Tuesday, June 10, 2008

(This one's for you Kari Mogensen!)
Here in Nepal, we are challenged by our lack of modern technology and I am convicted everyday about how dependent on it we really are. Here's a sampling of our woes:
*Rolling blackouts. These are scheduled power outtages designed to save? ration? electricity. The power is out each day for about two hours. They are supposed to follow a posted schedule but they don't. You may be right in the middle of something then ***POOF***! It's frequently in the evening which means it's dark inside. I usually have enough battery power on my laptop to work for a while. Of course, this means the fans are off and our rooms get hot.
*No A/C. Can I just tell you how 'bourgeious' spoiled I am and love my A/C? It's the worst at my office in the afternoon. I just get too hot to think. Of course, I was prepared for this one but, still... It's been a bit cooler since the monsoons have begun.
*The Monsoon Season. Our favorite internet cafe requires that you step down into it off the street. This means that during a rainstorm it floods and closes!
*Windows '98. Most of the computers in the internet cafes are Windows 98 or worse with very little memory. Also, the cafe owners don't clean out their temporary internet files. I just do it for them. This, of course, means that uploading photos is almost out of the question. I have circumvented that by creating Picasa web albums and just pasting the link to those in the blog.
Also, my email takes 30-40 minutes to load up at work. In the afternoon when lots of people in the area are on their PCs the available bandwidth sucks!
*No computer at work. This means I have to carry my laptop everyday. I must tell you that I am the ONLY person I have ever seen on the street of Kathmandu with a laptop which makes me feel VERY conspicuous.
*No jump drive outlets. In order to be able to get work done and then upload it we save it to our jump drives. However, there is only one computer in any of our cafes that have a jump drive outlet.
*No Skype. I love the idea of Skype and was so very proud of my little Janet Jackson-style headset. However, none of the internet cafes in our neighborhood have Skype. The PC at work is so slow that a Skype connection would be pretty worthless. 'Can you hear me now?'

All of this would be fine if we were just tourists and not trying to get work done and communicate that work to the U.S. I will now go on the record and say that I am impressed with the amount of development work that does go on successfully in Nepal. I take my hat off to the people of Nepal, the NGOs and community development organizations.


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