29 May, 2010

OK, it's not really THAT bad...

I’ve come to terms with teaching English at the school. I’m getting more respect and have actually had the students ‘beg’ me to come into their class. I have to admit that I owe most of my ability to be in the classroom to my parents and family, since sarcasm and sense of humor has pulled me through many an occasion where otherwise I would have 30 pairs of beautiful brown eyes looking at me blankly.

My ‘social butterfly’ days are gone and I am very much at ease and happy being alone, but I must admit that if given the center of attention I can shine (and then crawl back into my shell). I am reminded of my 3rd grade school program when my neighbor Rick (who was always joking around with me and my siblings) was there with his wife to watch his son who was in my class. While sitting in the audience, Rick made a funny face at me while I was on the stage singing my little heart out with the rest of the class. I spotted him and right in the front of the gymnasium on the stage facing the entire town I stuck my tongue out at him. He then proceeded to egg me on and I responded as if we were the only ones in the room. I don’t remember how it stopped, either I was reprimanded by a teacher or one of my parents realized who the culprit was, but I have this ability to forget where I am and become immersed in the situation at hand.
It happens with me and children like that; I can immerse myself into‘make believe’ for hours and recently even got into ‘princess mode’ while in DC (luckily no photo’s to prove that one –but it was do or die in the very pink and very wonderful Cannovalicious household!) Likewise, when I am in front of the class, I forget ‘what I look like’ as I use every facial expression and hand gesture to get my point across.

I don’t teach from a book since I don’t have a certain class every day at the same time. I am becoming the “English game queen” and have been able to transfer the book “Five Minute English Games” which I found into “Forty-five Minute English Games.”

I have made peace with my teaching responsibility. I don’t admit to love it, but I like it – I’m beginning to enjoy the older students and dare I say, they enjoy me too!?

28 May, 2010

Food storage:

I was curious about the ‘mystery room’ that is always locked tight, but I see the children going in empty handed and coming out with buckets full of food so I knew it was some kind of a pantry. I finally caught a glimpse inside and the vast amount of food they need to feed to everyone each week. The onions and bags of rice are from their garden last year as is most of the other food too. There are bags and bags of dried cauliflower which they re-hydrate and make into a curry (do I even need to mention that I love it?)

Alas I do believe that my camera is a child magnet because as soon as I snapped a couple photo’s Srijana and Ritu appeared out of nowhere and of course had to ‘Price is Right” the photo’s.

Here’s Srijana showing off the lovely potatoes handpicked from their garden.

And here are the jars of something that I couldn’t understand.

Oh and no pantry shot wouldn’t be complete without a tomato, handful of rice and large squash thing.

27 May, 2010

Tape Faces

What do you do when you have about 10 minutes to kill with Sima, Sabita and Anjali and nothing to do. You bring out the ole’ clear tape and let them have at it. They had a blast! And of course promptly wanted their pictures taken so they could see how silly they all looked. On a side note, Sabita found out the hard way what the English word for 'eyebrow' meant as she about ripped her left one out.  Needless to say, the others didn't follow suit.

26 May, 2010

If you give a boy a camera

I love the children’s book “If You Give a Mouse a Cookie”.  It’s a great cause/effect story.  The title of this post emulates the short story of what happens when ‘You Give a Nepali Boy Named Kishan a Camera". 

On this beautiful cloudy (NOT hot…yet) morning I grabbed my camera to take a couple of shots of the neighbor kids who always find their way to CPH when they are not tending their animals or working.  After the photo shoot (another blog post forthcoming) I helped Soraj edit his ‘background story’ which we are preparing in send to WatOpot Children’s Community in Cambodia –thus starting an amazing vulnerable children’s connection in different countries (yet another blog post forthcoming with more info…).

ANYWAY, Kishan motioned that he wanted to use my camera and I jumped at the request.  I have TONS of photo’s of the girls and hardly any of the boys.  The boys are either working or playing in the fields (while the girls work/play closer to the house).  The older boys are also camera shy.  I gave him my camera.  Did I mention that it’s a waterproof, shockproof, super-tough and after today a teenage-Nepali-boy-proof Olympus Stylus Tough-8000?

I gave him instructions to TAKE PHOTOS OF THE BOYS! because I had very few, if any, of them.  With a grin on his face, he and some of the boys took off.  About an hour later, I found them playing cricket and asked if they were finished with it, and Sunil replied that no, they were still taking photo’s.  After showing Sunil the 'sport' button on my camera, I gleefully skipped off leaving my it in their hands.  I couldn't help getting excited over all the photo's I would get to look at! They finally handed over the camera and I rushed to my computer to check out what they had captured on film.

After the download only took about 5 seconds, I realized that the Cause:  You give a boy a camera, has the Outcome of : He will take a whopping 18 photo’s…sigh…I was really hoping for many more, because if you give a GIRL a camera you come back with a full memory card!  Well, I’ll try again and will be more specific about actually 'using' it, but in the meantime here are a few glorious shots of the boys.

25 May, 2010

Mango Pickle

It’s mango pickle making day!  The unripe mangos are being picked by the bucketful and made into what they call ‘pickle’ which isn’t a ‘pickle’ in the sense of a pickled cucumber, their ‘pickle’ is somewhat like a chutney; spicy and bitter (or sweet) at the same time. Almost every meal we have a little ‘pickle’ made from various fruits or vegetables. I love it; but then again, have yet to find any food that I don’t like here.

Well today the unripe/bitter mango’s were de-pitted and then cut up (skin and all) into small pieces and was a female family affair.  Since I couldn’t help, I decided to document the momentous occasion. 

The first step was to dry mustard seed and then grind them up (to be used as one of the seasonings). 

Then the cutting started and all the pieces were dumped into a large metal bowl.

Next came the seasonings:  Mustard seed



Chili pepper

And oil.

Nima had the honor of mixing it all together (and mixing and mixing) then filling a jar then smashing it down!  Filling. Smashing. Repeat until I think 6 jars were filled. 

The pickle only has to sit for about 5 days and then it will be ready to devour along with a wonderful Nepalese meal.-as Ritu and Shrijana are so proudly displaying.

24 May, 2010


CPH has about 5 huge mango trees here and they are dripping with fruit!, but unfortunately this year they will not ripen (not sure why) which is very unfortunate since mango in my opinion are ‘fruit of the gods’, they are so delicious!

The frustrating thing for me is that I am super allergic to mango sap or the skin of the mango.  I can eat the fruit by the handful, but give me one fresh from the tree (or even one in the supermarket) and I get this rash starting up my arms.  I first found this out when I lived in Hawaii and was covered in a rash one day.  I thought I had poison ivy or oak, but since there was none of that on the island, the dr. said it was probably mango’s as it has the same reaction in people as a poisonous leaf.  I got it time and again in Hawaii until medication wouldn’t cure it and I had to get a shot to rid it from my body.  I shied away from mango’s after that and once back in the continental US, instead of mango sap, I suffered through the poison oak my dog, Mattie, would bring me each time we went on a hike –sort of like a special reminder of our fun day together.

I really don’t mind that I’m allergic as actually getting the fruit from a mango is not so easy.  The skin isn’t always easy to peel off and the fruit sticks to the large seed inside.  In DC, there was a woman selling ziplock baggies full of cold sliced mango on the corner near where I lived.  She charged around 2.00 for a bag and it was worth every cent on a blazing hot day.  Once my friend questioned the price and I said “Just pay it! Do you know how much work that women went through?”  I didn’t tell her that some days, I would slip the woman a $5 bill slurring out ‘keep the change’ as my mouth watered and my eyes glazed over at the beautiful orange mango flesh.

Here in Nepal, Bhola gave me a mango a couple of weeks ago and I couldn’t wait to dig into it.  The mango rash was in the back of my mind as I stared into the bag.  I let it sit in my room for a couple days waiting for the opportune time to devour it.  One day, I picked it up and held it why I tried to figure out how I was going to cut into it in my room.  Because I wasn’t able to bring my trusty Swiss knife with me this trip (didn’t want to check in any luggage) I was trying to McGyver my way into the fuit.  Realizing that a tweezers and a paper clip just wasn’t going to do the trick easily, I put the mango back in the bag and figured I would go down to the kitchen and borrow a knife.  I got distracted from my mission and ended up not cutting into it that day.  The next morning, low and behold, there it was…little red bumps in clumps all over my forearms!  With my head hanging low, I took the sweet mango safely encased in the bag to Bhola and Jaya’s room.  I showed him my arm and said that I can only touch the actual fruit of the mango, not the skin or I will get this rash.  I made it clear (twice) that I can EAT mango, but can’t help in the preparation of it. Being the ever-so-thoughtful man, that afternoon as I worked on the computer, I heard a little knock on the door and one of the girls entered and it was like a shining orange beam accompanied her as I saw my mango all cut up and gloriously arranged around a cup of tea!
I would have taken a photo of it, but I think I was overwrought with delight as a lone tear of pure joy rolled down my cheek. 

23 May, 2010

life or death...

I was laying on my bed relaxing after a busy day contemplating whether it was worth it to try to catch a quick power nap before prayer time and my eyes wandered up. I looked at my mosquito net and noticed that it’s purple and green; my two favorite colors…the colors of my net was something I haven’t really given thought to even though I tuck it securely around me every night and pull it up every morning. I thought of how pretty it is swaying in the wind that is coming in through my open windows. How pretty it is with my peace flags (my personal touch to the bare room) waving above it.

I thought of how in the US mosquito nets come in very vibrant colors and are used as a decorative piece for a little girl’s room; how on eBay you can pick one up from 10$ on up to 30$! My mind then ventured to the necessity of the net in other countries. Here in Nepal where I am, it’s wonderful to have one. It definitely is useful for keeping out the mosquitoes who would otherwise feast on my body while I sleep (as I found out one night when I tried sleeping without it with my ear plugs in!)

But what about those who do not have the luxury of having a net?  Those that either can't afford one or who are in a location where one isn't available.  According to the World Health Organization (WHO), some 500 million people are infected with mosquito-borne illnesses such as dengue (clinical illness ranging from a nonspecific viral syndrome to severe and fatal hemorrhagic disease), malaria (flu-like symptoms, such as high fever, headaches, muscle aches, nausea and abdominal discomfort. If left untreated, the malaria can progress to anemia, heart or kidney failure, coma and even death), yellow fever (Liver failure is the most common effect, causing severe jaundice, hence the name “yellow fever"), and encephalitis (the swelling and inflammation of the brain, and can be caused by a bite from a mosquito that is infected with a virus).  More than 2.5 million die of these diseases every year, many of them young children.

The WHO estimates that 300 - 500 million cases of malaria occur yearly and over a million people die of it. More children die from malaria than any other disease in the world. My Italian friend lost her unborn child after becoming infected with malaria while in Africa. Thankfully she survived, after a long and painful battle with the illness.  Malaria is not present where I am, so the mosquitoes are a nuisance not a killer. In many areas around the world mosquitoes carry the deadly disease from one person to another leaving a trail of innocent babies and children in its path. A simple net, regardless of its ascetic beauty can save a life –pretty cut and dry.  My niece had a net when she was younger.  It was sooo cute in her room.  At that time, I never once thought about it actually being a 'mosquito net'.  It was just a fashionable accessory.  I never thought that for lack of one a person could die; that as my niece slept peacefully under her fashion accessory, a little girl 1/2 way around the world died because of a lack of one.

The first thing I did upon looking at my room here at CPH was to figure out how to 'make it pretty'.  Decorating/accessorizing your home is fun and having a comfortable home environment can help one relax after a hard day. It could also help you become a humanitarian. Perhaps the next time you buy a ‘luxury’ item for your home, think about its significance in the world. If you buy your daughter a net, perhaps donate a mere $5 to one of the following Non-profit organizations and they will provide a net to a needy child elsewhere in the world.

Involve your children! It's a global world and even the simplest of actions in one country can have a profound (positive or negative) affect on another.

If you are in the market for home/food/different items there are hundreds of ‘fare trade’ websites on the net; but look for the “FairTrade” symbol! And do a little researching on the website to see just where the product is coming from. Sure you’ll spend a little more, but isn’t a human life worth it? In a world where almost 1/2 of the earth’s population, 2.1 billion people live on less than $2 a day (880 million live on less than $1 a day – for reference the population of the US is around 300 million), maybe new pillow shams aren’t so important…maybe a simple click on the internet and a $5 deduction from your checking account is?

22 May, 2010

Satyata dancing!

Check this out if you want to see the cutest little Nepali dancer around! About 3/4 way through the video she take a break to spit out the 'window' - it's is simply priceless!


21 May, 2010

Playing ‘house’…

I’ve watched hundreds of children over the years ‘play house’. Usually little girls, but on occasion the little boy (who’s future as a father/husband looks bright) joined in. In all my many years of observing children ‘make do’ with limited household supplies, today has definitely topped the list in ingenuity and imagination.

I stumbled upon Satyata and Jyoti playing house. I didn’t know what they were playing at first as my Nepali isn’t even up to their level yet and their ‘game pieces’ were unrecognizable; but then I realized their actions could only mean one thing. Their ‘babies’ were an empty water bottle and part of broken bat that the boys broke earlier playing cricket. They were using leaf dishes and Jyoti was flipping a bowl full of little stones the same way I have seen the older girls do with wheat or rice to remove their husks. Satyata then was picking through her imaginary grain removing the stones; which took REALLY good imagination as she was picking choice stones out of her plate full of stones.

Jyoti then jumped up to get her water bottle baby and drapped it over her shoulder –it must have been crying! She also was wearing a long piece of discarded material around her neck (like a scarf). It’s hard to get any good shots of the kids without them knowing since as soon as someone sees a camera they shout “ONE PHOTO MISS!”

Luckily I did get a couple of shots in before the other children saw me. Check out the video if you get a chance it's less than a minute.

20 May, 2010

Things that fly and Icky green things…

I just watched a rather large wasp shove a bright green something into its new nest, which unbeknownst to me was being built inside my room. I quickly threw down my mosquito net to be safe, but realizing that it was busy shoving whatever it had inside the hole, I ventured out of my safe place and grabbed my camera. After a couple of shots, I retreated to my enclave again and waited and watched. The dangerous winged creature finally flew back out of my room and I quickly slammed my door shut and closed my windows.

I stared into the hole to see if the green thing was moving. Was it an egg sack? A soon to be queen wasp? Was it alive? Not seeing anything moving inside, I knew I had to get it out of my room! I flipped over the mud nest and inside was not one but TWO little caterpillars and they were still alive; albeit barely. I know practically nothing about wasps except that their stingers really REALLY hurt (memories from my youth not soon forgotten). I have no idea if those caterpillar things were baby wasps or what. They could have been the wasp’s dinner. I briefly thought about letting it stay and seeing what will happen, but as I mentioned, the thought was brief as I didn’t really want my room to be a science lab. So I opened my windows and doors, flipped the nest and its green inhabitants out the window, retreated once again to the safety of my net enclosed bed….and waited.

Soon here comes the wasp just beeboppin’ along and then the buzzing intensified as he spotted his defunct home. The wasp was probably a little confused at first and then was just plain pissed! The buzzing went on for awhile in trying to find an answer to the mystery of the missing nest. I found myself thinking “don’t look this way, don’t look this way” as I sat not moving a muscle. The wasp finally gave up and flew back out my door. I hope it’s not coming back and that it tells all its wasp friends to stay away from the ‘room with the disappearing nest’.

surprising interest and knowledge

I was checking out an organization in Cambodia - http://www.watopot.org/- that helps HIV+ orphans and while looking at some photo’s of the children they have there, three of the CPH teenageish boys wandered into the ‘office’.  They immediately wanted to know about the children I was looking at.  I explained to them that most of the children are HIV positive and other children are there because their parents have died of AIDS.

I asked them if they knew about AIDS and they said yes, that they learned about it in a class at school called Civics, population (I think) and Health.  I was very impressed about the class but moreso about the boys desire to find out the AIDS statistics in Nepal.  After we had looked up where Cambodia was and the prevelance of HIV AIDS there, we then found a link to Nepal.  The last statistic shows Nepal as having 70,000 people living with HIV+ (no data was available for how many were children –which the boys really wanted to know).  They thought 70,000 was a lot until I showed them the data for countries in Africa (some in the millions) and the US (over a million).  Nepal is one of the better countries for infection rate. 

The boys then wanted to know what people have AIDS and we read about Sex Workers and drug use as being the main culprits.  The United Nations site we were on mentioned that the biggest spread of the disease into Nepal was the migrant workers going to India in search for work (obviously bringing more than money back home to their wives).  I found it interesting that while discussing the way it is spread (sex workers; men having sex with men; etc.) that there wasn’t an uncomfortable feeling as we (a woman and teen boys) discussed some intimate matters regarding the disease.

They wanted to know the statistic in their region, Dang.  We couldn’t find data on that, but we did find an article where there was an AIDS awareness in this district and read about that and then looked up the statistics in some of the towns in India that border Nepal.

We went back to the Cambodia site and looked at the children some more.  Their genuine concern for these children who did not have parents was evident.  They looked through all the photo’s and then at the newest arrival at Wat Opot a tiny HIV+ baby girl.  http://www.watopot.org/update-on-ann-marie/ They wanted to know if she was going to be alright, and I said, I think so, but you never know.  She was born with an incurable disease and is sick and her mother died already of the disease.  One of the boys said “oh, I think she looks good and will get better because there is medicine for her”.

A very memorable time here at CPH.

19 May, 2010

Welcome to Dokhari

Anil and I took a bus from Ghorahi and headed south for about an hour, then in a small town, jumped on another bus to take us to his home town (where Bhola and Chandra awaited us).  The words of Bhola “Dokhare, is hotter than Dang” is the biggest understatement of the month!  It is like when you drive from Austin to Galveston and all of a sudden it like you drive through the entrance to a sauna and the door slams shut –it was like that here.  I was totally soaked in my own sweat on the bus. 

When we arrived in what I presumed to be Dokhari, (I was wrong) it was the nearest town on the outskirts of where we were to end up.  A friend of Anil’s was on the bus and walked with us

And walked…

And walked…

And walked…

We then parted ways as his destination afforded him a right turn.  Anil and I walked on and finally the village was in sight!

…of course I had no prior knowledge that we would be walking for over 30 minutes in the stifling heat! You know it’s hot when you drink 2 liters of water and don’t have to pee since it has all made its way out of your body from your pores!

We finally made it to his family’s house along the way stopping at his “sister’s’ house (although he only has one sister, Satyata’s mother who lives in Butwal) and then another stop at his ‘brother’s’ house (although he has no brothers)  When I finally mentioned the discrepencacy, he asked what I call my sister’s  husband, to which I replied “brother-in-law”.  He said, yes, my bro-in-law, that’s where we stopped at, which made even less sense to me and just added to my confusion.

We sat in the house and I was very happy to be sitting down, but the heat was even worse in the house.  I just looked out the door and pretended to be somewhere else, somewhere with a bit of a chill in the air.  Chandra then said we could go to the water and swim. 

THAT’s what I had been waiting for all along!!! 

We got to the little stream and after confirming that yes, I have another set of clothes, I waded in and waited for the refreshing water to cool me off….I would have had to wait for winter though, as the water was very much on the warm side.  But, it was water nonetheless and refreshing in it’s own way. 

The men who were in the water all waded over to watch the foreigner swim while Chandra snapped a couple of shots.  After a while, I left the water (to let the men bathe) and gave Chandra a big wet hug!

I actually shivered a bit as we walked back to the house.

The next morning we headed back and I was able to catch a ride on Bhola’s motorcycle (instead of waiting later in the day to go back with the others).  I had had a terrible night’s sleep as I was in a room with others and the heat was overwhelming.  We headed down the road around 6:30am and it was already getting warm, but we had the wind in our face!

As we drove along, I kept noticing women (who by and large are culturally responsible for gathering firewood which they use to cook and collecting water) by the side of the road with large bundles of sticks.  Bhola mentioned that it was ‘stick cutting season’ and as I pondered that for a while, he then added “the government has a set time when the people can clear out the wooded area.” –I guess it’s like hunting season for dead wood! The very large bundle’s are then tied together and strapped to the head and back of its collector to be taken back home. It looked pretty funny, like right out of the “Lord of the Rings” walking trees everywhere!