Archive for the ‘Kathmandu’ Category

The new normal

in daily life, earthquake, Kathmandu

I’ve been having trouble sleeping lately, and it’s often 4 or 5 am with the sky just beginning to lighten when I can finally drop off. Yesterday I didn’t fall asleep until past 3, and later found out I’d slept soundly through a 5.5 tremor that happened at about 7:30 am.

Later in the day, I told a friend it worried me that I’d been able to sleep right through it. I might have been in danger.

“Don’t worry, it was only a 5.5,” she replied.

“That’s true.”

A few seconds later it hit us: who could have imagine a month ago that we’d be sitting here calmly dismissing an earthquake that was 5.5 on the Richter scale?

As another friend of mine so aptly put it, this is our “new normal.”

Places I’ve loved, things we’ve lost

in daily life, earthquake, Kathmandu, Kathmandu Durbar Square, Uncategorized

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It’s strange that Kathmandu Durbar Square is such a normal part of life that I find I have taken few photos of it. Some taken on special occasions, such as these, all lit up in the evening during Tihar in 2013. But a general, panoramic view of the square, with the busyness of daily life in full swing? I can’t find one.

It’s one of the reasons I love it, though–as with many of what are considered Nepal’s cultural heritage sites, it’s simply a part of daily life here. Friends sit on the tiered temples to hang out, catch up, people watch; others walk through it on their way to work or home. They are not dead monuments, but a backdrop to daily life here.

Which is perhaps why the sight of Kathmandu Durbar Square hit all of us here so hard; I took the pictures below on the 26th of April.

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Happy New Year 2072!

in daily life, environment, Kathmandu

On the first day of the Nepali New Year 2072 (April 14th, 2015 by the English calendar), the Nepali government imposed a ban on plastic bags within the Kathmandu Valley. This is wonderful news and a great way to ring in the new year — anyone who has been here knows the litter issues that exist. I’m encouraged to see how much this has already been implemented in just one week since it came into effect last Monday, and I hope it spreads to the whole of Nepal.

Happy new year to us all!

Simple, tasty food

in daily life, Food, Kathmandu

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The photo above is an example of everything I love about Nepali food: it was served to me as a snack while visiting someone’s home. Everything was simple, but supremely good: a brown flour roti, some black dahl – plain but creamy, and a bowl of mixed beans and vegetables, lightly seasoned. It was all made from scratch, of course, and tasted fresh and bright, despite it all being cooked. I love the way Nepali home cooks can take the humblest of ingredients and a few spices and turn seemingly anything into a feast.

Another kind of mountain

in daily life, Food, Kathmandu, Nepal, Vegetables

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These might not be the kind of mountains most people think of when they think of Nepal, but at this time of year, heaps of the white daikon radish, known locally as mula, appear on the side of the road in certain parts of the city. I’m always in awe of the quantities there are. Nepalis love to pickle or ferment mula and serve it as a flavourful accompaniment to their dahl-bhat dinners. There are so many variations of mula achar; the word achar is often translated as pickle, but it is not a pickle in the way we know it–rather it almost serves as a seasoning to the plainer tasting dahl, and can be made with a wide variety of vegetables. A common version of mula achar involves julienning it before drying it in the sun, and then tossing with spices and oil before packing it into jars to mature.

Makes me hungry just thinking about it. I don’t think, however, that this farmer would sell me some in less than gargantuan proportions, so I’ll have to get some from my local vegetable seller. Ah, the local vegetable sellers I buy from–they’re a colorful cast of characters and that’s a whole story in itself!

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Happy December from Kathmandu

in daily life, Kathmandu

To all my regular readers (I know, I know, I’m being optimistic here), you may have noticed a dearth of posts of late. The reasons for this are several – firstly, just over two months ago I had to find a new place to live, as the owners of the house I was renting sold it rather abruptly. I was sad to leave my little pink house surrounded by rice fields and with its great view of the hills, but by a miracle I was able to find a new place–and even tinier yellow house, flanked by bamboo and cow sheds, and even closer to those hills. It has ample water — a rarity in Kathmandu, and the landlady is also really lovely. Unfortunately, my old ISP doesn’t cover the area, so I still don’t have consistent internet, a fact that should be sorted soon but has kept me offline more than usual. Then, a few weeks ago, my laptop broke down, which kept me offline even more; gratefully, I’ve got it back today–so you should be hearing from me more, now.
Happy December, everyone!

What to do in Kathmandu? Mustang Photo Exhibit

in activities, Kathmandu, Nepal

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.

Something new for me today

in daily life, Food, Kathmandu, rice

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 🙂

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