Tuesday, 20 October 2015

Namaste Kathmandu!

Well, another year, another  journey. I must admit that this has been one of the more  challenging  trip, but also one of the most successful  one in terms of projects achieved. I am immensely  proud of what KIKN has helped to achieve in the 2 schools , the 2 orphanages and the 38 children we sponsor for education

KIKN has seen  it's third University  student embarking on her journey -to become a teacher  in 3 years' time. We are so excited  and proud of  Apsara's achievement  so far, fully aware of  the battles she has faced and the hardship  endured before today.

Many of our sponsored  children are  reaching the teen age. For many years, I have noticed no change in height/ size of  the children. I did wonder whether this generation will be small like their parents. However, this year has seen many of them growing much taller and rounded. A most welcoming sight. The growth spurt has obviously been happening in the last 12 months. They are becoming  good looking young men and young ladies! So lovely to see!

The Open Day gave me the opportunity  to renew  my acquaintances  with the mums.Hopefully  they will take on board what Uma said about  their role in their children's education.  It is not enough that KIKN works to give them a life line. The  parents must play their part as well

A lot of of hard work has gone into this month long  visit, further consolidating KIKN's projects and it's profile in Kathmandu.  What is left now is the various  reports/ updates I need to produce to better  inform the trustees back at base. I can see lots of paper work ahead  on my return.

So, Namaste Kathmandu , till I see you again😊😊😊😊

Friday, 16 October 2015

2015 visit- KIKN Open Day

The time is fast approaching  when  I  will  be  saying goodbye to Uma and all the children. KIKN will hold our annual Open day this afternoon. It is our hope that as many parents  as possible  will come with their children. This is the only time when Uma and I  actually  meet most of the mums, and give them all a parcel of winter jacket, tracksuits,  underwear ,socks etc.. We then enjoy a good feast , something we all look forward to each year.

This trip has been fruitful, but challenging at times. Maybe the aging process  makes one more emotional  rather than pragmatic, an approach which has served me well over the  years. It is certainly  harder to stay  pragmatic  these days when one is faced with so much sorrow  and loss. I just feel grateful for what we have and enjoy in the west.

KIKN has achieved much, but so much more can be done ,resources  permitting.  As expected, I have received shopping lists from the schools, albeit not a long one for a change! The lists  of needs and wants will form the basis for discussion  and will guide the trustees to formulate  a project plan for 2016.

KIKN has been fortunate to have attracted several funding streams successfully since the earthquake.  These has helped us to provide more help to families than we originally planned. Onwards and Upwards for KIKN !

The Open Day

Uma and I prepared clothes parcels for 33 children plus 5 young ladies who are in year 12 (Upper 6)and university education. .The turn out was almost complete. It was my 8th year, therefore most of the mums know me well. They know we try to help  their children to  go on to have  better lives through education, and they are grateful. However some are unable to look beyond the urgent need  of putting the next meals at the table. I empathised with that. Uma and I do accept that we cannot win them all, but to support where we can until such time when they finish their secondary education

 Uma said some of the mums  have been asking when will KIKN  start the sponsorship program again. It would appear that they have been asking  since last year's Open Day , and again today. It is something that I will take back to the trustees for discussion. KIKN just about manage the 38 children now. It will largely dependent on Uma and myself in how we see ourselves  managing the sponsoring process with  additional children.

As part of Child protection procedure, I am duty bound to read all the letters the children have written to their sponsors and vice versa. Many of them wanted to say thank you for the £100 KIKN have given them following the earthquake- a very wise counsel from Uma at the time  even though it went against the grain. KIKN has never handed cash to individual families until then. It was always in kind, purchased by Uma. It was heartening to read many of the letters repeating the same theme .Our decision was the right one at the time, thanks to Uma who has  bags of insight and common sense, as always.

I came across some heart breaking pleas in some of the letters. They all come from the true orphans at the Parapokar Orphanage where KIKN started the sponsorship program last year , beginning with 5 girls and a boy. In their letters to their sponsors, they are asking their sponsors if they can be their parents/grandparents substitute? They even drew  pictures of a  father and a mother with them as the daughter in the middle. I need to think how to handle letters like that before I forward them to their sponsors. Sponsors do what they do  out of generosity and a desire to help. It may be off putting for some to receive letters like that , totally unexpected and alien scenario to find themselves in.

This is the first time I have come across this type of requests from our sponsored children .The general theme  tended to be asking the sponsors to come to Nepal to visit them espousing the beauty of Nepal, and to meet them at long last. May be I am reading too much into these. Maybe they are just muses of teenage fantasies, and nothing more than that.... or could they have been put up by the staff in the Orphanage ? Or could it merely reflects the desperate desire of these poor children to have an identity, some thing/ some one they can call their own?  Is KIKN up to the job of fulfilling that angle if that is the case ? I  really don't know.....I need to think...........

Reflecting on the challenges  of working in Nepal........ There is  always something new and unexpected that I can learn from; there are some things that I have to accept regardless of how I feel about them (against my values), but  most of all, respect the decision they have made for themselves no matter what. The one thing I have learnt from working with them is that they are immensely resilient and are survivors . And I have huge respect  for the unsung heroes in all  the mums and dads I have come across over the years.

Saturday, 10 October 2015

Uma's Children

Having stayed  at the orphanage  for the past 7 consecutive years, I have watched the children growing up  that little bit more each year, with the biggest  growth spurt seen in the last 2 years. I lamented at the passing years, but also take pleasure  in seeing the children  growing and developing confidently into  young adults. The 3 older ones are as tall if not taller than me now.

They are all so different in their imdividual ways. Uma has done well with the children.  They are polite,  helpful  and  quietly confident.  They believe in themselves.  The older ones are developing a clear idea of what they want to be when they grow up. I suppose I brain wash them  each time when I am here into thinking 'You can be anything you want to be.  You just have to prepare to work for it'. They listened and applied themselves.  And it is reflected in their school reports . It is such a pleasure  to see how well they are doing.

One of the boys, Suzan is exceptionally  bright.  He sleeps only for @5 hours each night. His bedtime reading is the  Science Encyclopedia. He is very good with building and making things.  He has built a mini generator  that works from bits of wire, blocks of wood etc.. This generator can power the television during the power cut. Any repair  around the house is undertaken by Suzan.  He sorts out the plumbing,  damaged shower heads etc. He wants to be  an aeronautical  engineer when he leaves school. And I believe he will be.Uma has asked if KIKN  can explore the feasibility of  finding potential colleges who may be interested in his academic development.  I will try to find that information  my  return to UK

The 3 older girls are growing up gracefully. One is interested in fashion. She is very bright in her study but unsure of what she wants to do eventually.. The oldest is interested to explore doing medicine which mean long period of study and personal sacrifice. The youngest of the 3 still a little way away from knowing her mind.The 2 boys are clear.  One an aeronautical  Engineer and the other a policeman.

It was really nice to cosy up to them some evenings and talked about school, London, teenage fashion,travel and  life in general. . It is not surprising  therefore, that when asked about their biological families up in the mountains, none of them is interested to go back to look them up when they grow up and working. That seems to be the unanimous view amongst the 8 of them. It reflects the extend of hurt, hidden anger and rejection they must feel by their families.It is understandable  when you think only one or two of the parents bother to visit them may be once a year or every 2 years .And it tends  to be prior to  the festivals. Lets just say the children are not impressed at all.

All things considered,  these children cope very well with Uma giving them the  love and stability they need. And it  comes with the increased opportunities to have a good life too. I guesss they are the lucky ones......

Wednesday, 7 October 2015

The Boys' Orphanage @ Parapokar-Durrkot

Uma and I took an early morning taxi ride to deliver a big parcel for one of our sponsored  children, Deepok. The name Deepok or Deepak means Light. It is a very popular name for a boy in Nepal.Within my limited circle of acquaintances, I know at least 4 who are named Deepak/Deepok/ Deepesh/Dipesh. I used to think how can I have so much difficulty in remembering a simple name like Deepak? thinking it was me who keep mishearing the pronounciation! Laugh. ......

During my short visit in April (just before the earthquake),  I met  some of  Uma 's volunteers  who  were  interested in KIKN’S work. They came on some home visits  with us, and saw at first hand the dire  home  conditions  the local children  were living in. Some of them then became interested in our work .Denny M was working in the boys Orphanage @ Parapokar. He went on to sponsor Deepok through KIKN. His friend Alex,  also went on to sponsor a child at Parapokar. KIKN has supporters from across the globe, but they are our first sponsors from outside of UK.  They  both live in Hamburg in Germany.

Parapokar is the oldest orphanage established in Kathmandu   by philanthropy.  It has its schools  in its own ground. The boys' quarter was first set up in its original building followed  by  the girls'  much later. They are strictly run as 2 separate entities, with a fence dividing the schools as well.Only male volunteers  are allowed to work in the boys side and similarly for the girls.

During the earthquake, the old buildings on the boys side were badly damaged. It was not habitable. So they had to move lock, stock and barrel to the outskirt of Kathmandu, a remote village called Durrkot. That included the teachers, and all the resident staff. Uma and I saw many  children, but have no idea the number involved.

KIKN sponsor 5 girls from Parapokar.  I was able to meet them and hand over their sponsors' letters/ cards/treats etc to them personally soon after my arrival.Time was marching on. With the petrol crisis, it was impossible for Parapokar staff to bring Deepok to meet me at  Uma's. Having done  the journey,  I appreciate  the difficulty  they have to fund the journey. In the event we took one of their sick boys to a hospital in Kathmandu  on our return journey .

Deepok is a small 11 year old orphan. He is soft spoken, and is self contained.He seems to be a happy child. He was dellighted to see us. It was totally unexpected. His face said it all. Denny sent a big parcel to me before I left UK. There was a football t-shirt,  always a boy's favourite  plus post cards, photos, giant artist chalks and others. It was so touching to see him standing there holding this pile of gifts that  reminded him of their times together in April. He was overwhelmed. We were too.....

Before we left, we asked him ' do you have any message you want us to tell Denny? He lifted his eyes, burning bright  and said softly ' how is he? when is he coming to see me again? '

Saturday, 3 October 2015

Children of Kathmandu 2

With the fuel ( petrol ) crisis caused by the closing of its borders, the Indian government   is playing silly games with the Nepal's economy .Being landlocked on 3 sides by India, Nepal is at the mercy of India in terms of its food, fuels and all manners of merchandise .It's no surprise that the taxis are now charging fares 3 times as much as in  the previous year.Uma and I have tried to cut down on our  taxi journeys wherever we can. We try to do one round trip  as much as we can to maximise the fare. However, some home visits needed to be done regardless.

KIKN has identified a family with 3 children living in a steel container  in the aftermath  following  the earthquake .The children attend Jana Sudhar school..The eldest, Aneta Anai is a small 14 year old in class 6. She speaks very good English. They are good students according to Raju ,the teacher who accompanied us to the home visit. Both the parents are deaf and dumb. They are casual labourers.Their daily earning , when there is work is around £4-£5 combined.

It was  a drive to the rural Kathmandu where the family lives. We saw the remaining  evidence of the destruction caused by the earthquake.  Many of the houses in central Kathmandu escaped unscathed comparatively speaking.Once we are on the outskirt, many buildings with big cracks as well those collapsed into piles of rubble are still dotted along the main thoroughfare.

On the way we were told that there are 11 members of the family who are living in this aluminium  house.There are 3 generations, including 2 uncles ,an aunt and their children.It transpired  that they have difficulty finding a house/a partment with 3 rooms. Many landlords are not keen to have such a large family to rent a room?.So they ended up there in this zinc house, built with bamboo structure inside with aluminium panels as the walls. One could see all the holes where the bamboo poles meet the aluminium  frame.They are going to be cold in winter, just like the bamboo school in Gorkha. The  difference  is they have grandparents who are in their 70s. It is going to be very hard for them

Uma and I did not like the look of the building. It is very filmsy, a gust of  strong wind could tear open the panels. It is situated on a raised and open ground. The only good thing is there is some land to grow vegetables  which they have done to be more self efficient. It is ironical  that the aluminium house is surrounded  by some real fancy building being built right next door to it

On talking to the family, I experienced for the first time the grief and sorrow of a mother who lost her young son and daughter in law during the earthquake . They were all in the house when the earthquake  struck. It happened so quickly that they did not have a chance to get out. The house just collapsed with the whole family buried in it. They had to dig themselves out. Unfortunately  her  son and daughter in law did not make it.The aunt brought out a photo and showed us the young couple. They were probably in their early 20s. The poor woman was  howling with such pain. I just didn't  know what to do or say. I touched her on her shoulder....I looked to Uma who was trying to offer some words of comfort. We both felt pretty helpless and useless  (for a change.)

The family was grateful for the grocery KIKN  bought for them. There were 30 kilos of rice, 5 kilos of flour , 6 litres of cooking oil and a crate of eggs. That should see them through for  a little while. KIKN is paying the rent for the zinc house until the budgetted money runs out. With  the rent at 12000 a month, it will keep them going  for a   year. Uma stressed that the money is only for a year,  and no more.

We left feeling somewhat overwhelmed....

Friday, 2 October 2015

The Children of Kathmandu

Uma and I met 2 of the children Luni ( Uma's daughter) sponsor . A very sad tale, it would appear  that it is very common amongst the families  from the lower socio-economic class

This little girl is 10 years old . Her brother is 5. They have been staying in a tent since the earthquake. Mother was the second wife to her first husnamd who died a few years ago. She has  since remarried and the children's stepfather is currently  in prison . She has decided that she will travel to the Middle East to seek work. She is going to leave the children in an orphanage. This little 10 year old told Uma that she wants to continue to stay in the tent and keep her brother with her, rather than going into a home.

Our hearts break for her. This amazing grown up 10 year old girl who has nothing in the world ,naively believed  that she can continue to stay in the tent alone with her younger brother. She was wiping her eyes as she was telling Uma about this. Uma asked her to tell her mother  to come and  see her. Uma might be able to find employment  for her mum to enable them to stay together as a family

While we were at Jana Sudhar School, we went into the tiffin room. There was a 7 year old girl who was helping the cook to serve  lunch to all the children present. A very sensible girl who is keen to help and  please everyone. She only sat down to have her tiffin after everyone was served. Her teacher told us that she lives with her aunt and uncle. Her parents live up in one of the  rural villages. They live off the land. She is in Kathmandu for the opportunity  to receive an education.Her aunt is considering sending her back to her parents   because they can longer support her. Uma wants to know if it is only the education cost or the whole upkeep as well that is the reason behind their decision . She may be able to get one of her children to sponsor her. We wait to see if that is a possibility

Apsarah is one of KIKN sponsored  6th formers. She is 18 years of age. She came to collect  the sponsor's letter  having just finished her final exam. She is now waiting  for her results to come through. All being well, she should  start her Diploma in Education (to be trained as a teacher ) in October. I was watching her talking to Uma,  I have never seen such sad eyes in someone so young.

She lives with her older  brother who suffers from kidney failure. He receives renal dialysis twice a week from a hospital in Kathmandu.  From Nepali's perspective, this signals the end . Her brother has not long to live.  His condion is possibly at the terminal stage.  Apsarah works as a shop assistant after she finishes her class each day to help to pay the rent and food for both of them. Her parents live off the land somewhere up in the mountains.  They help when they can. With the festival  coming, I guess there isn't much in the home to celebrate.....I gave her the money to buy clothes/outfits she likes to wear in college and to bring me the receipts  afterwards . In addition I gave her £40 (equivalent) from KIKN towards the housekeeping expenses for the festivals in a week's time

Each year when I am here,  I do find it increasingly hard to cope emotionally when confronted with children who are suffering and at  such a disadvantage. . I know I cannot save the world, not even Nepal, but it is still hard to accept that the divide is so wide!   Their faces haunt me when I am in UK, knowing how comfortable we are living in the land of plenty .....and the children in Nepal are trying to survive on a day to day.......

And all this is purely down to the accident of birth........


Thursday, 1 October 2015

Jana Sudhar Lower Secondary School

Uma and I paid our first visit to the school this morning. What an amazing  welcome! Instead of children lining the street in the sun ( as of last year ), this year they all stayed in their respective classrooms  and came forward with their bunches of flowers. A most touching gesture to say thank you  to  KIKN's donations to enable the school to have a computer lab, a new library, canteen to prepare  free meals for 180 nusery children,classroom furniture ,a water purifier and a new Science lab to come.

They were indeed, very grateful,The water purifier was built into the fabric of the school.Three of the classrooms were flattened  during the earth quake. They are waiting for the government to fund the rebuilding. UNICEF and World Vision funded the building of the bamboo classroom in the aftermath.  Unfortunately the classes were constantly invaded by the monkeys from the nearby Swambu Temples and snakes crawling out from the surrounding woods . In the end, the children had to vacate and move back to the safety of the rather overcrowded class rooms.

As I entered each classroom, I was humbled by a great swell of emotion, seeing how hungry these children are to learn. They are keen to grasp the opportunities to learn and better themselves. They understand the importance  of a good education, even at the tender age of 9/10 years.  I had to fight hard to push down a lump in my throat. The faces of the children said it all. They are  grateful for everything KIKN has done to equip their school with so many new facilities. This makes the relentless  fund raising  work in UK worthwhile.

Uma and I were honoured in the traditional way. ..With a tikka on our forehead and a red Tibetan prayer scarf


Tuesday, 29 September 2015

Life in Kathmandu

This is the first time I am having to sleep up on the top floor . My normal room next to Uma's is now the bridal suite.  It will be out of bound from now on.The top floor room is originally an open area, but half the space has been converted  into a room by putting a sheet of cardboard across it. Uma has kindly put up a walled  fan because she knows how desperate I need it in order to sleep well. It's the  one and only luxury I have here.😊

The top  floor opens into the roof terrace. It is where the washing is hanged to dry. Nobody comes out here except for hanging the washing. I used it each morning to do my qigong, something I have started to learn before coming here. It helps  to give some structure  to my day , and it is a form of exercise  which have been sadly lacking since my arrival almost 10 days  ago. The houses here are built hickledy pickledy , with no planning permission  , or so it seems to me. This results in houses being built right against the next house with very little space between them. The ethos is to maximising the floor space for living areas

Each day when Uma's neighbour wakes @ 5 am for their daily prayers, it usually wakes me up. I  then promply fall asleep again after they have finished. I thiink they are Buddhists. This is no difference to Malaysia where the Imam  from the local mosque broadcast his morning prayer across the land, calling his loyal flock to observe Allah's teaching each day

Some times Uma would joke and join in her neighbour's coversation,  mouthing to me  her make believe  responses. We have a good laugh. Uma speaks normally, but her neighbour speaks very loudly. It is quite normal for a conversation to sound like  a row between two people to uninitiated ears but it is not.

So each day when I am doing my qigong exercise on the roof terrace, I have little faces (2 young children live there) literally staring at me with  curiosity from a metre away. They will be tiptoeing from  their roof terrace, with their mother going up and  down the stairs which are built outside of the house. It is  a very weird  looking  family home.

On the odd occasion  when they have late nights, I will have late nights as well. That make life interesting. I have often felt I was amongst them in the middle of the party.

Surprisingly, there are abundant  wild life here, A large snowy barn owl flew across the terrace only yesterday while I was hanging out my washing.It was a most beautiful bird , white with golden wings. Surprisingly, there are birds of prey hovering around looking for  dinner. Then we have the monkeys who come down from the temples looking for food. I think they are the probable reasons for washings to be disturbed sometimes. Then there are the rats which our children love to chase and kill if they come across them. I still maintain that the stray dogs  are vegetarians. People cannot afford to keep dogs as  pets.Therefore whatever scraps they manage to scavenge, it will be meagre and infrequent.That  probably explain why they are found sleeping in the drain, middle of the road, anywhere and everywhere throughout the day.  They are docile and non aggressive which is not my experience of stray dogs in Malaysia and elsewhere in the world

One of the hardest thing on this trip is climbing the very  steep stairs to my room. It is especially so when I have to get up in the middle of the night. I have to be  wide awake to grip the iron railings as I go down the narrow slat  sized stairs gingerly. So it is a major operation each day. I will ensure I pack all my essentials - my note book, tablet, phone, chargers etc into my shoulder bag before I go down for breakfast to avoid unnessary stair climbing. I have to say it does not always work...especially in my senior moments .

Last but not least, the washing of clothes.I do find drawing water from the well is increasingly becoming a huge challenge. Children will help if they are around. Then to climb 2 flights of stairs to hang them... maybe I am getting too old for this ? I suppose 7 years is a fair period  for one to notice one's changing level of flexibility and strength.......I must admit this is the only time of the year when  I do feel my age! -having to squat while doing hand washing with water drawn from the well! It's like doing cross training without the benefits ! πŸ˜•πŸ˜•

Sunday, 27 September 2015

Chalk and Cheese - Our Sponsored Children

Having returned from Gorkha yesterday, my remaining  day was taken up  meeting the girls from Parapokar Orphanage.  What a difference a year has made to these girls. Beautiful, tall and oh so grown up. They were accompanied by their house mother and English teacher. Sudha is KIKN's most recent recruit,  sponsored by Alex, the volunteer who was here with Uma in April this year.

All the sponsors' letters were given to them individually.  It is interesting how different sponsor chose to enclose different treats for their children. Alex, the German sponsor  for Sudha, chose to send her photographs she took with her and her friends plus stickers etc.Sudha was really chafed with the gifts. She is a lovely 11 year old  who is first in her class. In fact, all the girls  are in the top 3 positions in their various classes. We are so proud of them.

And yet  it was  a totally different scenario this morning. Uma received phone calls from the  girls that some of them have failed in their exams . The school is refusing to release the reports until they come to see Uma and myself to explain themselves to us.

I came into the lounge first thing this morning to be met by the girls looking sheepish and concrite  with Uma talking sternly to them about the poor results. Everyone has failed in not one, but 5/6 subjects with the exception of Sunita.  We will be meeting with their parents to ask for their cooperation to help to lift the standard of these girls. The bottom line is KIKN will seriously consider withdrawing sponsorship if  their results do not improve by the end of the academic year in March 2016. They have 6 months.

It was like pulling teeth, very difficult to establish the reasons for their poor performance. One particular child ,Susman was in first position in her class 2 years ago when we started  her  sponsorship. Overtime I have noticed that her results have been dropping  , but was  prepared to give her benefit of my doubts.. However, the result of the current term has seen her dropping to 6th positon,with a failure in the Science subject.. It was most disappointing.

The trouble with these girls is peer pressure.  They hang out together  everyday. They  have become bad influence  to one another.One of the girls has been excellent in winning medals in Karate competition.  For some reason, she has stopped attending the Karate  class. The reason she gave was that her Karate suit is ruined, therefore she did not feel she could attend.Even the karate  teacher has complained to Uma about it. Uma feels if we can split up the group culture,  some of them will have a chance.

It is at times like this that I am acutely aware  I am fighting a losing battle. What is the answer? I have to accept that we can't  help everyone, but if only I can make the girls see the opportunities they are giving up .... A real pity!

Wednesday, 23 September 2015


I was  in deep slumber when I was woken up by a loud tooting this morning . It was at a god saken time- 6am. I almost jumped out of my skin.It then dawned on my fuzzy brain that my bedroom is literally on top of the bus terminus in Gorkha - a smart move by  some one ??😑😑

My feet have not touched the ground since we arrived here @ 11 am yesterday morning. Shiva and Anu have been most hospitable, bearing in mind that this visit is to enable me to assess if KIKN can work together with Progress Nepal. Having spent 8/9 solid hours with them yesterday, I feel pretty positive of our future working together

Apart from the beautiful meals we enjoyed at their home,we spent sometime exploring the local fauna while talking business.  It was a very enjoyable day, tiring though it was.

My fitness was tested severely when I climbed the 400 + steps to Gorkha Durbar- the birth place of King 's grandfather. It was a revered place of worship by the locals. It would appear that birds were sacrificed ad part of  the ritual . There were different clumps of burnt feathers littered here and there.  A young man  was carrying something burning as I climbed into the forecourt of the palace ground.

 What an amazing place! It literally perched at the peak of Gorkha mountain ( probably not the correct name). The 360 degree views were second to none. One could imagine  the king surveying his Kingdom from up high. Each year, the orange French Marigold flowers were burnt, and it's ashes taken to the Durbar Square in Kathmandu  to signify the start of  the festival  celebrations.  The Ashes must be carried on foot and  not by a motor vehicle to demonstrate their devotion and  loyalty  to the king. It is over 100 Km in distance between Gorkha and Kathmandu, and I am told that it usually takes only a day, with short cuts through the mountain paths. What fitness, even by today's standard. It would appear that the practice continues to this day.

The high street is busy and a very long one, served by many banks and shops.  It is not rural as I imagine it to be. It is like a mini Kathmandu, that's the only comparison I can think of. Being a mountainous area, the whole place was shrouded in thick mist when I looked out of the windows at 6am.  The building across the street was not visible to the eye and it was 2 hours later .The thick mists beyond the houses are obscuring the mountains from view. I would imagine it will clear by the afternoon like yesterday.It's been a non-stop cacophony  of buses blowing it's horn, humans shouting early morning greetings to one another, coupled  with the lorries' diesel engine reving. This little town starts the day early. And it is making sure that  every visitor wakes too😊😊 at the same time . It looks like the mists are returning and  is becoming dense again.It is really like a very dull grey winter's day  in UK .

Lots of military presence here, probably to do with the fact that there are numerous depots where Rescue  Relief agencies  store their supplies here. Shiva is right. People are resilient.  They have all just got on with life. Though the government have said that every household affected will be given 2 lakh  ( around £1500), they are not holding their breaths!  And I wonder why?

Here's to another good day spent  with Shiva and Anu. Back to Uma tomorrow  morning

The Day After

It is amazing how socialising can be so tiring. We spent the whole day just lounging around, sleeping off the excess.A smaller number of cousins came for lunch to help to finish off the mountain of food in the house. Everyone then promptly fell asleep in a post lunch stupor.A very similar scenarios to the Chinese household following a big celebration

It is back to normal this morning. Drawing the water from the well has just make me aware of the muscles I did not know I have.πŸ˜•πŸ˜•. Admittedly the children are around to help, that made the clothes washing less labour intensive.Conversely,the poor washer woman had a big job on her hands this morning.All the sheets and several days clothes were being washed this morning.I have done mine when the cloud started to gather in the horizon. I am keeping my fingers crossed for a dry day today, or at least long enough to dry all my washing.

Out of the blue while I was talking to Rasmila, she grapped my arm and said"it's earthquake!  Go go downstairs" panic set in. I just grapped my satchel and ran downstairs. I must admit I did not feel the earth tremour. It was there and gone. The neighbours told us that its only 4.5  on the richter scale, nothing to worry about. I must admit this is one scenario I keep playing in my head. How do I prepare for such an  occurrence? Travelling to Gorkha, the epic centre of the earthquake tomorrow has set me thinking.May be I should have a bag on standby at all times for just in case! One just never know.

Monday, 21 September 2015

The wedding and miscellaneous

I have come to the conclusion that I must have a short memory. Regardless of how many trips I have made to Kathmandu, it never fails to surprise and frustrate me about the state of  the Internet access... Last night it kept crashing each time I tried to post it on Facebook. I told myself at the 6th attempt that its then or never ! And it worked.Frustrating to say the least.

It has been like a whirl wind since I touched down on Saturday.There was no time to regain my sea legs. I was introduced to Uma's extended families the minute I walked through the gate. The wedding party ( the 4th day) was in full swing with all the relatives from both sides of the families.  The contrasts couldn't be greater - everyone in their fineries , with me  the unwashed and weary traveller after 16 hours' journey. I did feel scruffy to say the least.However, the hospitality was second to none.

Having made this annual trip for the past 7 years, I do find the journey harder each year. The recovery  from jet lag seems to the longer....Fortunately Rina,  Om ' s Home therapist is on hand to massage my migraine and other ailments away. It is a private arrangement which I am very happy to pay myself. She has such lovely healing hands.

My  initial impression of Kathmandu post earthquake is  very positive For a change, the roads that I have travelled were all littered free - an unusual sight. Then it transpired that some VI P'S were arriving from somewhere and would be taking the same route to Crown Plaza hotel ( near Uma  )for some function.It is customary for the local council to make sure that they are tarmaked and clear of litter. It is logical I suppose.

Having attended the grand wedding reception, it  was an eye opener to see how the other half lives. I did not know that the young ladies who were  in their elegant sarees and koptas can dance just as energetically as the youngsters in the West. Their silhouettes in the disco lights  became images in a dream world. Rajesh, Uma's eldest ,can out dance anyone, and with such great style and grace. His long arms and legs were like free flowing tentacles, moving to the beats of the rap music. I was mesmerised.

What impressed me most about Rajesh is his maturity and consideration for others. He is quietly confident but will solve any problem you have without fuss. He would give me his hand when  I was coming down some uneven marbled( slippery)  steps and asked me to be careful on heels.No matter how many times I called him because of  the internet connection  he would come happily and patiently logging in for me for the umpteenth time.There was never any fuss with him.

Ahh. .. the enjoyable but tiring  few days.....

Friday, 18 September 2015

The 8th annual trip to Kathmandu

In April , I made an unscheduled trip to  Kathmandu from Malaysia. A short trip which lasted only 5 days. It was a very enjoyable  time out for both Uma and me with the children. A week later, Nepal was hit by the most devastating earthquake since the 1920s. The human suffering was and still is immense and unimaginable.5 months down the road, the news headlines have  disappeared from the  world press. However I have no  doubt that my forthcoming trip will flag up many tales / incidents of human  suffering and hardship. I am somewhat anxious for the first time in as many years........as to what I am likely to encounter...

KIKN is very fortunate to be based in UK. We have received some amazing donations following our appeal. It ranged from £5 to £5,000, not only from UK supporters , but also Malaysia, Germany, South Korea and Australia. I hope to send  photographic feedback on the money we have raised and spent.

On the other hand, there is excitement in the air. Uma's son  Abhi  is getting married (15th-20th September). KIKN has been invited to the wedding . I hope to arrive in time for the all important finale- the grand wedding reception on 20th September.It is the wedding of the year  with guests coming from India, The States, UK (me) ,Europe and others .I am looking forward to  a multi-coloured fashion show, hopefully it will not  outshine Abhi's bride Mennie who is a most beautiful girl. Nepalese girls are well known not only for their looks but brain as well, given the opportunity! And Mennie is one of those!

Living in a society like Nepal, it is inevitable that the gulf between the haves and the have- nots is huge, unlike UK. The professional class live a different life style, but quietly. Everyone is mindful of what the coalition government should be doing- spending more resource (time and money) to improve the infrastructure for the populace rather than fighting each other in Parliament on reforming the constitution/ outvoting the current prime minister, thus creating more crisis and leaving the government in a state of paralysis. It is against this background that the lower socio-economic class always end up with the short straw. With the disaster of such magnitude like the earthquake in April, people in the rural community ( living up in the mountains) have come off worst. And I hope to make such a trip to the epic centre of the earthquake- Gorkha , to visit some sponsored children from another charity.

I have been informed that the journey to Gorkha is about 6-7 hours by taxi from Kathmandu. So that's how I will travel. I have been reading some  information on the earthquake in Nepal. It has been reported by 'experts' in our national press that the earth crusts are still moving. There is a risk of more earth quake to come. The question being whether it will be a small one or another biggie like the one in April and when. I have thought hard about the decision to travel to Gorkha..... I believe in fate and destiny. What will be, will be, provided I take some precautions. My  April trip to Kathmandu demonstrated just that. Had I travel a week later, I would have been caught in the devastation. Someone up there  obviously was looking after me.  :) :) Thank you, whoever you are, Buddha; Jesus; Allah; Virgin Mary , Hare Krishna or whoever, I thank you. It was a close shave.

So Kathmandu, here I come, again :) :):)


Thursday, 16 April 2015

A Flying visit - April 2015

This is an unscheduled stop. While making my annual visit to Malaysia, I decided to pop across to Nepal to see Uma and the children. The journey is a mere three and a half hours ( rather than 13 hours from UK ) away.It would be a break from the heat, I thought

The flight took off on time. It reached Kathmandu airspace on schedule. Then everything went somewhat  haywire. We were hovering in mid air for quite sometime. And bearing in mind that this is Malaysian Airline, the twice ill fated air line which attracted a lot of bad luck . No announcement came for what seemed to be a long time. Then the captain informed the passengers that due to the heavy  rain in Kathmandu,  the visibility at the airport is down to almost zero, therefore unable to land.We were then diverted to Delhi airport for refuelling until the weather improved in Kathmandu. The original arrival time was put back from 11. 30 am to almost 5 pm. What  was intended as a short hop became a rather long flight. Uma has since told me that a Turkish airline plane crash landed a week ago due to the rain as well

Surprisingly, the immigration procedure was very prompt for a change. I was cleared in less than 10 minutes, a first for me! Before I left UK, I tried to establish what the weather is like  in Kathmandu. Uma assured me that  it will be hot. And so I have packed according. I have to say it was a real shock to the system when I realise  the day time temperature is hovering @16 celsius. Walking around in light summer clothing is not an option unfortunately. My grey woollen cardigan has  saved the day!

Without realising the significance, 13th April was Nepali new year's eve. That explained the unusually quiet roads.New Year's day is  also a public holiday. My timely arrival has meant that the children  will be able to have lunch  out the next day- a treat from my Malaysian friends. A glorious lunch we did have.... and we were  stuffed :)

It transpired that Uma has been receiving phone calls from the schools, asking me to visit. I was quite clear that this is a short social visit to see Uma and the children .No doubt there will be a long shopping list of  needs but regrettably that has to wait .

A relaxing day indeed.