As we wrap up a stay of nearly three months in Nepal, we thought we’d share with you a couple of random things we’ve come across and which we found amazing. This is a wonderful country, and it has some funky quirks, too.

 

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First thing: Nepal is world-renowned for its Sherpas. They are expert mountain climbers and guides. The world record-holder for the fastest ascent of Everest (without oxygen!) is a Nepali Sherpa — he did it in something like 13 hours. That’s not even human.

But there are also thousands of incredible porters here in Nepal. These guys carry things we’d only ever haul in a truck back at home. We’d see them on the trails carrying supplies up and down the Annapurna route. But they also do this in Kathmandu…

All the construction here is mostly done by hand. Mixing cement is done by a guy who literally mixes water and gravel and… whatever the other magic ingredient for cement is… by using a shovel and his hand. Digging up new trenches for sewage upgrades (good idea) is not done with backhoes. Men with picks dig the trenches.

Here a guy is hauling sheets of heavy plywood somewhere. He just walked by us going along with the cars and motorcycles, like any other transport vehicle. And yes, those are flip-flops on his feet.

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Yup. Refrigerator. A REFRIGERATOR! You know, just cruising up the main road along with the traffic.

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A lot is hand-crafted here in Nepal. There are dozens of stores (also sort of hand-made – see comments about construction) that sell all hand-made Nepali crafts here in Thamel. But what we didn’t know is that there’s a lot more that’s hand-made than we originally thought.

Like toilet paper rolls. They’re made by hand from things like studies and reports published by NGOs (yikes), magazine advertising proofs, and other kinds of paper.

Interested in the rates of TB in Nepal? Just read your toilet paper roll.

Someone’s thesis perhaps? An academic paper nevertheless.

Sometimes, the craftsmen get the size a bit wrong, so they build special ones with hand-made extensions…

Oopps. Too small. Just cut a bit more from the part and tape it to the end. There. Prefect. Just the right size to be a toilet paper roll.

We’ve been quite busy here in Kathmandu. In fact, we extended our stay in Nepal in order to accept a paid contract with the National Democratic Institute to write and facilitate capacity-building workshops.

Our first workshop was held this last week for the Inter-Party Alliance, an advisory group of representatives from the major political parties, as well as communications directors from a few of the parties. There were about 30 people altogether. The workshop was an introduction to social media, and how to use it to deliver messages, organize supporters and members, and engage the public. We co-facilitated the session.  Its been a while since we worked together.  We’ve both really missed working together.  Writing and co-facilitating the session was a lot of fun.

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We had good feedback from the session, even though the video we showed from a TED talk crapped out half-way through and Scott had to finish and then summarize it. Good thing we had the transcript translated into Nepali for the attendees! We were even asked if we’d do the same presentation for one of the parties. They suggested 90 people this time, the NDI talked them down to around 40-50.

To say we’ve been busy is an understatement. We’re very grateful to the NDI for the opportunity to work. And it’s been good work. Everyone at the office is so kind. Every day we eat lunch together. Lunch is made fresh in the office’s kitchen by two lovely women who are also amazing cooks.

Tasty Nepali lunch every day at the NDI office. Dhal Bhat is a delicious meal eaten everyday in Nepal: Rice, dhal, greens and a curry dish. Top with chillies if you want it spicy. Yum! The foreigner in the photo is Sasha. We work closely with her, and she’s wonderful. She’s from Montenegro. That’s NOT Albania or Serbia.

Now with the social media round one behind us, we have been getting ready to offer two more sessions.  One on Communications and one on Organizing. We’ll both be presenting on our own, for 4 days next week. We start this Sunday.

Karen working away on her presentation at the NDI office.

A very focused Scotty. He is working on his presentation at the NDI office.

Today we are leaving the Sacred Valley Inn for the first time in a month!  We are checking into the hotel where we will stay for a week. All the conference participants will also be arriving today for the week long session.  It should be a lot of fun.  We really enjoyed ourselves last time and this time we’ll be facilitating sessions.  You all know how much both of us love facilitating workshops and training sessions….  Especially Karen. 🙂  She’s even got her bag of chocolates ready.  Because whether you’re training in Canada or training in Nepal, everyone likes chocolate prizes.

The political situation here is still unsettled. But for the most part, protests and rallies have been peaceful.  They mostly disrupt traffic.  No more strikes have taken place and shops have remained open.

Riot police keeping the protest under control.

On July 7th we’ll be flying to Thailand where we are planning to sit a short meditation course at Dhamma Kamala and then taking a short trip to Malaysia to visit an old friend, Siew Oo and her family.  We fly to Indonesia on July 30th where we are serving a course at Dhamma Java.

As some of you know, we’ve been complaining a little about the heat the last few weeks.  Officially, this is the monsoon season in Nepal, but this year the monsoon rains were a couple of weeks late. And it was a very very hot week! Even now, the rain is not exactly diluvian… However, as the rain cools the heat down a lot, it also brings a big surge in waterborne disease — the hospitals have seen a spike in illness as a result. We’ve been ill a couple of times with giardia (or some other mysterious belly illness). Sewage treatment and clean drinking water are very big challenges in Nepal. That’s a fact that gets underscored during the monsoon. When the rain comes down, it really comes down. And sometimes you get trapped and have to wait until it subsides a little. This little cat got stuck on a ledge. One moment he was rambling around enjoying himself (as cats often do), and the next he was scrambling for shelter, squeezing himself into a corner on the ledge to hide from the wet.

Not many people know this. Cats don’t like water. This one just curled up in the corner on a ledge and waited for the rain to stop.

With that, we’ll scramble into our own corner and rest up for our busy week of work ahead.  We hope to post again in a week to wrap up our stay in Nepal.  BUT… if you don’t hear from us you know we’ll post again after our course in Thailand and before we jump on a train to Malaysia.

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