24 January 2009

Tales of Inanity Teaser

Those of you who know what Tales of Inanity is, you are in for a surprise.  Those of you who have no idea what I'm talking about just watch the video and be as impatient as I am...

Its coming!!!!

Brought to you by www.coolesteveronline.com

21 January 2009

Always Doing

Raju is always quote-worthy, here’s a pearler I am going to take home with me.


“We are always busy ‘doing’.  Always do-do-do-do-do.  So busy.  But we don’t know how to do.  Is problem.”

19 January 2009

A Sense of Confidence

I should be posting happy glowy feely stuff before my parents arrive on
Sunday, but I can't help myself. At the moment I am a paranoid
hypochondriac that talks about bombs, anti-government sentiment and
negativity in the workplace. Bird Flu is currently being fought off at the
border with India, with human infections reported in China. People are
warning us off chickens and eggs, which I can live with as I really don't
eat a great deal of chicken here, but its becoming increasingly impossible
to walk around the corner without expecting to get killed by something
sinister and horrible. Avi sent me this, because she's always so good at
cheering me up:

"Don't know about eggs.....but we could all get hit by a bus tonight (knock
wood), so the real question is - who the hell wants to be a vegan if it
could all end tomorrow!?"

15 January 2009

The Six Month Report

Today I received an email from my manager asking me to complete my six month report. It contains such questions as "what do you feel you have acheived so far?" and "Do you feel supported in your project?" and "Where to next?"

Facing a complete inability to answer these questions for myself, I started looking around me for something to distract me from the inevitable task of answering these impossibly difficult questions. My eyes fell on a group that might be asking themselves the same things. Or at least should be. Where to next? What have we actually achieved? Has anyone noticed that we aren't all that sure what needs to happen next? Harsh words to apply to a new government, but I am becoming increasingly perplexed and the political climate in Nepal.

In a place where the leaders are more capital city centric in their thinking than Queensland, I have already unloaded about the difficulties faced by load shedding - we may have 16 hours per day without power but there are some remote villages with NO POWER. We can't lay all the blame of that on the Maoists, obviously. Nepal has been in a situation of government instability for decades. Foreign aid was diverted from the projects it was intended for by the very people responsible for distributing it. Parts of the country thrive on insane levels of bureaucracy seen before probably only in Douglas Adams books. The need for more power plants was obviously recognised, but somehow, no one ever got to doing very much about it. However, the Maoists have made some horribly poor promises that people want to hold them to for good reason and they shouldn't have done that. They have a terrible shortcoming in looking no further than next week's crisis. There are so many pending crises (some they created and others they haven't) that if they keep this up, the 2 years allowed for the development of this constitution will be up before anyone has blinked an eye. They need to stop creating crises for themselves that not only prevent them from getting on and managing the country, but undermine their credibility as the group that intends to abolish castes and treat all people equally.

Some examples you say? The YCL (the youth arm of the Maoists [commonly referred to as Maoist cadres]) stormed the printing office of NepalMedia, assualted the journalists they found there and attempted arson to prevent further negative talk of the Maoist affiliated trade unions. Following the attack, a Maoist minister claimed that it never happened before taking it back and saying 'it wasn't that bad, at least nobody was murdered' before then accusing the journalists of attacking the YCL boys they then turned in two culprits whose fate I haven't yet ascertained. The event displayed the party's terrible lack of unification and a horrifying penchant for violence when things don't go their way. Oh yeah, as well as a lack of respect for a free press.

Recently, as I believe I have mentioned, some Indian preists were assisted in their 'resignation' from the holy Hindu temple Pashupati. What I don't think I mentioned was that they were replaced by Nepali priests appointed by the government. A stay-order laid down by the Supreme Court was ignored by a minister and the YCL (again) who broke down the gates and escorted the Nepali priests in to give worship. When some priests got together a press conference to voice their concerns they were attacked by the YCL and many tyres were burnt (disrupting my trip home, incidentally) and making a rather unpleasant smell float through the air. Incidentally, the urge to get the Nepali priests in there at all costs obviously dissipated as they reversed the decision with the whole event ending up being a waste of government and commuter time while admittedly making some interesting water cooler talk.

The Nepal Army started recruiting for vacant positions, that one can only assume developed through natural attrition as well as vacancies that may have been left over as a result of war. The Maoists objected to this and stated that if the Nepal Army began re-recruiting then they would too (obviously fearing some kind of coup). Hardly a situation that instills a sense of confidence in the people that you are done with your violent past. There is a perfectly valid argument for not recruiting and that is the strain on the economy that an inflated army creates, but they didn't go for that, they went for a game of cowboys and indians 'well, if you do that I will too! So there!'

Every time the Prime Minister comes under fire, his response seems to be 'fine then, I'll just quit!' Sorry, that's all I've got to say on that one.

There is another item, but I don't think it really has anything to do with the government, I just want to complain about it. The garbage hasn't been collected in more than a week. I put it down to load-shedding related strikes but there was a rumour that one of the landfills is locked, to which I say "where's the bloody key?" This might not be a problem you think, hey, the garbage men only come once a week in Australia... Well here's the thing. I'm not just talking about my area, I'm talking city-wide. We don't have wheelie bins, we don't have industrial bins and giant trash compacting trucks that lumber down the street. Our garbage piles up in certain allocated (or less allocated) areas on the street where is it available for dogs, monkeys and various scavengers to sort through for treasure. In fact, I actually saw one scavenging dog that had become an item of the garbage - such a shame. The pile was so bad down near New Road yesterday that the traffic could only go one-way!

I really worry about what is going to happen next. What will happen if they don't get re-elected? They have already displayed a lack of respect for the things that many countries hold dear. Want to stop corruption and imbezzlement within the richest temple in the country? Then stop the corruption, enforce some sort of regulation, don't just appoint your own lackeys. For this country to have a chance of future success the government needs to take a long-term view, stop creating issues for itself, get their violent youth under control by giving them something constructive to do and stop ingnoring the essence of democracy that they supposedly stand for, and allow a free press and respect the order of the courts!

14 January 2009

Dash Experiences a Change

Remember how I posted a long time ago how relaxing it was to lose power on Sunday nights, to light and candle and write in my journal or something?

Well, when we hit winter, the load shedding (I prefer the term load sharing, but apparently that's the wrong thing to say - god forbid we actually call it like it is) schedule increased gradually, more and more each week to where it is now, at a strong healthy 16 hours per day. Until now I have been blissfully inexperienced regarding the schedule because I live near the diplomats and ministers and president. According to the 'nature of their jobs', they need power 24/7. You might believe that this could be argued about just about any professional, but that idea simply doesn't seem to click in the brains of the important people. Apparently the infrastructure is too old to specifically allow power to go certain places, so our whole part of town stays lit up like a runway while everyone around us is in darkness.

Finally, after months of this kind of thing a journalist finally thought it might be worth attacking the uppities for this holier than thou attitude and brought it to everyone's attention. A bhandh (strike) or two regarding the issue was enough to get us to start load shedding. I'm not sure whether I'm now at the full 16 hours per day or not, as there has been very little communication, so I have to just prey that when I get home from the gym there is electricity to boil the kettle in order to have a shower. OH yeah, I don't think I've mentioned, my solar water doesn't get hot enough during the day anymore (potentially because the sun is clouded over by a thick penetrating fog that would give trial soccer matches at Iona college a run for their money) and partly because I try to have showers at about 6pm, when the sun is definitely on its way out. So to ensure I have comfortably warm water I now shower out of a bucket using a concoction of water, two parts boiled kettle water to three parts cold tap water that I am surprised can make it through the pipes without freezing

Just think what losing 16 hours of power per day could do to your business. There's no lights, there's no refrigeration, many cooking appliances become heavy metal objects and your computer will last the amount of time you have battery charged which itself will quickly decrease because of all the power surges... Also, for those of us not running businesses, that 8 hours of power per day is not likely to be while you are at home. Remember one has to work 8, sleep 8 and i know that you aren't home all the rest of that time...

Is there a solution? Well maybe, do you have an inverter? An inverter will suck electricity out of the network when you are technically not getting any - I think. Do you see a problem with this? Like perhaps, the whole point of load shedding is to share the available electricity amongst all the people that need it? If you are sucking out power when its not your turn all you do is contribute to the increase of time periods then the power will be out! HOW CAN YOU BE SO INCONSIDERATE! (says I who have had power for the last few months - and enjoyed it immensely - since the election of the [communist, should I need to remind you] prime minister who believes his profession is that much more important that he needs power at home 24/7

There's another alternative. Diesel powered generators. We have 4 at work and when they are all functioning (which is hardly ever) they guzzle more than 50 litres of diesel AN HOUR! Being a hospital, you can hardly afford to have the power cut out in the middle of surgery so it is a necessary evil while the personal needs of ministers and embassy's is put over that of healthcare.

The government** promised that the days of load shedding would be over when they came to power* - a stupid promise really, because you can't change things like that by snapping your fingers, yet the country is experiencing load shedding on a level never before experienced. Their solution is to eliminate load shedding ('or minimise it' <- there's your out clause) by building diesel powered power plants to meet the immediate need. This seems preposterous, because of the insane cost of diesel, but also because by the time they get something like that up and running, it will be summer again and there won't be such a demand for power as there is now. Better to invest the money in the long-term eco-friendly renewable energy sources, but then, that's not this government's strong point*. We have a country rich in hydro and thermal power-generating potential yet many people are without clean water or power*.

So as my friend's mock me for my inexperience regarding this shift to load shedding, the planning of hot showers, and the best time to get on the internet to call your family and significant other, the proud moment where I planned where to find my candles and lighter - I'm justglad that I'm getting the same treatment as everyone else.

*Rants for other days, as this has already become quite long.
**The 'government' BTW, is actually only interim, until the Constituent Assembly finishes writing the constitution. A process that has not yet started* after 6 months.

10 January 2009

The Light of the Moon

I'm not a super happy glowy person.  People think that I am.  I am extroverted and outgoing, can be charming and romantic if I want to be.  I am those things, but I am cynical and dark too.  Not all the time, obviously.  And not always at the same time, that's just too emo.  

Strong emotions at both ends of the scale are so close to each other it surprises me.  Love and hate.  Laughter and melancholy.  Contentment and menace.  

Like new-fangled mobile phones where two buttons are so close to each other.  You go to push one, but accidentally get the other.  A song that flicks a switch in the brain from one mode to the next.

I feel like I'm in limbo, in statis.  I haven't felt like I used to feel.  Everything is different.  Has it gone away?  Am I still the same person?  I felt a strong affinity for that guy.  He was intelligent and astute.  Sure, he could be lonely and dejected, but that just allowed him to be set apart.  Did something happen while I was sleeping? Is it just buried and waiting to resurface?  

A sense of confusion turned to sureness by the not just yet full moon.  The confusion lingers in the shadows of the buildings in a walk inspiring a sense of incomparable conviction on a subject that is nothing in particular.  A solid sense of deep 'n meaningfulness that's not really there.

Perhaps that's enough insight for tonight.

09 January 2009

The Indian Tourist

The other day as we drank tea outside the kitchen at work, we watched in fascination as 3 busloads of Indians emerged from 2 buses parked in our hospital car park.  They began washing their saris and then spreading out across the carpark and 'field' of dirt (that many Nepali's use for learning to drive / ride a motorbike) to stand patiently holding out their clothes to dry in the sun.

The entire experience was quite extraordinary as all the doctors, admin and ophathalmic assistant staff watched on.  I found myself gazing, mouth open, like so many of the Nepalis do to me as I ride down the street or do my shopping.  Nhukesh explained to me that they were here to visit Pashupatinath, the local temple that is kind of like a Hindu Mecca. People come from all across the Hindu world to worship there. 

Recently it’s been a hive of controversy when three Indian priests (historically the ONLY priests allowed to work there) 'resigned'.  The issue surrounded not only the history, but the supposed government involvement in the 'resignations' and appointment of two new Nepali priests.  There are two interesting sides to the argument, one suggesting that the temple makes a metric f-tonne of money from worshippers, and that the Indian priests might be either pocketing it, or magicing it away to

The other argument essentially revolves around the objection to change (from Indian priests to Nepalis) and to the government involvement in religion, which isn't suppsed to happen anymore.

As I ride to walk, this posse of Indian pilgrims trek in the opposite direction towards the temple.  They've pretty much taken over this section of town as each day a new bus can be found.  Nhukesh said that they come in their buses, bring all the food they will need for a month on the road, including stoves and washing tubs so as to avoid spending any money while here, and they sleep in the bus so don't need to pay for accomodation (as long as they can find somewhere to park it).  While probably frustrating for the local sahuji's, this lack of discretionary spending by the Indian tourist could be a sign of the financial economical downturn.  Or it could simply be the fact that they are incredibly poor people trying to get by in the world.

Yesterday afternoon I saw a group of 20 Indian ladies hanging out on the street corner at Gaushalachowk shooting the breeze like a gang of youths on a Friday afternoon at McDonald's.  The  contrast with their Nepali brethren was actually quite strong and surprising. 

I am still yet to visit Pashupatinath, I think it might happn when Mum and Dad get here in two weeks...yay!

05 January 2009

Learning New Things...

Today, while doing some background research, I came across a paper from Pakistan.  Apparently, if you are literate, you are less likely than an illiterate person to be blind...
I wonder if the questionnaire was in brail...

04 January 2009

The Didi Dramas

Didi is the word for "older sister".  It is a polite word that is used far more regularly that you might imagine and is generally applied to any woman older than you in a much more comfortable way that going "hey ma'am" - which reeks of facetiousness and is disgustingly unfamiliar.

Didi is also generally applied to a lady that does your washing for you.  If you are super lucky, you might have a didi that does the washing, cleaning and maybe even some cooking.  I'm just a washing kind of guy - I think its best for both her and me if only I have to deal with my mess.  

There have been some interesting stories flying around about my friends' various didis, and what they get up to.  A&G for example, employed a didi that took objection not only to the type of washing powder that they elected to use but also to the cord they had bought for hanging their clothes and their dishwashing detergent.  This would probably be understandable in a land like Australia, where people miraculousy develop allergies to different forms of chemicals, tomatoes, peanuts and hard work, but amazingly, people here seem to get by without all that garbage.  There were suggeestions of some kind of pilfering scheme that was going on, and if there wasn't, then there probably should have been.  A&G's staunch devotion to the products they had already purchased, that were also cheaper than the ridiculously overpriced stuff their didi wanted was enough to end their relationship.  For 6 months now A&G have been washing all their stuff by hand.  That sounds a lot like the aforementioned hard work, so I don't think that option is for me, plus I have much more interesting things to do with my weekends.

JKS&C (who I believe now have a K and a T living with them) are in a phenomenally ridiculously large house (as you could probably assume by the 6 residents they have living in it).  Supposedly, they have a 9-5 didi 5 days a week.  Overkill you say?  Well you are probably right,.and it seems she agrees because apparently she shows up at 10 or 11 and leaves at 3.  There's other dramas associated with that but they are way over my head and probably not for public discussion [for the details go to www.dirtonthedidi.com....shhhhh]

Katherine has found the idea of locating a didi and trying to communicate what she wants done all too confronting so opts to walk to the tourist section of town with her load each week and pay for them to clean it, which is probably a more cost-effective option however more labour intensive than the one I employ.

I simply leave my washing at the door on Sunday and Wednesdsay nights, and she comes to take it away in the morning, returning it that night or the next.  The most difficult part is remembering to put it out.  This has proven to be more of a challenge that a normal person might expect, but as I think my didi (Reeta) has a washing machine and dryer, so a bigger load later in the week doesn't really seem to be much of a issue.

My drama starts when forgetting to put it out one fateful Wednesday two and a half weeks ago.  I thought "no problem, there's always Sunday.  Monday morning however, I woke up swearing, knowing that I had forgotten to put it out again (she's busy doing other people's washing or being out and about, so Monday and Thursdays are the only days she is prepared to allocate to me).  The next Thursday I was leaving for work and tripped over my bucket of clothes, as they hadn't been collected - "oh what's going on here then?  that's ok, I can make it to Monday with the clothes I have at the moment". The following Monday was similar, only I caught Danesh on his way out:

Me: Is Reetadidi here?
Danesh: No...coming

The "..." probably represented a rather important part of that conversation I didn't understand, as Reeta was not coming, nor was she actually anywhere near Kathmandu.  My investigations led me to believe that she might have gone back to her village for some local festival.  Complaining to Gemma, that I had gone for almost 2 weeks without any washing, "Gemma, I think my didi's gone bunk", she cleverly suggested that I might be capable of doing it for myself for a change, just this once.  With my underwear supply desperately low, that's exactly what I started doing.  Until today.  A conversation with Laxmi (the lady that keeps the lovely garden downstairs) relieved my troubles.

Me: Laxmi-didi, is Reeta back?
Laxmi: Yes, yes, you must have big pile, dirty clothes!?
Me: Yes, I do

Later tonight, Laxmi came and knocked on my door with Reeta in tow.

Laxmi:  Reeta is back, see?  So you have clothes tomorrow, isn't it?
Me: Yes, tomorrow, OK. OK.  Hi Reeta, did you have a good holiday? Good festival?
Laxmi: Her father died.
Me: Oh. ...

Nice Rob, very nice.