Monday, June 12, 2006

Watching World Cup games with Sachin and Sagar from Hotel Tibet. Good guys. They work the front desk here and love to hassle Jen about "cooking" salad. Posted by Picasa

Sunday, June 11, 2006

Roma and Druba in their apartment. Posted by Picasa

Me, Santosh and Jen in our hotel room. We watched the Netherlands/Serbia game together. Posted by Picasa

Jen and Santosh in our hotel room. Santosh is now 20 years old and about 4'8". He's wearing the shirt we brought him last summer. Posted by Picasa

Jen with Baaju and Roma. They asked to have a few minutes to put on makeup and jewelry before the picture. Posted by Picasa

Baaju KC listening to Jen tell a story. Posted by Picasa

Me and Baaju KC after lunch. Posted by Picasa

Pooki Basnet and Jen. Pooki is 23 years old. Her parents are in the process of arranging a marriage for her within the next couple of years. Posted by Picasa

The Basnet family (L to R): Sudeep, Pooki, Jaget, and Subitri. Posted by Picasa

Beautiful view of the west from the rooftop of the Basnet's house in Patan. Posted by Picasa

Munu, me and Anil outside movie theater. We saw "Fanaa" with Kajol and Aamir Khan. Coming to a theater near you! Posted by Picasa

World Cup Fever and Big Meals

Like my brother's girlfriend and dog, Jennifer and I also have World Cup Fever. I thought the Super Bowl received too much hype, but that was before I experieced previews for the world's only true international sport. It has been crazy. Nepal's football team rarely plays international contests but it seems not have dampened people's interest in the tournament. Nearly every hotel in town boasts big screen TVs and discounted drinks, even though the games play at 9:45pm and 12:15am.

Since we returned to KTM, it has been busy as expected. Two nights ago we met Anil and Munu Karki for a movie. The Karkis were our homestay family in Jiri. They moved to KTM a couple years ago when the tourist business dried up due to the fighting. Now they own and manage a guesthouse near a local buspark. Anil is attempting to get into medical school and Munu is now in grade 8.

The next day we went to Patan to see the Basnets (pictures above). They were Katie Hyde's homestay family 14 years ago when she and Jen came to Nepal with the Miami program. Jaget, the father, works for a social research group called New Era and does really interesting work throughout Nepal. Right now, he and his group are studied sex workers in southern Nepal and HIV/AIDS transmission. We stayed for dinner and watched the England/Paraguay game. A very pleasant evening.

This morning we visited with the KCs again but this time at Roma and Druba's apartment near the airport. We weren't able to see Roma when we visited early during this trip. She is Jen's little Nepali sister. We had lunch with them. Druba, Roma's husband, works for a construction company but is really an aspiring artist, and considering he has no formal training, an incredible artist as well. He gave us three paintings to take home. I already have one of his works in my office and my students frequently comment on it.

Tonight Santosh Jirel came to the hotel for snacks and more World Cup. Santosh is from Jiri and Jen met him first over 10 years ago. Even then he was extremely intelligent and precocious. He used to compose poems in English and read them to Jen. He's incredibly sweet and really really smart. Now Santosh is in KTM trying to go to college, but he cannot attend without a scholarship. In August he will take a scholarship exam. There are 200 scholarships available for 3,000 exam takers. If he earns one of those scholarships, he wants to study engineering.

Tomorrow it's more visiting and a little shopping.

Our website is nearly ready but I don't want to publish it until we get home and we've had a chance to make final changes.

That's all for now. Enjoy the pictures.


Wednesday, June 07, 2006

Leaving Pokhara

Today is our last day in Pokhara. Sad to be sure, but we know we'll be coming back again, so not too sad. We'll miss the Rajbhandaris most of all. Every night we get to play with Diksha and Ritesh and have a great meal before heading home. It was the perfect way to end each day.

Yesterday we had a meeting with Visma Raj, the director of Namaste Children's Home. We met with him last year. They have a wonderful orphanage, and one of the few of good standing in the community. Right now they have 59 children, but only have room for six more in their present location. Their waiting list for stands around 400. He has asked that we come to him when Sam's House is ready to open.

Unlike competing businesses, Visma was all too happy to share information with us. More than once he said, "Like us, you care for the children of Nepal and that makes us very happy!" The children at Namaste House are indeed very happy--which is the best sign of how an orphanage is run. When we stepped into the lobby, all the children quickly greeted us with namastes and then shyly hovered in the corners, smiling at us.

In addition to the orphanage, Namaste House also support a scholarship program where they raise money for children in poor families to attend schools.

Tomorrow we return to KTM. It will be a hectic few days as we make the rounds to see people. Already we have dinner plans for three nights and a movie planned with the Karki boys and Munu. We are looking forward to all of this. Also, when the World Cup games begin, the Hotel Tibet will be placing a large television in the lobby for better game viewing. As most of the games don't start until late in the day Nepal time, this will make for some interesting nights ahead.

We'll write more tomorrow, but from KTM. Thanks for your comments.

Love, Chris and Jen

Tuesday, June 06, 2006

A group of girls who asked to have their picture taken this morning. Posted by Picasa

An area south of Pokhara, but rather crowded and expensive. Those stone outlines you can see are plots. Just one of those plots can cost upward of $50k. Posted by Picasa

Dinesh looking like a gentleman farmer as we look for land west of Pokhara. Posted by Picasa

Sunday, June 04, 2006

A Story Good to Remember

In some of our earlier posts we have mentioned that orphanages do not have a good reputation here in Nepal. Many people, out of connivance or need, take in orphans as a way to make money and not necessarily for the good of the children. Oftentimes the board members and workers for orphanages personally benefit from the largesse the organization receives. We visited a few places like this last year.

Here's a story from the Daily India about some children discovered in an orphanage in Humla district, in the far northwest corner of Nepal.

This is another reason why we feel so lucky to be working with Dinesh. Transparency is extremely important. There are only a few orphanages in Nepal that are above the fray in terms of respect and skepticism.

Thanks so much for the comments. We love hearing about what you're doing back home, if only a short detail.

Two days ago and much of yesterday it rained. We stayed inside working and reading and went to the Rajbhandaris for dinner. Today it is lovely. We'll be getting out for a walk shortly.


Me and Dinesh at the wheel of the Maruti Gypsy. We're letting that taxi pass by. Posted by Picasa

Jen and Diksha playing while parents make momos. Posted by Picasa