Tuesday, February 15, 2011

No Elecrticity, but Life is Still Good

It's 5:30 am and I've been at the computer since before 4 am.

The bijuli (electricity) in Nepal is so uncertain and infrequent that we're asleep b/n 9 and 10 pm these days, as soon as Leah finishes her homework. We only get ten hours a day these days, once in the day and once in the middle of the night. Fourteen hours (two seven hour shifts) w/o electricity; it's almost inhumane. So, when it's the middle of the night and I sense that the electricity has come on, I wake up to check email and news (particularly English football...).

Tonight, there's also been some wicked February thunder and maybe rain (I haven't checked outside yet...). Leah woke up a few minutes ago to ask me what the noise was. The sound of thunder really frightens her -- but Shakun is asleep w/ her, and no doubt Cobie the kitten, too, so she's ok...

These days, Shakun is also totally absorbed by her national indigenous peoples Buddhist monlam (puja) this coming Sunday. She's expecting tens of thousands of folks from all over Nepal to attend. The revered and controversial Shamarpa is coming from Sikkim to offer his prayers while the venerable Choki Nigma Rimpoche from Boudha is organizing the puja. Nepal's president is supposed to come, as well.

Shaku was made the head of the Nepal Himalayan Buddhist Indigenous Federation, a newly created organization. Given her extending network of friends and colleagues throughout Nepal, when the next people's democracy movement comes to Nepal, don't be surprised to see my dear wife standing up front of the humble masses...

Of course, Shakun's also exhaused by all of this, but she says her father had hoped to do such a Buddhist major monlam in his lifetime, but never could, so she's channeling her Dad, as well, in creating this maha-inclusive, Nepali Buddhist ceremony during this time of national political and social change.

I had a lovely lunch at Kai and Susan's on Sunday w/ Manjushree Thapa and her partner, Daniel Lak (the ex-BBC corresponsdent here), plus a Polish boss of Sue's. Shakun was busy, of course. But fun conversation on South Asian politics, the Middle East, of course, the Jaipur Literary festival and Kai and Manju's writings. A bit of each of our personal histories thrown into the mix, as well.

I rode Josh's motorcycle over -- good fun, but these roads are a damn more dangerous these days (much more than when I last drove a motorcyle in the mid-80s...) with the intense amount of traffic, trucks, cars and even other motorcycles in our almost modern Kathmandu. I try to be careful and cautious, especially when coming home from Christopher's the other night after the liverpool-Chelski game... Somewhere around Chapli Gaon, I began to wonder what I was doing here and where I was going. Existential thoughts that come, I suppose, after 27 years in Nepal and nearly 57 years of life. It was after midnight already. A bit like Frost's poetry, dark and strange, zipping along on a motorbike...

"whose woods these are I think I know, but his house must be in the village though..."

Ok, it's 5:45 am, so I'm going to lie down for a bit before starting another day tomorrow. Work is good. My contract is until April 11th, but they say that I'm the new Deputy Program Manager (no longer sr. Civil Society Manager, it appears...), so it cud be extended to the end of 2011, as the constitution may take that long to finalize. But even witht he delays, the intense politics, the uncertainties, the lack of elecrticity, the terrible traffic, it's still fun, stimulating and encouraging, so we'll see.

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