21 April, 2010


From Butwal we headed to the town of Tansen (or Palpa as it’s also called). Tansen is a wonderful ‘non-touristy’ town with cobblestone streets with a medieval kind of feel.
In Tansen we visited the Amar narayan Mandir, a 3 tiered pagoda-style wooden temple built in 1807. The temple is considered to be one of the most beautiful temples outside the Kathmandu Valley with intricately carved wooden deities.

After the temple we walked around the market

A few of us decided to hike up to a hill top to get a full view of the city. The hike was through a pine needled covered trail and decidedly serene.

And the other side:

Lunch followed the hike and while waiting for the food, I had a crowd around me watching me use my SteriPen ultraviolet light thing which I use to sterilize water from the tap which I put into my metal water bottle. I am proud to say that I haven’t bought a water bottle here in Nepal and in fact have not bought one for well over a year. There’s enough plastic in the world and I don’t feel a need to add my share. This country is so polluted with garbage that it saddens me to look at it all. In a culture which views god as ‘everything’ somewhere the connection isn’t made to the earth. Would anyone throw garbage at or on god? Of course it’s not always as easy as “don’t throw trash around” because there needs to be a place to throw it -i.e. a trash can. And if there was a trash can along the road, then there would have to be a system in place to pick up the trash from the can…and then where to put it. Garbage nowadays doesn’t biodegrade. I bet 98% of the garbage left (after the poor and animals have rummaged through it) is plastic (bags, drink bottles, etc.). I don’t have an answer. The situation is so vast it’s hard to see a light at the end of the tunnel.

Long ago, I started with my own habits in the grocery store and beyond. I found it surprisingly easy to avoid buying plastic encased products. Basically, I just didn’t buy them! If a food item was available in a glass bottle, I would buy that item. What this caused was a massive reduction in my comsumption of processed foods. Does anyone really need to eat a prepared frozen dinner which has been put in a plastic tray, covered in plastic wrap and then a plastic/paper box? The food us usually as nutritious as the packaging it come in. US supermarkets suffocate me, I feel lost and disgusted at the same time. The choices are overwhelming and unnecessary. I revel in simplicity which has made my life so much easier.

One day, here at CPH I captured a plastic bag that was floating in the wind (the mighty Kansas wind has followed me here!) I took the two little ones (Saytata-3 yrs. and Jyoti-4 yrs.) and we started picking up little bits of garbage around CPH-mostly candy wrappers and bits of paper. There isn’t much trash produced here, but again the wind blows everything everywhere. Saytata found her own bag and started putting trash in hers. Soon Jyoti tired of the ‘game’ and ran off to play; but by then we had a good amount of trash. Before she ran off, I had her put the plastic bag of trash in their trash can and about that time, I motioned to Saytata to have her put her bag in there. She looked at her bag (that she had found) and I guess decided that she wanted to keep the bag so she promptly dumped the contents into the wind and ran off to play with her bag…sigh, well, I’ll try again and again and again.

Nothing can be solved overnight (or even in a lifetime) but what’s the harm in trying? Stop the massive plastic consumption? Seems like a huge task, no? Make it easy and start with yourself. For my mom and Emily I’ll quote their beloved Late Michael Jackson. “I’m starting with the (wo)man in the mirror”. One person can make a difference; I don’t buy it therefore I don’t add to the pollution of this earth. Once person can make a difference and I see it every day when a 3 year old orphan runs to me with her arms open wide and smiles.

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