Well, after years of being away from home and traveling all over the world, I've finally decided to take the step into the world of blogging. As most of you know, I will be spending the next four and a half months teaching English in Nepal. And, as I remain a bit unsure about the communication outlets I will have at my disposal, or frequency at which I will be able to access them, I figured this was the quickest and easiest way to get in touch with those who wish to follow my time there. So here you go. As I said, I really don't know how frequently or thoroughly I will be able to update this but hopefully I can provide at least some small anecdotes regularly enough to provide you all will some sort of insight to my time in Nepal. Enjoy :)

Monday, March 21, 2011

Oh my Holi...we're almost at the end!

This past weekend was Holi...a massive festival in the Hindu world. It's called the Festival of Color...and boy was it. Basically, take bags and bags of colored powder, water balloons, water pistols, or any other kind of water distribution device (hoses and buckets included) and mix them all together with lots and lots of people and you have Holi. I spent Saturday running around the village with the other volunteers in a full staged color war against all the kids and a few fun-loving parents. By midday there was not a centimeter of my body that was not completely colored with the entire spectrum of the rainbow. And my legs were quite tired from full-scale sprinting after children, around houses, through fields of wheat and corn, and up into trees to cover them as thuroughly as possible. To finish off the day, and get some much needed rest and relaxation, the volunteers along with some of our Nepali friends headed down to the river (a walk which included further coloring of everyone we passed, as well as ourselves getting sprayed silver and gold by a group of revellers passing by on their motorcycles) where we spent the rest of the day having a few beers (ok, a lot of beers), singing, and, as it is every Nepali's favorite thing to make westerners do, dancing. A great way to end an absolutely amazing day. Holi is, by far, the best festival ever. All the volunteers have agreed that it is defintely something that should be instituted worldwide. And, it goes for two days! Sunday brought more color, more water, and more "Happy Holi" shouts filling the village. And many many showers trying to get all the color off at the end (I have washed my hair three times now and still have red and green streaks throughout, as well as down my arms and legs). For me, however, the end of the weekend brought a bit of a shock realization...I'm almost finished here. Holi was the last thing on my calendar before I leave PadamPokhari. It was the perfect way to end my time here, but also brings the sadness of leaving. This morning was my final class with my morning group and tomorrow will be my final class under the temple tree (those kids, the village kids, who have been a major part of my daily life, will be the hardest to part from). I don't think it's possible to summarize my time here. To put down just a few concluding statements wouldn't do justice to everything I've seen, done, and felt in my time in this village. I am forever indebted to everyone who's path I have crossed during my stay here and I can only hope that my footprint on their trail has had as much of an effect on their journey as theirs has on mine. Wednesday morning I will leave PadamPokhari and head back to Kathmandu where I will stay for about 10 days before leaving Nepal and going to India. I could never say good-bye to these people and this place, so, for now, "Pheri butala PadamPokhari. Ma tappaailai maya garchu!" will have to do. Next up...Kathmandu!

Sunday, March 6, 2011

The rollercoaster week...

Hello all...well this week has been so all over the place, mentally and emotionally, that I don't really know where to begin or really how to summarize it I guess, I'll just start from the beginning. The start of the week was pretty much filled with some of my last classes at the local school. Exams begin this coming week and so we just concentrated mostly on working with the students preparing for their English exams...Which included a practice exam for grade 8, and the following nights being consumed with grading the 44 exams. Favorite moment: grading the exam of one of my best students who in the essay portion, wrote his essay on his favorite book...the English Dictionary. Ha! Awesome...that little nerd never ceases to impress me :) With Wednesday came the national holiday of Shivaratri. The day began with celebrations at the local Hindu temple and women lining up early in the morning at the temple to pray for a good husband. Because apparently this was a particularly auspicious day to do this. Mothers waited with their daughters outside the temple for a chance to enter and make offerings to ensure a good match for the young girls. The rest of the day was filled with more celebrations at the temple and a county-wide volleyball tournement. Highlight match: the Police team vs. the Maoist team...brilliant! It was by far the best match of the day and you could really feel the underlying political tension throughout the crowd. In the end, the Maoists totally blew the Police out of the water and it was quite amusing to see the Maoist team riding off on their motorcycles, one clinging to the commically large winner's check. Wednesday night was filled with more music and dancing at the temple as well as a few older gentlemen and teen boys taking part in the tradition of "getting closer" to the god Shiva (whos birthday it was we were celebrating) by way of his favorite activity...smoking the mary-jane. Thursday was a typical village day, a few were slow to recover from the previous night, but life was back to normal. That is, until Thursday evening when our village was struck with tradgedy. On that night, a young girl in our village decided to take her life. A poisonous liquid was used and, convulsing and foaming at the mouth she was raced to hospital. She was dead before they got her there. Her name was Kamala...she was 13 years old. I am still struggling to come to terms with it all, especially in the face of a people who seem so matter of fact about the whole situation. It really makes you realize how much these people suffer through when they can be so accepting of death. Even my young students know what happened and seem fully understanding of the whole situation. It's just quite jarring to have anyone, let alone kids, speak so frankly and unemotionally about death. This sad event was soon followed on Friday by my last day at the local school. And, again, I still have conflicting emotions here as well. The day itself was lots of fun with singing and dancing in the classes and enjoying my final time with these amazing students. And it really hit me as I walked home from school that that was the last time I would leave that campus, the last time I would make that walk surrounded by all those wonderful kids, the last time that little girl would walk me the whole way to my house, her little hand grasped firmly around my pinkie finger. Part of me knows it's time to move on, and the other part of me is quite sad to go. It was definitely time for a nice break after such a long week, and that's what I got with my journey to the jungle this weekend. I spent two nights in an amazing resort (i.e. it had western toilets and a hot hot shower!) and filled the days with canoe rides, jungle walks, bird watching, cultural shows, and a safari through the jungle on an elephant's back. Animals seen: lots of birds (mostly kingfishers), crocodiles, many many deer, a wild boar (who went crashing into a group of deer with all the style and grace of Pumba from the Lion King), and, best of all, on our elephant ride, we came across a napping mother rhino with her baby. We watched them for a while before they roused themselves, stood up, stretched a bit, and then lumbered off. Pretty cool. But, as all good things must come to an end, so ends the weekend and now I am back in the city, waiting for the bus back out to my village. I have about two and a half weeks left in Padam Pokhari...I really can't believe it's almost over! I don't know how I am going to even begin to say good-bye to this place. I'm not sure good-bye will be possible...I think the best i'll be able to manage is a "see you later".