Monday, March 16, 2009

Thursday, March 12, 2009

My friends tour Bhaktapur


Lina during the sunrise at Nagarkot


Cheryl, Lina and Baljit's visit

So, now that I figured out how to post easier by email…


The server at the hospital broke. It broke while we had extremely important project emails with matching extremely important rapidly approaching deadlines. It was interesting. The server is now repaired, but the trickling bandwidth is having issues that may take “some time” to resolve. . Don’t ask about the generator situation. J


So, since I last wrote, my friends have come and left. Cheryl, Lina and Baljit from my old workplace in Baton Rouge came to visit India and Nepal. I think they enjoyed their time. The people here enjoyed meeting them.  Their plane was delayed due to the haze that formed due to unusually warm weather over Kathmandu. Then we had a flat tire. The next day, we left for a tour of Bhaktapur, then shopping in Thamel, then New Road, spent the night at a local guest house (Goshen House) and then left the next morning for Nagarkot. We passed the taxi from the day before at a mechanic’s shop. Nagarkot can have a gorgeous view of the Himalayas, with Everest even visible on a clear day. It was not a clear day. We rose before sunrise and watched the light come through the haze. It was still beautiful. Our prearranged taxi driver was waiting in front of the hotel – under the vehicle with the tire off. So, Cheryl, Lina and Baljit shopped amongst the post card and poster sellers while he fixed whatever was wrong with the axle thing. It is not too good a sign when the engine cuts off by itself and the vehicle coasts down most of a mountain. When absolutely necessary for resuscitation, the driver would crank the engine while reaching with his left arm under the floorboard of the backseat to press something. Eventually, this method failed. We were supposed to meet Dr. Indra and his family in front of the Royal Palace at 10. That was not going to happen. We stood on the side of the road while the driver hailed another small van taxi (we were 4 people with luggage). One finally stopped. There were no seats in the back (see pic). Shortly thereafter, we came to a traffic jam. The driver took an alternate road. After a few minutes, it appeared that he was hoping but did not know for sure that there was a way back to the main road. We stopped many times for directions. The responses were interesting as we seemed to head further into the hills and away from the city we wanted to be in. We arrived at the palace late. After the tour and a quick lunch, we headed back to Patan hospital to catch the hospital return vehicle at three. A much smaller vehicle arrived than anticipated, with a number of new guests and pieces of luggage in addition to our own. We got a taxi. That night, we had a momo party at Dr. Indra’s. As could be expected, Lina could fold some pretty nice looking momos! Early Monday morning, we went to the hospital and had tours, while Cheryl went to observe surgery. Lunch was at Elisa’s house. In the afternoon, they spent time with the lab people. Then back at the house, Baljit taught while she cooked some Indian chicken curry and paneer with peppers. Elisa and Tammy, a visiting South African Occupational Therapist working with ALERT in Ethiopia, came for dinner. Tuesday morning, we left the compound before dawn to go to the airport for a mountain flight. That was gorgeous. The plum trees are in bloom, making white bursts of color along the treed foothills. If you know them, ask Lina, Cheryl and Baljit to show you the pics! Baljit wanted to go to Pashupati – a famous Hindu temple with monkeys near the airport. There were funeral pyres. Afterwards, they wanted to go shopping again. Well, that day happened to be the Hindu Festival of Colors – the day roving packs of teenagers and children freed from school roam the city with water balloons or buckets filled with either tap water, questionable water, dyed water (red preferred) or just handfuls of powdered dye. I’d warned them since their arrival that this was coming. The driver agreed to bring them to the part of town where some shops were to check. All the shops they wanted were closed (later we found out that a bandh strike had been declared). The driver said that they could not go to Thamel because there were many problems there. So, by then it was late morning and everyone was hungry. We stopped at a restaurant that looked open. While Lina and Cheryl stood in the door, passing teenagers pelted them with a water balloon. We finally ended up at the Bakery CafĂ© in Jawalakhel. From the safety of the restaurant, they were able to watch truckloads and walking packs of mostly boys and men pass. They were smeared with dyes and some had their faces painted. It was slightly reminiscent of Mardi Gras. Slightly. After eating, my friends quickly ran to the car. We then drove back to Anandaban through a number of villages with the jeep windows rolled up. My friends got a very good view of the day’s revelers roaming the streets and perched on rooftops awaiting victims.  Girls scream better, so are preferred targets – though it appeared that most anyone would do. As we approached the hospital compound, I knew from the compound kids blatant promises, that we would be a target. They had repeatedly asked when we would be home that day, letting me know that their balloons were ready. We rounded the curve, the kids were reloading. We went further up the drive, jumped out of the jeep and ran down the steps to my home. No balloons. Later, the driver, however, came with a small bag that had been left in the backseat. He had been hit with a balloon. For most of the day, we could hear the compound kids down the hill on the other side of the compound by the training unit. They were on a wall by the road which allowed them to throw their loaded missiles at passing gravel trucks and motorcyclists. From the sound of it, they had a great time. Cheryl napped. The power was on, so Lina and Cheryl watched a Nepalese movie with subtitles on my laptop. The next morning, we dropped them at the airport for 6:45am. By the time this post is made, they should have just landed back home in Louisiana. It was nice to have them here. J  I’ll try to post pics sometime – but can provide no guarantees!