Thursday, January 29, 2009

I Heart Faces!

Yesterday I opened an email from the Community Liaison Officer at the Embassy saying they were looking for "Nepali Faces" for a large frame in the lobby. Bill copied it to me separately and encouraged me to submit a few.

Then ... I saw this wonderful photography website where you enter your work each week and guest judges look them over and choose their favorite each week. (This aspect completely intimidates me but I decided to put on my big girl panties and get over it.)

I completely love and am humbled by my little photography dream begun a year and a half ago.

So ... I took these wonderful faces while taking a walk in the 'hood last October. The theme this week is "Joy". Joy is a word that is easy to depict when you are photographing Nepalis.


Update: I couldn't believe it ... well lookie here! Made my day. Heck, my week:).

Tuesday, January 20, 2009

Great Ghat! Pashupati

We took a recent houseguest to the top of the list of KTM's greatest hits: Pashupatinath. The Pashupati temple complex is a sprawling area along the Bagmati river that is one of the most sacred sites in the Hindu world. The inner sanctum is open only to Hindus but others can walk around the rest of the complex at will. There are always resident and visiting Sadhus, or holy men, as above. (I posted about Shiva Ratri and the Sadhus here.) It is fascinating and it is grim.

Along the ghats (steps leading down to the river) are burning platforms where Hindus cremate their dead. One is reserved for royalty. One is reserved for the wealthy or "important". The rest of the burning ghats are for everyone else. The very day people die their bodies are brought to Pashupati either by foot (bare!) on bamboo poles or nowadays often by ambulance. The Brahmin priests, dressed all in white, attend to the fire. The oldest son begins by putting a burning stick in the deceased's mouth. Once this catches the body is further covered in straw and kindling and the priests stoke the flames. These are not raging pyres, but a slow, steady consumption of the body that housed a soon to be unfettered soul . The family will sit vigil while their loved ones are cremated. It takes about three hours. The ashes are swept off into the Bagmati where children troll for any gold fillings or jewelery. Some families might keep some ashes to spread on other sacred rivers.
This platform has been prepared for the next mourning party to arrive.

This was a woman - a mother. Her head was exposed as I watched her son begin the ritual. Heart rending stuff. The priest covered her head a few minutes later. I just couldn't take a picture before this point.

I took this from the other side of the river. The platform on the left is the same as the one in the last picture. The decorated platform on the right is waiting for someone of higher station - possibly a member of the military. The alcoves behind the platforms are where the mourners wait.

It sounds incredibly gruesome to western sensibilities but I don't think it is. There is no denial when you see one of these parting scenes. It is respectful and the living have a somewhat complicated grieving ritual and schedule ahead involving head shaving and fasting.

It sure ain't the Liberty Bell! This is one of many temple bells with the year inscribed 1964 (Nepali year) which means it was made in 1908.

My reluctant Sadhu. He wasn't thrilled to have his picture taken since no rupees were to cross his hand. But he sneaked a peek anyway.

Other parts of the complex include gender separated homes for the dying. People from far away want to die at or near Pashupati. Ironically there are also two homes run by the Sisters of Charity (Mother Teresa's order); a home for the elderly and a home for children. Bless these women who are called to just BE with the suffering - all day, every day. They amaze me.


Saturday, January 17, 2009

Dang Dogmandu!

This is a classic Kathmandu Street Dog. They usually leave all humans alone. Niiiice puppies.

Last week a dog bit me. It wasn't a street dog but some little white fluffy dog on a leash. It was unprovoked! I was outraged! Not really - but I was bummed about having to have two extra rabies shots. You might expect such behavior from these poor things on the street - but the little Princess?! Oh well.

The funnier moment, however, was when I posted this on my status line on Facebook. A woman I went to school with who is now an attorney commented that I should pursue a personal injury claim. (She has no idea where I am living.) My friends who live here and saw that pretty much just howled. Nepalis don't even carry insurance for the most part. (And I'm not the litigious type).
I think this one is just waiting for Dr. Jha to arrive so he can have the first appointment. Ha.

It is all okay - I'm gonna live! And laugh a little.


Thursday, January 15, 2009

Lindsay's BOB Books

Dear Lindsay,

What a big day for you! You so proudly embarked on reading the written word and devouring your first box of BOB books. May the world of words unfold before you and take you any and everywhere you will ever dream.

Who knew that "Matt sat on a cat"? Not so interesting ... but thrilling just the same.

Kudos my little girl - I'm proud of you!


Sunday, January 11, 2009

The List

As always there is something fun or interesting going on at Heidi's. I never think of these things but they are fun!

Feel free to copy, answer and post - and let me know you did in a comment.

Items in blue are ones that I have done. Items with an * are ones on the 'to-do in my lifetime' list.

1. Started your own blog
2. Slept under the stars
3. Played in a band. (um ... the school band ... I'm not that cool:))
4. Visited Hawaii
5. Watched a meteor shower*
6. Given more than you can afford to charity*
7. Been to Disneyland/world
8. Climbed a mountain
9. Held a praying mantis
10. Sang a solo (and heard everyone scream and run for cover? No.)
11. Bungee jumped
12. Visited Paris
13. Watched a lightning storm at sea.
14. Taught yourself an art from scratch (hmm, not sure)
15. Adopted a child
16. Had food poisoning
17. Walked to the top of the Statue of Liberty
8. Grown your own vegetables*
19. Seen the Mona Lisa in France
20. Slept on an overnight train
21. Had a pillow fight
22. Hitch hiked
23. Taken a sick day when you’re not ill
24. Built a snow fort
25. Held a lamb
26. Gone skinny dipping (the Hamlet pool with all my girlfriends before we left for college. I believe we got caught)
27. Run a Marathon (I am really pretty sure God did not intend for us to do this:))
28. Ridden in a gondola in Venice.
29. Seen a total eclipse*
30. Watched a sunrise or sunset
31. Hit a home run (how about Struck out.. a lot!)
32. Been on a cruise*
33. Seen Niagara Falls in person
34. Visited the birthplace of your ancestors (not all of them:))
35. Seen an Amish community*
36. Taught yourself a new language (taught myself, no - studied, oh my yes)
37. Had enough money to be truly satisfied
38. Seen the Leaning Tower of Pisa in person
39. Gone rock climbing
40. Seen Michelangelo’s David
41. Sung karaoke
42. Seen Old Faithful geyser erupt*
43. Bought a stranger a meal at a restaurant*
44. Visited Africa
45. Walked on a beach by moonlight
46. Been transported in an ambulance (completely embarrassing - it wasn't an emergency)
47. Had your portrait painted
48. Gone deep sea fishing
49. Seen the Sistine Chapel in person
50. Been to the top of the Eiffel Tower in Paris (well, not the *very* top)
51. Gone scuba diving or snorkeling
52. Kissed in the rain
53. Played in the mud
54. Gone to a drive-in theater
55. Been in a movie* (just once for fun!!?)
56. Visited the Great Wall of China*
57. Started a business*
58. Taken a martial arts class
59. Visited Russia*
60. Served at a soup kitchen
61. Sold Girl Scout Cookies (hated this)
62. Gone whale watching*
63. Gotten flowers for no reason
64. Donated blood, platelets or plasma
65. Gone sky diving
66. Visited a Nazi Concentration Camp
67. Bounced a check
68. Flown in a helicopter*
69. Saved a favorite childhood toy
70. Visited the Lincoln Memorial
71. Eaten Caviar
72. Pieced a quilt
73. Stood in Times Square
74. Toured the Everglades
75. Been fired from a job
76. Seen the Changing of the Guards in London
77. Broken a bone
78. Been on a speeding motorcycle
79. Seen the Grand Canyon in person*
80. Published a book
81. Visited the Vatican
82. Bought a brand new car
83. Walked in Jerusalem
84. Had your picture in the newspaper
85. Read the entire Bible
86. Visited the White House
87. Killed and prepared an animal for eating (this one SO does not appeal to me!)
88. Had chickenpox (I was 26 - no fun)
89. Saved someone’s life
90. Sat on a jury* (I've only been called once and I was having a baby at the time so didn't serve!)
91. Met someone famous (as in shook hands - not had a conversation.)
92. Joined a book club (or two, or three)
93. Lost a loved one (not other than elderly grandparents)
94. Had a baby
95. Seen the Alamo in person
96. Swam in the Great Salt Lake
97. Been involved in a law suit
98. Owned a cell phone (lost a cell phone, owned another one, lost another one)
99. Been stung by a bee (I stepped on a nest as a kid - ouch ouch ouch)

I think that is it! Peace.

Friday, January 9, 2009

Sorry baby, vacation is over.

Today was it. The last day of winter vacation. Back to the salt mines on Monday. Sigh.

I have really, really enjoyed this break! I loved having the kids home more. They slept a little (and I do mean a little) more. I let them watch a few more movies. We had special breakfasts on weekdays too. Lindsay started reading her BOB books and is thrilled. We went to the school library, which was open this week, to check out more books. Both girls picked out all kinds of animal books. I got Jane Eyre for my book club read.

I have never been one to have New Year's resolutions. I usually do my "goal setting" on an academic calendar. Yet there is something that feels very "new" about this year indeed. Maybe it is anticipating the changes that this year will bring with moving back to the States next summer and having new schools for all the kids. I have the desire to embark on some internal and external spring cleaning.

Maybe this zen state of mind was brought on by a foot massage I had today (big smile). Whatever the reason, it is time to get back to packing backpacks and lunch boxes. I'm a little bit sad about it! But I am also feeling grateful for the important things that happened in 2008 and hopeful for the same in '09.

Oh ... I also installed Photoshop yesterday. I have not a CLUE how to use the darn thing but I'm still excited about it. I had to tell somebody. (Lawsie, someone get this woman a friend!)

Peace to you this new year and namaste!