Monthly Archive for: ‘August, 2015’

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What is the future of #Nepal? It’s…

What is the future of #Nepal? It’s written in the youthful smile of its children, in the innocent twinkle of their eyes, the untainted spirit of their hearts. Despite the challenges the country faces – some endemic, some brought on by the #earthquake – I’m confident in the future when I speak to the children. Their vision of tomorrow is as yet unclouded by corruption and apathy, ingrained inequality and the dangerous fatalism – or more dangerous violent action – it engenders. Their vision is what a child’s – and indeed an adult’s – should be: one of optimism, of hope, of the belief that tomorrow, if combined with effort and tenacity and diligence and coupled with empathy and compassion, will be better than today, and the next day better than tomorrow. In short, their’s is a vision of hope. May that vision stay true, innocent, uncorrupted, and strong. Thanks to @mountainfund and #HerFarm for making such a difference! #nepaliloveyou #HelpCarryTheLoad #nepalquake #liveyouradventure #hopefulfuture #dailylifenepal #dailylifeasia #buildbackbetter #dktm #nepalphotoproject #Mankhu #Dhading

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Sometimes I miss the forest for the…

Sometimes I miss the forest for the trees. As we walked from #Mankhu down to the road, after a long day of shooting and sweating and documenting the #gabion band building technique, I was focused on the ground in front of me – hard to see in the dwindling twilight – and the people eeking out the final moments of the day in their fields. And there he was, a #Tamang man standing silently beside his equally-quiet buffalo, gaze cast to the southeast in quiet contemplation and even reverence. I smiled, said hello, and his silence continued unabated, with only a slight nod and the classic #Nepali lip-point, indicating I should look where he was looking. And, then I saw it: a #sunset of sunsets, emblazoned clouds roiling over the lush, green hills of middle #Nepal. Together we sat, silently, for a moment, and then went our separate ways. #weareallconnected #liveyouradventure #HelpCarryTheLoad #nepaliloveyou #nepalquake #HelpCarryTheLoad #Dhading #nepaliloveyou

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She wouldn’t tell me her name, saying…

She wouldn’t tell me her name, saying it was not important. She simple told me to call her “grandmother”. Her best guess is that she’s about 88 years old. She was walking spryly, easily, along the dirt path winding through the shattered brick houses and lush foliage near #Goganpani, #Dhading, #Nepal. She was heading home with what little rice and #sabji (vegetables) she could afford from the nearby market…a home she lives in alone. He son lives in #Kathmandu, she told me, and rarely visits; her daughter is married, and too busy with her husband’s family to come by often . So, she lives alone in the middle hills, a deep smile still etching her weathered face, a laugh quick to bubble through even discussions of the challenges she faces daily. As different as they are, she nonetheless reminded me of my just-deceased grandmother, who lived alone as well until her passing at age 95. How similar, and yet how different. Opposite sides of the world, two #elderly women sharing similar traits and stories, yet living them out in vastly different ways thanks to the roulette of geography, ethnicity, opportunity. It’s amazing to me how lives and paths can be dictated by virtue of geography. She was born to poverty in the middle hills of Nepal; my grandmother to relative affluence in rural #Illinois. Language and faith, work ethic, ethnicity, smarts, and determination played scant role in their polar opposite lives; it was the luck of the draw which dictated the relative ease or challenge of their lives, the realities and opportunities they would face. Another chance reminder to me of how connected we all are, despite physical miles of distance, and how the stories of our lives – the stories of opportunity and wealth and health and so much of life – is dictated more by chance than choice. We are all connected, in this big ship as one, and we rise and fall together. #weareallconnected #liveyouradventure #nepaliloveyou #nepalphotoproject #nepalquake #everydaynepal #everydayasia #portrait

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"Ke garne?" ("What to do?") It's the ubiquitous phrase that anyone who's traveled to #Nepal has heard. It is at times the country's biggest #Achilles heel, stifling change and development under a blanket of fatalism. (See Dor Bahadur Bista's excellent book, Fatalism and Development.) But, "Ke garne" can also be a huge gift to Nepal, especially in times of extreme challenge like the aftermath of this spring's #earthquake. Through the guidance of ke garne, there is an acceptance amongst many #Nepalis of the realities of life in the #Himalaya, an innate understanding that things will often be tough, disasters at times unavoidable, and that swimming upstream, wishing that what has happened did not, and what won't happen will, is ultimately a waste of precious time and energy and resources. So, people get on with life as best they can. While in Nepal for three weeks, people would tell me of their woes quite matter-of-factly: "Oh, Jake-dai, my home is gone, my village, too. We now live in a tent, and have no money to rebuild. And, our government doesn't want to help. Ke garne? Please, have some #chiyaa (tea)." Perhaps this fatalism hampers development and recovery from the quake. Perhaps it's ultimately counter-productive and even destructive, creating an inertia of lassitude that stops all else. But, in a country short on resources, whose people are forever struggling for an economic toehold and a slightly better tomorrow, and who are all too used to nothing changing despite their attempts and desires, I undrstand and respect the need to accept and move ahead with life as best they can. It's not perfect, but it's what sometimes works. Ke garne. | In this photo, boys from #Mankhu, #Dhading, rest in the #monsoon afternoon after #taekwondo practice. Life must go on.

“Ke garne?” (“What to do?”) It’s the…

“Ke garne?” (“What to do?”) It’s the ubiquitous phrase that anyone who’s traveled to #Nepal has heard. It is at times the country’s biggest #Achilles heel, stifling change and development under a blanket of fatalism. (See Dor Bahadur Bista’s excellent book, Fatalism and Development.) But, “Ke garne” can also be a huge gift to Nepal, especially in times of extreme challenge like the aftermath of this spring’s #earthquake. Through the guidance of ke garne, there is an acceptance amongst many #Nepalis of the realities of life in the #Himalaya, an innate understanding that things will often be tough, disasters at times unavoidable, and that swimming upstream, wishing that what has happened did not, and what won’t happen will, is ultimately a waste of precious time and energy and resources. So, people get on with life as best they can. While in Nepal for three weeks, people would tell me of their woes quite matter-of-factly: “Oh, Jake-dai, my home is gone, my village, too. We now live in a tent, and have no money to rebuild. And, our government doesn’t want to help. Ke garne? Please, have some #chiyaa (tea).” Perhaps this fatalism hampers development and recovery from the quake. Perhaps it’s ultimately counter-productive and even destructive, creating an inertia of lassitude that stops all else. But, in a country short on resources, whose people are forever struggling for an economic toehold and a slightly better tomorrow, and who are all too used to nothing changing despite their attempts and desires, I undrstand and respect the need to accept and move ahead with life as best they can. It’s not perfect, but it’s what sometimes works. Ke garne. | In this photo, boys from #Mankhu, #Dhading, rest in the #monsoon afternoon after #taekwondo practice. Life must go on. #nepaliloveyou #HelpCarryTheLoad #liveyouradventure #person2person4nepal @clarkliesl @mreverest7x @jibanghimire

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“I had no work before the #earthquake,…

“I had no work before the #earthquake, but now I do. So, there was some good in it for me. But, I work all day and make only 500 rupees (roughly $5). Life is hard in #Nepal,” said Ram. He and several others were hard at work cleaning rubble below two collapsed houses in #Machhapokhari, #Kathmandu. Of the many projects needing to be done in post-earthquake Nepal, one of the big and pressing ones is figuring out what to do with the rubble and debris of collapsed buildings. #buildbackbetter #HelpCarryTheLoad #nepaliloveyou #everydayasia #everydaynepal #nepalphotoproject #nepalquake

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He built his home 40 or so…

He built his home 40 or so years ago for 500 rupees. A traditional, two story home of rubble masonry skimmed with ochre mud and accented with local timbers, the house stands out today because it is one of the few traditional homes in #Mankhu, #Dhading, that withstood the intense shaking of the April 25 #earthquake. Our #conservation #architects, Randolph Langenbach and Dipendra Gautam, quicly figured out a possible reason why: a band of timber running through the masonry coupled with a second story diaphragm at ceiling level. Combined, these two elements allowed the structure to sway with the shaking earth but not crumble outward like similar structures. Why did he incorporate that basic timber-lacing when others did not? “Someone told me it would be stronger,” he said with a smile. Forty years, two strong earthquakes, and hundreds of aftershocks later, his house is a testament to the simple elements that can be cost-effectively added to a structure – being built or rebuilt – that give it greater strength, lower injury potential, and still allow for a traditional look. The #gabion band technique we did on Ram Sunar’s house is a variant on this same theme, and hopefully will catch on as people rebuild in rural #Nepal. @clarkliesl @mreverest7x @jibanghimire @mountainfund #herfarm

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I watched him as he inspected the…

I watched him as he inspected the gabion bands built into Ram Sunar’s home. Similar in concept to the timber lacing that has helped buildings survive earthquakes in Kashmir, Bam, and elsewhere, gabion wire to make the bands can be locally sourced and is financially doable for Nepal’s rural poor. Construction is not complicated, requiring implementation of one band per story, helping reinforce small village homes. The man’s home, like Ram’s, had been leveled by the quake. Ram is a #Dalit, this man a #Brahmin; apparently, earthquakes ignore #caste hierarchies. After a bit of discussion about the merits and cost effectiveness of gabion bands in rebuilding his home, the gentleman kindly informed me he’d rebuild in the traditional way, with no changes, no gabion bands, no reinforcement. I asked, “Why?”, and the reply was simple the ubiquitous and coy South Asian head wobble. Perhaps old habits die hard. Perhaps the man couldn’t fathom rebuilding his Brahmin home to replicate that of a Dalit. Perhaps, as the girls from Her Farm told me, the locals are slow to adopt new techniques, despite the promise that they are stronger and more resistance to quakes. As the man walked off, Ram surveyed his home with pride, marveling at the progress from broken rubble to livable, stable structure in just a few days. With luck, the home of this humble, kind young man can be a model for others to copy as they rebuild today – before the next earthquake proves its utility. #buildbackbetter #Nepal #nepaliloveyou #liveyouradventure #HelpCarryTheLoad @clarkliesl @mreverest7x #herfarm #Mankhu #Dhading #themountainfund

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Sometimes, the universe confirms a good deed….

Sometimes, the universe confirms a good deed. Upon arrival in #Mankhu, our conservation architect, Randolph Langenbach, and Nepali engineer Dipendra Gautam, found the home of Ram Sunar. A #Dalit, or low-caste man, Ram is a subsistence farmer with few means. His home was leveled in the April 25th #NepalQuake. He gladly accepted our offer to help him with rebuilding his family home using Randolph’s gabion band structure, which mimics the timber-laced construction in #Kashmir, #Bam, and elsewhere that survived similar quakes. After two days of work in the intense heat and humidity of monsoon in the middle hills, the team of local masons have gotten most of the first floor finished. Ram’s house, once finished, will not only be more #earthquake resistant, but also a showcase home for others who need to rebuild in the village. Yesterday’s afternoon #rainbow, arcing through the sky and right toward Ram’s home brought a smile to all our faces. Small steps, but each one counts. #nepaliloveyou #HelpCarryTheLoad #buildbackbetter #liveyouradventure

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As I sit here in #Mankhu, #Dhading,…

As I sit here in #Mankhu, #Dhading, I’m thinking of my grandmother, Dorothy Gaines Milnor, who passed from this world around the time when I stared up at the dazzling Milky Way from a silent perch in #Mustang. She was an amazing woman, who lived a long and full 95 years, with many of the last focused on battling through pain from crippling arthritis – a pain she would not give in to, living alone in her home in Illinois until she died. It was she who introduced me to #Nepal, having traveled here by chance during the Spring Awakening of 1991. Her stories of this magnificent country encouraged me to come here with family for my first time the following year. She was not a perfect person, as she’d readily admit (and who is, afterall?), but she was an inspiring one, and taught me volumes about life and experience and learning about our world and it’s people. I take solace in knowing her spirit is up there somewhere, in one of the myriad stars dotting the night sky wherever I go. I miss you Grandma, and I thank you for the years of love, laughter, adventure, and sharing. #goneisntgone #liveyouradventure #nepaliloveyou #HelpCarryTheLoad

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A remarkable week spent in the high country caves of #Mustang, #Nepal, with @clarkliesl, @mreverest7x, and a great team of #archaeologists and adventurers. It was my first visit to Mustang, but certainly won't be my last. An ancient kingdom nestled in the rain shadow of #Annapurna and #Dhaulagiri, Mustang has the climate of the #Tibetan Plateau and the topography of southern #Utah. Near #Chuksang, we explored caves, found amazing artifacts and human remains of ancient peoples, and had great times with wonderful people. Just one more of many reasons to #visitnepal. | In this photo, #Nilgiri rises above the village of #Tangbe, while the wild and powerful #Kali #Gandaki weaves it's way southward.

A remarkable week spent in the high…

A remarkable week spent in the high country caves of #Mustang, #Nepal, with @clarkliesl, @mreverest7x, and a great team of #archaeologists and adventurers. It was my first visit to Mustang, but certainly won’t be my last. An ancient kingdom nestled in the rain shadow of #Annapurna and #Dhaulagiri, Mustang has the climate of the #Tibetan Plateau and the topography of southern #Utah. Near #Chuksang, we explored caves, found amazing artifacts and human remains of ancient peoples, and had great times with wonderful people. Just one more of many reasons to #visitnepal. | In this photo, #Nilgiri rises above the village of #Tangbe, while the wild and powerful #Kali #Gandaki weaves it’s way southward. #liveyouradventure #nepaliloveyou #HelpCarryTheLoad

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