28 November, 2010

INDIA – on the way from Nepal!

Well my whirlwind trip started on Nov. 27th. I left Ghorahi via bus and 12 hours later I arrived in Mahendranagar in the West of Nepal and as Bohla ji promised, I stayed with his relatives for the night; relatives that stuffed me so full of food, I thought I would throw up right there on their pretty table setting! Asha Giri, my host lovingly told me in Nepal “Guest is God” which I have heard many times here. I wanted to ask her if she has ever made God want to throw up by supplying them with enough food for 3 people; but I didn’t. After a restless night’s sleep, her son and I headed out at 5:30am on Nov. 28th to catch a bus to the border. He then helped me to the Immigration building so I could get my departure stamp for Nepal and then he put me on a rickshaw (bicycle taxi).



with strict orders to get me across the border into the Indian town of Banbasa and then put me on a bus to Hardiwar.


The little ole’ Rickshaw driver started off peddling with all his force up a hill; he then got off to push the bike up it and I jumped off too to walk beside him. He protested saying that I should stay in the cart, but I looked at his 90 pound 5’3” frame and said, “I am not a princess, I will walk”. He laughed and said OK. He helped me through the Indian Immigration and on to the town of Banbasa peddling through a major street, onto a bridge over the River Sarda which separates Nepal from India (A security guard on the bridge informed me that I was forbidden to take photo’s…for some reason). After passing over the river (and the security guard), we drove along the river as the sun came up.





We went off the beaten path or took “shortcut” as my driver informed me





and finally made it to Banbasa where my driver said “wait, I will help you”. I wasn’t sure what help he would seek out, so I set my bags down at the bus stop and I had a couple samosas and yummy cup of chai while waiting for him to come back.


My driver soon came up to me with another equally little and equally old man and was informed that this man was going to Hardiwar on the same bus and he would make sure I get there safely. I was, in a sense, ‘passed from one man to another”. After this exchange, I offered to buy the driver some chai, but he pulled out a hand-rolled cigarette and said “this is my breakfast” and laughed as I wrinkled my nose at him. Finally it was time to wave goodbye to little ole’ man #1 and say hello to little ole’ man #2 when the bus arrived. My bag and I were escorted to our seat and little ole’ man #2 promptly sat beside me like my own private little oompa loompa security guard. I had to laugh once we got moving as I had a strong feeling of my dad’s presence around me. The laugh came because I could just imagine my dad cracking up at himself for sending me an old frail Nepali speaking ‘protector’ instead of a strong handsome young man who could converse with me.

It was 9pm (about 12 hours later) that my bus arrived in Hardiwar and I hailed a taxi to take me to my destination for the next 5 days – Sri Ram Ashram! Once there I settled into my room I fell exhausted into bed soo happy to NOT be on a bus!

26 November, 2010

So here’s how things work for me…

worry not - want not...

I had Nepal visa issues upon arrival so instead of meeting Chetna in India on Dec. 3rd, I will to there on Nov. 28th when my one month Nepal visa expires. (when I return on Dec. 12th, I will be able to get my final last month visa of 2010). I didn’t know what to do in India for 6 days by myself…I briefly looked up places to visit and things to do and see, but nothing was jumping out at me. Like so many other decisions, I had confidence that something would come up and that whatever that something was, it was the right thing to do.

That something came in the form of a FaceBook post from my dear friend David. I met David in 1995 when I moved from Hawaii to Austin, TX. At the time, David worked at a gym called The Q and became my personal trainer and then a great friend. Years later David and his brother Michael started Tillman Therapy and run a CrossFit Program, Tillman Training in Cedar Park, TX.  Over the years the brothers physically trained me back onto the soccer field after a broken arm, numerous small injuries and 2 knee surgeries.

I had remarked to Erin about how I really had no idea what I was going to do in India…which was fast approaching. India is huge and the possibilities are endless! I was drawn to the western side as it’s close to where I am in Nepal and also close to Delhi where I will meet Chetna. When I logged into the computer the next day, low and behold there his post alerting me to a CrossFit exercise program at an orphanage in India . Knowing in my heart that it was where I should go, I looked it up on the map.

Yep, it was exactly where I was wanting to go! Within 2 hours I had received an email back from the Children’s Home welcoming me! Then I needed to figure out how to get there…When I mentioned it to Bhola, he said “Melinda why did you wait so long! There may not be any trains available.” I didn’t worry, “Things work for me” I told him. Which they did of course, Bhola found me a bus that will take me all the way across Nepal to the western tip in Mahendranagar (or something like that).  Once there, I will stay with some of his family there (a nephew’s wife’s mother) and the next morning (Nov. 28th) I will take another bus into India and on to Haridwar.

I am not taking my laptop with me, as I am traveling even lighter than usual...will try to send updates on the road, but if not - photo's and stories when I return!

25 November, 2010

Indian VISA

I had planned on going to India with my friend Chetna on Dec. 3rd. Upon arriving in Kathmandu last month, I wnet ot the Indian Embassy to apply for my visa. The morning of Nov. 1st, I met up with my friend Ashley and we then met up with another friend of hers. That friend told me (more than I ever wanted to know) about the Indian Visa process which she said takes a week and 3 trips to the Embassy. I was also informed that you have to arrive there and that the line starts at 8AM…well that day was shot for sure since by then it was almost noon.



The next morning armed with this new knowledge and all my paperwork carefully filled out (and like Santa I had checked it twice) I arrived at the Embassy by 8AM. As I stood in line outside with about 30 dark skinned gentlemen ahead of me, I checked over my paperwork once again. After about 15 minutes the very kind man in front of me suggested that maybe I was in the wrong line as he pointed to another line forming about ½ block away which consisted of a random mix of foreigners. I thanked him and quickly went to the proper line. When they opened the doors at 9AM, I was given number A5 and told to wait once again. Around 9:30 they started calling out the numbers, a seemingly random mix of A’s, F’s and B’s…



When my number was called I was instructed to give them one paper which I had filled out and proceed to the cashier to pay my 300 rupees. That paper was a fax that supposedly was to be sent to my country to find out if I’m on America’s Most Wanted list. Pretty confident that the US has no need to deny me entry into India, I handed the man my money, who then gave me a receipt stating that in exactly 7 days, I was to return and only then could I turn in my application. A bit depressed, I went back to my seat to contemplate what I was going to do in Kathmandu for 7 days. I was totally ready to go to DANG!



I continued my conversation with the guy next to me as I told him what just happened (and what will soon happen to him when they get to his number). Realizing that he will have to stay a week in KTM as well, we made tentative plans to get together and do something during the wait.



When I got back to the HVP school and talked to the UK volunteer, Sue we decided to go ahead and go to Dang for the Tihar festival (even though it would take one day to get there, stay 3 days and 1 day to return). The next day Eli and I met for coffee and, with CM and Bhola’s blessings, I invited him to come along. For whatever crazy reason, he accepted and we headed out the next morning: see TIHAR



Upon returning to KTM on Nov. 8th, we headed bright and early the next morning once again to the Indian Embassy, turned in our application and was told to return that evening to pick up our passports hopefully with a visa entry into India firmly attached to one of the pages. – Evening came and wallah! we had it! I hung out at Ashley’s for a couple days and then Eli and I traveled with a couple other people to Nargakot because I had a few days to kill while waiting for Erin from the US to arrive so we could go to CPH together. It was a short 2 day trip, but the views were worth it!

22 November, 2010

Runaway Goat!

After taking photos of Jyoti and her kitchen, I heard a commotion behind me. I turned to find the baby goat was loose and running around and around the rice stack, followed closely by Lata who was desperately trying to catch it.

Sita and Amrita came to her rescue trying to corner it.



 They succeeded in chasing it back to the barn where Chandra promptly scooped it up and carried it the rest of the way.

What goat chasing adventure would be complete without a photo shoot afterwards? I was more than happy to oblige




Lata


Amrita


Sita




And then of course silly ones!



21 November, 2010

Jyoti

Little Jyoti and her ‘things’ never cease to amaze me. I found her behind the gate preparing a special meal in her own special way. With her kitchen all set up.



Open fire ready for the cooking pot.


And broken bits of brick, as stick and piece of plastic suits her just fine as a table setting.


And customers amusing themselves (riding a ‘motorbike’) while waiting for their delicious and carefully prepared dinner.

20 November, 2010

Volleyball...of sorts...

After school and chores, the boys started a volleyball game; I tried to join in, but the ball was so flat it was killing my hands and arms to hit it; plus I didn’t want to ‘show them up’, HA! Here’s some more memorable shots…unfortunately my camera is made to be rugged, not to take great photo’s (much to my demise). It works great in the sun, or with adequate light, but on a cloudy day or dusk, it’s just not up to par.



I then found out how they play so long…it’s more of a catch and throw kind of game…


I guess it gets a little boring just standing around waiting for the ball to be retrieved, huh, Dhiran?  The world sometimes looks better upsidedown!


The best part is as long as you have a ball, even one ½ flat and a bunch of flip flops, you can have a game of Volleyball!

19 November, 2010

FUN FUN FUN

The children are in LOVE with the crayons and coloring books I brought them. After attacking them like vultures they proceeded to color to their hearts content. The older ones even got in on it, but preferred some international Christmas book they found instead of the Hello Kitty pictures.





I also brought two different letter games, similar to scrabble which the older boys immediately went to work on before I could even explain the game rules. I decided to let them use their imagination instead and leave the rules for another day. They were able to use almost every letter creating a large diagram. Their creativity showed up when they started spelling the words backwards when they were running out of available letters.






The little ones spelled their names, made the alphabet over and over and then turned the letters into a matching game, turning over 2 tiles to find a match….they weren’t having much luck until I realized they had randomly split the letters, sharing them with some others. Once we separated 2 full alphabets giving them 2 of each letter, the game went much smoother!


18 November, 2010

New Additions:

Amongst all the familiar faces that greeted me at CPH, I spied some little ones I didn’t recognize. Let me introduce to you the newest members of the Peace Home Family (bringing the number of children cared for here to 35),

Mr. Manoj (a.k.a. Big Manoj), Miss Anju, Mr. Samir and Mr. Manoj (a.k.a. little Manoj)



Big Manoj, Anju and Samir arrived while I was in Cambodia and Little Manoj came here yesterday. I do not know the background on any of them yet, but I’m sure it’s going to be pretty much the same story, different child. It appears that they are adjusting or have adjusted well, but I have only been here now a short time.

17 November, 2010

CPH at last!!!

Ahhh, CPH is like a breath of fresh air after being in Kathmandu; actually it’s not only LIKE, it IS a breath of fresh air – unpolluted bliss!!. After traveling with Eli for a few days and being a ‘tourist’ there is nothing like the feeling of coming home. Home in this case is Dang and the Children’s Peace Home.




When Erin and I arrived last night the children were all there to greet us and as I gave hug after hug surprising myself at remembering their names, I was again struck by the feeling of being right where I am supposed to be. The love surrounding this place overwhelms you and pulls you in beyond your control.

This morning I awoke and went down the stairs and was greeted by 10 little faces screaming my name when they saw me approach. I was willingly pulled and pushed into the prayer room which doubles as a study room in the mornings. Books were shoved into my lap and every inch of my personal space was invaded as they all vied for my attention.


After the 2 hour morning study session (every morning from 7 – 9) I had more energy than could have imagined. I just can’t get enough of them! Of course I’ll be teaching again at the school….but even that isn’t so bad anymore…


“It’s good to be back!!”

07 November, 2010

TIHAR – Brother/Sister Day

A day to honor your brothers and sisters both family members and ‘Tika” brothers/sisters as well. A Tika sibling is one which you respect and honor as much (or more!) than your family sibling. On this day these bro’s and sis’ honor each other by giving blessings



and special colorful tika’s on the forehead.

 


Bhola and his brother Boldeb were honored by their sisters and vice versa


Then Sue and I each acquired 2 tika sisters (and Eli a brother).



As I proudly displayed my ‘stoplight’ Tika



In true Nepali style; what celebration would be complete without FOOD and LOTS of it!!




After the ceremony and food, we went visiting friends and enjoyed wonderful Chia and a short photoshoot. 



What a wonderful celebration of life and how to live it; love and how to give it!

06 November, 2010

Tihar – the COW!

The dawn of another day of celebrations!



The day before we made sure and hit the local market to buy sweets; from an overwhelming selection proudly displayed!



Focusing on the cow’s this time, Ole Bessie and her new sister, Bonnie, were greeted that morning with colorful tika blessings placed all over their hide.



Then in the same gastronomic fashion as the dogs, they were given special food to eat (finely ground grain).




As they lapped it up, the mother goat decided she wanted in on the feast; no doubt realizing there wasn’t going to be a “day of the goat”. She boldly shoved her way in pulling on her rope which was attached to the tractor; which moved with her intense pulling! She grabbed the edge of the basket and pulled it towards her causing Bonnie to fight back. After a little head butting match, Bonnie gave up and left her pull the basket completely away from the cows as the goat finished up their leftovers.


After the cows were given their due, the puja spread was laid out and the grounds around CPH were all cleaned up and natural handmade leaf garland strung about.





 
The rest of the day was relaxing and food abundant ending with another evening of candles and prayers.