Friday 8th February 2008
My friend Penny came to visit me this week from Korea, and we had an absolutely brilliant time!
She stayed at the orphanage with us, and helped me cook in the mornings. We did loads of sightseeing, going all over the place and packing a lot into a few days. It was great as I had a chance to do all the things I’ve been meaning to, but hadn’t gotten around to yet.
We both bought new kurtas (traditional nepali/indian clothes – a tunic and trousers) and went with Priya to the three major temples of the city – Pashupati, Boudha and Soyambhu.
We went to visit Alan’s orphanage in Kocanna, and then walked to Bungamati – a beautiful 16th century Newari village.
We got amazing views of the Himalayas – Penny was really lucky on that one – it’s been cloudy for weeks, and suddenly we had three days straight of clear sun and neither Alan or I have seen the mountains that clearly for about 6 months!
We went to Patan to walk around Durbar square, (more temples mostly), we went to the Tibetan refugee craft shop and bought tons of souvenirs for practically nothing – it’s really cheap there!
We went to Bhaktapur to walk around the old part of the city (Kathmandu, Patan and Bhaktapur are three seperate cities but over the years the urban sprawl has merged them all together).
I have literally taken HUNDREDS of photos, the best of which are here.
Penny also experienced a taste of our life over here – the whole week she was here we didn’t have any water, as there’s a shortage so the tank wasn’t filled up. The boys had to get up early every morning and fetch buckets from the well, which we used for washing and cooking etc. The kids had to drink it too, although Penny and I bought bottled water (Mental note – must de-worm the children soon – they can get worms from the bad water).
So, as well as shivering away in her room, poor Penny couldn’t wash at all, just like the rest of us, but she really enjoyed spending time with the kids.
I showed Penny my financial statement and future objectives, (which she was very impressed with!). She immediately offered to pay for a proper water filter for us (about 120 quid/230 dollars) as well as buying us lots of fruit and vegetables, milk and vitamins.
She was really generous and is going to try and help me raise some more funds by hitting up her friends and family to buy us some bunk beds so the kids won’t have to sleep on the floor anymore.
To cap off her full Nepali experience, we woke up on Thursday morning to a very excited Aamaa desperately trying to explain something involving “big fighting” “guns – BANG BANG!” and “Maoists”.
I tried to catch the news, but the 7am bulletin only had Nepali news. Penny and I popped up the road for a paper, (she apparently had heard the gunfire in the night, but I slept through it all as usual!).
It seems that on Tuesday, several members on the Nepali Congress party were having lunch at someone’s house before a big rally in a village somewhere (they’re having lots of rallies in the build up to the election), when the Young Communist League surrounded the house and pelted it with stones and rocks, before setting it on fire.
The police had to open fire on the YCL in order to clear a path and evacuate the people inside (they apparently only used blank bullets though).
The injured party members were airlifted to Kathmandu hospitals and in the scuffle several policemen and YCL members went missing/were unaccounted for.
On Wednesday night, the police had a tip-off that the YCL headquarters in Balaju (the next suburb over from us) were hiding illegal weapons and abducting people. They sent 300 policemen in full riot gear over to clear the area and search the house.
The YCL refuse to leave the premises, and a bit of a riot kicked off.
After a couple of hours, and several canisters of tear gas, the police managed to evacuate the building but didn’t find anything.
The YCL then gathered together at their other headquarters in Patan, Bhaktapur and somewhere else and held a massive protest at their unfair treatment, burning tyres, blocking streets etc.
The police had to resort to firing blanks again to clear the crowds away.
Since then, there have obviously been a lot more protests across the city, and by a complete coincidence, the traffic police detail has trebled and the army has been doing extensive drills on their public training ground – usually it’s a couple of platoons marching around a lot, but suddenly there’s about 2000 soldiers calmly polishing their guns in the middle of Ratna park (center of Kathmandu).
The bad news is that the Maoist leader has re-activated the People’s Council, which was in place during the civil war and was dissolved when the Maoists joined the government in 2006. The paper wasn’t very clear, but I think that by bringing back the People’s Council, the Maoists are effectively quitting the government for good, and we may be headed back into scarier times – but it’s early days yet and it may not happen.
(The most amusing part of the paper was the quote from the YCL, claiming that all this fuss is a blatant attempt by the Congress party to derail the upcoming elections, despite the fact that the YCL started it!)
In the fashion news, I finally found a pair of new jeans that fit me, as both of my other pairs have been hanging off me for months and look awful. Despite the fact that I have lost 10 kilos, I hadn’t really noticed looking that different, as we don’t have any mirrors and my tummy’s still pretty flabby. However, I discovered upon putting on my magic new skinny jeans, that my thighs have disappeared! Apparently that was where I was storing all my fat, and I now have lovely skinny legs, although the rest of me is still pretty much the same!
As for my love life, well, ever since I came back from the meditation course I’ve been trying to meet up with my hot German guy, and he kept almost meeting me and then changing his mind, or going home, or not responding to my texts.
I suddenly realised that I was always messaging him and he’d never sent me a message, except from responding to mine, – a very bad sign.
I resolved myself to the fact that he just wasn’t interested and tried hard not to be disappointed (I really did like him).
However, Thursday night was Penny’s last night so me and my friends were all going out to celebrate. I had messaged him to tell him we’d be in town, but didn’t really expect to see him.
I wore my new sexy skinny jeans and frankly, I look damn hot, and decided that if he didn’t want to get with this, well, that was clearly his loss.
So, imagine my surprise when he texted me and said he would be coming out later on. My phone was running out of battery so I just said we’d be at the Buddha Bar after dinner, but didn’t know what time that’d be.
We ended up having a late dinner and didn’t go to the bar until about 9.30. I had assumed that he’d be with his mates somewhere, and was even more surprised to find him sitting at the bar by himself!
Apparently he’d been there since 8 waiting for me, and I felt really bad!
However, he came over and sat with us, and there was a great acoustic band playing, so we ended up having a great night.
He seemed really keen and interested – I mean, he did sit by himself for an hour and a half waiting for me, and we chatted pretty much all night. However today I’m having my doubts – maybe it’s because he’s German or maybe he’s really shy, but I still don’t really get the impression he really likes me that much.
Anyhow, I don’t know how much longer he’s staying in Nepal and he does live in Germany after all.
Probably best not to get too excited about this one (although he is REALLY hot!).
Let’s see, Current affairs, Fashion, Love, what else can I tell you?
Oh yeah, Health – I went to the expensive doctor’s clinic today, cos I’ve been a bit poorly (recurring Delhi belly). The doc reckons I’ve got Giardia – apparently there’s a parasite squatting in my intestine, causing all sorts of mayhem!
So I’ve got some tablets that should flush the little bugger out – honestly, squatting uninvited in someone else’s body – how rude! He could at least pay some rent! (although he may also be responsible for my non-existent thighs, so maybe I shouldn’t be too hard on him!).
Anyhow, I’m fine, just a bit, um, gassy?
Incidentally, despite my new sexy legs, it’s getting harder and harder to remain attractive here – the lack of showers, greasy hair, dry skin, several hundred layers of clothing, and now the very unattractive side effects of giardia – constant very uncomfortable gas!
Anyhoo, that’s about it on the update front.
Next week I plan to go to all of our local schools (there’s at least 10 in walking distance) to compare prices, and I’m also going to get worming tablets for all the kids and will be taking Sunita to get an HIV test.
I just found out, while writing the children’s profiles, that Sunita’s parents both died of AIDS. When I asked Priya if they’d had her tested, she said no, so I asked if I could take her right away. Sunita is a lovely girl, about 11 or 12, and if she’s HIV positive she needs to be educated, as do Aamaa and Priya, about how to be careful and not infect anyone else. I can also then approach several charities that specifically help HIV orphans to pay for her medication if necessary.
But hopefully she’ll be negative.
(Everyone cross your fingers please!)
Sorry it’s another long email – what can I say? It’s an action-packed adventure (almost) every day, whether it’s Maoists burning down houses or me attempting to make it to the nearest restaurant bathroom in time!
loads of love