30 April, 2010

SCHOOL!

A huge commotion this morning. SCHOOL is finally starting! This past month was the equivalent to the US ‘summer vacation’ and now the kids are starting their new school year and new class. The kids go to Hindu VidayaPeeth (HVP) School in Ghorahi (7 km from CPH) which is run by Bhola Yogi (Chintamani Yogi runs the one in Kathmandu, where I stayed for a week before coming to Dang). It is a privately owned school and has over 425 students of which around 120 are sponsored –meaning their school fee, uniforms and book are paid for by someone else. The sponsorship comes from people mainly in the UK but also from the US and Europe.. Because the Yogi family is humanitarians, they focus on the needy. The HVP School in Dang formerly had a hostel or boarding where children could live if their families couldn’t care for them, or they were orphans or lived too far to travel daily to the school. It became logistically difficult to continue to have the children live at the school, so 3 years ago The Children’s Peace Home was established so the kids could live in a more ‘homey’ environment – there are currently 29 kids living at CPH.


That said, the kids have been anxiously waiting for the start of the new school year which was supposed to happen last week. The Maoists http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Nepalese_Civil_War had a strike against all the private schools in Nepal so the kids at HVP (and any other private school) were forbidden to attend. I asked Bhola what would happen if the school DID open and he replied that the Maoists would probably come to the school and kill the head master (him); it sounded like a good idea to keep the school closed. This morning Bhola took off on the motorbike headed for town and he received the news that the ban was lifted for whatever reason (I don’t get news here) and school was finally in session.


A ‘normal’ day here when the kids aren’t in school goes something like this: everyone up around 6 am and around 6:30 breakfast (tea) is ready. Chores are started (animals tended to, ‘yard’ cleaned up from all the debris that blew in the night before, clothes washed, rooms cleaned, garden hand watered, and anything else that may need to be done, like food preparation). Around 10ish they have their first meal of the day; rice/lentils/vegetable. You must fill up because the next and final meal will be around 7:30 pm. After breakfast the kids finish any chores they didn’t finish and start any other projects (such as the older boys have been clearing the former ‘fence’ which was a row of scraggly bushes to make way for the new fence). I have been working with the kids from 11 – 1 everyday, just playing games, and reading and such. At 1:30 they usually gather in Bhola and Jaya’s living area to watch a movie. The afternoons are so hot! If they aren’t watching a movie or after the movie, it’s totally a free for all play time: anything goes (like yesterday we walked though the paddy fields just doing nothing really, but it was good ‘bonding’ time as well as observation of their compassion towards one another). There’s tea and a large snack around 3ish.

They wash/clean up before we all gather for Satsung around 6:30 for an hour before dinner.


That’s a rough draft of a ‘day in the life’ of an orphan at CPH. When there’s not school that is. Today the meal bell rang at 9am and when I went down wondering why it was early I saw many of the kids dressed in their school uniforms and eating ‘with’ the animals. I exclaimed “School today?” and was answered by loud yes’ and big smiles. I guess they were ready to see their friends and start their new classes and a kid can only take so many movies and playing in the fields. They quickly tried to eat and clean up, but the current water shortage made it difficult as none of the pumps were producing water. (I need to look more into this as I don’t know how it’s regulated –sometimes there is tons of water, other times, none).

Once everyone was cleaned up and the eating area cleaned as well, they impatiently waited for the bus. Some of the boys kicked a ball around while the girls gathered together to talk. The little ones adjusted and readjusted their clothes and backpacks and FINALLY they headed to catch the bus down the road. I am staying at CPH today (which will be a long day with no electricity –my laptop only has about an hour left on its battery) but maybe I’ll catch up on my reading (considering I have only been here for a month but have acquired/bought 7 books!)

29 April, 2010

It was a dark and stormy night...


It hasn’t rained here since I got here (and probably a while before then). It’s really HOT during the day with strong winds for a couple hours in the early afternoon and then settling back down to hot stillness. It was overcast all day and a very welcome temperature. It became dark really early with small sprinkles before Satsung. It brought out the silliness in the kids. Bhola told me that it will start raining again this month. (dry season and monsoon season). But then at dinner he said that in a couple months the weather will cool down and the rains will begin…wha? Well, either I confused his English or he didn’t get it out right (wouldn’t be the first time for either). I’ll have to look it up online or patiently wait to see what happens…

28 April, 2010

The Rooster is Dead!

I went down to have tea one morning and as I sat sipping the warm goodness, I looked over and saw one of the two roosters at CPH laying flat out on the step. I said to one of the kid “Is that rooster dead?” and the reply was “yes, the rooster is dead”. It seems that something had killed it in the night. Nishan picked it up and while holding it like a baby, he was inspecting it to see how it died. No conclusion was made as to its death, but some of the kids decided to bury it. This was kind of cool, considering they could have easily thrown it into the nearest ditch or field to either decompose or be eaten by another animal.

Arati gently holding the dead thing while Nisan gets to work on the hole.


Patiently waiting…


Nisan hit rock, so we moved to another area. The ground was really hard –it hasn’t rained in months, so the hole was difficult to dig. He kept at it until finally we laid him to rest.







27 April, 2010

Pure organic Wheat!

I’m from Kansas and lived there for 23 years. Kansas -you know land of the WuShock http://www.wichita.edu/thisis/aboutus/about_wushock.asp and farm land central, but I don’t really think I have ever really SEEN wheat. Sure I saw it growing in the fields, but then a big tractor would do its thing and I would not see it again until I bought some bread or flour.

To those of you city folk or those like me who weren’t alive when my grandmother was a child here’s what real wheat looks like freshly cut from the field –pure organic wheat.


The process to get the wheat kernel from the stalk requires some effort. Here’s a look “behind the scenes”. The guy turns the crank to get the fan going while his wife and daughter hold up a flat basket filled with the top of the stalk. Once the fan starts going it blows the lighter stalk over the top of the gently tilted basket, while the heaver wheat kernel falls to the ground below. It’s a dirty time consuming process but satisfying once they have ground that wheat into flour and then turned that flour into their delicious flat bread called roti.

The children’s Peace Home doesn’t grow their own wheat; instead they buy it in huge white bags which then has to be picked through to remove any little stones or wheat casing. It’s a family affair with many of the kids helping with no age or gender specification. I guess “if you wanna eat, you must clean the wheat”.
First Chandra (my new idol) sifts through it with a flat basket. She flips it gently with her wrists and most of the casing flies over the top and the hard kernel stays in the lower half of the basket. I tried this technique when we were sorting coriander which grown fresh on the property and failed miserably. One of the girls promptly took the basket from me after I flipped it a little too hard and the small seeds flew over the top along with the stuff to be disgarded. It is obviously a skill that takes a lot of practice to master and I don’t think I’ll get the chance because they don’t have the time or patience to deal with my steep learning curve…
The kids spread out the wheat which Chandra has taken the first go at and they remove any thing which is not edible. I guess since this final process was easiest enough for anyone with appending thumbs, I was allowed to help.

25 April, 2010

Phewa Tal Lake - Pokhara

The conference ended today at noon and the group from Dang decided to head back tomorrow so we could see the famous Phewa Tal Lake that most people come to see.



We then took a boat ride to the Vahari Mandir Temple, Pokhara’s most famous Hindu temple, which sits on a little island. I promptly received a tika at the temple and then walked around the very small island.

Some of my traveling companions; they were happy, I promise, Nepalese people do not normally smile in photos. I always have to end up saying, “I won’t take the photo unless you smile!”

24 April, 2010

STD's in the ISD?


I couldn’t help myself with this photo. In Nepal a STD place is where you can go to make international calls. In the US, STD stands for (Sexually Transmitted Disease). I can’t help but giggle every time I see one of the shops proudly displaying their sign. This one went too far and I couldn’t resist the photo….Just in case, on a whim or impulse you want to stop in and pick up a STD as a souvenir…you could probably get one pretty cheap and it would last you a lifetime.

23 April, 2010

Natha Yoga Sampradaya Tradition Conference

I arrived at the other hotel after taking a leisurely morning walking around and having 2 cups of tea chatting with some locals. I then re-organized the registration table which had been set up either the night before or early that morning. (when the other guy questioned my methods, Bhola told him to let me do what I want because I know how to do these things, ha ha) During the conference I took notes in order to write a report that would encompass everything that went on.

Here are some colorful speakers from the conference.




and a shot of me and the Brother’s Chintamani and Bhola Yogi

22 April, 2010

Pokhara sights

The conference starts tomorrow so today we had a chance to see some of the sights; first stop, the Bindhya Basini Temple:


Next stop was Devil’s Falls (the point where the Pardi Khola stream vanishes underground)


And finally the Seti River Gorge (a deep narrow gorge through the middle of town). Everyone was taking their photo at this snake sculpture so I figured “why not?” I was given my tika (blessing on the forehead) by an old man at the gorge. I was the last in line and a bit behind since I was taking some photos. The man asked me the infamous question “where are you from” and when I told him he produced an old photo of his father and some guy. He pointed to the guy and said “this is an American with my father”. I had to laugh since he seemed so proud of that photo. He then ‘blessed’ me and I went on my way a bit merrier and lighter feeling.

When we arrived back at the hotel, I was told that they found me another hotel (with about 5 others) so I grabbed my previously packed bag and went to check out my new accommodations. I was very happy with the room and unpacked happily and then set out to check out the area. I returned and was told that we needed to go to the conference hotel because there was a press conference or something. We all crawled once again into the bus and headed down town. I am not sure what really went on in the press conference but the room was full of local journalists and such. After the 45 minute thing we were served a little food and then right when everyone finished it started to lightly rain.

And then a bit harder.


And then a little hail…
AND THEN A DOWNPOUR!

And HUGE HAIL!!!!


The sound on the tin roof was deafening and it felt like the place would collapse any minute! It finally subsided and the sun came out as if nothing had happened and the hail melted in a matter of minutes…but not before the kids emerged from inside and had ‘hail-ball’ fights. I looked up as we left and saw groups of kids on rooftops playing in it. Zooming in I caught them in the act!

As we drove back to the hotel, everywhere people were cleaning up after the hail as kids were collecting it in bags to throw at one another. That’s the closest thing to snow they’ll ever get there.

After the full day a guy at my hotel said that they were going to go to dinner soon and they would knock on my door. About a hour later (around 8 pm) a man and 2 boys said they were going. Now I am getting to know the culture and knew organization is not the strong point here, but I figured we would all group together in the reception area and then go; I was STARVING. Well 4 of us sat there for about 15 minutes and I asked “are the others coming?” and was told “yes” as the guy looked nervously about. 20 minutes later my peaceful demeanor was no longer evident and I just wanted to EAT. I stood up and said, “This is really crazy, will you please go see if the others are coming!” The guy quickly ran off to see what the holdup was and he soon returned with the 3 other men. I have no idea if the others were waiting in their room for us or what –I didn’t even care at that point, I was just excited to be moving.

We went to a restaurant that supposedly knew we were coming, but again, somewhere along the lines the communication was muddled so they had not prepared anything, -assuring us that they would get right on it. We finally ate around 10:00 and the food was probably not very good, but since I hadn’t eaten anything in about 12 hours, I wolfed it down. When I was finished I paid and told the men that I was going back to the room. They started to say “we will all go in a minute” but I had had enough of that and said “I’m a big girl who knows her way back to the hotel. I will be safe and will see you all tomorrow.” One mentioned “we will get you for breakfast” and I said, possibly a little too abruptly, “NO! I will get my breakfast alone in the morning.” Hospitality can only go so far with me! I confirmed the time that I needed to help with the registration for the conference and bid everyone a good night.