Welcome to Nepal, the home of ancient kingdoms, the Himalaya Mountains and many-armed dieties. Recently I got the wonderful opportunity to return to Nepal (I was here to trek close to 25 years ago) to do some work. There have been many changes since I was here last, mostly in Kathmandu Valley, some for better, many not so much. But the dieties have not changed, no surpise since they’ve been here since around 1500BCE.
My work involved assessing a project that supports the distribution of family planning methods from small privately run ‘corner’ pharmacies. Here I’m visiting one of the pharmacies with some of the Nepali ‘Quality Assurance Officers’ I was working with.
This is Bimala, a Nepali nurse who worked as my interpreter as we travelled about visiting various pharmacies, and her 8-month old daughter, Nina who travelled with us on most visits.
Everyone loved Nina, including this pharmacy owner.
Bimala and one of the Qulaity Assurance Officers in front of one of our stops on the rural route. You can see the ‘Sangini’ family planning logo of the project above the pharmacy entrance.
The hill roads were a challenge and at times terrifying for the white woman who was always given the seat of honor up front. This is a two-way road, with many buses and large trucks on it. To the left in this picture is the sheer drop off from the road. The driver brought a god along (lower right), just for a little extra help I guess.
‘the birthplace of Buddha is in Nepal…’
One of the many buses plying the scary hillside roads; the only mode of transport for many Nepalis.
Surely Ganesha, the elephant-headed diety revered as the remover of obstacles, is laughing somewhere.
But, I didn’t spend everyday working. I did get out to visit the ancient ‘durbar’ squares, the courtyards of the palaces of old kingdoms scattered across the Kathmandu Valley.
Most of which suffered terrible damage from the April, 2015 earthquake.
Above is an image prior to the quake that Google found.
The ruined temples in the squares are slowly and painstakingly being rebuilt, one brick at a time... The Nepalis have to be among the most resiliant people on the earth. They seem to just put their heads down, shoulders to the wheel and get on with what has to be done. Hence the implacable Ghurkas?
There is no shortage of highly skilled craftspeople in Nepal. Stone sculptors, metal workers and woodcarvers are hard at work now, rescuing and restoring.
…back to this!
Or, this (Paul’s favorite), a woodcarving gracing a temple support. This temple sports carved beams depicting various positions from the Kama Sutra. (Cover the children’s eyes! And get that pigeon voyeur out of there…)
That’s better, a god on a turtle.
I also visited some of the Buddhist stupas located around the valley.
This is the entrance to Swayambhunath, also known as the ‘Monkey Temple’ for obvious reasons. A large part of it was also badly damaged by the earthquake… it’s very sad to see.
Despite the destruction, the Buddha still looks serene.
Of course, honoring the goddess of consumerism, I also got a little shopping in. Presents for grandaughter Quinn bought from a women’s fair-trade crafts collective.
Despite the dust and destruction, beauty is everywhere in Nepal. I hope I get to go back soon!