Saturday 24th May 2008
At last the rains have come.
Wonderful huge thunderstorms pour down and cool off the rising temperatures to a very pleasant state indeed.
The thunder, due to our geographical position, really does roll. It echoes and bounces around the hills surrounding Kathmandu, often going on for minutes at a time, in one long rumbling peal.
It’s utterly fantastic. Deep blue-black clouds that appear out of nowhere and disappear just as fast, leaving blue skies and sun shining behind it.
And, with the rising river levels and replenished wells, Nepal is once again at ease. No more water shortages, and even the regular load-shedding (power cuts) we’ve become so accustomed to appear to have all but vanished – in a single week we’ve gone from 12 hours of blackouts a week to 3!
Also, since the election, which went far better than anyone could have hoped, the Maoists have officially won by an astounding majority, and are already laying down the foundations for the big changes to come. Although not officially in power yet, the Maoists are working hard together with the current government to improve their image and it seems pretty clear they will win the next general election.
In the aftermath of the election, there has been very little violence of any sort – no bombings or deaths at all really, and hardly any beatings reported. (Well, until last week, but it really was quite peaceful for a while…)
This made me wonder: Are the people truly happy to have elected the “people’s war” leaders, and therefore have no need of further protests and violence, OR was it only the Maoists causing all the trouble to start with, and now that they’ve won, have stopped it all? In which case, is it such a good thing to have them in charge?
Whatever the answer, I have definitely learnt a few things over here, and one of which is that nothing is what it seems and the newspapers here are to be trusted least of all (as they’re so completely biased!).
I recently read a couple of books on the Maoist movement and I must say, that for all the atrocities committed by the Maoists, just as many were done by the Nepal Army, so it’s impossible to takes sides. While the Maoists were hacking off people’s limbs to make an example of someone who refused to join their cause, the Army were busy carpet-bombing entire villages suspected of harbouring Maoists.
However, as Nepal heads towards Communism, the feeling is overall pretty hopeful and optimistic, or at least it seems that way to me.
I wish them lots and lots of luck.
As for me, time to head off and out, onto fresh new pastures, and then home to my favourite pastures of all – the Suffolk countryside in all it’s summer glory!
But first – my last couple of days were packed with excitement!
On Sunday (18th May) I did in fact ‘act’ in a Nepali music video! It was all terribly exciting, although also very cheesy! They decided that due to the last-minute nature of everything, as I had so little time left, they’d skip all the dancing (thank god!) and do a slow love-song, where I was required to act. It was all fairly simple though – mostly me looking adoringly into the singer’s eyes and smiling a lot. Also, as we only had one day, they decided to do a series of poses at the end of me doing silly and dramatic things that they could use as a kind-of photo montage in the video.
Karla and Anil, my Nepali brother, came along too, to keep me company and have a look. I really hated what they did with my hair and make-up – they made me look like a weird doll, and the clothes they bought me didn’t really fit (jeans were too tight, shirt was too big etc), but overall it was a really fun day out!
(I’m uploading pics onto facebook as I write this, so you can all have a good look!).
Once that was all over, I was surprised when Aziz, the singer, handed me 10,000 rupees – I’d thought they were giving us 10,000 for both of us, but apparently it was 10,000 each! Karla still has to do a video too, but for her one they want her to learn salsa! Sooo glad it’s her and not me!
Anyhoo, Monday was my last day, and we had a huge party to celebrate not only my upcoming birthday, but also Priya’s, which has just gone, and all the kids, who don’t know when their birthday is, so we all got a year older together!
Also, as a stroke of luck, the kids had the day off school for Buddha’s birthday or something, so we had the whole day to play and celebrate.
We took the kids off to the park in the morning, and did lots of tree-climbing and badminton and played with our new play-parachute that my lovely friend L sent us. Some of the kids were utterly adorable, announcing that when they grew up, they were going to work for the immigration office, so that I could have a visa for free and stay as long as I wanted.
Bipal informed me that he was personally going to arrange for me to have a “forever visa” because I’m his big sister.
Then we went home and discovered that lovely Aamaa had decorated the house with flowers and balloons, and had called in an army of ‘aunties’ (friends and neighbours) to help with the cooking so we were free to play with the kids.
We had some lovely fruit salad, and read stories and played connect 4 and things together for a while. Then I taught them how to bob for apples, which they adored, and even Aamaa and her friends thought it was so hilarious that they all had a go too. I couldn’t believe they’d never done that before, but they absolutely loved it, and got all wet too!
After that we settled down in the living room and played pass-the-parcel and musical statues etc for a while. After all the excitement we sat down to an enormous big meal of delicious pilau rice (Aamaa’s specialty!) and loads of veggies etc. After that we all needed a rest and time to digest, so we watched a fun and silly Jackie Chan movie (the kids are obsessed with Jackie Chan!).
A few more of Aamaa’s friends and family arrived, and we played some more games, and then the cake arrived, so we ate cake and swapped presents. I bought a Caromboard for the kids, a traditional Nepali game, and made a picture board for Aamaa, as well as some little gifts, and I also got given some nice bangles and a floral wreath by Aamaa, and a gorgeous book from Karla and Amy, where each kid had written me a message and glued it in next to their photos – it’s really special and I love it!
After that came the hard part. I hugged all the kids goodbye, and then took them upstairs and settled them in front of the telly again – this time to watch a Hindi movie they’ve been begging me to get, called Krazzy 4! I had thought that after saying my goodbyes, I could settle them in front of the movie and then slip away, but when I went downstairs to say my goodbyes, Aamaa just grabbed me and started to cry. Her head only comes up to my chest, so I held her and stroked her hair while she clung to me and wept into my shirt, promising I’d be back soon.
Then it was time to say goodbye to Priya, and Anil, and everyone was suddenly pressing cards and gifts into my hands. The children crept down the stairs again, desperately wanting to see me off, and I smiled and waved and stuck my tongue out to make them laugh. A friend had agreed to give us a lift into town, and only as we were backing out the gates, my eyes filled up and I suddenly had the strongest urge to jump back out and hug them all one last time.
We drove away and it was honestly the hardest thing I’ve ever had to do, and I miss them all so much already, I felt like each of them took away a little piece of my heart and I won’t get it back until I come back here again.
It was extremely emotional and sad, and I miss them all so much.
However, it’s on to other places next, but this email is already too long, so I’ll start part 2!
tons of love