Working Women

I didn’t make a special effort to collect  pictures of Nepalese working women, they showed up as photo opportunities …time and time again…and I just took pictures. It was shocking at first to see tiny women hauling big sacks, and it continues to make me uncomfortable because I still don’t see men hauling weight very often…its nearly always women.   Quite what they are doing while the women are hauling rocks, I’m not so sure.  I suspect not so much.  After a day shifting bags of cements, many women then go back and cook, wait for their husbands and sons to eat their fill, and then eat what’s left.  The imbalance is astounding. The more I learn, the worse the picture grows.

women planting rice

Yet, despite all this, these were women were cheerful and worked as a team all day planting rice, and I was a welcome break from all the hardwork.  There were one or two guys there helping too.

DSCF4470 IMG_9421


She was like a shoveling machine! (Note man watching!)


Another random street photo. That’s a 50lb bag of rice!


Hauling wood up the hill, snapped from our car.


This is probably the most poignant of all. Ten women from the Tibetan refugee camp near Pokhara were moving a mountain of gravel to a construction site. The male supervisor stood on top of the pile barking orders and poking the gravel around with a spade.

If rural working women here even knew about the western concept of women’s liberation (and the right to work), I’m sure they would find it extremely confusing. Here a 1950’s world where women stay home to only cook and clean must see like a bridge too far.

Travel Theme: Freedom

What could be more exhilarating as a kid than flying through the air on a swing? The sense of freedom…. Flying like you’re a bird!





Every September/October, during the Dashain festival, these simple (but huge!) bamboo swings are built all over Nepal for the kids to play on.  There’s one in every village and plenty of kids enjoying the ride.  The swings disappear pretty quickly after the festival.  We’ve wondered why they don’t just leave them up, but perhaps they become unsafe over time?   As it is, that’s a long way to fall….they’re pretty good at it, though!

More travel theme entries here:






The S**t I do!

I don’t like having a four letter word in my blog post title.  But do you ever do things and catch yourself wondering what the hell you were thinking?  I had that kind of a moment a couple of weeks ago when I watched about twelve guys try to glue the end of a 32 foot banner for me.  The banner was way too long for their print shop table, so the project had to be taken out of the shop and into the covered shopping mall walkway.

As you might imagine in this dusty, polluted city, the walkway was filthy and I knew it had to be glued face down.  Guys with a yard stick appeared and measured the space, another set showed up with sheets of newspaper.  The 32ft strip was laid down, rolled length ways and flipped on to it face.  All the time I thinking “Jeez, how long is this going to take, I have a meeting at two.”  “Is it going to actually stick?”  “Have they done this before, or am I going to end up with an experiment gone wrong?””It’s going to crack or be filthy.”

It actually worked. Two hours behind schedule I was in the car and heading back to work with a clean banner that was ready to hang.  They did a good job.   How did I ever doubt myself or them?!!  Leap of faith, guys….jump and hope the net appears!

16 days

Reminders of Christmas

As much as I despise the over commercialization of Christmas, its hard to feel the season around here as Christmas is almost entirely absent from stores, streets or the TV.  Such a contrast to our time in Manila when Christmas started in September and drove us nuts after too many months of Christmas carols.

I also have enough going on that I haven’t really thought about it, except that its nice to go out and have an excuse to be a tourist and buy some things for the tree. Little tourist bits and pieces, reminders of our time here, are something that I would never usually buy — except for the Christmas tree.  I like not having them around as dust collectors for most of the year, but its so fun to pull them out every Christmas and enjoy them all over again.   Here’s the 2014 additions to the collection:

Boudhha: A Little Wash and Brush Up

Boudha Stupa is probably THE cultural destination in Kathmandu…for a reason. It is an extremely atmospheric place that continues to be a fascinating draw for me even after 18 months of living here, and my blog header for reason. There aren’t that many tourists but those that do come, click away at the mesmerizing Stupa eyes, and every tourist must have something similar to this iconic shot:

Yet we got to see a different side of the Stupa this weekend. It turned out to be a maintenance routine day, and it was fascinating to watch.  It gave me a much better sense of its scale (and vulnerability) to see the guys up there with ladders.

Buddha eyes, Buddhanath Stupa, Kathmandu

It started with a guy and a ladder. “What’s he up to?” we thought.


Buddha eyes

Maybe an eyelash problem? Smudged makeup?  No.  Must be something else… ;o)


Buddha eyes, boudhaneth Stupa

It turned out that he was the advance party, heading up to the top part of the face. His job was to drape a fresh skirt around the temple. (I’m sure its not called a skirt, but I have no idea of its name or its religious significance? Perhaps someone could enlighten me?

Next the painter showed up.  We saw buckets of what looked like whitewash and, sure enough, in a few minutes more guys showed up with more buckets and a very fast “paint job” was underway.  Whitewash isn’t paint and behaves very differently.  (If you’re interested in how to whitewash see my earlier post).  I’m sure our Greek friends would be interested to see the “chuck it” method of whitewash application!


There did actually appear to be skill in the throwing method. The whitewash was was thrown in an arch. The archs were carefully  spaced out and, if you look carefully, you can see that the whitewash has repeatedly been thrown in the same places so that they form a pattern.



So having solved the mystery of arches on Nepalese stupas, I also answered another question:  The thickly encrusted white stripes on the base of stupas comes from years of dribbled whitewash, not pigeon poop.  Phew!

Travel Theme: Slow


Right to left to shows the progress from chunk of stone to lion.  These photos were taken at a third generation stone carving factory in Kathmandu, where we watched the back backing work of carving.  It takes painstaking detail, skill and experience to acquire this slowly learnt, slowly executed craft.  Some things are worth the investment of time.





This post participated in the Travel Theme of “Slow”.  See more entries here.

Weekly Photo Challenge: Gone But Not Forgotten



Buddhist prayer flags are a common sight here, strung dramatically from temples, or from tree to tree.  A way of promoting peace, the wind blows over the prayers printed on the flags and spreads their message through the air, purifying it.  The flags become permanent fixtures of the environment, aging just as with all life, and new flags go up alongside, symbolizing change and renewal.  The old ones stay up, they never come down until they rot to the ground.  Even then, they cling to fences or lay wherever the wind blows them.  The visitor may leave, but his prayers remain blowing on the breeze.  Gone but not forgotten.

Travel Theme: Above Manila and Kathmandu

Every time I fly, its so tempting to take pictures out of the aircraft window, even though I know those pictures won’t be very good. I know I’m not alone as I see so many others whip out their phones and snap away through the glass. I guess we are just trying in some way to capture the extraordinary perspective that flying gives us, so my photo folders are full of not-so-great pictures of life from the air that never get used, but I can’t quite bring myself to delete them either. This challenge of “Above” inspired me to try a post on just this theme to see if, as a collection, the aircraft snaps take on a more interesting story of their own. Let’s see how it goes:

Aerial view of Manila

Manila from the sky. Its such a huge sprawling city. Because we hated to get stuck in Manila traffic, we kept driving around the city to a minimum. The aerial shots always gave me a reminder of how massive the city really was.


After flying over the sprawl of Manila for quite some time, you come Manila Bay.  It is an island after all.

Manila fish farms

Offshore are the fish farms that feed the 16 million+ of the city. They are huge and sprawling too, and quite a different reality from the romantic notion of freshly caught island fish.


Manila Bay fish farms

Hundreds and hundreds of fish farms

Aerial view of Kathmandu

Kathmandu from the air. Unlike Manila, the city is quite small. There’s very little development once you get outside the ring road. (This is changing fast though.) The city appears as a patch of red — from all the brick construction – surrounded by green and smaller cities close by. Eventually, of course, they will all merge.


Aerial view of Kathmandu

Just a short way outside of Kathmandu air space, flying over trees and hills, before we approach the mountainous areas.

View of Annapurnas

And of course, there’s the mountains. The first time I saw this kind of view my nose was pinned to the glass. After flying it 20+ times, its still magnificent, but I’m not so disappointed now if its cloudy.



Aerial view of Kathmandu valley

I like this shot because it really shows how Kathmandu is in a valley. Taken just as the plane lifted from the ground.

Aerial view of Kathmandu valley

The scattered outreaches of the Kathmandu valley. One day — not very far away — all the green rice fields will be gone, and the sprawl will be continuous, just like Manila