Thursday, May 28, 2009

Art appreciation

As some of you know, I spent about four years travelling around India and Nepal, and about two of those were following HH the Dalai Lama to his many places of teaching and discourse throughout India.

Nowadays, some wags probably consider that stalking. There was a day when it was considered pilgrimage. That's what you do with saints, in the Hindu and Buddhist tradition. Saints don't stay in one place, they keep travelling. You follow them around.

Anyway, some of my favourite moments were in and around the teaching sites, where "Life's Rich Pageant" coalesces.

This photo was taken one morning in 2006 at Sarnath, Uttar Pradesh at the Central Institute of Tibetan Higher Studies, where everyone was queuing for the metal detector to get into teachings.

Last week, I received some Art Appreciation from a Flickr user named East Med Wanderer:

Great shot! All life is there - it has the quality of composition of one of the great master painters. And with a point and shoot - terrific!

Sometimes that's all it takes to make your day, or week. One of the great master painters probably would include the entire face of the purple-wearing woman at left, though - for compositional balance. That way, there would be two women facing each outside corner.

I can no longer post the larger versions of the photos - they kept getting stolen off the blog site. You can view (but not right-click) a larger version here.

Wednesday, May 27, 2009

Independent, Indigenous, International

In Kathmandu

The Nepal International Indigenous Film Festival opens tomorrow. Here's the website and schedule.

Screenings will be at Bhrikutimandap - the Nepal Tourism Board hall and the City Hall, across the road from one another. (I think it's also called Pradarshini or Exhibition Road.) Films run through Sunday, May 31.

Admission is a refreshing 30NRs (about fifty cents) with a discount for card-carrying students.

I'm looking forward to entries about the Lepcha (the original peoples of Sikkim) and the Saami of "Lapland," said to be the last Caucasian peoples living a tribal lifestyle.

Wonder if I can crash the opening ceremony ("for invited guests only")?

Nepal ra Buddhadharma ko blog chha

Just found a Buddhist blogsite with an incredible sidebar of Buddhist online resources. Yes, they (Enlightenment Ward) do link yours truly, somewhere down on the sidebar.

More relevant and regionally-related blogs - these should give some windows into what daily life "looks like" over here, in the city at least.

Mikel Dunham: I was really pleased to find this site; the author of Buddha's Warriors evidently lives here in the Mandu and is a very active commentator on contemporary Nepal including Nepolitics.

Morten Svenningsen: Tireless documentor of daily life including protests, bandhs, shutdowns and so forth here in Kathmandu.

Roaming Redde: my friend Rene's daily adventures living and teaching English among Tibetan monks here in Boudha.

Snow Lion Foundation: All-Tibet all the time website; news, articles and blog.

You're Welcome!

Monday, May 25, 2009

Born to be mild?

Warning: for music geeks only
In Kathmandu

The latest American Idol asked contestants to sing songs released the year they were born. Adam Lambert sang Tears For Fears' "Mad World" (1980s) and Danny Gokey sang "Kiss From a Rose (maybe 1990). (Don't laugh. These guys were awesome. Really!)

Without revealing the exact year, I couldn't help wondering what I would sing for Simon. What was on the charts when I popped out?

I think I would have to sing: "Ring of Fire" by Johnny Cash,
because most everything else is from a Happy Days soundtrack.

At the same time, change was in the air with the release of The Freewheelin' Bob Dylan.

Just think how early Dylan must have sounded in among all the bubblegum.

It was a Very Good Year for...
Attitudinal Girl group classics:

"My Boyfriend's Back" by the Angels
"Da Doo Ron Ron" by the Crystals
"Be My Baby" by the Ronettes
"Don't Say Nothin Bad About my Baby" by Little Eva
"He's So Fine" by Chiffons
"And then He Kissed Me" by the Crystals
"It's My Party" by Lesley Gore
"Judy's Turn to Cry" by Lesley Gore (reallly obnoxious!)

The Ronettes. I knew my eyeliner and black hair came from *somewhere*

"Blue Velvet" by Bobby Vinton
"Rhythm of the Rain" by the Cascades
"Up on the Roof" by the Drifters
"Walk Like a Man" by Four Seasons
"In Dreams" by Roy Orbison (lots of David Lynch material here)

...soul and R&B Classics to strut to!:
"Walking the Dog" by Rufus Thomas
"You've Really Got a Hold On me" by the Miracles
"Baby Work Out!" by Jackie Wilson
"Mockingbird" by Inez Foxx ("bird...yeah...yeah...Yayuh")

...tough-guy songs (on Fonzie's turntable):
"(You're just the) Devil in Disguise" by Elvis Presley
"Ruby Baby" by Dion (Elvis wanna be)
"Louie Louie" by the Kingsmen
and that bit of nonsense seemingly recorded by everyone under the sun, "Little Latin Lupe Lu"

and surf music and instrumentals.

"Surfin USA" by Beach Boys
"Wipe Out" by the Surfaris
"Pipeline" by the Chantays
"Little Deuce Coupe" by Beach Boys
and the king of Surf instrumentals,
"Misirlou" by Dick Dale

Contrast these with the Dylan hits released that year:
"Blowin in the Wind"
"Girl from the North Country"
"Hard Rain's Gonna Fall"

...Think I'll stick with "Ring of Fire."


No, I haven't written here for nearly a month. I have been (among other things) "shifting" to the long-overdue new flat, and there's no net there yet (it was of course supposed to be there, promised to be there, and now isn't; so what else is new. Installing my own router will cost some 1800NRs per month -plus down payments - another hidden expense).

The new place is very high and dry; 4th floor, lots of windows and sun and air. I call it the Cuckoo's Nest.

The sheer amount of plastic required to set up a household these days is really dismaying. Garbage bins, sponges, scrub brushes, coat hangers and so forth all involve investing in the dread substance. (I tried having a kitchen rubbish bin made of something else...not nice. And metal is about three times the price.)

Then there are the cleaning items. I looked around the other day and realized how many varieties of scrubbing and cleaning devices I had acquired in 3 weeks:
-floor scrubbers;
-sponges with scrubber only on one side (you know, yellow sponge, green scrubber);
-bottle brush for those hard to reach areas;
-floor rags including both "wet rag" and "dry rag" (we don't normally use mops here);
-two different kinds of handmade straw brooms;
-toilet brush;
-squeegee for the bathroom floor,
-and coconut husks (really, they are good for scrubbing). (Those were FREE at the market.)

Okay, so I am a child of Eisenhower-era parenting. Or maybe it's a result of so many years in south Asia, where the dirt demons prowl.

Then there are all manner of other mundane things I haven't had to think of in literal years, such as hammer & nails, bathmats and doormats, bulletin board, fan, and window screens. It's easy to see how people get bogged down in fixing up their homes. Fortunately, I have limited myself to two rooms. Anything larger, and I may start collecting stuff.

I have yet to figure out the garbage schedule here. One morning a week, a truck comes by and they blow a whistle. Then you're supposed to run down and toss in your bags. You can't leave anything out the night before; there are too many stray dogs.

Drinking water has to be brought in from outside, via the neighborhood corner-store run by a very sweet couple who have Muslim names but seem to be a bit closeted otherwise about faith. (This is unusual here, where everyone wears their faith on their sleeve like people in Tennessee advertise their favourite NASCAR drivers.) A big blue tank of the best-quality drinking water is 90 NRs (like $1.40). I had to put a 500NRs refundable deposit on each tank. A kid with a push-bike delivers the water - the bike is specially outfitted with metal ring holders, like saddlebags, one on each side to hold the tanks.

Cooking gas, and also gas to heat the hot water "geyser," is a bit more pricey. It's 4500Nrs deposit (refundable) on the heavy red-metal cylinders that dispense life-giving fire here. The actual propane contents of the cylinder are 1100 Nrs or so per tank.

Then, I still had to come up with an actual gas stove. This runs anywhere from 2000Nrs to 4000 or so. I can't help wondering how average Nepalis, who make perhaps 2500 Nrs a month, come up with these deposits. That explains the kerosene cook stoves owned by the very poor (much cheaper than propane).

But, Thank Gods (there are lots of them to choose from here) the power is mostly back, and the rains appear to have started. Hope I don't jinx anything by publicly stating this.