Thursday, September 29, 2011

Ready for India...

Last day in the 'du for a while. Packing mayhem continues unabated of course and somehow no matter how many times I have to do it I can't take less than about a hundred outfits.
Robin's talk last night went really well. There were about 100 good folks of Kathmandu there and I think they all got something out of it.
Well yesterday I promised you a good picture, and I have more than that. It's a festival BOGOF on photos!
I guess they don't wash

Deep Love for that orange suit!

He wasn't quick enough to get the light stuff!
One of Robin's trekking partners, Toni, should already be in India but we haven't heard from her, and Helen came in this morning from Everest. So it is all go for a Monday departure from Delhi to Manali for them. I might pass on the generous offer of 16 hours in a minibus to Manali on the sort of road that was on World's Deadliest Roads, which of course would be followed by 16 hours back again. Not really my idea of fun. Even with a sleep inbetween.
Guess I'll see you in India. Enjoy the long weekend and the grand final and the bad weather!

Wednesday, September 28, 2011

Happy Vijaya Dashami

That's right it's festival time again. And in honour of it I have spent a few hours renovating the blog. I hope you like it. All the links you click on should also now open in a new page... Marvellous.
Back to the festival. Every Nepali is rushing to get back to their village, and the transport 'entrepreneurs' are charging outrageous sums of money for old folks to even perch on a wooden stool in the aisle of a crappy bus. Dashain lasts for 15 days, and today is the day to worship Durga. Dashain will be followed as usual by Tihar aka Diwali, which is my personal favourite. Many years ago we were adopted into a family here and every year my bhai (little brother) looks forward to us coming to his house to celebrate. It is a lovely festival and everyone can participate. So I must make sure that I return from India in time for Puru and I to spend the day together. That way he's happy and I get a present. Probably another pashmina cos a girl can never have too many.
Ssshhh! We have to be quiet because Robin is practising his talk for tonight. So many people have been invited and said they will be coming that it could be standing room only.
And just in time for the festival the rain has stopped. Hooray. And yes I have lots of washing on the balcony.
Yesterday was World Tourism Day and so the brilliant Nepal Tourism Board organised some things but frankly I don't know why. The first 3 foreigners to arrive at the airport got a free meal or something. Lame. Oh and Sams bar was allowed to stay open for one night only till 2am. Verena said she couldn't be bothered for just one night.
The GHT was officially launched yesterday too... yes I know we have been doing it for years. I can't explain why it has taken so long. Check out our Facebook page for more, and some updated info on the earthquake.
Robin reckons I should join Facebook, something I have vehemently avoided so far. Any thoughts?
I have a photo to put on the blog for you but today I am on the ipad so I can't, because Robin has his presentation on the laptop. But I promise you it will be worth the wait.
I had better start paying attention to the presentation or else!
Bye for now and enjoy the festival!

Monday, September 26, 2011

will the monsoon ever end?

It has rained almost non stop for 6 months so I am told. I am over the rain and I've only been here for 2 months! So boring. I have even been ironing my undies in an attempt to get them dry. How sad is that. The only sensible footwear is thongs, even though it's about 17 degrees.
This is Kantipath, one of the 'better roads' in Kathmandu. I almost lost my footwear trying to get from one side of the road to the other. See why:
I was out with our Nepali niece Geeta trying to buy a Scooty for her to get to and from college - a boat might have been a better idea.
And here is a splendid bridge:

And following on from yesterday's plane crash (and subsequent bomb scare from a bunch of arguing fools in the departure lounge), I can report that of the 66 major crashes in the last 20 years, 62 percent were fatal. And there are usually 2 per year here. Isn't that great? They are usually CFIT (Controlled Flight Into Terrain'. That means they crash into a mountain. All pilots here are taught don't fly into clouds in case there is a mountain inside. Oh dear. The rescue efforts here were somewhat hampered by gawping Nepali sightseers who had blocked the only access road with their crappily parked motorbikes. Fatalism has its shortcomings.
I'm off to water the garden. Ha ha ha.

Sunday, September 25, 2011

another week, another disaster for Nepal

This morning a Buddha Air mountain flight crashed on approach to Kathmandu. All aboard succumbed to their injuries, and initial reports, although sketchy, suggest that even allowing for the bad weather, the plane may have have been on fire. There were 3 crew, 6 'Europeans' and 10 Indians from Tamil Nadu - most likely pilgrims who come to Kailash or Muktinath. RIP.
In other news, the PM Mr Bhattarai is away, and the marvellously astute Deputy PM made a speech the other day wherein he said that he wished last week's earthquake had happened in USA or Europe. Oh dear. I don't think it was badly reported, I think the poor man is too stupid to know better.
It has rained almost all week and I have only had one day where the sun came out. Depressing. We are trying to pack for India, without even knowing if we have a visa, or if our host is in Delhi to entertain us. Robin has tent stuff all over the room and the hallway, and we have bags for the girls who are going trekking with him as well. Gawd. And somebody across the road in the Tibetan (ha!) shop is testing out a long Tibetan horn. Ouch my ears hurt. And I somehow have to sort all my stuff out. As if.
And look what I just found on line - oh I so want to be old in this country!!
KATHMANDU: The Elderly Citizen Welfare Society, Chabahil organised the Sports of Senior Citizens festival here at the Nepal APF Club grounds to mark the International Elderly Citizens Day on Saturday. More than 150 elderly citizens of Kathmandu Valley participated in the one-day festival featuring six events — spoon race, musical chair, seven-a-side football, breaking the pot, badminton and Intelligence Question test. Founder member and the attorney of the society Chhatra Pradhan said they organised the festival for the first time to support the elderly citizen. “We want to spread a positive message to the society through such festivals,” said Pradhan.

Thursday, September 22, 2011

and then there was sun

Finally after 3 days of unrelenting rain, to add to the post quake woes, the sun has come out and everyone is busy doing laundry. I had 3 lines going on the balcony today - and I'm supposed to be on holidays! At least I still have a balcony...
Kathmandu appears to have gotten off lightly although the old Hanuman Dhoka has some rather large cracks in it. A Nepali friend yesterday bemoaned the fact that immediately after the quake on Sunday, when all the nutty Nepalis had run into the streets while buildings were still shaking, the TV wasn't taking the opportunity to tell people what to do. All they did was show the 1934 earthquake aftermath. Which made even more old ladies scream. Nepalis really aren't very good in a crisis. Most houses here have potplants all over their rooftop edges, and if one of those came down and brained you I think you would need more than paracetamol. Also, the streets are really narrow and most buildings don't have straight edges, so running into the street just puts you into a shooting gallery really. This whole country is so poorly prepared it just isn't funny.
I now have 2 earthquake apps on my iphone and ipad just in case. One has very useful instructions on what to do, plus a flashing light, torch, whistle, megaphone that sends morse sos and a thing to make you keep awake if you are trapped. Not that you would ever get found in this place if more than a few hours had passed. But I guess it makes me feel better.
I am supposed to be packing for India but seem to have lost motivation after all the laundry I did. The weather down the road in Delhi is about 10 degrees warmer than here so I have to get out a few things I packed away. Maybe I can hit the pool there.
Oh speaking of pools and quakes. At the Shangri La on Sunday, many guests ran out into the garden dressed, as Uttam so quaintly put it "only in their panties" as it was just after 6pm and everyone was getting ready for dinner. So, the staff at the hotel grabbed all the pool towels to redignify the ladies. How sweet. Uttam is sorry he wasn't there to help. Instead he was at home with his son hoping that the 11 storey monstrosity under construction next door didn't collapse. And he was pleased his wife and daughters were out shopping!Uttam is one of the few Nepalis that you can trust in a crisis.
Anyway onto other news. Our hotel escaped without any cracks and the water got fixed quickly..
We watched what may be the worst movie ever the other night: Dinocroc versus Supergator.. I don't think any of them could act (no wonder David Carradine end up tangled in coat hangers in a Bangkok wardrobe!) and it was heartening to see so many of them get devoured. Do check it out.

Monday, September 19, 2011

That was my first earthquake

Which was obvious by my reaction.
We had been watching Pakistan Zimbabwe cricket on the telly and had to go out to meet a friend at the bar, so I jumped in the shower to get ready. I heard Robin shouting something from the bedroom, but since it sounded like "wicket!" I didn't do anything. Then I opened the door to go get dressed and he was looking at me like I was a weirdo and yelling "Jude, EARTHQUAKE!!!!! Get dressed NOW!". So of course being the sort of person who has 3 emergency responses (cup of tea, cocktail or new hairdo) I was poorly equipped to respond properly. By now I could feel the room swaying and people in the street were squealing, so instead of trying to find a matching outfit I went for a skirt and a Target dressing gown. Don't know why. Then ran down 4 floors but couldn't even make it onto the street cos there were so many people standing around, especially the police who looked particularly ill equipped to handle the situation. After a few minutes we all decided there was nothing else happening so went back upstairs to put on something more sensible. Except that we had managed to lock ourselves out. Luckily one of our balcony windows was open so Brave Sir Robin climbed in and fell over all the bags underneath. Must tidy up.
Then we heard on the news that the quake was the biggest since the one in 1934 which took out a lot of people and buildings. And we also heard that some people died when a wall at the British embassy collapsed on them. Which you would have to say is bloody bad luck.
Our ambassador Susan called me to make sure we were OK, which was very kind of her, and said that she was busy manning phones at the embassy as the consul is on leave, so I guess a few frantic parents in Oz heard the news and were concerned.
I think we were very lucky not to have more widespread damage and destruction. A friend in the Everest region said it was pretty scary up there last night, as you can imagine.
So this morning we had no water as the quake broke the pump and some of the tanks, so we have come down the to American Club which we only joined last week, for shower, breakfast and some internet work. Maybe even a swim.
And we all hope there is no more earthquake.

Wednesday, September 14, 2011

The joy of newspapers

not a good look
 You should all be aware of my passion for whacky newspapers. And Sri Lanka didn't disappoint. Here are 3 I collected while we were away. Do enjoy
for everyone in Oz who has to layby bananas

And from the crime pages.....

Tuesday, September 13, 2011

If that was a holiday we had it.

And what fun it was! We made the tight connection in Dellhi despite having to circle for a long time before we landed - mind you getting a lift in one of the golf buggy thingys to the transit area was kinda helpful. and then we ran. How dignified.
Dambulla - decorated by someone on LSD
Colombo is a pleasant city and very clean - and you should try the Galle Face Hotel while you are there. We toured around for 7 days round Kandy,  Polonnaruwa and the tea areas, then stopped in Galle to catch the test cricket before we hit the beach. Which was a mixed bag really. It was too rough to swim so we played coconut bowling, and the hotel we stayed in was truly diabolical : it was like living in an episode of Fawlty Towers only we weren't laughing. They ran out of ice for drinks, they ran out of bread for toast, they delivered meals you had not ordered and their 'signature chocolate mousse' came out of a packet. Don't get me started on the flies. Or the 3 different mattresses we tried in an attempt to get a half decent sleep. Or the Dumb and Dumber team at reception - I'd have had more luck talking to an axelotl. So we bailed early (without getting a refund of our up front payment - so we didn't pay our drinks bill) and went back to Colombo. If you need a dinner set Colombo is the place as all Noritake crockery is made there and you can get a 95 piece set (that's a lot to wash up!) for about a thousand dollars. But I'm not sure how you get it back home. And girls, the Triumph shop has very reasonable prices! That's bras, not bikes.
The weird Cannonball Tree in Kandy Botanical Gardens (which are fabulous)

So yesterday morning we had to get up before we went to bed to catch the early morning Colombo Delhi flight before getting back to Katty in time for a dinner at the embassy last night. Phew.
Sunset - no filter

 More pics later - we have a huge storm here now and I think I'd better stop.