Saturday, June 13, 2009

Art at Indra's House

Today's fun was a visit to the home of Indra, his wife and their children: Alisa, Alina and Anis. Indra is my colleague at READ Nepal. Artful creations were made using stickers and colored pencils. My art, a tropical rendition with palm trees and a banana-eating monkey, was hung by Anis in a place of honor on the family wall. I took their art home where it is now on display in my bedroom.

After the studio session, we ate a wonderful Thakali meal. Mitosa!

Wednesday, June 10, 2009

Adapted from the Nyaya Health website and an article by Kong Yen Lin in this week's Nepali Times:

On June 15, Bayalpata Hospital, which has been shut for 30 years due to political turmoil and violence, reopens with the aim of fighting maternal mortality in a district where one in every 250 women die from pregnancy complications and illegal abortions.

Established by Nyaya Health NGO, the eight-building complex will have a clinic for maternal and child health and a women's ward for abortions and deliveries. The team of 40 will include two doctors, rotating surgeons and gynaecologists. There will be a 24-hour free delivery service and caesarean section operating unit.

"Our goal is to ensure that no mother should die from delivery related difficulties," says Medical Director Jhapat Thapa, "And locals won't have to pay for more costly health care in India or Dhangadi."

While government hospitals charge about Nepali rupees 1,000 to 3,000 for safe abortions, Bayalpata hospital is planning to offer the service for free, in a bid to reduce illegal, often lethal, procedures.

While the STD infection rate is estimated to be 0.5 per cent nationally, that of Accham is 20 times more because of the high percentage of migrant workers. According to ASHA, another NGO offering HIV support, 70 per cent of the infected are women. Bayalpata will provide anti-retroviral therapy and drug treatments preventing mother to child transmission.

With chronic shortages of water, food and power and frequent highway bandas delaying supplies in Accham, Bayalpata's goals seem ambitious. But health workers are optimistic by contrast with the conflict years when frequent raids and extortions kept many hospitals closed.

Saturday, June 6, 2009

Walk to Thamel

Ate Falafel dinner at OR2k (light to Kathmandu in Israeli) with Viviane sitting on the floor cushions reading the menu under the black lights with Hendrix in the background. There's nothing like dining with your legs stretched out in front of you and your elbow propped on cushions. We could've stayed for hours.

But on to more chill at The Comfort Zone atop a Thamel building. At the spacious candlelit lounge (partially under cover) we gazed up at the stars and caught the breeze while listening to smooth (ok, most of it was cover but that's ok) jazz band.

Both places seductive and compelling. Who wants to go home?

Monday, June 1, 2009

Friday evening I celebrated Sikka Nakha with my Newar family, the Mulepatis. On this day, the Newars usher in the monsoon season by cleaning their homes, courtyards, and sidewalks and by feasting on Wo, fried lintel bread, and Chatamari, Nepali pizza. Shanti is the best cook in the Valley...seriously. Of course, the evening ended with several rounds of rachsi...Newari liquor.

Today, is a Valley-wide bandh sponsored by the Newars who are rallying for an autonomous state. Everything is closed and all vehicles are banned. No violence though and I walked over to Yak and Yeti Enterprises to begin our jewelry design collaboration. Bandh BAH! I have legs!

I am also enjoying stalking someone's poetry. :-)

Friday, May 29, 2009

The First 36 Hours

It's great being back home in Nepal.

After being efficiently screened for swine flu, Sudip greeted me and whisked me away from Tribhuvan Airport in a trusty taxi. We ate lunch at one of our favorite rooftop cafes and caught up on the news. It was good to see my family at Himalaya's Guest House and READ Nepal.

I also had a fun evening at the Entrepreneurs of Nepal meeting at Buzz Cafe meeting the powerfully creative trio: Ashutosh Tiwari, Ujwal Thapa and Sagar Onta...the group's founders. Good to see around 40 young people in attendance. If a jet-lag induced sleep hadn't been about to overtake me I would've stayed longer.

I slept well to a beautiful monsoon rainfall and enjoyed a very interesting breakfast conversation with Pem, Moni's husband. The bitten rice was pretty cool too.

It is good to have Viviane in the READ office and we are about to head over to Mike's Breakfast for a photo exhibit that will be introduced by the American ambassador.

Tonight is a Newari "eating festival" as it was explained to me by my host Dad, Mohan.

Trust me. Newari eating festivals are ALWAYS a good thing!

Can you see why I love this place?

Sunday, May 24, 2009

Happy Anniversary!

One year ago today, May 26th, I landed in Nepal for the very first time.

Little did I know then that I would be returning for my third visit one year later.

On May 28th I depart Little Rock for my home away from home.

That day also marks Nepal's first anniversary as a federal republic.


Friday, May 22, 2009

I depart Little Rock for Kathmandu in 4 days and I find myself in familiar emotional territory.

Two things, at the same time, all together in one space...confirming the largeness of life without duality. You have to have space in your life for everything all at the same time:

1. I want to go. I want to land and find myself in the rich stimulation of the senses that is KTM: the chaotic, honking traffic, the scent of incense, the colors of kurtas and sarees, the creamy taste of Nepali chia, the warm gazes and smiles of my friends, the stimulation of always being surprised by my home away from home.

2. I don't want to go. I find myself craving extra time with Katie, Maggie, my beautiful garden. My time with Katie is so brief before we both head off on our next big adventures. She is headed to Camp Highlander this summer to work as a counselor. She will have such a great time hiking, kayaking, and swimming with her campers.

And I find that I don't want to leave George. Who is this George person who has appeared in my life as I am about to leave the country? Oh yeah. Nevermind. I recognize him...I surely do...

So I am filled with wistful, bittersweet feelings today. Familiar.

Yet this time I know that a departure is not an ending. Everything continues no matter the distance. I know that now. That is the difference from a year ago when I first departed for Nepal. There is no loss. If anything, life is richer experience to share with someone because of the adventures.

All the beautiful richness of life is out there waiting on surely is...

Monday, May 11, 2009

I'm so impressed.

A 28 year old powerhouse of initiative in Nepal, Santosh Shah, has debuted Powertalks - the only English talk show in Nepal. The assistant director and scripwriter is 18, the producer is 26 and the assistant producer is 22. At a time when some of the leaders and citizens of Nepal have only a myopic view of their own political chaose, these young leaders are presenting Nepal in its international context with the goal of integrating into the international community at a quicker than present pace.

Instead of playing Nepal's age-old blame game, these young people are interviewing world leaders about their own countries and regions and their views on Nepal.

How refreshing!

Since I'm still in the US, I'm watching what they post on as much as possible.

In Nepal, Powertalks can be found Image TV and on the radio at 97.9 nationwide and 103.6 in the Kathmandu Valley.

Tune in!

Thursday, May 7, 2009

In an earlier blogpost I wrote about the murder of 26 year old Uma Singh, a journalist in southeastern Nepal who was a champion for the rights of women. Her murder spotlighted Nepal's violent culture of impunity (Still no one has been charged with her murder although it was witnessed...the people are too afraid). Her murder was also viewed as an attempt to silence women journalists, and warn away young girls who might consider entering the profession.

Recently, however,the Nepali Times published a story about women journalists who continue to practice their profession despite or perhaps because of the danger. Go Girls!!!

There are several good stories in the article linked here:

Here is an excerpt...

In Biratnagar, Radio Purbanchal is another all-female station which is trying to address the pressing problems of gender discrimination in the eastern Tarai. At Purbanchal, the only man is the security guard. Station manager Kamala Kadel is a 55-year-old mother who used to be a social worker before starting the radio to empower women through grassroots communications. The station's reach has grown in the past two years, reaching 75 per cent of households in Sunsari and Morang with close to one million regular listeners. There are around 40 community level organisations affiliated to the station and 2,000 households contributed funds and start-up capital.

The station employs 18 journalists and studio technicians, all 20-30 year olds from disadvantaged communities. Some are students like Lalima Ragbanshi who divides her time between her studies and working as a radio technician. "I'm excited to be in this environment where there's so much room for growth," says the 21-year-old.

Others are housewives like Uma Thapa who finds satisfaction and freedom working beyond the domestic domain and Gita Biswas, the co-host of the news and agricultural program Kakram Hama Samacht (Our Society) whose husband has now taken over the housework.

Daily news bulletins are aired in four languages: Nepali, Tharu, Urab and Santhali. "Most radio stations broadcast news in Nepali and this is problematic for other ethnic communities who don't understand the language,"
says Urab news presenter Mahamaya Urab.

Other programs include children's education, labour and employment forums, with the most popular, The Voice of Labour, reaching out to 400 businesses in the district.

"What keeps us going is our desire to spread greater awareness about the rights and situation of Tarai women, who are restrained by social deprivation in education, economic and health care aspects," says radio journalist Durga Sapkota, "community radio can be a powerful agent of change."

Asked about how the murder of radio journalist Uma Singh in Janakpur affected women reporters, Kamala says it highlights the critical working conditions that women journalists face.

She added: "We're saddened but unbeaten. There's nothing to fear if we're united."

Friday, May 1, 2009

I love dispelling myths and delivering surprising news about Nepal. As most of you know I absolutely detest the terms "developing country" or "poor nation" for they skew or perceptions and bias us in unbelievable ways. These words hide the rich, vibrant and progressive nature of Nepal.

Most of my friends are quite surprised when I tell them that YES! Nepal has a Food and Wine magazine. If you don't believe me, check it out for yourself:

In this month's issue the cover story profiles successful young women in the hospitality industry. Take THAT old guard patriarchy!

There are also articles on new world wines, dealing with stress, east african delicacies, and even (hehe) a review of a film about an intercultural lesbian relationship.

Congrats to my new friend Suresh KC and his team for publishing such a nice magazine. May it continue to grow and flourish in Nepal!

Less than Four Weeks

In less than four weeks I will once again plant my feet on the soil of my second home...Nepal. I can't wait to see Sudip and to laugh and laugh and laugh with him. This time I get to play hostess for a few American friends. Ahead of me will arrive, Viviane, student at the Clinton School, in Nepal for her international project with READ. Following me will be Ellen who will be on a buying trip with me for our new women's design business (Stay Tuned!) Someone else who is smart enough to visit Nepal is Joe, my Clinton School classmate.

I'll be staying, at least at first, with my family, the Mulepatis, in the guesthouse. It will be fun to see all of my friends in the Basantapur/Freak Street/Durbar Square neighborhood. I love the rhythms of that part of town.
I'm also looking forward to meeting many of my new Facebook friends there.

I have missed eating momos,yomari, curries, and drinking milk tea (it just ain't the same here)!

Anyhooooooooooooo.....I can't wait.

Yet I know I'll be returning to an insecure Nepal, a country struggling to take shape. The loadshedding is much worse and we can expect 8-12 hours without electricity per day. C'mon monsoons! the rains make the water that makes the electricity. We'll be facing water shortages, more numerous transportation strikes, chaka jams and bandhs. For now, the Terai is closed and Chitwan is inaccessible. Heading east to Darjeeling, a dream, is dicey. Getting to Pokhara is possible but delays are likely. I feel my capacity for patience growing just thinking about it all.

Tuesday, April 14, 2009

Sunday, April 5, 2009

In todays, NY Times globetrotting columnist Nicholas Kristof reiterated a fact. It's a fact that is steadfast and true, cannot be explained away and will not disappear no matter what the religious right espouses.

The fact is that without family planning, a woman, her family, her community and her developing nation cannot rise out of poverty.

A woman with many children must find and cook more food, care for more goats, water buffaloes, chickens, and cows, sew and wash more clothes, find more money for schooling, sit more hours with a sick child and spend more energy caring for the emotional needs of her babies. It really is a zero sum game. One woman divided by 2=1/2; one woman divided by 4=1/4; one woman divided by six = get the picture.

And I've yet to mention the health risks: frequent pregnancies closely spaced lead to anemia and fatigue, risk of infections, and eventual, for many, uterine prolapse.
(Uterine prolapse is a HUGE problem in Nepal, and once the woman has suffered it she is likely to be booted out of the family and sometimes, the community.)

President Obama has lifted the ban on UN Family Planning and the programs which went grossly undersupported in last decade. The “unmet need” resulted in 70 million to 80million unwanted pregnancies annually, the United Nations says, along with 19 million abortions and 150,000 maternal deaths. That's a lot of families stuck in poverty! Obama's policy change is ...good news but not the total answer.

What else is needed? As it turns out, family planning is a complicated thing to accomplish. The distribution of condoms, pills and such without counselling and ongoing support are only minimally effective. Likewise, working with the men as well as the women is needed as much of reproductive behavior is cultural. In Nepal, as in many other countries, the women may not have much say in spacing their pregnancies.

Working with the youth is also required. The young people of Nepal will determine her future. And Nepal is lucky, there isn't much religious taboo against condom use and family planning. Or so I'm told.

Programs such as UNFP and CEDPA are doing good work in Nepal. What else is needed?

Your opinions, please...

Monday, March 23, 2009

Blog On Hold :-(

Thanks to all of you who are asking 'why aren't you posting right now?'

I'm hunkered down writing my final paper for grad school. I'm SO ready to finish and return to Nepal.

I am, however, accepting 'attagirl' comments here on the blog, on Facebook or at

See you...

Wednesday, March 11, 2009

Local groups around Nepal are working to reform the practice of Chhaupadi, the period of confinement for women during their period and for 11 days following childbirth. During this time, a woman must live away from her family and the main house, cannot work, eat regular meals, touch items shared by the family or be touched by her family members. For washing, the woman must use a separate tap or water source.

She is considered unclean.

Sometimes the woman is confined to a filthy cowshed or other animal shelter. Sometimes she must sleep outside on the ground. These confinement shelters can be musty, moldy, dank, and dark. Many are without available light or proper air circulation. Sometimes the women sit in the midst of animal excrement and foul standing water.

For the first 11 days following birth, the child is also considered unclean and can be touched only by the mother. This practice can have dire consequences for mother or child as complications arising during the postpartum and newborn period may go unnoticed. Also, the unsanitary setting may increase the risk of contracting infectious diseases such as diarrhea or postpartum sepsis (severe infection.)

Three years ago, Nepal’s Supreme Court outlawed Chhaupadi but its practice remains widespread. Most people still believe that to violate the confinement and allow the women in the main house will bring misfortune. They believe that if a woman eats a normal diet she will get sick and if she touches a family member they will fall ill as well. If the newborn child is taken outside the people in the village believe that God will become angry and the child will be affected.

Change is happening but slowly. Women, and their husbands, of the younger generation in Nepal are declaring that they do not like the practice. One young couple, recently interviewed for the BBC, tells their story.

In Dil village, Basanti Devi's husband, Ganesh said he wants to see the Chhaupadi system abolished.

"I broke the rules," he says. "I carried our child back from the health post where he was born and then entered the main house despite my parents' protests. I do touch my child.” His wife Basanti Devi, though, still has to go to a special tap, outside the village, to wash…away from all her neighbors.

"I wanted to give normal food to my wife but I couldn't go that far against my parents' wishes. We can't change everything at once. It has to be gradual."
Devaki Shahi works for a local charity, the Rural Women's Development and Unity Centre, and travels around advocating change. She speaks from experience, having been confined after her own son's birth.

Thanks to campaigns by her and others, the actual sites of confinement are at least improving in some of the districts in Nepal. If sheds are used, they're likely to be cleaner, less likely to be shared with animals. The women get better food too.
But FEAR keeps this tradition alive.

HOPE lies with the new generation of better educated and informed Nepalis.

Saturday, March 7, 2009

Edited from a story in the San Francisco Chronicle:For over twenty years, Olga Murray of Sausalito, Calif., has dedicated her life to helping the children of Nepal, providing them with educations, meals, and health care they would otherwise never be able to get. She formed her nonprofit, the Nepalese Youth Opportunity Foundation, to do just that with the help of caring donors.

Her love for these children has made this 83-year-old grandmother fight one of the saddest measures of poverty in western Nepal, the selling of young girls to be domestic slaves, or Kamlaris, by parents too poor to feed their children. Some of these girls are as young as 6-years-old, and many are sold year after year until they reach adulthood when they marry and start their own families. For many of these Kamlaris, the lives they lead in their employers homes are filled with abuse, both physical and mental. Worse, some of the girls are raped by employers who feel emboldened by the girls' inability to communicate with their families because they are so far away.

Murray found that the way to end this Kamlari system was to help the families out financially, treating the cause of the problem directly. Her innovative approach was to provide the family with a piglet or goat, which they could raise and sell or slaughter for food. She also tells the parents that she will provide school for the girls. She pours her efforts into stopping the transactions during the Maghe Sankranti festival when the girls return home and parents make new deals or renew contracts.

Since her projects inception, Murray and her charity have saved over 4000 girls from slavery, many of whom have gone on to receive educations and become successful businesswomen after being trained in vocational programs. Many more have become advocates and volunteers to end the practice that once enslaved them.

Saturday, February 28, 2009

This is an excerpt from a conversation someone had with Min Bahadur, owner of Bhatbhateni supermarket/dept. store chain concerning the Young Entrepreneur's of Nepal. I'm reprinting it here...

Last thursday was talking with Min bahadur gurung, owner of the Bhat bhateni chain of supermarkets and an inspiring entrepreneur life story. Few pointers from the ever optimistic and ever humble (rags to riches) entrepreneur.

Background:Min Bahadur Gurung, from remote village in Khotang started his venture with $1135 opening a small grocery store and now he is a multimillionaire with retail super market chains “bhatbhateni” in Nepal.

a) It is “THE” best time to be an entrepreneur in Nepal (he says history has proved that a lot of big companies in the world are the ones who started right after a big war /civil war.)

b) Hydro Power and agriculture are fields he would personally invest in anytime.

c) wants a group of young professionals to start things off. and Old investors like him, are ready to back young group of capable professionals to start business (again, he sees lots of opportunities).

d) wants young people to dive in to the nepali market where anything and everything is up for grabs right now, and everything can be innovated. His idea of biggest social service in Nepal is to give fair employment to as many Nepalis as possible. He hires about 900 people right now, and planning on employing about 50,000 people directly in retail and agriculture business.

e) Patience. Min waited 9 years before he turned his small grocery store into a retail store.

f) Honesty. Min emphasizes entrepreneurship is about relationships. Therefore honesty is a must specially in matters of money. Have a honest relationship with your financial institutions, your creditors, debtors, co-workers, employees.

g) share. If you share much, you gain in business in Nepal.

h) Bhatbhateni is coming to a area near you (big expansion plans)


Monday, February 23, 2009

Maha Shivaratri!

It's yet another holiday in Nepal...Shiva Ratri.

Everyone is at Pashupatinath, temple of Lord Shiva - god of destruction and salvation. The usual rituals of puja and fasting are carried out along with another VERY special act - the smoking of the ganja weed. Hashish is now illegal in Nepal but on this day it is everyday. Sorry I missed witnessing this!

The street of my summer guesthouse, Freak Street, is named after the time when Westerners flocked to Kathmandu to openly get high and hang out. The good ole days, I guess...

Sunday, February 15, 2009

One of the jobs I've been handed on this mission is to make sure the world has a well-rounded view of life in today's Nepal.

Yes, Nepal is home to Everest and temples and quaint villages.
Yes, Nepal is home to political unrest, development inertia, and 36,000 NGOs.
Yes, Nepal is home to saris, momos, milk tea and daal bhat.

But Nepal is also home to innovation, intelligence and just plain fun.

The young people of Nepal like to party just like the rest of us and as evidence check out this website:

Party on, Nepal!

Sunday, February 8, 2009

Many of you know that I view some of the NGO activity in Nepal with a jaundiced eye.

There is, however, a very good organization working on women's empowerment - CEDPA. CEDPA = The Centre for Development and Population Activities. CEDPA has been helping women prepare to participate in the constitution writing and the new government in Nepal for the last two years. A Women and the Constitution workshop was held in February 2008 and the participants were inspired to form WomenACT (Women Acting Together for Transformative Change.)The WomenACT network has 36 NGO members working together to disseminate information and collaborate on the constitution-writing process.

In September, the group authored an important document to inform the crafting of the new constitution: A Charter for Women's Rights: Ensuring Equality through the Constitution in Nepal. The document is being used to hold the new government's feet to the fire during the writing of the new constitution.

If anyone can implement a powerful agenda for women it's this group. Go WomenAct Nepal!

Friday, February 6, 2009

The people of Nepal are good at many things but one thing they are VERY skilled at is making fun of their ridiculous government.

Now there is a facebook group that pokes fun at loadshedding. Here's their tongue-in-cheek approach to the ridiculousness of the current situation in Nepal.

Description: This is a global group of people who are fan of the loadshedding and enjoying the free time of 82 hrs in a week provided by the Nepal Electricity Authority. I am feeling proud to be in this group and want to congratulate all the fans of loadsheeding who are able to create 108 hrs free time in a week inspite of their busy routine.

To join this group, following criteria must be fullfilled.
1. Time spend in sleeping i.e. 108 hrs in a week is not enough.
2. Suffering from irritation due to the direct contact of the beam of light produced from bulb and tubes with the skin.
3. Suffering from serious Ear disease in which ears can't bear sounds from radio, music player and other electrical appliances as electric motor, vaccum cleaners and so on.
4. Eyes can not bear moving pictures in Televisions and computers....
5. Must have tradition of having Candle Night dinner every night.
6. Must have mobile which when called is replyed by a girl who always says one thing....'swithced off'.
7. Must have email ID which sends auto reply from Post Master.

Thursday, February 5, 2009

Fortunate I am. I have heard Kutumba live - twice! They have a Facebook page with links to their music so go have a listen.

Quoting from their website (because they say it much more eloquently than i ever could):
"Committed to the research, preservation and celebration of the diversity that exists in indigenous Nepali music, Kutumba firmly believes that the richness in Nepali music is directly significant of the rich diversity that exists in the Nepali people. At a time when political and social attention is trained on recognizing differences and ensuring rights for our diverse groups of people, Kutumba sees the possibility of finding respect and identity through the medium of our indigenous music art forms.

As we struggle with this unique time period when we are looking inwards and fighting for rights, we also struggle with the larger forces of globalization when our youth find themselves exposed to global cultures packaged attractively by television and the media.

Between wanting to be the next big rock star and the pressures at home on asserting yourself culturally to be ‘more’ Nepali Kutumba feels now is a good time to reach out to young Nepalis and encourage them to find value, dignity and joy through the creative and stabilizing energy and beauty of their unique music art forms."

Tuesday, January 20, 2009

The news of the brutal murder of journalist and human rights Uma Singh effected me deeply.

Uma was only 26 years old.

She worked for the Janakpur Today Daily and Radio Today FM.

On January 11th, she was attacked after she returned from work by a gang of around 15men who burst into the room she rented in Janakpur who battered her repeatedly with blunt objects, in front of other tenants. She died of her injuries shortly before midnight while being driven to Kathmandu.

No one intervened as they witnessed the attack.
No one identified the attackers even though they knew them.
Such is the culture of impunity in Nepal today. The context of Uma's murder proves just how bad things really are.

It was reported that one of the attackers said, as he beat Uma, "This is for talking too much."

Police have so far not identified any motive for the killing. Some of Uma Singh’s articles made waves in the region, particularly those in which she criticized the dowry system and spoke out of behalf of women's rights.

The murder of Uma Singh is the latest in a long list of arrests and murders of journalists in Nepal in recent months. Three journalists were killed last year and one was kidnapped. Nepalese journalists plan to hold a demonstration on today to urge the government to provide them with protection.

No one is in charge in this country.

Monday, January 19, 2009

Shifting Again

My plan to only write positive things has been the murder of journalist Uma Singh. (more on this later)

Now I believe my job is to write a balanced blog about the many positive aspects of Nepal while reporting the troubling current state.

Because Nepal is both, really. A stunningly beautiful place, rich in culture and history yet continually challenged by a government in transition and a weakening of security and the rule of law.

I pray that she does not become a failed state.

There are too many wonderful people who would suffer and many of them I call friend.

Tuesday, January 13, 2009

Yo=to like + Mari=delicacy. Yomari=the delicacy that everyone likes! Yomari origates from the Newars,the ethnic group from the Katmandu Valley, and is a rice flour dumpling filled with good stuff. The most common filling is Chaku, which a sweet molasses-like concoction. It may also be filled with dhal (bean stuff). The triangular shape represents half of Saraswati, the goddess of knowledge, music and the arts. That's the anthropology lesson. All I know is that it is beautiful gooey goodness.

Here's a quick 60 second video on making yomari - copy and paste the link in your browser:

Monday, January 12, 2009

These beautiful pillows are just three of the designs made at the Janakpur Art Center. The fabric is from the nettle plant and the vegetable-dyed colors are very rich. All very Mother Earth friendly. I have four of these pillows, all with indigenous motifs.

The Janakpur Art Center is located in, well, uh, Janakpur and it is another example of a women's craft cooperative changing the lives of women artisans and their families through economic development. They are working with me to create additional items such as table runners, placemats and coasters. The motifs are traditionl ones from the Mithilia culture. Janakpur is located in southeast Nepal near the border of India.

The people of this region (including the northern part of India)also depict scenes from their daily lives in Mithila paintings. These scenes can now be found on photo frames, jewelry boxes, textiles, and furniture. The women are adapting their art in ways that will be marketable and will help sustain the tradition. Oh yeah, their craft puts rice (instead of bread) on the table too. Below is a village marriage ceremony scene. The best part is to sit with someone from the Terai region of Nepal and enjoy their teachings on what the symbols and scenes in the painting mean. Enjoy!

Friday, January 9, 2009

There's a Facebook group out there called Entrepreneurs for Nepal

"Description: A network for Young, Creative People who have ideas and who want to implement it in the context of Nepal.
Interested in "creating opportunities" in Nepal? Share your ideas below and get constructive feedback. We'll try our best to help you shape your idea.
There is nothing such as "small" when it comes to an idea. Lets keep the ball rolling !!!
ARE YOU GOING TO NEPAL SOON and want to discuss some potential ideas? Contact us and we will connect you with the right people."

Their New Year meeting is January 15 at 5:30pm at Nanglo on Durbar Marg.
If you're in Nepal and trying to do business - GO!

It's a place to meet all those creative, smart people I've been telling you about.

Monday, January 5, 2009

The Kathmandu Valley has a history of making silver jewelry including ancient religious and cultural motifs. Here's a sample:

Sunday, January 4, 2009

This past Spring, Sarah Miller, a young woman from Southern California took her first trip out of the Nepal. In this video she compares her life in American with life in Nepal and somehow captures, better than I ever could in my own words, how being with the Nepali people changes you forever.

To my Nepali friends, I know that I can never explain how much you mean to those of us who have been lucky enough to visit your country, but I hope this video gives you some idea...

Thanks, Sarah!

I have not yet met Anuradha Koirala but I really hope to one day.

She is a widely recognized activist and lecturer who has dedicated her life to combating the sexual exploitation of Nepal's women and children. A former professor of English, she is the founder and Executive Director of Maiti Nepal and a world class hero.

Maiti Nepal is a vibrant organization combatting the dark underground of sex trafficking. Maiti Nepal works by:
***Direct intervention at the border with India. Twelve Intervention Center sites are staffed by volunteers who themselves were formally trafficked and understand the strategies of the traffickers. Located at the outposts are 'safe houses' providing shelter or safe passage home for the girls and women.
***Offering its rescued young women education with on-the-job practical training in Food Service, Carpentry, Massage Therapy, Baking, Mechanics, Hairdressing, Housekeeping, Security Guarding, Floriculture or Handcrafts
***Participating in infectious disease health research. Recent publications are found in JAMA and Emerging Infectious Diseases. Maiti Nepal's participation in the identifying and tracking of diseases like HIV/AIDS, TB and Hepatitis among the women is critical to crafting appropriate responses.
***Providing access to health and mental health services.
***Establishing hospice care. Maiti Nepal has established two hospices for the treatment of the women and children who are terminally ill.

The work of Maiti Nepal is not without risk. The criminal elements that "deliver" young girls are a ruthless enemy and have political connections at the highest levels in India and Nepal. Maiti Nepal's main office in Kathmandu has been destroyed twice and Maiti workers must travel with a bodyguard when overseeing rescue missions in India.

Anuradha Koirala gives gives much of the credit to her largely volunteer staff. Most of the workers are rescued girls and young women who are healthy enough to work. "They need little incentive from me," states Ms Koirala. "They are working to help their sisters and they know the horror of the victims." She adds, "Society rejects me and my girls, but they are the most important thing in my life."


There is a US based group that supports Maiti Nepal. Here's the link:

Thursday, January 1, 2009

New Year's Shift

After discussions with a few of my Nepali business friends I've decided to shift the tone of this blog. In their opinion, the negative press that comes out of Nepal builds a misperception among their partners abroad and hurts their export business.

From the major news sources, the world only hears about what's wrong in Nepal with the government, services, security, etc. The blogosphere is also a place that is full of rants about the government and living conditions.Those stories are important and the world should hear them.

But what is right about Nepal far outweighs what is wrong, and I plan to talk more about that.

There are so many bright, funny, creative, talented, cultural people, places and things in Nepal. I'll have plenty to write about.

Of course, I won't be able to avoid the occasional rant against injustice. It's in my bones. But for every injustice there are people in Nepal fighting it in creative ways so I'll strive to balance the challenges with the solutions.

Stay tuned!!!

p.s. I've added a link (in the right column) to a brand new site that keeps up with the Nepali news. It's superior to anything I've come across to date.
The name is Nepal Watch ( )

Shout out to my friend Sanjay Amatya for this site!