Tuesday, May 27, 2008

Long live the ... Republic!

Tomorrow is an incredibly historic day in the life of this country. The Royal Kingdom of Nepal will officially be no longer. It is Republic Day!

Headlines as we speak are that the new Constituent Assembly that was sworn in today has voted to convert the Royal Palace to a National Museum when the Republic is declared tomorrow. Here's the rub - the Guy Formerly Known as King (they should give him a symbol - like Prince!) is still living there. Hmm. Let's see how this plays out. I know. Someone should politely knock on the palace gates and clue the man in. Right.

There was talk about making the Palace into a new residence for a ceremonial head of state - aka a President. I'm glad they decided otherwise because I, for one, have been dying to see the inside of that Pink Palace with the faux snow covered columns at one of the entry gates. I would love to show you pictures of this but I'm not sure I am allowed to photograph it. At least until now! Now it belongs to the people. Watch this space.

If you can open the following link it shows a group of newly minted women CA members holding their CA Swag! It just struck me as funny. Clearly I'm desperate for humor.


Seriously, we hope tomorrow will be the beginning of a new and peaceful era for this lovely country and its people.


Monday, May 26, 2008

Tooth Fairy Trauma

I'm not gonna smile Mommy.

and this is why. Aww.
My darlin' has lost her sixth tooth and she is sooooo proud. And by her account, very rich. You see being our first child, we decided when she lost her first tooth last fall that this was going to be the first of some 60 teeth to be lost in our household, (not counting Bill and I of course - we're hoping that doesn't happen for just a little while longer:)) and that we would be wise to make some Tooth Fairy policies so as to not have to change course with another child, hear the weeping and gnashing of teeth (oops no teeth - hey that is one less sad sound to deal with!!) etc. But we really weren't sure - does the Tooth Fairy take the tooth or leave it? How else do you do that cool Coke experiment where the sugar and acid completely dissolve the tooth if you don't have one to do it with? But the thought of my children saving rotten teeth to make beautiful necklaces out of just grossed me out too much. We decided that the Tooth Fairy takes the tooth, never to be seen again.
A few more questions. How many rupees should the Tooth Fairy leave? Will this be subject to inflation with future children (kidding - the answer is no)? Does the Tooth Fairy travel all the way to Nepal?
OK. Forget all that. Of course she does and she is leaving 100 rupees because it is a green bill with an enormous Rhino on it sporting huge tusks. This is a little over a buck and is probably too much but we figure that the kids will not know how to convert currency and this is one thing we can change in the future.
I do have a cultural point coming. What do children in Nepal do with their milk teeth? The answer is ... that they make a wish and throw it on the roof. Some of these thatched roofs in the villages have been around for awhile - that is a lot of teeth - ewwww. Indeed, the Tooth Fairy most certainly does not have a cultural monopoly. Many cultures have a "magical" mouse or rat that comes to steal the tooth and leaves a present or money. And Nepal is not the only place where you "throw it on the roof".
Hmm. Will I ruin the magic if I tell her all this?
PS I can't fix the formatting of this to save my life. No paragraph breaks no matter how many I see in the preview. So sorry.

Thursday, May 22, 2008


This is my cow outfit from Nana. I can moo whether I am comin'

or goin'.

And this is just my cute belly profile.

And a terrible haircut.

Does he really have to grow up?

Wednesday, May 21, 2008


Thursdays are a weekly highlight. I get together with a group of really wonderful women from our church here. We go over whatever Bible study we are doing together (currently a Beth Moore study on the Fruits of the Spirit), pray for each others' concerns and - of course - eat some wonderful baked good someone made and drink coffee/tea/whatever. Most of these women are long term missionaries here. Their perspective is humbling, invaluable and any doctrinal differences are parked at the door. It is an oasis from diurnal frustrations. There are a few in particular who are the people I feel closest to in Kathmandu and I am so so grateful for their friendship.

This week we have been studying patience. I just overflow with the stuff. A paragon of virtue I am. Calm in the storm. I am lying like a rug.

I always say nothing has exposed me for a fraud and showed me my need for Christ more than parenthood. And patience in particular is probably the quality I pray for in myself more often than any other. (Actually I usually pray an acronym - FLOWCH - may God make me a woman of faith, love, openness, wisdom, compassion, courage, hope, humor and humility). Hmmm, patience is missing from this list. So that's the problem. Actually, it is such a big one that it stands in its own category:)! Why humor on that list? My real life motto (not that anyone is asking) is "take Jesus seriously, just don't take yourself seriously." Life is just way too short.

Anyway ... back to patience. (apparently one must be patient to wade through one of my posts!). The study this week looked at two uses of the translated word 'patience' in scripture. One has to do with endurance and holding up under trying circumstances - a la the "patience of Job". The other is used exclusively in our dealings with people and the word for patience is always paired with mercy. I love this thought. It helps me tremendously. God is patient with me because he is merciful. I, in turn, out of mercy, need to be patient with a certain unnamed four year old. We all need mercy. I am praying that when I am tempted to get angry and impatient with my kids that I will remember how I have been viewed by God ... and give the poor kids a break:).

Oh, this also goes with a few cross cultural interactions we have on a daily basis.

Speaking of which - the hoodlums want Mommy - gotta go.

Peace ... and patience,

Tuesday, May 20, 2008

Mango Tango

(Disclaimer - oh I have SOO much to learn about still life and food photography ... but you have to start somewhere)
Oh my, it is luscious mango season in Nepal! My kids loooooove them for a good reason. They are simply awesome this time of year.

Serving a mango, however, can be a pain in the posterior. It is ripe when it is no longer hard, and gives just a little. If it is too soft it is overripe. Here are a couple of ways to cut and serve your wonderful, ripe, juicy, sweet (getting hungry?) mango.

The pit is large and runs lengthwise in the fruit so the edible flesh is mostly on the two "fat" sides with a little bit left on the narrower sides. Cut these two "fat" sides first.

My kids like the whole sides scored and turned inside out. I like to quarter the fat sides and just scrape the fruit off with my teeth leaving the skin. Bill likes to take the big pit we all leave behind and get all the remaining mango off of it. I think it makes him feel virtuous or something.
The kids way.
My way.
Some people peel mangoes - you can do it, I just don't recommend it. If you are cutting chunks for mango salsa (see below) or a fruit salad then you can just turn a scored piece inside out and slice off the pieces.

Mango Salsa from Joy of Cooking
I'm sure there are a million different recipes out there but simple is always good - and this is great.
1 small red onion, chopped
1/4 cup fresh lime juice
1 large mango, peeled, coarsely chopped
1 small red pepper cut into thin strips
1/4 cup chopped cilantro. (unless of course you are one of those people who think cilantro tastes like soap - you can substitute another herb. Personally, I love the stuff.)
1 clove garlic minced
1/4 cup fresh orange juice
1 fresh jalapeno, finely chopped
Stir together and season with salt and pepper. Voila.

Monsoon will start soon and this glorious era will end. So we are eating up.

Saturday, May 17, 2008

Booray for Bollywood

Amitabh Bachchan (the Big B), Abishek Bachchan and Ashwayra Rai ("Abiash" ... like "Brangelina" - all related), Kareena Kapoor, Anil Kapoor, Shahid Kapoor (not related), Shah Ruh Khan (King Khan), Salman Khan, Aamir Khan (none are related), John Abraham (fan yourself) ... I could go on. Who are these people??? I had no idea before we moved here. This list friends, is Bollywood royalty. You can sleep better now that you have this important piece of cultural information.

Bollywood cinema - what it was: very melodramatic, with cast of thousands dance numbers, sari clad women and bad acting. What it is: somewhat melodramatic cinema, often but not always with cast of thousands dance numbers, seldomly sari clad women anymore and better acting.

I love and miss a big screen. I love sitting down with popcorn in hand, watching the previews and feature with surround sound. While I enjoy the occasional arthouse flick - I usually gravitate towards more escapist fare. There is enough drama, sex and violence in real life - I don't want to see it on the big screen. Which brings us to Bollywood films in Kathmandu.

There are several movie theaters here actually - but only two that resemble what you and I might be used to. They are both owned by the same entertainment group, have a website and are generally pretty darn hip. I have only seen ONE western movie in a movie theater during our near two years here (Bourne Ultimatum - kinetic, but fun). The Kumari Theater and Jai Nepal Theater generally show the latest and greatest Bollywood films. These films come out with astounding rapidity. They show for a week or two and then they are gone. If they have subtitles I have been known to drag my husband, my film buff brother when he visited, and friends to Bollywood movies.

Top Five Characteristics of a Bollywood Movie:
1.) It is very long with an intermission.
2.)There is often a wedding scene.
3.) There will be a rain scene - often with people dancing in it. This makes we foreigners laugh.
4.) The Dance Extravaganzas have little to do with the plot, often arrive in the middle of a dramatic moment and involve multiple costume changes.
5.) You will see the same actors over and over again. Bollywood is prolific and these folks seem to work a lot.
6.) Sorry, I had to add one more. They have something they call an "item number" which is basically some sorry excuse for a scantily clad gal to do a solo dance that, again, has very little to do with the plot. That said, these flicks are generally pretty chaste.

I attribute the fact that I can sit through these (and kinda like'em - shhhhh) to my early adolescence when I watched terrible movie musicals like Grease and Footloose a dozen times each - in the movie theater. I am shameless.
Should you dare to rent a few from Netflix, here is a list.

1) Dhoom 2: impossibly beautiful people, good fx, sort of 007 meets Inspector Cleuseau (sp?).
2) Salaam e Ishq - several love stories interwoven - a lot of song and dance.
3) Eklavya (haven't seen this yet but it was the one India nominated to the Academy this year)
4) Tara Zameen Par - An art teacher "reaches" a little boy others have given up on.
5) Jodhaa Akhbar - Period piece. Indians will argue it isn't historically accurate. Fabulous costumes. Same lead duo as Dhoom 2.
6) Jab We Met - Serious fluff - very popular actors.
7) Guru - Village boy makes good, gets accused of corruption, prevails. Saw this without subtitles by accident, so I think that is what it is about:).

On a final note, Mira Nair is an Indian Director whose films are actually not so Bollywoodish, they generally are for western distribution. The Namesake was lovely (and a good adaptation of the book) and Monsoon Wedding is good as well.

Happy viewing - let me know how it goes.

Cheers, Laurel

Friday, May 16, 2008


Whew - got out of the city for the weekend and headed up to Borderlands Resort (oh baby use that word loooosely!) - about 10k shy of the Tibetan border. We stayed in tents ... for the FIRST TIME in our nine years of marriage - what weenies - we always meant to go camping.

My HBL and the little guy watching the river.

We trekked up a rediculously steep hill with the hoodlums but were rewarded with gorgeous views of the river valley below, people working their small terraced farms, narrow waterfalls, a little school house and then the descent to .... THE BRIDGE.

WonderBill and numero uno daughter went rafting while L and S and I raced down the river to catch the next photo op. Oooh - can't wait until everyone is old enough!

What kind of mother am I to let my kids traverse this (insert adjective of choice) piece of engineering?

This little four room schoolhouse was nestled on a terrace far far above any road access. The teachers looked like teenagers themselves. Cute kids!

I worked hard for this silky water:).

I didn't catch any pictures of this but one of the funnier parts of the weekend was watching the kids of three families from Mumbai who were also staying at Borderlands provide premeal entertainment in the form of Bollywood video routines. Hilarious. I promise a Bollywood post soon by the way.

Good to get away and remember the country is bigger than KTM. I would upload more photos but it takes fooooreeeeveeer!


Thursday, May 8, 2008

She said what?

Everyone else's kids say hilarious but embarrassing things, right?

Yesterday a young colleague of Bill's came over for a cooking lesson. I think I might have had more fun than she did - I'd do this again:)! Anyway, Kit proceeds to grill her -

Kit: "Are you a mommy?"
Friend: "Ummm, noooo"
Me: "Not yet, Kit - yes she is a grown up - but not a mommy."
Kit: "Why not?"

And so it went ... I shooed her out of the room apologetically.

Today a friend was over who is expecting her first bambino. She looks faboo - definitely has the glow goin' on. Kit asked her if there was only one baby in there. Lindsay asked her if she wanted to go see where Khaki was buried (and then have a personal tour of her room and toys). Melissa - you are an obliging woman!!

And this is just a sampling from the last 24 hours. Head shake and smile.

Good night .... Laurel

Wednesday, May 7, 2008

Namaste Khaki

We had to put Khaki to sleep this morning. She stopped eating and drinking and her hind legs failed her and she couldn't move anymore. We are so so sad - she was so loved. The girls said good bye to her last night and Bill and I moved her to the garage this morning before they woke up. We didn't want them to see the vet come. We'll bury her on the property today and have a sweet memorial planting over her. What a doggie life though! Born in Africa, lived on four continents and died in Asia.

Ever sentimental Lindsay wants to know when we are getting a puppy.


Saturday, May 3, 2008

Sweet Khaki

This is Khaki in healthier days. During Deshain here there is a doggy worship day. No kidding. We didn't stop our staff from spoiling her that day with treats, garlands and the tikka (red powder on her head). We did draw the line at sacrificed goat blood being sprinkled on our car though. Ugh.

We had the vet over last night to either give us assurance that our sweet dog isn't suffering or tell us it was time to euthanize. He said he didn't think she is suffering but thought she didn't have more than a month left. I certainly hope she dies a natural death but don't want her to suffer of course.

When I met Bill and found out he had a dog, I thought "he must be nice guy - he has a dog!". Then I met her and she was mutt - aww - Bill is a really nice guy. Bill adopted Khaki when he was posted in Kenya. She was a puppy picking garbage in a hotel resort parking lot in Nairobi. A woman at the embassy was rescuing street dogs, getting them their shots and adopting them. Her husband finally said "Basta" and she was looking for someone to take some of her dogs. Bill became a doggy daddy.

Bill and I met about three years later. Khaki used to nose between us if we were sitting next to each other on the couch (our canine chaperone:)). After we got married and moved to Prague she became MY buddy. She used to follow me around the apartment all day. We went for long walks through the vast park across the street from our apartment building.

Now life took a serious downturn for Khaki with the arrival of our first born. A friend gave us a copy of Puskhin Meets the Bundle, a story from the dog's viewpoint about the arrival of a little squirmy bundle who steals the attention of his master/mistress. She has been a trooper though - enduring being tugged, "patted" a little to roughly, and being ridden on like a pony. (These were not successful attempts mind you - she isn't that big!)

We aren't sure how old she is. Maybe 14, 15, 16? The last three months she has declined dramatically. She is skin and bones and I am pureeing chicken for her in hopes that she will eat more. We love her. This isn't a eulogy - just a bittersweet reflection.

Cheers to great dogs,

स्वीट खाकी

Oops - in case you are wondering what in the heck this is. I enabled "transliteration" out of curiosity and this is what it did. This is "Sweet Khaki" in Devnagari script! Pronounce it like your were Ghandi and you've got it. Laurel

Friday, May 2, 2008

On blogging ... and visitors.

Do you know what I love about the blogs I read? For those people I actually know, I love knowing about the little things happening in their lives. I love "hearing" their voice in their words. The things you might catch if you were living in the same neighborhood and actually talked over the proverbial picket fence daily. I love seeing the pictures of course - though it makes me a little homesick. I find myself so FULL as I get to just share simply in the lives of those I care about.

Now what about the blogs of people whom I've never met? Some of them I feel like I know and think - "If we lived in the same place, I would want to be friends with her!". Some, I like to visit because I find the person's thinking interesting and challenging. I visit several photographers blogs and sit in awe at their work - hoping someday that will be me. I almost never comment on a blog of someone I don't know however. What a lurker!!

While the details of life may be mundane, they (and of course how people feel about them) are what make me feel connected to others on a deeper level. And what is life without that?

Speaking of friends!!! We don't get a lot of visitors on this side of the planet and a dear friend's husband has been visiting Kathmandu this week ( a week - his body is going to think it is somewhere over Tokyo when he returns). Mike is a pastor of a church in NC and came to visit a missionary from their church who has been living here for some time. They both came over for dinner last night. Completely fun. No cultural translation necessary. A treat in everyway. (Not to mention the couple of pounds of M&Ms that Angie sent - thank you!). Sigh. We are relational creatures indeed.

I am plying my kids with snacks so I can finish this. They have TWO four day weekends in a row due to returned "bandh days"(see earlier post). Our version of unused snow days. The munchkins beckon - but this has been a nice break:).

Grace and Peace, Laurel