Two months

in Uncategorized | No Comments »

It’s two months today since everything changed and I had planned to get out of the house, distract myself–as if I could!–but instead I have been home, sitting with it.

Yesterday I began What Comes Next and How to Like It, Abigail Thomas’ 2015 memoir. I hadn’t yet read it, partially because A Three Dog Life is one of my favourite books, ever, and I was afraid I wouldn’t like this one as much, that it would maybe disappoint in some way. It was, however, perfect, or at least perfect for me right now. I finished it today.

This poem has been in my mind often over these two months:

Funeral Blues

by W. H. Auden

Stop all the clocks, cut off the telephone,
Prevent the dog from barking with a juicy bone,
Silence the pianos and with muffled drum
Bring out the coffin, let the mourners come.

Let aeroplanes circle moaning overhead
Scribbling on the sky the message He Is Dead,
Put crêpe bows round the white necks of the public
doves,
Let the traffic policemen wear black cotton gloves.

He was my North, my South, my East and West,
My working week and my Sunday rest,
My noon, my midnight, my talk, my song;
I thought that love would last for ever: I was wrong.

The stars are not wanted now: put out every one;
Pack up the moon and dismantle the sun;
Pour away the ocean and sweep up the wood.
For nothing now can ever come to any good.

 

The last line has felt the most true to me, though in the spirit of hope and the book I have just read, I am giving allowance for the fact that it may not always be this way. Just now, I stepped outside and saw a kite flying, just a light square against the blue, blue sky. It felt like hope, it looked like joy. Maybe not quite, not really; but enough for me: enough for today.

Red-headed lizard

in animals, Nepal wildlife | No Comments »

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There’s been a proliferation of ever-larger lizards in the area around home lately, and I finally was able to get a decent picture of this fascinating red-headed fellow hanging out in the night queen bush I planted just outside the perimeter railing several years ago.

 

 

 

 

Rooftop harvest haul

in gardening, Vegetables | No Comments »

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Here’s what our little rooftop garden — a collection of pots, buckets and sacks — yielded day before yesterday. Green beans continue to be the most prolific crop of all we’ve attempted, though we’re getting better at tomatoes. The lone eighteen-day radish was delicious, and those green beans, simply boiled and doused in butter, were the highlight of our evening meal.

Celebrating Thamel

in Kathmandu, writing | No Comments »

Yesterday a hundred and fifty or so people gathered in the newly opened Fairfield Marriott for the launch of ECS’s May Issue – a special one all about Thamel. It turned out to be a wonderfully fluid and animated event. Speakers included Fire And Ice’s Anna Maria Forgione, Karna Shakya from Kathmandu Guest House, and Akur Narsingh Rana, born in Thamel and now 89 years of age. They shared their memories and thoughts on what Thamel means to them–a little bit of living history.

 

Everybody Seems to be Eating Brains These Days

in booze, daily life, Food, Patan, Roads & Kingdoms | No Comments »

After my earlier piece on breakfast was published last year on the award-winning Roads and Kingdoms website, I’m super thrilled to have another one in their section 5 O’CLOCK SOMEWHERE: Drinking the World Every Afternoon. The article, which they’ve creatively titled Everybody Seems to be Eating Brains These Days (a huge improvement over my working title, I can tell you) can be found here.

In addition to being voted the Gold Winner for Best Travel Journalism Site by the Society of American Travel writers, they also had an unusually high number of James Beard Foundation Journalism Awards nominations this year. They’re an awesome website that I’m proud to be associated with, and if you haven’t checked them out, you really should. Their longform work is amazing, in-depth reporting, and the shorts are a lot of fun to read.

 

 

Wild about Wings

in booze, chicken, Food, food writing, What to do in Kathmandu | 2 Comments »

Anyone who knows me well has heard me tell of my love for chicken wings. Sadly, the places that served my favourite chicken wings have closed in the last few years, the buildings they were housed in victims of the earthquake or road enlargement work. So I’m looking for new favourites, and while doing research for an article I found myself in the picturesque courtyard of the DaLai-La hotel in Thamel having a single malt at their wonderfully named bar, Liquid Happiness. I sat and observed the goings on, interspersed with reading Rabi Thapa’s new book, Thamel: Dark Star of Kathmandu, also for an upcoming article. Liquid Happiness has a great bar snacks menu, and of course I went for the chicken wings with house sauce.

Are they my new favourites? No, but they’re pretty darn good. The only thing keeping me from making this place a habit is the price tag – in my case, it’s more special occasion than daily pit-stop. Still, highly recommended for great atmosphere, convivial staff, and excellent food and drink.

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Learning something new every day…

in Ayurveda, ECS Nepal, published, writing | No Comments »

ECS Nepal 185 Cover

This month’s issue is all about local methods of traditional healing, Ayurveda, herbal remedies and related issues.

Do you know what Ayurveda is? Well, I didn’t either – till I read this: Ayurveda: A Beginner’s Overview

Still not sure I get it completely, but 🙂

And I loved the travel piece by Jeremy Vestal about his trip to Jumla: Go West! Adventure Awaits!

The articles I personally enjoyed working on most were Nepali Medicine Man – which was just amazing, to see something that to me was right out of the past so fully alive today – and Wonders out of Waste, about two awesome sisters who run a paper recycling business.

Good-bye winter

in daily life, ECS Nepal, Food, Nepali dishes, restaurants, thukpa, Tibetan cooking, wintertime | No Comments »

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Most days since I became a regular here at ECS, I’ve either brought a sandwich or followed a group of coworkers to their favourite lunch spot, a local joint around the corner. However, not long ago a large rodent ran through there, inches from my feet. Fortunately I did not see it, but it has been enough to put me off returning there since. I’m well aware that many eateries in Nepal often play unwitting hosts to small creatures of all sorts, but what made this different was the fact that this place seemed to tolerant of or possibly even catering to the animal’s presence. And it was running from the direction of the kitchen, so…

This might seem a strange way to begin a post about delicious food, and yet. Feeling a little disloyal, the next time I wanted lunch I let the group go on without me and headed out on my own to a place across the street from our offices, where I’ve seen some of the staff eating before. It’s only marginally more upscale than the place favoured by most of my colleagues, but not by much. With chilly days still very much with us, I ordered one of my favourite winter dishes, a chicken thukpa. Thukpa is a thick soup of noodles and vegetables, served in a spicy broth, with or without your choice of meat or egg. It has its roots in Tibet, though the incarnations generally served nowadays in the valley’s small restaurants have evolved into a unique local variant.

Well, this version was delicious, and I was back again and again. A few days ago I opted for the slightly pricier ‘mixed’ thukpa, which has everything–veggies, eggs, and several kinds of meat. Heaven!

Yesterday–literally from one day to the next–warm, spring weather flooded the valley. Usually the change is more gradual, but this year the cold had lingered much later than usual, so the sudden change was all the more noticeable. Someone here at work said that the warm weather was triggered by the hailstorm we had a few days ago – everyone has a weather theory here!

All that to say, my thukpa eating days are pretty much over, unless we get another cold spell. So today, despite the heat, I ordered a last bowl of mixed thukpa anyway, the one you see here. It was delicious, another reminder, if I needed one, of why I love cold days best.

Whatever you’re eating as you read this, I hope it’s as tasty.

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