Sunday, April 20, 2003

For a brief moment I am forced to push my previous statement to the background... Right now I'm simply too happy :-) I don't know why, perhaps it has something to do with the fact that I'm now considered to be turning in to a 'real' Nepali by the people I'm living with. Apparently my hair is turning black, I look beautiful in a sari, I understand Nepali and other people now understand me. Often I get told things like 'You may speak English, but you laugh in Nepali'. Funnily enough with all this there has been a large increase in marriage proposals... :-) Apparently I'm perfect marriage material and just coming in to the right age to be married (for Kathmandu that is, the villagers get married very early, at 10 or 12) - now even the other teachers are asking me! :-)

Maybe it has something to do with the fact that there are so many strikes and riots at the moment that I have no work at school (apart from copious amounts of colouring that the teachers do to decorate the walls - they seem to uncomfortable with the idea that the students should actually do the work). Maybe it's because (apart from my host mother and father), I'm like family to so many people here. I can drop in anytime, I call them mother, father, brother, sister, they call me sister, and we're all happy to just hang out together. There are so many beautiful and friendly families - I love them all! I love the way just walking anf talking to people is enough entertainment for a day.

So while it's important to remember always the serious issues that face this country, it isn't all bad. There is still hope for everything.

Sunday, April 13, 2003

Evil prevails when good men do nothing.

Is poverty an evil? What about disease? And torture?
What should you do when faced with absolute poverty at every corner. Can you look into the eyes of a hungry man and not give him 1 rupee? What about a mother with a baby? Or the children who sleep at the station night after night with nothing to cuddle except the policeman’s baton at 5am? What about a man who’s so badly burnt that he can’t move his arms, who’s raw wounds gape at you while you watch the flies begin to plant his demise? Or people who are missing both arms and legs? Can you walk past these people and do nothing? Can you ignore the statistics that are printed in the paper, with 1000’s dying daily of easily curable diseases? Can you look at people in the streets who have been beaten and battered and walk straight past? Can you justify eating food at all, let alone buying ‘souvenirs’, when others have so little? Can you take in all of this and still return home and do nothing? Of course not, your mind might say. Yet thousands, or even millions, do so everyday.

You have to admire a country full of people who believe so intensely that the next life will be better, that they suffer through all this and worse, just for the chance to be born in a country like Australia. To listen to people in Nepal talking of the struggle simply to visit their family overseas, or to watch the Tibetan refugees who have suffered frost bite, amputations and worse to escape to India or Nepal, only to find themselves searched by police at every opportunity, multiple times on a single bus trip, to be forced to pay extra ‘visa’ charges by police whenever they feel the need.

Is there a solution? Maybe there is, but we’re too busy thinking of excuses as to why we can’t help, to do anything constructive. Maybe we need to see it to understand it. When I first read the quote ‘evil prevails when good men do nothing’, I was filled with hope… hope that we could stop evil. Now I see the other side… evil is here, so good men are doing nothing.

Wednesday, April 02, 2003

50 Things I love about India (or things that just make me laugh):

1. Dharamsala
2. Himalayas
3. Tibetans
4. Monks
5. Taking rolls and rolls of 'mountain' shots from very slightly different angles
6. Meeting Sheman priests from Germany at the Dalai Lama's Tibetan temple in India
7. Having everything related back to 'signs'
8. Completely fatalistic attitudes - if you die, you die
9. Tying luggage on to the roof of the bus with wire
10. Dharamsala (again)
11. Watching luggage fall off other buses
12. Buses that can't make it around corners
13. Signs that say 'blow your horn' to prevent accidents
14. Railway signs that say 'the railway vs dirt, who's side are you on?'
15. Monks plaing soccer with rocks
16. Might takes right road rules
17. Hand painted signs
18. Inspirational messages on the side of the road
19. Wrong spellings
20. Dharamsala (again again)
21. People speaking Hindi to you after you've made it quite clear you don't understand
22. People speaking German to you when you've made it quite clear you don't understand.
23. Street ear cleaners
24. Momos
25. Indian gurus
26. Signs that warn you to check petrol, brakes, lights, horn and weapons
27. Dogs which sleep anywhere and everywhere and never wake up
28. Cows
29. Monkeys
30. Monks with cricket hats
31. People leaping on and off trains everywhere, just because all the doors are always left open
32. Red teeth from too much betel nut
33. Traditional dress
34. Rickshaw drivers claiming to be 'Indian helicopters'
35. Rickshaw drivers following you miles out of their way in the hope to convince you to take a 'free' ride
36. Millions of monks bathing in a waterfall (it was an amazing scene - red and yellow cloth flowing along with the stream)... Incredible
37. Buses which take off without passengers
38. Old tinny buses which look like they will fall apart at any moment
39. Floral hand painted petrol trucks
40. Always being 'A special price for you madam'
41. The illegal pencil ring
42. The thousands of travel agents claiming to be 'THE Official Indian tourist office'
43. Chai tea on trains
44. Sleeper class on trains
45. Only being able to leave McLeod via a train that left about 5kms from both Jammu and the Pakistan border
46. Having the ticket officer claim it was 500kms from the border
47. Ticket officer and monks fighting about distance from border
48. Facing a road sign that had Pakistan to the left, Jammu and Kashmir to the right and having to choose
49. Monks adopting us and escorting us to Delhi
50. Dharamsala