Saturday, May 8, 2010

Sickness, Strikes and Sunrise

So I've been really ill.
Had some horrendous stomach cramps, the dreaded diarrhoea and ovaries fit to burst, continuous agony. These cowboy supervisors jumped at the chance to self diagnose and decided it must be "lady pains". Anything to do with the fact that they are both men and were about my symptoms?
The joke is that I've been on the pill throughout my stay in Nepal and haven't allowed for a period as I thought it would be too hot and just plain nasty. Lucky I did because when you are a woman in Nepal and are menstruating, you are segregated from the family for the first 4 days. Not allowed in the kitchen, and therefore cannot cook, must eat seperately, and cannot talk directly to your buwa etc. However this varies between families and depends on how educated they are about this natural occurrence. Although it isn't too bad in my household as the women run tings here, just how I like it!
Erm yea so it couldn't have been anything to do with periods, eventually after a night and day of dying in my bed after taking budget pills for period pains to no success, I was taken to the hospital.

OMD the ambulance is basically a minivan with a blue light attached and a cross painted on it. All I have to say is that if you had broken your back and was not paralysed when you were picked up, you would definitely be after a ride in one of those. A&E was quite swift, although I didn't like them putting that thing in my vein that allows them easy access for injecting me! Still have the bruise!
After analysing my stool and piss I was informed that I have a stomach infection and am on antibiotics and painkillers for a week. It's good we can't go to Thamel this weekend because I wouldn't have been able to drink!

The reason we couldn't go is also related to the slight apprehension about taking me to the hospital. Since last Saturday there have been strikes all throughout Nepal. This is because of the Maoist political party. At the moment they have 45% of the seats (enough to influence decisions) and their demands have not been acknowledged, hence the riots and strikes. There were a lot of demonstrations going on, a load of Maoists in their red colours marching around blowing whistles. 2 people have been killed. And for everyone's safety the only vehicles allowed in and out of villages and towns etc were ambulances, police and the army.
So when I was in the ambulance I had been instructed to lie down, so as not to instigate and attacking of the vehicle if the Maoist's had seen a tourist. My sister told me that the people in Thamel, Kathmandu are without gas, food, proper water because no shops were open and buses weren't running, it was a ghost town out there. I noticed that whilst out in the ambulance, the usual hubbub of horns, mad gridlock and general mayhem of Nepal's roads were non existent. Eerie. As long as we stay in Sirutar we are generally safe and on the plus side we seem to have electricity 24-7! Blup!

Last week we visited Nagarkot, the place with the beautiful sunrise views. It was flipping raining on the way and all night too, hailstones the size of golf balls as it was blitz. Circling round and round the mountains on the thinnest roads and in a rusty, dusty bus didn't feel like the safest thing!
The hotel was decent, we had seperate cabin like rooms. Noticed a bit of gender inequality going on with the women's quarters without running water and electricity for longer periods of time. Funny how everyone came flocking to our room regardless. The evening was amazing, we all sat around the fireplace near the bar singing along to tunes played by some of the volunteers on their guitar and mandolin. The guy with mandolin is sick! He can play tunes from FF9 even.
We were allowed to drink aswell, either 2 beers or 2 bottles of wine. Seriously!? Tough choice lol. Waking up in the morning was hard as it was a 5am start to get to the viewing tower in time for the sunrise. We were delayed differently by the supervisor getting the shits. Even though we slyly missed it and it was foggy I still managed to get some postcard worthy pics!

Ah man, went to an orphanage in Lubloo yesterday. I had so much fun playing around with the children. There was a trampoline!!! We brought them sweets, paints, crayons, balloons, it was quite jokes. So much fun in fact that I temporarily forgot what the place actually was, then I got quite emotional. It was bittersweet. Got the orphanages address so I can send them all the photos taken.
Weighed myself there aswell, was 10 stone when I left and now the scales wanna tell me I'm 9 stone, 4!? I hope not, that's too much so it must be wrong. You be the judges, lol.

19 days to go!

I am ready to come home bitches! Are you ready?


Sunday, April 25, 2010

Halfway Through 22/4/10

I don't wanna go home! I know it's only the halfway stage but so much has gone on that it feels so fricking fast. Gotta make sure every minute counts.

So animal cruelty is the name of this week. There are loads of stray dogs here, most of them older however there is this trio of pups that are oh so cute. The week started with us seeing that the black one was really ill and couldn't stand on its feet, teetering and shaking when we went to stroke it. There was and is nothing we could do because if he did have an owner, they would be pissed if we tried giving him water at least. Couple of days later he was eating a rat. Nice! Seems to have done the job giving that he is still here.
One of the other brown pups looked fine till i noticed that his side profile was dented along the jawline. He opened his mouth and it became evident that someone had kicked his jaw in leaving him no way to eat. Haven't seen him since.

My neighbour has finally died also, he had been ill for ages and refused to see a conventional doctor so it was inevitable. So sure in fact that his body cremated the same day. Which reminds me that we saw a body being cremated in the first week, straight out in the open on a couple of bamboo sticks over a fire, the smell was horrendous and unforgetable.
So the grieving neighbours son was walking past our project site and it was clear who he was as any family member of the bereaved must wear white for a whole year. As he was strolling (slightly intoxicated), one of the stray dogs that hang out near the site started to back at him. My man decided to gou out of his way, pick up the dog and THROW him off the cliff down into our worksite about 9 foot below. That was f-d, I had to shout out oi because that was nothing to do with culture, it was pure cruelty.

Gonna sum up a few things in bullet points, because the slowness is really starting to piss me off!
  • rolled around in a sari on thursday, was real fun, pics to come!
  • went to the tailors and am having a trouser pant suit thing made to fit
  • some woman got bitch slapped at the project site by her bro for embarrasing the family by running off with a man who is already married
  • going to narkagot (sunrise and sunset) this weekend coming
  • sent out some postcards to a lucky few
  • facebook inbox still aint working so txt me ur add if you still want one
  • message me your home phone numbers and good times to call, as it is only about 2p a minute to phone land lines in the UK

miss ya all, see you all soon


Ranting and Raving 19/4/10

Firstly, this bloody internet is soooooo damn slow! Arrgh, can't even check my facebook messages!

Technically been here for 4 weeks and 4 days now, and it actually feels like an eternity. I still have longer here than I have actually been away. Madness!

Today we visited Maiti Nepal, a place for Nepali children and women who have been trafficked or have nowhere to stay due to contracting Hiv.

I didn't like it there, beadying in to all the kids like it was some zoo. It was good to buy a few things in the shop, as you know exactly where it was going.

I am soooooooooo frustrated with the lack of freedom, particularly not being able to wash my clothes when I want! Its so hard to plan the week if only the Lord knows when I will be blessed with clean frigging clothes. Will have to sort this out today coz I cant take it.

The biggest thing that is getting to me though is the large amount of miscommunication that goes on. We have all met people who speak way better english than the people we have to work with on a daily basis aka the project supervisor and his right hand man. Even at home with the family, its really almost hopeless talking about particular issues because there is an 80% chance they wont understand. The basic nepali class we get once a week helps slightly, although I pick up more when conversating (or trying to) with the fam.

So what's been going on? Nepali New Year, a public holiday and guess what we had to work, only a half day but by the time I got home the whole fam had already left to go about their celebrations. What was fun was visiting the 2 temples in the morning, hundreds of people milling around, praying and generally celebrating. The second temple was up about 150 steep steps, so that was a work out and a half. We then went on to climb partially up a mountain, amazing views that I wish I could show you now but the slowness of the computer is saying otherwise.

The internet shop only recently became up and running again, poor man had to take out a loan to get new comps, and only last week some fish cut the cables for the internet and phone in Sirutar so no net again. Although it is fixed now!

New years day was also mother's day aswell, although I didnt notice anything too different aside from the vast amount of sweets and sticky dough thing as thats what ama likes. Delicious by the way.

Learnt something interesting yesterday in the global discussion we do every sunday. The topic was Government and when asked about crime fighting in the villages we were told the community is left to solve crimes themselves and only when they couldn't would the police or higher services step in to help. That could mean that people could potentially disapear Hot Fuzz stylee! If everyone in the community wanted it that way.

I presented last sunday on the topic Poverty and Development, a few quick facts on Nepal:
  • Is the 12th poorest country in the world
  • Life expectancy is 64 years on average
  • They receive financial age from the USA, Korea, China, Japan, India and the UK
  • UK bilateral aid 2008/09- 58 million pounds

Speak soon!


Sunday, April 11, 2010

Dealing With Demons

This village seems to be the ONLY place Beyonce could come and not get harrassed, they don't know who she is! As found out by my attempt to freshen up my usual banal answer to the cries of, "what is your name?" They know about Michael Jackson though!

I haven't had a chance to type these up in a while because the internet cafe of the village got robbed. All 8 computers stolen on one of the rainy nights of last week stripping this poor man of his livelihood.
The guy was caught later, and arrested and it was hoped that because the police had found evidence of previous offences on him, (use of prostitutes, large amount of american dollars) that he would get sent down, although he was released from custody yesterday.

Nepal is a banana republic at the moment, no actual laws as they only recently ended their civil war (2 years ago) and the ministers in power are still fighting over which laws they want to remain effective and which to repeal or ammend.
Although, the people of Nepal still abide by the old laws untill these foolios at the top can sort themselves out.

Last weekend we all went down to Thamel, tourist central and stayed in the hotel we were at when we first arrived. Only the equivalent of 3.50 a night! Even though it's pretty cheap out here, im becoming a tight-arse lol. Especially when people out there are out there to boops you, so I have almost perfected my haggling skills. A probably fake North face holdall down from 2000 rupees (about 20 quid) to 1000 rupees, brap!

It felt so good to get down to Pizza Hut and munch on some Western Food. I went on a cheese rampage, all about the garlic bread and CHEESE, and a whole pizza with DOUBLE CHEESE. The waitress must've thought we were starving marvins coz we all got a pizza each, with the hungriest souls getting family sized- nutters.
As I said before I don't have it that bad at my home, I get variety but some of the other volunteers get Dhaal Bhat Tarkari for breakfast and dinner every damn day.
Had some beers aswell, felt like we deserved it! Being used to drinking every day in London, it feels great to be getting a mini detox, dealing with demons I had previously been too numb to face and having support from certain people in the group. And now i can actually say I would like a drink rather than I NEED a drink.

There are so many festivals out here, like 1 a week. Next one in 2 days time where you wear tikka (red dye and rice) on your fore head and eat meat. Can't wait for that, been straight veggie since I got here. Could do with a fat beef burger but that's a london ting as cows are sacred here.
Next week is Nepali new year, the year 2067 will be arriving soon!

Don't think I've mentioned the work we have been doing here in Sirutar. It is serious manual labour, digging sand, wheelbarrowing cement, mixing it, erecting pillars, moving bricks. I think I'm getting some good tonage, although my arm muscles are making me sick! At least I should be good to go for London's week we call summer.

Anywho ma timlai samjhi raheko chu ( I miss you) and hope all is good.
My mobile number is +9779849215955
And who ever wants a postcard facebook msg me your addresses.
Peace Out!

Here It Comes!

Flash, "Who just took that photo?" Silence
Flash, "It's lightning!"
Cracking across the sky in the far off distance, count until the thunder comes.
1, 2, 3, 4, 5,........10 miles off.

Reach home, everybody is packing up
Cows, chickens, goats all being led into the ark.
However Nepali language class awaits, 5pm sharp.
Later on at the office (6.30pm), "You need to home, it's coming"
"What is?"

Feck, off we go, its a ghost town out here
Lightning penetrating the threateningly crimson sky directly above
Flash, surrounded by wires and metal poles I don't exactly feel safe
It is pouring, soaking my unprepared self

"Wait my flip flop!" I wait, drenched to the bone
The wind is blowdrying my hair into a sick 'fro
Silence. Absolute silence.
Flash, thunder, flash thunder. It is right above us.
The loudest roar erupts, "Oh FUCK, here it comes!"
She is right, paintball pellets shoot down from the bastard of a cloud.
It is blitz.

Feels like a synthesised storm fresh from the studio
My soaked through plimsoles and red raw hands beg to differ
This is real.
Wow, the sky is smiling in pinks and violets now
"I'm moving on!" it seems to say
Just as I slip and slide through the front door.

Monday, March 29, 2010

Random bits and bobs Monday 29th March

Been living with my family for about 6 days now and I really do feel at home. My room is MY ROOM, if you get me, everything has it's place. Even got a little spider watching over me every night.

My family consists of mum, dad, a brother who is my age and is hardly around, and 2 sisters Sumi (20) and Sushilla (18). It feels so weird to live in a female dominated household and I have to say, I enjoy it! Proper nice to have a hug in the morning from your mum just before work, or doing girly stuff like facials and manicures (Sumi is studying to be a beautician).

Last night was volunteer Chucks's birthday and his family invited us all over. Nepali birthday ceremony is interesting, the dude had to sit on some throne and exchange the first slices of cake with his buwa (father) and to seal the deal he was encourages to down a concoction later referred to as tasting like "gone off fish milk". Bleugh! Bless the family though, proper got a Dj in, who sadly enough only played house music...the remix of R'n'B kind. Killer!
Seeing the different family dynamics, appearance and home put my family into perspective. My family are probably half the size of them and a lot less wealthier. I had a stone in my throat just from knowing how radically poverty levels could differ in the space of a 5 minute walk. My fam may not have much but they are almost 80% self sufficient (my bro and dad are farmers and they have more land saved for crops than their house), they also seem to catch jokes and enjoy what they do. Never a grumble or moan in sight. I know they say, "Don't compare" but who wouldn't?

I physically wrote this blog in the dark by the way because it is now the designated period of load shedding. This is a set time everyday where there is no electricity at all. In total it lasts around 12-14 hours a day, night or day. The madness is that it has been going on for around 5 years. It happens because the Nepalese government sell their electricity to India who have investments in Nepal. India then sell it back to Nepal for a higher price and therefore there is not enough electricity to provide for their own population. Seriously f-d up.
My family hate the dark, and it's even becoming an inconvenience to me. Without an expensive generator, you are pretty much stuck (at night) with your torch and candles so there is not much else to do but try and sleep.

I'm loving the food, I seem to be lucky and get a bit of variation. The standard nepales meal is Daal Bhat Tarkari which contains rice, lentil sauce and curried vegetables eaten twice a day. I appreciate receiving samosa, chapati and my favourite aloo aka spicy potato mmm!
I am so glad not to have suffered from THE DIARREAOH (apologise for the horrendous spelling) as yet, although as a group we are all pretty strong and positive.

Oh yea, and the smoking, as long as it is in the designated areas (I got a sick rooftop at home) and out of sight of the kids I am jiggy. Chilling up on the roof, ciggie in one had, cup of chiyaa in the other and an amazing view, sorted.

Sunday, March 28, 2010

Don't Compare, Adapt. Tuesday 23rd March 2010

What a day! Left the hotel and all the Lamitar peeps, emotional lol. Felt like we were all just settling in to Nepali life and then we had to up and go and face the REAL shizzle. Flippin' early aswell, I actually had a hangover from some wierd chocolate tasting brandy of the night before!

Upon arriving in Sirutar the vibe was proper friendly, with the little ones waving and shouting "Hi" and the elders greeting us with "Namaste" the Nepali greeting. I love doing the greeting!! Will show you all when I return.
When I got to my host family only ama (mum) was in and with her basic knowledge of English and my embarrassing attempt at Nepalese coupled with nerves it was a little uncomfortable and I was actually relieved to have to leave and meet the rest of the group.

We did a tour of the community and checked out all the volunteers' houses and it really looked like I had got the short straw! Some of the houses had 4 floors made of marble, kitted out with computers, internets, pets, amazing 360 degree views and really comfortable looking showers and toilets.
But once I returned to my home, I picked up a better vibe, mainly because my sisters were home and they had conversational English. I had a lot of fun with them and their friends catching jokes about the hottest Nepali boys in the village. Of which there are none by the way.

What I have noticed is how the younger generation are not so strict with regards to arrange marriage. My neighbour lives with her 'more than boyfriend' as they say and they have a tiny 1 year old yet are not married. It's good to see that the elders are being a little more open minded and more aware that change is needed amongst the younger generation as it adapts.

New random fact, having a big forehead means you are lucky, as so kindly mentioned by my sis Sumi when she saw my spam! Damn right I'm lucky, lucky enough to be in this amazing country and able to see things and integrate in ways no tourist can.

I am blessed.

Work on the school starts tomorrow, and I have already been advised by the previous volunteer who stayed here that the shower will be blitz! Might have to be a stinker lol. Happy times.

Oh and my family have given me a Nepali name: Sunita

Miss you all! xxx