Early Morning in Pokhara

Last month in Pokhara, at about seven in the morning, I was leaving my room for breakfast before starting work with some students in a hotel across the street. I was thinking about whether I had enough pairs of scissors and where I put my presentation notes. So at first I didn’t look up. The night before had been stormy and drizzly, and it had been too miserable to go out and explore. So I had stayed in the room and had an early night. Yet, first thing the next morning, this is the view that greeted me. I had to go back for the camera: DSCF5036
There’s nothing like a little storm to clear the air first thing in the morning.  And here clear air = stunning views of the Himalayans!


30 Seconds: Chitwan Village Night Fall

As sort of a second installment of my recent stay in Chitwan, here’s a follow up video to The Bridge.

Most evenings, we like to sit by the river with a glass of wine, fight off the mosquitoes and watch the sun go down. Across the same bridge, a ten minute walk away, is the nearest village. On our second to last night there, we took a stroll over and shot the evening routines. I hope you enjoy it as much as I did:  

Holi and Hip Hop

I just returned from an unseasonably cold visit to Tansen, Palpa, a relatively remote town in the Himalyan hills.  When I say cold, I don’t mean freezing, sub-zero temperatures like the US East Coast is experiencing right now.  But a shivery, bone-chilling cold in a concrete hotel with very little heating.  Bedtime was a frigid affair, but with a hoodie, thick socks and a hot water bottle I slept well even though I could see my breath in the room.  “Cold” can be relative.

However, yesterday afternoon the temperatures were back into the high seventies and the sun shone.  Our work event welcomed crowds of students and local children, many of whom were splashed with colour in celebration of Holi, the annual Hindu celebration known as the festival of colour.  They very kindly didn’t spray me, and made a very colourful audience for our Hip Hop dancers, the highlight of my morning.  Here’s a little Hip Hop and Holi…an unlikely combination….but one that worked pretty well!



Holi Colour

Colourful faces of Holi

nepali breakdancers

Holi 2015


Sorry, what was your name?

forgotten namesI am so bad with names these days.  In general, and especially here.  It takes me something like 3-6 passes to learn a new person’s name – if it’s simple – horribly longer if it’s not.  Aging brain cells are definitely part of the problem, however, it gets a lot worse when you are dealing with names that have no root in Western languages.

For example: It took me a while to realize that I was subconsciously making assumptions on someone’s sex just by reading their name on paper.  I would email someone several times at work, make arrangements to meet them in person, and be completely shocked to discover that when I finally met Punya in person, he was, in fact, male.  Most western languages (especially the romantic ones) have fairly similar rules on name endings: i.e. suffix of -a, is a girl… -d is a guy. That’s not true here.  I can’t spot any trends in defining who is male and who is female from the spelling of their name, and no-one I’ve asked can give me any useful pointers.

So combine my failing memory, with a set of completely alien names, and no clues to help with the process and you have a recipe for social disaster.  As the cartoon points out, you can politely ask again, but there’s a limit.  And don’t tell me that using mnemonics helps… what the hell rhymes with “pragyma” or “aadishankar” or “indrajaytra”…Help!!  Also, the Nepali language has more than one type of Devanagari symbol for the letter “T” or “D” (and others too)…so lots of extra “h”s and “a”s are added in to help distinguish between them.  Before you learn any Nepali, it seems totally random. When you are reading “Thamel”, for example, it’s actually pronounced “Tamel.”  You learn this over time, but the bottom line is that all the extra “h”s really mess with visual memory too.  So, in addition to all the other problems I have to remember that “Shanta” is pronounced “Santa”, “Shrestha” is pronounced “Sresta” and so on…. It’s so hopeless!

So to any Nepalis that I have asked too many times or if you’ve spotted me skirting around name introductions because I’ve forgotten yours…I’m so sorry!  It’s slowly getting better ,as I am building friends and colleagues with names that I recognize and they are added to my vocabulary, but I am afraid that I may run out of time here before I run out of new names!!

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…!