The Snowball effect…

Friday 4th April 2008

Hello again you poor sods!
Another mammoth maya-email? Already? It hasn’t even been a week yet!!

Well, tough shit you lazy buggers, I’m insanely busy and have far too much to write about to wait a week!

Our little fundraising event is only two weeks away now, and things seem to have escalated ever so slightly out of my control!

We met with the restaurant again to discuss where to have the dances etc, and were then informed that the band we were going to use (their own house band) have all gone home to their villages already to vote, and won’t be coming back until after the election! That means no rehearsals, and also if there’s any kind of trouble post-election (hmmmm, what do you think?) the bus services will most likely shut down and they may not make it back in time!

Bit of a dilemma, but luckily through our fabulous networking recently we approached Anil Shahi, guitarist and local celebrity who’s also our new best friend and he agreed to help us out.
It’s amazing news, as we can advertise our little program with major clout (Anil Shahi is very well known locally and the restaurant he plays at every Sunday is always packed to full capacity!).
However, this then posed some new problems for us, such as a sound system, as he doesn’t own his own set, and we don’t know yet if the restaurant can provide something suitable. Also we have to reprint or re-work our posters to include our new celebrity “special guests Anil Shahi and friends” or something similar.
We still have to approach some newspapers to advertise it (they have a free entertainment section)  and need to make some big posters/banners to hang up as well.

So, from a little fundraiser we suddenly have a celebrity performer and millions more things to do (aside from the actual rehearsals at the orphanage too – it’s like putting on a concert at school, but doing it single-handedly and with several major obstacles!).

On top of that, our cash flow problem is getting more serious, as despite asking xxx a month ago to send the money I raised, they’ve basically just informed me that they’re “really busy” and the money is still in the UK.
With less than a week to go before the election, immediately after which is Nepali new year, almost all the shops and markets will be closed so we really have to buy EVERYTHING now, like this week.
I can pay for it all on my credit card and get reimbursed, but if they send the money here, I’ll have a thousand quid in rupees sitting under my bed with no way to get it back to my bank in the UK.
It’s not really ideal and if any of the kids found out it would be unbearably tempting – I simple couldn’t cope with another Jeetu situation!

So, I’m a little pissed off about that, but will have to twiddle my thumbs until they get back to me about what to do next.

The kids have their exam tomorrow to place them into classes, and the new shoes will be delivered next week. There are also a million little things we hadn’t factored in, like I’d budgeted for 50 pairs of new socks, and completely forgot that none of the kids have any underwear! I’ve gotten so used to the fact that they don’t wear any in the orphanage I’d completely forgotten that they’d need pants for school (especially the girls as they have to wear skirts!).
They also needed to all have passport pictures taken for the enrollment forms and school ID cards, so that was another thing on my constant and never-ending list of things to do!

In other news, I had a startling realisation just today that really shook me.
I’m sure I’ve mentioned before the many beggars on the streets here, and that many of them are very badly disfigured and deformed.
I had always assumed that most of them lost their limbs and got their deformities from the Maoist insurgency, like bomb blasts and so on.
Just today I noticed how many more of them there are all of a sudden, and I thought maybe it was due to the warmer weather (it’s LOVELY here right now – hot dry and sunny with the occasional awesome thunderstorm).
Then it occurred to me that there shouldn’t be more of them, as the bombings have mostly stopped, and many of their bandages are quite fresh.

Then, in a very very slow penny-dropping motion I pieced it all together. Fresh bandages, hideously disfigured arms/legs/hands and feet, angry red rashes and skin infections, covered faces etc etc.

It’s leprosy.
They’re lepers.

I don’t know why I found that realisation so profound, but I felt quite ashamed that I’ve been here for 8 months now and never noticed or realised before now. I’ve never once given any of the poor buggers money or really stopped and looked at them. I guess coming from a country like England, where leprosy is almost a myth, it simply never crossed my mind.
However I do know that lepers are treated as literally the lowest form of life, even by the lower castes, and there is almost nothing they can do to alleviate their pain and suffering, or earn any money for that matter.
So I have resolved to try and give something specifically to those beggars every time I see them, as it’s truly a terrifying disease and the poor people have to pretty much cope with it all alone and destitute – as if their life wasn’t bad enough already!

Also, my new-found altruistic giving streak will hopefully help me to patch up my wounded pride, as the Hot German has just reminded me how much I crave affection and hate rejection, just like everybody else I guess.
He has returned from his meditation course (which I gather he hated as much as I did – another thing we have in common!), and informed me that he’s leaving Nepal on Monday.
He’d “like to see me before he goes, but first needs some time to calm his mind and sort his head out” as he’s returned to discover the situation at his orphanage has gotten worse and is now a complete mess.
I’m sure it’s all very distressing, but seriously, the guy’s just had 10 days alone with his thoughts, but needs more time to himself rather than try and see me before he goes?

I responded by trying not to sound too desperate and pathetic, and told him I’d like to see him too but have plans Thursday and Sunday night, so I’m only free Fri or Sat. (Happens to be true – one of my good friends is leaving Friday so we’ve got her leaving do, and Sunday we’re meeting with Anil Shahi to confirm he’s playing for us and sort out the sound situation etc).
So if he wants to see me he’ll bloody well have to fit around my plans for a change!

Unfortunately, he’s made it very clear where I rank on his priority list, and sadly it was a lot lower than I was hoping.
So, perhaps not a broken heart, but mildly cracked and my pride’s definitely taken a pounding. I don’t know about the rest of you, but despite the fact that I write so publicly about every little thing in my life, I don’t get up the courage to just open up my heart to someone every day.

Bit of a bummer, as they say.

Still, I can be thankful that I’m going to be far too busy in the next two weeks to be upset, and I shall take out all my latent wrath by alternately shouting at the people who piss me off and viciously insisting on giving all my small rupee notes to lepers.

lots of love

ps – Once again I wrote this draft yesterday and everything seems to have changed again.
Some good news – the kids had their exam today and all bounced outside after 15 mins happily informing me that it was soooo easy and everything I’d taught them came up etc, which made me feel proud. (Although the exams for classes 3, 4 and 5 had questions like “What is your father’s name?” and “Write down three fruits” – the exam I wrote for them was WAY harder!).

Also xxx have responded to my pleas for the cash and have just today sent all of the money – a fabulous grand total of 1,530 pounds, winging it’s way to Nepal so we should have it next week.

Also Hot German has just sent me a message saying that he’s going to miss me and all the wonderful times we’ve shared etc – all very sweet, but not terribly helpful!
He also asked very politely if I would be available on Saturday night for a “last date” – I suspect I will indeed be available, but it still sounds rather depressing and sad – I’ve had plenty of first dates, but never a last date!

And it also leaves me with a new dilemma to add to my to-do list – what the hell do I wear for a last date?


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