Tuesday, February 24, 2009

Springtime, Good Work, Leah Rose and a Sacred Garden

To the joy of her fans, spring has sprung once again in Kathmandu already. Even before the 15th of February, the usual date of the seasonal transition here, spring was charmingly in the air at the start of the month.

According to the meteorologists, this was the warmest winter in decades in Nepal and getting MUCH warmer now. Already, the peach & apricot trees have been flowering in the backyard. These gorgeous pink, red and white buds have opened with their usual magic to delight the eyes and swoon the bees.

It's been so warm during the days that I've been watering my young bamboo out in the tail end of our land (where Leah and I are in the process of creating a bamboo rock garden over the coming years). I'm half expecting my beloved bamboo 'tusa' (shoots) to come up even before the end of the month.

Arise young Phyllostachtus, Arise, Species of All Orders! Spring is in the Air!

When not in the garden on the w/ends or at UNDP working on the civil society initiative. This past weekend I attended a workshop in Godavri w/ our 16 NGOs who will be implementing our 'Democracy Dialogue' (Loktantric Sambad) initiaitve out in the districts after this facilitators training of trainers (TOT). We've chosen an impressive & diverse collection of 'historically marginalized' commpeople from all over Nepal with special emphasis on the Indigenous, Dalits, Madhesi and people from the remote regions, like Rapti and Karnali out in the MW/FW of Nepal. It's a great project that will definitely allow these communities a serious opportunity to participate in the writing of a new Nepali constitution. I've been working, basically fulltime since November, and finding much fulfillment in helping to create this program w/ colleagues here in UNDP.

I also had a enjoyable lunch w/ Kai Bird critiquing his fascianating new book. Kai's let me read chapters as he produces them -- a memoire about his and Susan's divergent family histories. While Kai was raised of good Tillichian Protestant American stock who became Arabists while in the US State Department, Susan is the daughter of Austrian Holocaust survivors. It's a double helix of 20th century realities where the personal drama is interwoven with the agonized history of both Europe and the Middle East. Kai's childhood in East Jerusalm ensured that his life would be fixated on a just and peaceful resolution of that painful world epic, alas. Although there is no simple paradigm, Kai struggles to find an optimistic end, while I encourage him to live in the reality of the unresolved dilemma. Personally, I enjoy the intellectual & creative play of trying to query and refine his story; it's such different work than i've done before, but I love the interplay of words & ideas on a subject that is close to the heart...

Besides my avocations, Ms. Leah's been in a cheerfully good mood these days. When she's not playing w/ Gumbi or Kali, her favorite dogs, she's been helping me in the garden in the evening after work and school. She a serious gardener and loves, as much as Shaku & I, being out in the cultivated wilderness we've created behind our home.

I took the other afternoon off, so Leah and I were digging out the large boulders in the far back tail of our land. Ms. Leah Rose has this 10" bamboo stick that Tek dai made her. It's her instrument of choice. She pounds it with a flat stone into the hard soil to loosen the soil, then tells me to dig there! I'm her slave. Leah Das (as the Hindoos would say...).

Then, when we're done digging out the hard, baked soil between the boulders, she starts to preparesa camp fire. She loves the warmth of the fire and light of the flame after the sun sets and the stars twinkle above in the quiet of the neighborhood. She's already built a few fires out there among the big boulders, where she's placed her ring of stones. It's actually quite a good campsite. When the real Moso bamboo ("Crouching Tiger" type) comes up there in a couple of years, it'll be truly beautiful and sacred place.

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