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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…





28 Aug

The internet at our apartment is very slow and my blog won’t even load. That is, when there’s even power to connect to the interweb.

It has been a challenge, but one that I am learning to appreciate in some ways, but certainly a challenge, especially when trying to find time to Skype with Zak.

Last week was quite relaxed, other than it being Tara’s 25th birthday, which we celebrated by having dinner and drinks at a nearby place called Vesper Cafe. Then I went to the World Trade Centre for a women’s shopping festival (sounds as though it were made for me, no?) and I bought some cheap bras, a Mickey Mouse shirt, a crochet vest, a crystal to hang in the window, and silk cocoons which are supposed to remove blackheads but haven’t worked for me yet. I also got Tara some flowers for her birthday and a ring of the god Ganesh, because as I have learned to love the remover of obstacles, so has she. On the walk to the trade centre I made a little friend on the side of the road. Here he is:

This lil guy was eating a cookie on the sidewalk

Then on Friday after work and the gym, we went to a restaurant nearby called Tamarind. I was shocked at how posh it was, it really didn’t feel anything like Nepal. The service was just awful and it was very expensive, but there was live music, mostly hindi, but at one point he played Jason Mraz’s I’m Yours which we all danced and sang to in our seats.

Saturday I went to Kopan Monastery with another volunteer who has been in Nepal for 3+ years. She has had some experience with Buddhism so she took me to experience it. It was a very hot day, and once we arrived we decided to sweat some more and trek another half an hour to another nearby monastery where there was a Buddhist prayer at 4 pm.

We observed from the side of the monastery as these monks chanted, played loud drums, blew into big conches and snapped their fingers. At some point they ate beaten rice and drank tea as an offering, and the monks even brought us cups and filled them with tea, as well. It was a really interesting practice to ask for protection. The chanting was incredible, and I would love to go again (when the trek won’t be so sweaty due to the heat!).

View from Kopan

Stupa at Kopan Monastery

Yesterday I got my big huge broken tooth fixed at the expat dentist, and I keep tonguing it. This is the first time in 5 years that I have had a mouth full of complete teeth! I then went to Nepali language class where I began to learn basic Nepali script which is unbelievably complicated. Then, the clinic for my last rabies shot, the salon for some leg waxing, then off to dinner where we chatted and drank some wine.

The bad news of the weekend is that I dropped my phone and the screen cracked and I am extremely sad. I have always wondered why people use phones with cracked screens and now I am one of those people. Oh, and this:



Living the dream

16 Aug

Today we visited one of the 17 member organizations of FTG Nepal. It was so inspirational to see some of the artisans working right there in front of me.

The member was called Kumbeshwar Technical School (KTS). This organization started out in 1983 to help Nepal’s untouchable caste. It has been such a success that they now have schools for adults and children, an orphanage, a daycare for their artisans’ children, they sell their products fair trade to 13 different countries, and the products are gorgeous. It was so inspirational to see these women make the dye, dye the wool, roll the wool, weave the carpets, knit the accessories and sweaters all in front of us. Just incredible.

Then we visited another partner, New Sadle, which is located in Kopan, at the outskirts of Kathmandu 0n a mountain near a monastery.  This organization has many programs and hires lepers, gives them medical attention, housing, jobs and takes care of their entire families. Once the lepers become too old to work, they are given the option to either live in the home or to buy their own plot of land in their village where New Sadle will build them a house. New Sadle even gives their children employment or if they prefer, pays for the schooling. As leprosy is nearly eradicated (about 50,000 lepers in Nepal now) they have begun to hire other people with disabilities and marginalized women. They also paid one man to rescue an entire family of indentured labourers who are now their employees.

Here are a few photos of the artisans and children from both organizations:

Hand weaving a carpet at KTS

Children in the school in KTS

Leper working at New Sadle producing Batik art using silk screening

hand made beaded bracelets

I realized after leaving that, though I may be a little sad at times here, and not totally in love with Kathmandu, here I am literally living the dream. I have dreamt of working for a development organization internationally in fair trade literally since childhood and that is exactly what I am doing. I am so, so lucky.



23 Jul

I spent the morning watching Sons of Anarchy on my laptop then around lunch time headed to Thamel in search of a Ganesh coral and brass ring. I did not find it as many places are closed here on Saturdays, but I did buy some things instead. Too many things, actually. I love shopping in Nepal so freaking much. It’s so dangerous going anywhere near Thamel. I bought:

  • a onyx ring and onyx pendant
  • a gorgeous bright pink hand made sparkly elephant bed cover
  • a buffalo hyde bag
  • a necklace with elephants on it
  • Picked up a dress I had our regular silk-guy/tailer make
  • lunch

I am exhausted and happy. All together I spent just under $50 which is a lot, but I suppose really isn’t much considering buying two items of clothing in Toronto would cost me the same.

Om Mani Padme Hum

16 Jul

I attended my first meditation class in Nepal this evening and it was free!

The teacher was an American guy from Manhattan and all 7 of us attendees were foreigners. Understandable, I suppose, given that it was held in the upstairs of the same restaurant/bar we went to on Friday night, called 1905.

It was a really interesting class – very different than any meditation I tried previoiusly. To be honest I didn’t leave feeling nearly as relaxed as I normally do, although admittedly I have very little experience in the matter.

We learned to be more aware of our mind, and our concentration, or lack thereof. We were given 5 minute intervals to focus solely on our breath and to count our breath in and out and every time our mind wanders, to start from 1 again. I couldn’t get past breath #4!

I hope that if I try doing this regularly at home, even once or twice a week for 15 minutes, I may actually be able to count past breath #10. It really concerns me that this is the case, but as the instructor said, it’s just a matter of changing your habit.

Coming here, I was hoping to go to meditation daily at 6am and do yoga every other day, and have this set routine. Now, I know that setting a schedule takes time but it turns out that within the Kathmandu valley, or at least where I currently am and where I will be moving to (a town called Patan) there is actually very little in the way of regular meditation classes. What most hippies do is go on 10 or 20 day retreats. I don’t have the time or patience to do that, so for now, this will have to do.

Along with meditation of course I will decorate my new apartment with lots of buddha images and hindu gods, some statues and mini prayer wheels – just to set the mood. They’re so pretty! 🙂





10 Jul


It’s kicking in with 3 days left

4 Jul

Zak and I have been so stressed about saying bye for…sadly, longer than we’ve even been together, that this last few days has really taken a toll on us.

Rather than spending it together, happily, we are stressed, arguing, talking about what ifs. It’s making my last few days before my departure a real drag and I almost wish I were already on my way.

Today is my last day at Job #1 and my two supervisors/colleagues and I are going to Little India for a Goodbye lunch. Although all of us are attempting to be on diets, we are all equally unsuccessful and I have wanted to take them there since I started working here.


They bought me a CANDY CARE PACKAGE for Nepal!! It is just adorable. I’ve already eaten one box of Jelly Bellys and a bag of chocolates I ate before the picture was taken. This is after we stuffed ourselves at a Indian buffet. 

The bag has my favourite domestic animal on it and the card has my favourite wild animal (also common in Nepal) on it, with sparkles and a pink balloon…three of my very favourite things. So sweet!

I’m quite sad today.

I tried unpacking and repacking my bag again yesterday as I found out I’m only allowed 23 kg in my checked luggage to a maximum of 32 kg which would cost $100 extra, plus each extra checked bag is another $100. It still weighs more than that even after repack #3. I’m kind of screwed.