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Merry Christmas

26 Dec

How is it already Boxing Day?

Tomorrow is the date that Zak was supposed to be arriving in Kathmandu, but of course that’s not happening anymore. But, I still cannot believe how quickly time flies.

Christmas is over. The world did not end. It’s nearly 2013.

We had a pretty fantastic Christmas, especially considering that I have never been in a place where it felt less like Christmas anywhere in the world.

It is quite freezing in Kathmandu these days and the load shedding is getting continuously worse. But, on Christmas Eve we had a nice potluck at our friends/colleagues Greg and Lindsay’s lovely apartment. Considering none of us had much expectation for the food, the meal turned out quite epic, if I do say so:


We threw a Christmas day party at our place. It was a pretty fantastic turn out, with people trickling in and out throughout the day until about 11 pm. We only had power from 2pm until 6 pm, but still people stayed, drank, ate and were merry. It was pretty hilarious having 20 some people over in the dark, sitting by 3-4 candles.

We even got a little Christmas tree that Tara, Jen and I decorated with fair trade ornaments from FTG-Nepal’s member organizations, and some tinsel and other cute little things from the Supermarket. We were quite pleased.




Merry Christmas!!




Sari Soldiers

8 Nov

Last night I went to Moksh Cafe where they were showing a documentary Sari Soldiers. It was an extremely interesting, horribly depressing film about women during the insurgency in Nepal that lasted from the assassination of the Royal family in 2001 till the King’s successor and younger brother Gyanendra stepped down.

The documentary described the violence that was inflicted on innocent Nepali families by the Royal Nepal Army after the Maoist rebellion and also the violence done by the Maoists. It basically made this lovely country I now call home look like a war-torn, uninhabitable country. Which, I suppose to some extent it was.

It’s really incredible to imagine that all those horrid events took place so recently and that, though there is no Constitution right now and the government is kind of a joke, for the most part Nepal is a safe country. Yes, it is riddled with corruption, but the Bandhs aren’t really violent, at least not the ones that have occurred since I’ve lived here. For the most part Nepali people are really nice, helpful and giving.

The documentary was definitely painful but really informative and worth the watch. It showed the impact that banding together for a cause can have, even when the cause seems impossible.

Check out the website for the film:



Out With The Old…In With The New

6 Nov

The last week since Dashain has been a little difficult.

With vacation over, I had to adjust to being back at work, to my brother going back to the UK, to being single (which I’m still struggling with), to having no DSLR camera, having to redo all my work, etc.

The first thing my supervisor commented on when I arrived in the office last week was ‘wow, everything new!’

My new laptop is awesome and I can’t begin to explain how happy I am to have it, especially as I’m trying to cope with this whole heart break thing – without it there would be no Grey’s Anatomy, Gossip Girl, movies and Curb Your Enthusiasm and I’d be left in bed with my own thoughts every evening…what a depressing thought.

When ordering it on Amazon, I was so desperate to just buy one I forgot to look at the size and I bought an enormous one…17 or 18 inches. It doesn’t even fit in my laptop bag, so I got a new one (naturally dyed, fairly traded!!).

I dyed my hair red, as well. In Canada I would never, ever do this, however in Nepal it doesn’t matter much how ‘professional’ I look as people will stare at me for the western clothes I wear and the whiteness of my skin and the Canadianess of my accent no matter what. Plus, beauty here is quite affordable!

Retail has also been a huge form of therapy for me although not a healthy one, and I have done a hell of a lot of shopping in the last week. I bought two pairs of Steve Madden shoes this weekend, a bunch of bootleg DVDs including seasons 1-13 of South Park, fake Beats by Dre headphones as I have broken the other 10 pairs that I’ve purchased here, a wallet with the UK flag on it, two pairs of lovely earrings, a bunch of stuff from FTG partners including woolen socks, a vest and a backpack.

One of my new pairs of shoes

But the problem with retail therapy is that it provides a very short high.  Yesterday I had an especially difficult time coping with the lack of love I currently have, it comes in waves, and I treated myself to a nice massage at The Wellness Sanctuary. It made me think of how lucky I am to be in a country where I can afford to get a nice, long massage to take my mind off of things. A broken heart in Canada is much more expensive to heal.

I wake up every morning and try my hardest to not cry, not be sad, and especially not make a phone call I know I will regret. I often fail. However this morning I succeeded and I have yet to shed a single tear today. I know Zak and I broke up a long while ago, but it’s only really hitting and hurting me now. I was so distracted before – getting to know new people, friends, colleagues, the country. All I really needed was a little bit of space from our 3-4 conversations a day to feel like I was living in Nepal, not on Skype. But that turned into mistrust and fights and eventually a break up.

New beginnings can be a blessing – but boy are they tough. I keep trying to remind myself that this is for the best. It could be so much worse, I could be living in the same city as my ex, sharing friends, even a workplace. But regardless, being single, with no one calling to check up on you, no one to fill in on mundane day-to-day activities…it’s new for me.

The new me also wants to put up barriers and not open myself up to people even if I like them. I don’t want to crush on people so easily and don’t want to fall for people so easily. Trust is important but also has to be preserved and only given after a long time.

As a wise Mr. Marley once said:

Bob’s got a very valid point. But how do we find the ones that are worth it?

Nepal is all about a new beginning and a new life. I will not be the same person when I return to Toronto and frankly, I don’t even really want to return to Toronto yet. If nothing else, I’ve learned how vast this world is and how much more there is for me to see and experience. I will do this while guarding my heart, though. Being heart broken in every corner of the globe sounds interesting, but a little too painful.

This week our office moved to a new location about 15 minutes from my apartment. The move has taken a long time and yesterday we were told to work from home, so I spent the day at two cafes. Today we went to the office to find that there is still no electricity, phone or internet, so once again we are at Top of the World Cafe.

This Friday my ex-roomie from Mauritius, Hoda, who I have not seen since she left Mauritius on March 26, 2011, will be in Kathmandu for a vacation this weekend, and it will be lovely to see her, reminisce and hug her. Then, Tara and I are off to India for Divali (called Tihar in Nepal).

In with the NEW indeed…




18 Oct

Happy Dashain 2069!!

This is the big festival in Nepal where everything closes for 10 days, so I got my twin brother to visit me. It happens to also be peak tourist season.

Daniel arrived on Sunday and has already been to most placs around Kathmandu. Heck he has seen more than I have!

Having him here has been awesome and for the most part we’ve gotten along, with the exception of him constantly telling me how much he hates my dyed hair and fake nails. But he’s had 3 days now to get used to them. Tuesday was the first day of the festival so I had the day off and we went to the 3 main temples around KTM: Bouddha, Pashupathi and Swambu.

Me and Dan at Bouddha!

I hadn’t yet visited Swayambu, also referred to as the monkey temple, so it was really neat to see. We got there at sunset, too, which provided for a really great, romantic view.

Swambunath at sunset

Dan’s has also served as a good distraction for me as Zak told me he’s officially not visiting and has moved on. I am happy for him in one sense as he deserves to be happy, but there’s a part of me that is honestly hurt that he moved on so fast when I’m still listening to sad music and wishing I’d hear from him. It makes me wonder if he’s found someone else. It’s the only explanation…

So, I am now looking at my solo-travel options while here.

Tomorrow, Dan and I are headed to Pokhara for 3 days then to Chitwan National Park, which is a huge tourist destination where we will ride elephants!! I can’t wait!

Today at work for Dashain, we had a Momo making party. They are so hard to make but we ate so, so many. I am still not fed up of them…Momos are basically dumplings but are extremely popular and common in Nepali and Tibetan cuisine. They can be steamed or fried and have veggies or meat inside.






5 Oct

Despite being clumsy, for the most part I try to take decent care of my laptop. I don’t download stuff, I don’t do illegal things…all I really do is surf the web and edit photos on it and work, listen to music and watch DVDs.

Yet, yesterday after only 13 months, it completely went berserk and isn’t working now.

There is no reason for this to have happened. So, I’m wondering, is it karma? Is this Vishnu or Shiva or Ganesh’s way to tell me that yes indeed I screwed up and this is how I will repay the universe, by sufferring?

My computer is not working, my phone is cracked and losing its sensitivity (it’s a touch screen) and the model never came to Nepal so getting it fixed would require sending it abroad, costing about half of what I paid for the phone itself.

What does it all mean? Should I toss out all my broken or nearly broken electronics and move to a mountain somewhere to meditate, as it seems the universe is telling me I don’t do well with electronics, at least not these days. Or is it just a really bad coincidence?

The good news is that Tara and I are now talking. Things aren’t perfect, but we’re back to being friends and roommates, which is good because I missed her so, so much. She really is a fabulous friend and roommate. I need to remember to buy her flowers…

Tomorrow I have an appointment with an Astrologist. Astrologists are really big in Hindu culture, at least in Nepal. Most Nepalis visit them at least once a year near the time of their birthday, as well as during the year when they need to seek advice. The Astrologist will look at their birth chart (which I need to get made) and consult the stars and if something bad is going to happen, advise them as to which stones to wear and on which finger, which god to pray to, which days and when to fast to avoid the trouble.

I am an atheist. I don’t believe that the location of the stars when I was born has anything to do with my fate, however, people really seem to believe in this stuff, so I thought, why not? Who knows? Maybe if he gives me a really accurate description of my past, I’ll believe what he tells me about the future. It should be interesting. Since the Astrologer only speaks Nepali, the CEO of one of FTG’s partners is going to translate. It is his Astrologer, and I will be going to his house at 8am tomorrow morning to meet with him and the Astrolger and he will translate. Who knows, maybe this time next week I’ll be fasting on Tuesdays and praying to lord Ganesh.



Maithila Art

28 Sep

I spend most of my money here on handicrafts and other beautiful possessions that make me a very bad aspiring Buddhist.

One of the most interesting Nepalese art forms that I have learned about, and get the pleasure to actually work a little with – is called Maithili art. Maithili art comes from a region called Janakpur, which I will have the chance to visit later in the year.

Traditionally, the art was made on the walls of the city during celebrations and depicted women doing traditional work – farming, cooking, dancing. The skill was passed on from generation to generation. At one point over a decade ago, it was suggested that they paint onto item that can be sold, such as cups, pencil holders, wall art, etc. and it took off from there. Now Maithili art is one of the most common forms of art one finds, at least in Kathmandu.

Despite that, I doubt that the women of Janakpur are floating in their riches or anywhere near that. However, the region and it’s traditions are becoming well known and the women pass on their talent from generation to generation, providing an extra source of income to their daughters.

At Fair Trade Group, one of our partners is the Janakpur Women’s Development Centre. One of my tasks is to create a brochure for them, amongst other things. Many products that FTG sells depict Miathili art and I love every single one of them. Below are just a few images of items with the art. It’s Tara’s duty to come up with new designs and innovative ideas of what to paint them on. I suggested a silk maxi dress….I would be the first in line to buy it!

Maithila frame

card with Maithila art

I regret the poor quality of the above photos – I used my webcam!



26 Sep

It seems there are new Canadian volunteers or interns coming almost on a weekly basis. I must admit, I feel quite unimportant with so many more Canucks taking over Kathmandu and my ego is definitely being affected.

Although the others are all at either different partner organizations or going between FTG and others, and I am the only dedicated one to FTG, still, at times I feel a bit extraneous. I have taken it upon myself to tell all new volunteers/interns that come visit FTG that they shall, at no point, even think about taking my desk. There is very little room in the office, but we were recently informed that the office is moving 15 minutes away to a smaller space. Uh-oh.

This Friday morning there will be a puja (prayer) at the new office to…well, actually I’m not sure what that does, but something neat I’m sure. There will also be food, so I’m definitely going.

Back to the other Canadians – I am not hating. They all seem really cool. There are 2 3-month interns that are young students from Ottawa U and one of them works at FTG with me and is from Quebec so she has a cute accent and I really like her.

There are 6 8-month interns from the University of Waterloo, also all gals, who seem really nice, too. Then, there are two new, older (late 20s) one-year volunteers, who will be splitting their time between FTG and other partner organizations. One of them is even male. Poor guy has no idea what kind of estrogen-ridden world he is entering, I wish him luck.

Then yesterday we welcomed a new Leave For Change, 3 -week long volunteer.

Plus there’s those of us who have already been here. So, needless to say there are tons of Canucks struttin’ down the streets of Kathmandu wreaking havoc!

Watch out, KTM 🙂