to plant out yet. On the cover of today’s edition of The Kathmandu Post there’s a photo of a woman preparing her fields for sowing, but they’re too dry to plant in yet. The Himalayan Times has a happier photo on its front page of schoolchildren playing in the mud while planting rice at a festival to celebrate the National Paddy Day.

The field behind my house has played host to two neighbourhood weddings over the past few weeks, and when I got home this afternoon three men were tilling it — two by hand and one with a small mechanized tiller, removing all traces of the partying and leaving smooth furrows behind. As I watched them the rain rolled in, first lightly and then so heavily that they abandoned their work and ran for cover. It’s been raining ever since and, cozy in my house with a mug of coffee, a makeshift prayer came to mind as I watched the rain fall: A good monsoon, and a good harvest, for all those hardworking farmers that most need it.

The rain is still coming down.

 

These ladies are experts...

These ladies are experts…

 

...this one, on the other hand, not so much :)

…this one, on the other hand, not so much :)

Seeds just want to grow

in daily life, gardening, Vegetables | 4 Comments »

I’ve been eating fresh salad from my garden for several weeks now. Mostly rocket, because that’s what grew most prolifically, but a few other salad greens also survived the spate of odd weather we’ve had.

Chatting with my sister a few days ago, I told her I was eating a salad of rocket from my garden for lunch.

Her: I love that you have a garden that grows stuff! One day I’m gonna too

Me: gardens, you know, do usually grow stuff…

She thinks she has a black thumb; I say there’s no such thing. I have little skill or knowledge of gardening either, but I do love watching things grow. And while most of my vegetables don’t make it anywhere near maturity (some don’t even sprout) what does is worth it. There’s a lot of rules people have made about gardening–when to plant what and how often to fertilize and much more–and I forget most of it. Or I’m too busy to do it properly.

But I say who cares. Seeds want to grow. Throw some in the earth come springtime, water them if you remember to, pull weeds when you have time. Some won’t sprout, others die–and some will produce glorious bowl after bowl of salad. It’s fun, it’s delicious; don’t be put off because you’re not doing it “right.”

It’s not rocket science…

Bounty from the garden

Bounty from the garden

Some random cat advice…

in animals, cats, daily life | 2 Comments »

This is likely even more far-fetched than what Seth Godin had in mind in my favorite of his articles, “Delight the Weird.” Which if you haven’t read, you should. Now.

I cannot imagine there are than many people who are living in third-world countries where surgery for spaying cats is rather less than high-tech, and are searching for this solution. However, if you, like me, have just taken your fourth female cat in for this operation, and have had to try numerous options to keep her from licking open the thick, black stitches, then this might be useful to you.

As an aside, before you ask, cat-size cones cannot be found and the only ones available, when you can even find them, are made for dogs and so large they require securing with copious amounts of sticky tape to stay on for even a short spell. Even if you manage to secure it, they are so huge they cause your kitty to nearly break her neck every time she tries to move, which she does (move, not break her neck). After one terrifying experience, I abandoned them for good.

My vets–competent, kindly, amazing–suggest a complicated system of wrapping with towels and safety pins. She gets out of that one in two minutes flat.

An elastic wrap, of the sort you might use to wrap a sprained ankle, helped temporarily. Then she found a way to get that off, too. And to nearly destroy it.

The current answer, from my rag-bag: a sock, old but still with a bit of stretch. Snip off the toe part to create a snood. Slip over the head and front legs of your now angry cat. Gently ease over the wound and stitches. If you’ve chosen the right size for your cat, it will hold everything in place while being difficult for her to remove.

It’s not foolproof, but it helps!

Below, Boots modeling this new design.

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Kathmandu cats

in animals, cats, daily life | 4 Comments »

This afternoon I was on my bed with my laptop propped up on my legs, when I noticed the room, raucous only moments before, had gone silent.  I moved the computer and this is what I saw down by my feet. Am I crazy? You betcha. But also, so very, very lucky.

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Power on, power off

in daily life, electricity, Kathmandu | 2 Comments »

The strange thing, after you’ve lived in Nepal for a while, about getting extra power when you least expect it, is the euphoria of it, the feeling like you’re living on borrowed time or have been given an unexpected gift, and you’d best make the most of it. Tonight–for whatever reason–the power stayed on for an extra eleven minutes past the scheduled time when it should have gone off. It’s usually pretty punctual. Unless there’s been a good rain, or perhaps a special holiday, and they decide that they can afford to just leave it on for the day.

Perhaps this is the moment to explain, for those who don’t know, that Kathmandu has scheduled power cuts, referred to as “load shedding.” The city is divided into groups, with a schedule published that lets you know when the electricity will go off where you live. Mine is Group One.

This state of affairs can be circumvented, of course, with generators or solar panels or UPS devices; and while I can’t afford these at the moment I honestly don’t mind. While there are, most certainly, moments when the power going off is frustrating or interruptive, I’m used to it, and it doesn’t bother me. I enjoy following the rhythms of my neighborhood, listening to the thick silence or surrounding sounds that suddenly seem stark and clear when the electricity’s off, particularly at night, and waiting for the cry of a child, somewhere nearby–“Bhatti aio!” – “Power’s here!”

And even though I miss my fan on a warm night like tonight, when a strong breeze blows in the window and moves across my body it provides a moment of joy, and gratitude, and unexpected bliss.