Weekly Photo Challenge: Yellow


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Winter in Nepal is a time when you can see bright yellow mustard fields.  The eye-catching, vivid colour reminds me so much of the bright colours you see everywhere here.  This particular mustard field had a cactus with yellow flowers and spooky, dramatic spider webs.  Fantastic!

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For more interpretations of yellow – this week’s photo challenge.

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.

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

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

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Hauling wood up the hill, snapped from our car.

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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!
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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:  http://wheresmybackpack.com/2014/12/12/travel-theme-freedom

 

 

 


 

 

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:

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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.

 

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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!

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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.

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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


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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.

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

Weekly Photo Challenge: Gone But Not Forgotten


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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.