Sunday, July 20, 2003

I'm now at Bangkok airport waiting for my connecting flight to Australia... so the travels are finished and the travel log is also - but just wait until the next adventure!

As for farewells, they were very nice. The formal one in assembly with all the children was a little funny actually - but the good-byes to the families that I have become close to were very very sad.

I will miss Nepal too much (As they say over there).... I think a large piece of me will remain there forever.

Wednesday, July 16, 2003

Kathmandu Appreciation Day

Thank you Hetauda for giving me added appreciation for my own city. I shall spend this week tottering around it, taking all the photos I haven't taken yet because I'm not a tourist and just appreciating my city. There are only 3 days left, and the time is feeling tight. I know I will never forget this place, but I need to just soak it all up before I go.

Thank you, Kathmandu, for 50 of the reasons I love it here:
1. It's foreign
2. It's Nepalese
3. People sometimes undertstand me when I speak
4. I sometimes understand others when they do
2. I live here
3. For free
4. I teach here
5. I've gotten to know all these lovely Nepalese children
6. I love them
7. They love me
8. It's beautiful here
9. There are no tourists
10. It's a real monsoon - like the documentaries!
11. And there's floods on the roads
12. And we can have mud fights in the streets
13. And we've all been permanently wet for a month
14. And it's too much fun! :-)
15. The city is over 10 times older than my country
16. And historically significant
17. And beautiful (again)
18. The mountains are beautiful
19. The water pots are beautiful beautiful
20. The temples are beautiful
21. The houses are beautiful
22. The river's beautiful
23. And we have a pet snake in it - tommy
24. And people roast corn on the banks of the river
25. And make string
26. And they are all very friendly
27. AndRandom strangers give me tea, sweets and love to chat
28. And return my clothes when they fly off the roof in the wind
29. And give me directions or cardboard boxes or any crazy art supplies when need be
30. And people also ask me directions
31. And I know the answers
32. And I have a favourite restuarant
33. And it's very cheap
34. And I know all the shop keepers along the entire street
35. And they know me, and the names of all my family members and even what I ate for breakfast each morning!
36. And the school is great
37. The kids are fabulous
38. And well behaved
39. And the other teachers are absolute dears
40. And I have made the most amazing friends I'll ever have
41. Who are really inspirational
42. And there is a jungle only 15 minutes walk away
43. And I can go there everyday with my friends
44. And the snow line and the Himalayas really aren't very far away
45. Even on the muddy roads - thanks to the crazy bus drivers
46. And I can catch a bus or a tempo or a taxi on my own (quite an achievement you'll realise if you ever come here)
47. And it really is like a roller coaster every time you travel on public transport
48. And I especially love all the little differences that make it so special here
49. And the experience of living over here
50. And most of all, this is home!!!

Saturday, July 12, 2003

Dear loyal readers,

Well, The last week has arrived - in a flash... and it seems to be disappearing from underneath me as quickly as it has come. I don't want to leave at all.

Right now I am in Hetauda - I've been staying in a local village and have only just managed to escape to the 'city' for a while to keep you all updated... The village life here isn't so strange. We still have bucket baths (except now they're outside in the middle of the street and done while wearing a sarong type piece of cloth), there are still cow worships, but they happen every morning in the front yard, there are still goats, except they sleep in the same room as us!, and there's still too much dhal bhat!

Anyway, I'm having lots of fun taking photographs, visiting temples (although I have seen enough headless chickens running around to last a life time!), stalking wild elephants and attempting to communicate in Nepali.

Just wanted to let you know that I'm fine, and everything is great! Hope you are all having a nice time there!

lots of love

Sunday, June 22, 2003

There is less than one month left - it's gone by far too quickly. But, I've finally found the time to load a few pictures to the travel log - hope you enjoy! :-)

Thursday, June 19, 2003

Just a quick note to let you all know that I'm planning to go to Pokhara on the 5th July.. and I'm finishing up teaching this week! :-)

SLC results are out - and I'm completely in shock. For those of you I haven't mentioned this to - SLC is like the 'big' school leaving examinations (except that they happen in year 10 rather than year 12). The girl who is working for my host family, Niru, was sitting these exams as well as some of the Nava Jeewan students that I tutored last year. Now for the results - out of the 1.7 lahk students who sat the exam (170 000), only 32% passed. Have you ever heard of such a miserable result in your entire life? Apparently the same thing happened last year! Ahh!!! 10 out of the 18 students at Nava Jeewan failed, as did Niru. Luckily everyone did very nicely in the subjects I was helping them with (in fact Niru topped english for her entire school- which is a large improvement from failing last year!). But the effects in the community have been somewhat disasterous. There has been a spattering of suicide reports in the papers everyday since the results came out...

So what happens to these students now? Well, for the students who failed only 1 or 2 subjects, they have the chance to sit an easier make up exam in a month and then continue on to college. For people who failed more than that, it's back to year 10. So this is going to be a difficult month of study for thousands of students in Nepal.

I have found here that problems are easily identified, but people seem to forget about the problems until they return year after year... another good example is the monsoon preparation - there is only one main road that leads to the business section of the city from the north of Kathmandu. Next to this road is a large hill. Every year at monsoon time landslides occur and the road is blocked for days... then the problem is forgotten about until the next year. Now 5 days before the official beginning of the monsoon, the papers are just beginning to mention doing something about it... but of course it's far too late now, so we're looking forward to another year of road blockages. Incredible.

So what else has been happening? Well, I went to a pretty amazing picnic in the mountains on Sunday. It was a celebration for Sky airways 5th year in business - and it was right up on the hill, looking over the valley. Members of the royal family turned up in helicopters... and we sang on stage along with famous pop singers and tv personalities (who we were sitting with on the bus and who officially 'adopted' me for the day). It was hilarious actually. Talk about posh! And we actually got to ride in the royal helicopter! :-) I suppose the advantage of being such a small capital city is that govenors and ministers live in the local area, and because everyone knows each other, you end up doing amazing things like this! Talk about the high life. We were actually served our food from golden platters!

Okay, well, i'ts time for me to wrap this up now - I have another birthday party to go to (it's difficult being a popular teacher!!) and the British film festival starts tonight - so we're going to take in some english culture... so I hope all is well in Australia - and you must send requests for things now because in exactly 1 month I will be heading to the airport to hop on a plane!

Wednesday, May 21, 2003

The paradise that was destroyed in the movie 'the beach' has been rediscovered in the Kathmandu Valley by me! Okay, perhaps I didn't discover it, yesterday a friend of mine took me to visit his family 'at the bottom of the hill'. We walked for about an hour from the school, dirt roads and smiling school children the entire way (as well as some 'naturally' growing marijuana fields) and as we slowly left the valley, the architecture changed, everything changed - we went from 4 story, rough exposed brick houses, to small two story mudbrick houses that looked like they were stolen from Spain 300 years ago and planted in a field. Admist the green crops, there were these bright orange cottages, all sitting at the base of a jungle, and perched at the top was a Buddhist temple under construction.

The locals (and there were very few of them - but they were so friendly), were making handmade paper and still celebrating the new year (which happened last month). Then the entire family, grandparents and all (with bangles, koutas and scarves) marched into the jungle to collect firewood for the house. I laughed so much - there was such a sense of community - and it was even more hysterical (but very encouraging) to see the grandparents volt over fences which all the 'nanus and babus' had trouble getting over...

The entire place was so peaceful - seriously there were butterflies and dragonflies fluttering about, no pollution or cars and I really can't describe it. It was just so perfect.This small piece of paradise is called Ranibaan. It will be the first place we go if any of you every decide to come and visit me!

Thursday, May 15, 2003

The private boarding schools seem to all be trying to outdo each other in the fanciest and biggest
English words they know or to imply that their school s absolutely life-changing. So here's my personal
best list for the ...

Top Ten Private School Names in Nepal - all over Nepal

10. Crystal Knowledge English Boarding School (Is that clear? Crystal...)

9. Sun Rise English School (Is that correct English for an English School?)

8. Future Brighter English Boarding School

7. Galaxy Boarding School (out of this world)

6. Little Step Higher English Boarding School (we wouldn't dare suggest anything more...)

5. Rib English Boarding School (mmm mmm, tasty rib...)

4. Highway Garden Secondary School (isn't that an oxymoron)

3. Fluorescent English Boarding School (we need a real big fancy English word for our school)

2. Ozone English Boarding School (this one I really don't get)

1. New Life Boarding High School (Just because it's mine!)

Runners Up: Heavenly Garden Boarding School, National Inventive English School, Motherland English School, Dewy Dawn Boarding School (I hear a song coming on...)