Sunday, June 28, 2009


This ADORABLE little guy is the son of a friend of mine (remember the baby shower?) who I just had to get a photo session in with before he and his mama went on a three month around the world trip. I just knew he'd be all grown up by the next time I saw him. He is precious, precious.

Tuesday, June 23, 2009


Isn't it a rule that you have to climb the highest piece of architecture in every city you visit? I made that up but I think everyone does it. I have been promising the girls that before we leave I would let them climb this. It is alternatively called Bhimsen's Folly or Dharahara.

The original tower was built in 1826 by Rana Prime Minister Bhimsen Thapa only to be damaged in the 1934 earthquake. (Hmmm, the E word. I haven't posted about this. I don't want to thoroughly depress any of you who are moving here. Forget I mentioned it.) I am not sure if it is fact or urban myth that someone rode a horse to the top and took a fatal high dive. The fact that someone jumped would not surprise me but the horse? I don't think so. At any rate - it was closed for years apparently.

I converted some of these to B&W since it was such a hazy day and I think architecture lends itself to it anyway.

My little hoodlums are completely excited about it!

The Kathmandu sprawl spreading to the valley rim in 360. Or some cool graphic with the bars and gates - depends on how you look at it:).

Hazy day. Martyrs gate in the traffic circle.
These sweet girls wanted their picture taken with my children. Those exotic blue eyed creatures that they are! (Lindsay would not cooperate - oh well.)

Two hundred and thirteen steps isn't exactly the Washington Monument but the resulting views were still worth the climb. These signs were in case you either lost count ... or wanted a compass.

The tower is encircled by these carved plinths.
It was a fun thing to do and it really needed to wait until the end of our tour because three years ago small people would have asked to be carried up. You might notice a certain three year old was not invited. Poor little guy - it is rough being the youngest sometimes.

Saturday, June 20, 2009

Those Brits Can Party ...

There is a saying in many foreign locales - "those westerners make their own fun". Oh do they (we) ever. Bill and I are still cracking up over our evening last night. The British School was having a dinner dance for their staff and parents. At one point they didn't think that they had enough people to support the event so they opened it up to be an "all international school" event. One of my trek mates who is British talked us into going. Since the American school is on summer break guess how many parents there were from our school? Zip - nada baby! But we knew most of the people there anyway (I have mentioned on this blog that this is a small town, haven't I?)

You usually have to drag me to "large" events but then I end up having a good time. I'm more of a dinner party type of gal. This event, however, was one fun party. Why is it so funny to see a bunch of middle aged people letting loose? People I normally see as very reserved where gettin' down on the dance floor - woo hoo:)!

Dress was whatever you wanted it to be so people came in Saris, jeans and everything in between. There was a professional band doing covers - they were good. There was a teacher band "The Inverters" (referring to the battery power options many people use here when there is no power - as in 12-16 hours a day) and then finally ... the parent band, "Load Shed" (referring to said power loss) dressed in satin pants (trousers, excuse my Yankiness) and sequined shirts and 60's wigs. They were hilarious. They had original songs like "I Drive a Rickshaw" among others and tweaked the lyrics to a few Talking Heads songs.

All in all ... a very fun night. I think we needed that.


Tuesday, June 16, 2009


It is Sepia week at I heart faces. Here are my child and adult entries! One thing about taking out the color that I like is that it makes you focus on the other image elements a bit more.

My sadhu pictures are usually all about color so I wasn't sure about making it a sepia print but I actually really like it!

Go check 'em out - be inspired - people submit amazing work!

Monday, June 15, 2009

The Hungry Tide

I am thrilled to have discovered so many wonderful South Asian writers while living here. One of my favorites is Amitav Ghosh. He is utterly transporting in his descriptions and beautiful prose. I just finished The Hungry Tide and loved it.

In brief, The Hungry Tide is a tale set in the Sunderbans, an archipelago of swampy islands off the coast of Bengal known for being an unforgiving environment and home of the Bengal Tiger. A young Indian-American scientist (who only speaks English but is of Bengali descent) travels to the Sundarbans to research Irrawaddy Dolphins and is aided by an illiterate fisherman. A Delhi businessman, originally from Calcutta (Kolkata), is travelling to the same place to retrieve papers left to him by a deceased uncle. They meet and their stories unfold to shed light on a region's history and people's lives. Ghosh is just masterful in my humble opinion!

As is the case with most good books the book is also about ideas. Do we live our lives as masters of poetry or prose? Do we value the ideal, the dream, the mystical and intuitive or the straightforward, empirical and pragmatic? "The Tide" so dramatically depicted in this book is a metaphor for the ebb and flow of life. He also explores the importance and meaning of language and the incredible ties people have to the land. This is a lovely, lovely book.
A few other recommendations (of many many!):
Jhumpa Lahiri - The Namesake (also a great Mira Nair movie)
Kiran Desai - The Inheritance of Loss
Thrity Umrigar - The Space Between Us
Amitav Ghosh - The Glass Palace

Nepali Writers of note:
Samrat Upadhay - Arresting God in Kathmandu, The Royal Ghosts
Manjushree Thapa - Forget Kathmandu (non fiction - we keep losing and rebuying this book!)

Happy reading!

* The cover art from Amazon doesn't compare to the gorgeous south Asian edition which has a silhouetted fishing boat in the reeds. Oh well!

Sunday, June 14, 2009

Good Bye: The Last Day of School

Oh my it was quite a day on Friday. The girls only had a half day and most of it was taken up by the "Happy Trails" assembly. It was a boo hoo fest I tell you. After various performances by the different age groups there were good byes for the graduating seniors, the departing teachers, retiring local staff and the departing families. In an expat school there are huge goodbyes every year but this time it was us doing the leaving! I stood next to another Mom whom I just love and whom I have served with both inside and outside the school - sigh sigh sigh, cry cry cry.

It has been a happy three years for my girls at this school. It has been my introduction to formal education from a parents' perspective and I learned a lot. We are about to enter a drastically different arena for the next couple of years in terms of schooling and we'll see how that goes!

Apart from the final assembly I thought the school did a fantastic job helping my kids with this transition. Both of their teachers had books made with pictures and notes from their classmates. They gave us a workbook to work through with the girls to help them put a narrative to their experiences.

In my attempts to be highly intentional about the kids getting closure and saying proper good byes the girls invited their classmates to Punkie Universe (a germ fest kiddie wonderland!) for a good bye party. Even though we won't be leaving for six more weeks most families high tail it out of Kathmandu for the summer break the minute school gets out. I just didn't want them to wander out of school the last day and feel that they didn't get to say goodbye to their friends.

During the next few weeks they will say more good byes to people and places that have become home to them. I don't know what this transient lifestyle will mean for each of them though I imagine each will respond in their own way. I hope we can magnify the positive aspects and minimize the negative ones of course. In reality I am not sure there is much control over these things.

They understandably have mixed feelings. They will grieve what they have left behind yet be excited about what lies ahead. Only time will really tell the piece of Nepal that they will carry with them in their hearts and minds.

Now, what are we going to do for the summer? Nothing like planning ahead - smile.


Thursday, June 11, 2009

The Thailand Trip!

I love to capture the image. I hate to edit it. This is a bit of a hindrance in the furthering of my photography skills! Now possibly when we move home and upgrade our computer situation it may turn from being tedious to fun. Other people seem to think editing is a blast! I ramble.

This week's (ok I am SO late that it is almost last week's) assignment at I Heart Faces is just to document a family vacation. Since, in fact, I had ours on the hard drive and hadn't edited any of the pictures this was my opportunity. And my family can finally see them! Thank you Faces for your encouragement - smile.

One very, very fun by product of living in Kathmandu is that if you are going to take a vacation it by definition is going to be a unique experience. I am beach person - my husband likes the mountains. Since we live in the Himalayas, guess where we got to vacate the last three years - the beach! Going to the beach from the 'Du means going to Thailand. It is very accessable, only a three hour flight, and it is where nearly everyone from here goes to get away. We tried a different place every year. I really do worry about my kids thinking this is normal. Next year they are going to ask me if we can go to Thailand for Spring Break. I will respond to them something along the lines of ... "Reality time my wee ones! No way Jose!!!".

First stop ... Bangkok for the weekend.

Kit is just a little excited about getting soaked on a long tailed boat ride!

Beautiful Thai temple architecture along the river.

I have a picture of myself doing this twenty something years ago when I was backpacking in Asia. I have to say it never occurred to me that I would take a picture of my kids in the same pose! Swift isn't so sure what he is doing.


The female lions have the cub at their feet, the males a ball.

This guide deserved (and got!) a huge tip. When Forty Pounds Of Love himself just gave up trying to walk the guide scooped him up and minutes later he was conducting his tour in this pose - never skipped a beat.

Still sleeping ...

They are hot, they are tired (did I mention it was really, really, hot?) but they are willing to humor Mommy for a minute.

Temple guardians at the Grand Palace.

After trekking around with the grown ups they definitely deserved a treat!

Yes - daily I tell my kids about WILY strangers. Don't you? Grin.

We did have a kid centered day when we went to the aquarium and a park but since Bill was still in Kathmandu and his Mom and I were wrangling the kids in kagillion degree heat ... I left the camera in the safe that day. Oh well.

Next stop, Phuket. Ahhhhh now we're talking.

Circus afternoon for the kids. This was just way too much fun for an hour. Look at these faces!

Finally, some dinner and sunsets.

The daily sunset lighting ceremony.

What is it about the sunset that lowers your blood pressure and makes you breathe more slowly? I don't know but I'll take it.

I didn't get any pictures of my husband or my mother in law (or me). There really were grown ups on this trip ... really.

Thanks Faces for making me do this!

Friday, June 5, 2009

Mango Gingerbread!

It is mango season again in Kathmandu. They are plentiful and inexpensive and oh how my kids will get a reality check when we move home and they cannot consume eight of these a day! I know Trader Joes carries frozen mango though - perfect for this type of recipe (and Mango Margaritas too!).

I can't claim credit for finding this recipe - WonderMarcela my chef friend did - but I will so happily share it as it is just so incredibly delish! I reprinted the recipe below straight from Epicurious but since I am allergic to nuts I prepared it with just a simple glaze. (I forgot to take a picture after I cut the loaves ... and then it was GONE.)



Streusel :
1/3 cup finely chopped lightly salted dry-roasted macadamia nuts
1/4 cup sugar
2 1/2 tablespoons finely chopped crystallized ginger

2 cups all purpose flour
3/4 cup (packed) golden brown sugar
1 1/2 tablespoons ground ginger
2 teaspoons baking powder
1 teaspoon baking soda
1/4 teaspoon salt
1 pound ripe mangoes, peeled, pitted
1/2 cup buttermilk
1/4 cup canola oil
2 large eggs

For streusel:
Stir all ingredients in small bowl to blend.

For gingerbread:
Position rack in center of oven and preheat to 350°F. Butter 9x9x2-inch metal baking pan. Whisk first 6 ingredients in medium bowl to blend. Coarsely puree mangoes in food processor. Transfer 1 cup mango puree to large bowl (reserve any remaining puree for another use). Add buttermilk, oil, and eggs to puree; whisk until blended. Add flour mixture; stir just until combined. Transfer half of batter (about 2 cups) to prepared pan. Sprinkle half of streusel over. Spoon remaining batter over, smooth evenly with spatula, then sprinkle with remaining streusel.
Bake bread until springy to touch and tester inserted into center comes out clean, about 45 minutes. Cool completely in pan on rack. (Can be made 8 hours ahead. Cover and store at room temperature.) Cut bread into 9 squares and serve.

Monday, June 1, 2009

Anatomy of a Bandh Day

A bandh day isn't all that bad sometimes. (See here if you are wondering what in the heck I am talking about.)
6:30 AM
The phone rang, radio squawked, and I checked email. School was closed, the Embassy was closed (but Bill went in because, well, he always goes in), all planned events were cancelled.
9:00 AM
Children decided to be prolific in their production of artwork. There were no less than THIRTY little paintings drying on the pantry floor.

Lindsay - The Blue Period

My little artists ... littlest one AWOL at the moment.

I made Mango Gingerbread while the kids painted. This is worthy of its own post! Fabooo!

We had "Mommy School" where I attempted to homeschool for the day. Fortunately, at this life stage they think this is a really fun "game"! If this was our reality it might be a whole 'nother story.

Bill came home for both lunch and dinner. Yahoooo!

I started the GREAT TOY PURGE I have been procrastinating doing. Oh. my. goodness. We have an astonishing, embarrassing number of toys. We culled broken ones out and then organized the "giveaway" pile on my bed. Kit would OK an item, Lindsay would veto it - and vice versa. I told them I was just going to make an executive decision when they were at school - this resulted in some unity within the ranks thankfully. Did I mention that we have more toys than FAO Schwartz? At any rate, we made some progress. Mostly the exercise just highlighted how far we have to go in the next six weeks before packing out! But I'm not stressed about it at all (nose growing).

Off to scrub some faces and read some stories before bed.