Weekly Photo Challenge: Cover Art



For this week’s Photo Challenge, we were asked to imagine images we would like to see gracing the cover of a book, an album, or a magazine. What image would we choose to  inspire others to take a peek through the pages, listen to the music, or buy a ticket to the show?

I chose an image for a coffee table book “Temples of Nepal” from a photo I recently took of the Namobuddha Stupa.  Now to start working on the content…!


Lick-a Paint….Lick-a Paint…!


In the episode “The Builders” The hapless, sloppy painter, O’Reilly, tries to  impress and appease Sybil with the promise of “a lick-a paint, a lick-a paint”…

You have to be a fan of Fawlty Towers to understand this reference. I am, and I could hear O’Reilly’s voice this week as we drove around Kathmandu.  Everywhere you look there was fresh paint on walls (and dripped over sidewalks) as the city starts to smarten up its a act in preparation for hosting the SAARC (South Asian Association for Regional Cooperation) conference next month.  The organization has eight member countries (Nepal, India, Maldives, Sri Lanka, Bangladesh, Bhutan, Afghanistan and Pakistan) and basically all the new paint is about impressing the neighbours when they come to visit.  The press has promised a government sprucing up of main arteries that foreign dignitaries are likely to travel.  The budget seems to be for paint and flowers…not much else.

Work is well underway in our neighbourhood, with mixed results.  I am noticing how much cleaner and fresher the city is, but at the same time, they are also painting over impressive artist murals, and slapping the stuff around over old brick walls that looked better with an old patina than a badly applied coat of paint.  At least the paint companies are happy!  Here are a few photos from the efforts around town near us.  It should be noted that all the photos were taken within a five minute period…there are that many people all painting at the same time:


This community water source looked pretty good in old brick. Now it has sloppy white paint all over it. This one’s a fail.


Painting with a buddy


The end of a massive brick wall. Painting between the bricks takes a long time.


This half-painted wall technique is one that I’m seeing a lot. Its either a way of using less paint, or the philosophy could be “why paint the bottom bit that’s going to get dirty anyway?”


One of the smarter efforts




Whoa! What was that?!

I’m not really squeamish about bugs with the exception of cockroaches, perhaps?  But even then I will take them on armed with a shoe if I have to…But take a look at these critters…!


Dozens of them, crawling around on trees in Chiwan


Crawling on the exterior wall of our house. WTF?! What are the yellow things on its back? Something like pollen appears to be stuck to the antena? Stepping back…..!


Stepping back is definitely what was needed with this one. I never saw it. A young kid in Chitwan fished it out from the grass with a stick. I’ve long forgotten the name he told me, but apparently its a really poisonous one.

Travel Theme: Broken


This tractor is wearing a flower garland for the Dashian holiday, Nawami.  On this day income-generating vehicles and machinery are worshiped, and sacrifices are made to gain a blessing from the goddess Durga for protection against accidents. (Perhaps, a few road rules around here might go a long way too….)  But even this sad, abandoned tractor with flat, moss-covered tyres was being blessed. I’d like to think that someone remembered the importance of this piece of machinery in years gone by and decided to honour it as an old friend. Maybe a bit too romantic for a tractor?….but it was charming nonetheless.

See here for other travel  insights on Broken.


Nepali Slam Poetry

I would never think of “slam poetry” as something that would interest me.  But when I saw this short performance by the slam poetry group, Word Warriors, I just had to share it here. I think its astounding.

Like Indian women, Nepali women often suffer abuse in silence.  The are taught to accept gender-based violence as something that comes with being married, and the stories I hear are more than appalling.  They have no voice, no say, no rights.  Its time for things to change and, as women like this speak up, hopefully things will start to change.

This three minute performance is a powerful presentation.  Please take a few minutes to watch it.  Things will only start to change if they are heard.

About Word Warriors:  In November 2010, Quixote’s Cove organized the QC Awards 2010: The Poetry Slam and, with the US Embassy cultural program, brought three American slam poets to Nepal. After the success of this event, a group of around 15 young poets wanted to keep writing, sharing and performing poems and formed Nepal’s first ever slam poetry group, Word Warriors. Since then, Word Warrior members have performed at countless events, schools and colleges. They have organized two interschool slam competitions in Kathmandu Valley and Surkhet (outside the capital Kathmandu), and host monthly poetry performances in Kathmandu. The Word Warrior facebook group has over 9000 members and is one of the most vibrant online literary groups in Nepal. These young poets represent the beginnings of a grass root poetry movement.


Weekly Photo Challenge: Beautiful Dreamers

Most days when I’m out and about, I see someone sleeping in some unlikely spot, grabbing a quick snooze when and where they can.  Most of the time, I don’t have a camera to hand or the opportunity to take a snap. But sometimes, I do!  Here are some beautiful dreamers captured:


A quick snooze in Bhaktapur


These chairs were for sale at an action. I’m guessing this guy wasn’t interested in buying!


I wanted to sneak up and put a blanket over this one.

For more dreamers see: Weekly Photo Challenge: Dreamy

How (not?) to garden in Kathmandu

One of the weird things about bouncing around the planet so much is having to continuously adapt to different climates.  We are here for two years in Kathmandu, and have now been though the annual seasonal rotation once.  In theory, we are back where we arrived, at the end of the rainy season, except that it doesn’t really remind me very much of last year. But then again, I’ve only done this once….when does it start to get cold again?  What’s the season for tomatoes?  What can you grow in the winter if it there’s hardly any frosts?  Its confusing.

In theory, October and November are very warm and sunny during the day and starting to get cool at night.  December and January are sunny and mild during the day, and can get down to frost at night (occasionally).  I didn’t have much in the garden last December.  I have no idea how our geraniums are going to handle it.  They certainly didn’t like the rainy season very much.  Almost nothing did.  Pots became waterlogged and septic if we didn’t move them into a covered location.  Plants just went yellow and died.  But finally the rains are going away and the soil is begging to be turned and planted.  Who are we to say no?!

There’s a plot to the side of the house that was a kiddy sand pit when we moved in.  The previous tenants very kindly left it there for “other families with kids.”  As Latham is a little to old to play in a sandpit we were stuck with the problem of getting rid of it.  The sand was dumped in the corner behind the mango tree, but the soil underneath was dusty and lifeless.  Our staff threw in a few flowers higglety-piggedly and it was hard to access or water.  Security guards stepped on the strawberries.  Nothing did very well.


The ex-sand pit.  Not quite the “before” picture.. more like “before the flowers went in”

Finally I got smart.  I bought some cheap local bricks (with swastikas I might add – explanation here) and made a  simple path through the mess. Then I did triage on everything that was growing there, dug it over and added compost.  Everything is looking so much healthier, and I can get in to water and weed .  Next we went shopping for fall plants and a few supplies.  You can find plants and compost, but things like supporting sticks, wire, ties, that kind of thing are non-existent.  Robert made sticks by quartering big, fat bamboo poles with a cleaver.  We didn’t need much else, but what we did need had to be ordered from Amazon.  There’s very little in the way of gardening supplies here.


So my path is lined in swastika bricks. Isn’t everyone’s?!



Shopping for plants always fills me with joy. Lots of new colours!



Robert’s very healthy looking tomato plants. They are starting to flower so we should have fruit set starting in a couple of weeks. Hopefully with a little plastic each night once it starts to get colder they will survive the cold and get enough sun during the day. Unfortunately, the house next door is blocking too much sunlight already.


My finished garden. Just waiting for the mums to grow and blossom. Hopefully it will look pretty for the next couple of months.

I remember how much I missed having a garden in Manila, and its taken almost a year (or half our tour) for me to head out to plant things.  It was Robert’s insistence on planting tomatoes that got me past all the challenges of gardening here and back outside again.  Even if we only get a couple of months outside poking around in the dirt,  its valuable time outdoors while we still can.  Who knows where we’ll be living this time next year.  More photo updates if all grows well!