Monday, January 2, 2012

Happy New Year 2012

Happy New Year 2012!

Sawadee Pii Mai 2012!

Naya Barsako Subakamina 2012!

For a brief update on the Kathmandu Leslie-chans:

Josh is back in Kathmandu from his junior year at SOAS in London and Ezra from his last year at Deep Springs (ranch) College in California.

Josh is really enjoying his diverse London life off Russell Square with a mix of old friends from Nepal, NMH and Georgetown with new ones made at SOAS. He's the big brother to his four British Muslim flatmates; while digging academically deeper into his political economics courses as he improves his reading and writing in Nepali.  The world of finance, politics and global events intrigue him even more as his understanding of world economics grows.

Ezi heads into his last  semester at DSC which means he has to apply to transfer to a new college for his last two years by early March. He's been studying Plato, Hegel and Marx this past term while learning auto mechanics and maintaining the machinery on the ranch-farm.  Next term he'll be working in the kitchen preparing meals for the 50+ students and staff while continuing his intellecual studies in the depth and course of Western political philosophy. 

Both boys have been thrilled to be home these paste few weeks, relaxing in their own bedrooms, having Gita serve them her sweet, milky tea and popcorn in the mornings, draining the dal bhaat for lunch and hanging w/ their Kathmandu friends from childhood who are back for the break, as well, (Silas, Norbu, Karuna, Sasha, James, Adhish...) in the TV room behind the fireplace, far from their parents upstairs.

Our quickly growing, not-so-little 5th grader, Ms. Leah Rose, of course, is delighted to have her truly BIG brothers home, as long as they spend a bit of time playing with HER, too. She has her four dogs and cat, Cobie, to play with not to mention Esther and Priya who are often full-time weekend guests, when the boys are otherwise occupied. 

Leah's had a great school year with wonderful, exceptional teacherd at Lincoln.  Patrick, Regina and Nancy have guided her studies so wisely and built her confidence that we are so proud and thankful to see her improvement.  Our little one dreams of being a vet volunteer (her favorite books...) while continuing to color and design everything in front of her eyes.

We have all survived the painful winter chill (no central heating over here...) by enjoying our new Nepali wood-burning sauna installed on the roof behind the loggia a few weeks ago by Rohit, the master carpenter.  We have had plenty of evenings up there escaping the cold winter in that sweltering pinewood Finnish closet. Then, after cleansing our body and mind, open the door to see the clear skies, molten moon and sparkling stars at night when we emerge refreshed to sleep gently in that cold night.

But, enough can be enough. The winter will last until mid-February, so we left Kathmandu for Thailand the other day for ten days in Bangkok and on the beach at Koh Samui.

Alas, we had to bid adieu to Ezi in Bangkok as he spent the day relaxing at the Anantara by the Chao Praya while we got up early for our flight to Koh Samui. Deep Springs starts again on the 3rd, so Ez took the long night's flight from BKK to LAX, leaving on the 31st and arriving on the 31st, courtesy that curious international dateline.

We flew down with a sense of loss after having had nearly three lovely weeks together as a family of five which, as we all learn, becomes rarer and rarer as our children go alone into the world outside...

Still, when we return, our regular day-to-day normal life will continue in Kathmandu.

Shakun recently returned from a world peace prayer ceremony at Bodh Gaya in India and is busier than ever w/ her Indigenous Nepali Buddhist Association while she looks for a new place off of Durbar Marg to relocate her boutique. Shakun's deeply absorbed by these historical socio-political changes in Nepali societ.  She is a purrfect example of the rapidly growing, increasingly diverse Nepali civil society being created around new structures, identities and opportunities.

For me, my three fascinating, absorbing, stimulating years with UNDP on the constitution drafting leading the civil society and social inclusion teams drew to an end last month as the Constituent Assembly comes closer (we hope...) to finalizing Nepal's new constitution. It was a fantastic period of time working under the aegis of the UN. 

This work built on the foundation I'd begun with Save the Children and the National Human Rights Commission creating trusting relations with Dalit, Indigenous and Madhesi leaders and communities.  I also had the opportunity to work closely with UNHCR and Unicef on the question of citizenship rights for the new Nepal. 

These activities gave me the opportunity to assist senior Nepali political leaders and marginalized communities bridge the gaps in their understandings and agreements to create a more democratic, inclusive and secure Nepal for the future.  These sensitive and yet hopeful issues will continue to be at the heart of creating the Nepal of the 21st century.  It's been an honor and joy to be part of the process!

En challah, there will be new personal and professional possibilities for both of us in 2012. 

While we look forward, as well, to seeing dear old friends, making new ones and having time with our beloved children and families in the new year.

We wish the same and more for all who share this fleeting, absorbing world with us!

Shanti Shalom to all!

my affection, Keith

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