Adventures of Two Americans Living and Working in Nepal

Archive for the category “Fun”

Happy Mother’s Day from Sun Valley, Idaho!

Celebrated Mother’s Day today with Travis’ mom and dad – Nancy and Fineas – in Sun Valley, Idaho. Such a lovely day. It’s nice to be home!

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Wedding in Nepal

Recently, we had the honor of attending the Nepal ceremony for the marriage of our good friends Erin and Binod in Kaski, Nepal. It was a an amazing day, and we are so happy we were able to be in Nepal for the occasion. Now, on to more celebrations in the States!

Congrats, E + B!

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Out and About Kathmandu: Part II

So, I’ve been a little MIA lately on this blog. Lots going on and many new updates to come, but for now just wanted to share some photos of life out and about in Kathmandu!

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The Girl in the Yellow Sari

A few times a week, Travis and I go for a run through the fields and hills behind our apartment in Kathmandu. Our main route is to head down through the green fields where the local women are usually at work planting or harvesting their crops and then up the mountain road that leads to the Kopan Monastery, Kathmandu’s biggest (and most beautiful). The best time of day to do this run is between 4 and 5 p.m., when the sun is starting to go down just a little and the light brings out the bright colors that dot the rural landscape. It’s a rare part of Kathmandu that could actually be described as “picturesque”.

Today, I went for the run solo and reached the top of the hill around 4:30 p.m., making the usual U-turn at the monastery. Not too far into my descent down the mountain, I caught a glimpse of a little girl, maybe 8 or 9 years old, wearing a beautiful, flowing sari in the brightest color of yellow I had ever seen. The sari was a bit dressier than what is typically worn for “everyday” in Nepal, so I figured the girl must be coming from or going to a celebration for one of the religious festivals occurring this week. The way the light was hitting her sari against the green of the fields below was really striking, and I briefly thought how I wished I had my camera on me.

I continued jogging downhill and passed her. Since the volume of my iPod was up pretty high, I couldn’t hear much aside from the music blaring in my ears. But a few seconds after passing this girl, I started to feel heavy vibrations through the concrete of someone’s feet pounding the pavement behind me. I turned my head and saw a small shadow creeping up on mine. This little girl in the bright yellow sari – and dress shoes, I might add – was chasing me.

I turned to look back at her and she gave me a huge grin, her sari flowing in the wind over her head. She picked up the speed and took the lead, her pink dress shoes flopping a little off her heels with each step as she pulled ahead of me.

Scratch that. This little girl in the bright yellow sari – and dress shoes – was racing me.

I kept my pace and stayed behind her. She kept turning to look at me with her big smile. We continued like this until we reached the fork at the bottom of the hill and she stopped, clearly headed in a different direction. “You win!” I said, running by. She just laughed and waved at me as I continued on home.

Best run yet.

Shivaratri at Pashupatinath Temple

Another day in Nepal, another festival celebrated.

Yesterday was the Hindu festival of Shivaratri, a day where devotees give blessings, offerings and worship to the Hindu God Shiva. It’s an especially special day in Kathmandu, since the city is home to the Pashupatinath Temple, located on the banks of the Bagmati River, where Shiva is believed to once have lived.

The temple is a sacred pilgrimage site for Hindu holy men, or “sadhus,” who come in by the droves from India to celebrate the festival. Some photos taken at Pashupati yesterday!

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Returning from India

So, we’ve been out of pocket for the past week or so, traveling through Rajasthan, Agra and Delhi in India. It was a nice break from Kathmandu and so refreshing to be able to turn on a light and charge a battery at any point of the day or night.

In addition to the striking scenery, I also loved the bold color and spirituality of all the places we visited. I’ll get more photos posted soon, but for now wanted to share a picture of this sweet man we encountered in Udaipur. I was a little obsessed with taking photos at the Jagdish Temple there, which is a hub of bright activity in the mornings (and also the town’s soup kitchen.) This man was there every morning, circling the temple and praying.


“Big in Nepal”

All you Tom Waits fans out there are probably familiar with one of his more well-known songs, “Big in Japan.” Well, if Travis ever gets into the songwriting business, he’ll have to do a cover of that song and just swap out “Japan” for “Nepal”.

Yesterday, Travis was interviewed by Sagarmatha TV, a Nepalese television network, for a 7-minute piece they are doing on earthbag construction in Nepal and the Edge of Seven and The Small World school project in Phuleli. Pretty cool stuff. Karma Sherpa, the head of TSW, was also supposed to be interviewed, but is away right now in the US. Sonam Sherpa (pictured) was a huge help facilitating the interview, translating, and hosting at the TSW offices.

We’ll be sure to post the piece here once it’s finished, if it’s available online. In the meantime, I’ll just focus on not letting all the fame go to Travis’ head.

Nacho Update

Just thought it was worth mentioning after my football post that we did finally find some nachos in Kathmandu at a place called The Lazy Gringo.

They weren’t “Texas nachos” by any stretch, but they were still pretty good. And the chips were double fried. Bonus.

One of the better days of 2012 thus far.


I Heart Street Markets

Street markets have are undoubtedly my favorite thing to check out when traveling in other countries. The spirited conversation and haggling, the vibrant colors and smells, the entrepreneurship of a woman with a cardboard table and tight grip on her change purse selling her wares – markets are where a traveller can often see a country’s true culture.

At Kathmandu’s street markets, there are strange culinary treats, people recycling odds and ends that most Westerners would throw away into their livelihoods, and street performers that leave me really wishing that I spoke fluent Nepali. Case in point, the other day we witnessed a man sitting in a tree and eating a bag of popcorn while spouting off some diatribe. Compared to some of the other magicians, gambling rings, and musicians in the park, this man’s act seemed pretty lackluster. But he had the biggest audience by far, so either he was saying something really cool or else people (much like myself) were just intrigued to see some crazy guy eating popcorn in a tree.

Here are a few photos taken recently at markets in Kathmandu. More to come from markets in the future.

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The past several days have been somewhat low-key, as I have been sick with a fever off and on. As a result, there hasn’t been too much going on at Ghar Hughbanks that has been worth reporting.

But all of that will change very soon! Tomorrow, Emily, Edge of Seven’s program director arrives in Kathmandu, and the first group of volunteers will be here next week. We’ll be headed back up into the mountains on Nov. 22. I will stay with the volunteers through the end of the month, and Travis will be there for 5+ weeks. Hopefully, we can get a blog post out of him before he leaves in a few days.

We did manage to recently make a quick trip up to Pokhara, the base city for all of the Annapurna Range treks, one of the most popular trekking areas in Nepal. After being in Kathmandu for so long, Pokhara felt a little bit like heaven.

Situated on a big lake with snow-peaked mountains all around, it is extremely laid back and lacking all of the pollution of the capital city. Granted, it is also swarmed by tourists, which may not be an experience everyone is seeking when coming to Nepal, but it’s still a nice respite. The tourist industry has given rise to quite a few good restaurants and makes for an excellent people watching scene. Most Westerners in Pokhara are guaranteed to have at least one of two looks going on: spiffy, high-tech hiking pants and a walking stick or dreadlocks and patchwork clothing.

The main purpose of our trip was to meet with the women’s collective I have been working with on Sapana Bags. It was really inspiring to see their shop and talk with the founder, Tara, who is an incredible woman doing a lot for women in her community. (More on this to come.)

Women weaving material for handbags in Pokhara.

We also got to spend some time with our friend Bikash, the brother of our good friend Binod. Bikash runs Natures Grace Lodge, a cozy hotel tucked away off the main street. Last year, we stayed there for several days during the May 2010 Maoist strike, so having Dal Bhat with Bikash and his cousin Ganga in the Nature’s Grace kitchen this week most definitely brought back memories from that time.

Nature's Grace Lodge in Pokhara!

Aside from that, we’ve had several good meetings in Kathmandu, finally ate lunch at Nina and Hager, a deli across from the U.S. Embassy that has terrific sandwiches/burgers and has been recommended by pretty much everyone we’ve come into contact with in Kathmandu, went to a documentary screening about Monsanto’s move into Nepal (a big deal that has the potential to be very harmful to Nepali farmers), and have even made a few friends.

Lastly, and I don’t believe I have mentioned this on the blog before (though I have told the story to many people), but there has been another pigeon incident.  Those of you who know me may know about my pigeon aversion, second only in severity to my rat phobia. During our first week here we were having a snack at a restaurant in Thamel and sitting at a table by the windows, which were open to let in the breeze. As we were close to finishing our food, a sick pigeon with an open sore on its head flew in the window and landed on our table. We tried to shoo it away, but it didn’t respond. Instead it stumbled across the table, walked into our plate of hummus, and sat down. I jumped out of my seat and screamed a little, which the men sitting behind us found hilarious. “What?!” they yelled at me. “This has never happened to you before?”

Well, today I went out to the balcony to do a little laundry and there was a big, dead pigeon in the outside sink. Travis tried to get me to suck it up and dispose of the body myself, as I need to learn to deal with these things, but I just didn’t think so. Next time, I’m sure I will have more courage.

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