Friday, 24 October 2014

Project 365 - Day 175 : The Beginning!

DAY 175 : The Beginning!

Date: 22/10/2014

Today was productive but it could have been a whole lot more fruitful had I planned it better. I started the morning off by heading to the Red Panda Network office at 10.30AM for a meet! That was followed by a quick drop-in at work to hand some documents over and talk about the directions that I need to take in the next few weeks!

I went to my caffice for a bit then met up with Namita and Astha, the interns, for lunch. We hadn’t met in a while so it was nice catching up and sharing about the happenings; I also shared about the field-trip and they were jealous. Lol.

After that I met Pranayna KC at the caffice as we had planned to meet and talk over some ideas that she had. She has a wonderful idea, a vision but right now, she’s struggling to get that into action – and make it a reality! However, I am sure that this stage right now is the biggest struggle and once she passes it, it’ll be a smoother journey.

Anyways’ I wasn’t planning to stay out but Bijay called in and informed that he was planning a dinner in Dhumbarahi so off I went with a small cake! It was only Hrishant, Bijay and me. I had a nice time, well I think we all did.

I headed home after’

Wednesday, 22 October 2014

Project 365 - Day 174 : Powerful NOW

DAY 174 : Powerful NOW

Date: 21/10/2014

Even though it has only been a few days since I left Kathmandu, I cannot wait to be back in the hustle and bustle midst the chaos of the city that I’ve now grown to love. There’s just a different energy with Kathmandu and you don’t have to agree with me but please don’t shoot me down and say I don’t have the right to express my personal opinion either. There are too many smart-asses online and sometimes I wonder how I go on a daily basis reading their amusing comments and feeling nothing. Then again, if you know me personally then you’ll know that I have a face which literally says “I don’t give a fuck”. So it’s all good in the hood. Lol.

We left Ghorahi Dang at around 7.30AM and the rest of the day was hectic!

Just to make it brief, we visited several micro-enterprises/entrepreneurs! We went to a ceramic water filter maker and his was a “success story”. This was in a village in Deukhuri, Dang. That visit was followed by a quick lunch break at Lamahi and then we visited a cow farm. The gent there had a success story too! He had initially started with a pig farm and later on turned it into a cow farm. He shared that he has been able to afford the higher education of two of his sons, maintain his property, buy a car, a tractor and also open up a new side business; a roadside hotel! Wonderful!

After the visit to the dairy farm we hit the road for quite a while until stopping by a dori udhyog on the roadside. The community there used to sell wood from the forest in the past but now thanks to MEDEP they have been taught how to make dori (Strings) from the natural find in the jungle! Majority employed are women from the micro-enterprise and they are able to make anything between Nrs 8000 – Nrs 13000 a month. A success story indeed! Not only that, you just know that it’s a success story when they speak and how the didi/dai’s eyes light up when they compare their past to their present.

We were running late so we hit the road and headed straight for the Bhairahawa Airport aka Lord Gautam Buddha Airport. We drove by Lumbini. Can’t believe we were so close to Lumbini but we couldn’t stop by. I love Lumbini, it’s a beautiful area. The 5.30PM Buddha Air flight was delayed by 30 minutes. Joy. I killed time by reading The Battles of The New Republic.

As the aircraft descended for landing, I could see the bright lights of Kathmandu and the traffic around various part of the city; it felt like home. I believe Kathmandu looked brighter and more colourful as Tihar is only a few days away.

I shared a lift with sir and headed straight to Thamel. I totally broke my “no meat Tuesday” rule by having the Kathmandu Chicken at the Northfield Café. I was eating by myself but soon after, I was joined by Cathy T. It was the first time we were meeting after being connected through Facebook and I was looking forward to meeting her after briefly coming to know that she's working on the social/education sector in Nepal. Positive chat, discussing various productive ideas; I am glad that we met tonight.

I had told my maiju that I’d be home by 9PM but by the time I actually got in it was 11.30PM.
I am happy with where my life is right now. And it’s kind of scary to accept that because I keep thinking, something will probably go wrong very soon.

Oh well. I choose to focus on right now for that is the most powerful time.

Project 365 - Day 173 : Salyans Milk!

DAY 173 : Salyans Milk!

Date: 20/10/2014

I woke up to the noise of the chicken, night buses that were passing through and general chatter from the roadside. Ahh.

We left Tharmare Bazaar and headed towards Bagchaur where we spent quite a bit of the morning interacting with the members of the co-operative that deal with milk collection and distribution. They receive around 300 liters of milk every day and that is sold nearby and faraway too. Apart from selling milk, they also create pustakaris, chhurpi, ghiu, khuwa and more! They have quite a few machinery and instruments to help with the filtering of the milk, chilling and packaging of the products.

I also accompanied the NTV ko Artha ko Artha TV show ko dai haru around the village as they went around asking the locals regarding how milk farming has changed their lives. Surprisingly, two out of three didi’s shared that milk farming has not changed their lives at all. They would be happier if the value of milk was increased as what they receive now is far too little for them to notice any change in their own lives/lifestyle. Hmmm.

As I experience, hear and see all this. I kind of wonder if ‘micro-enterprise’ really works or not. I was talking to the NTV ko dai and he mentioned because we farm in a small scale here, we can’t really take advantage of the market or have our own upper-hand in creating links with distributors etc. He also gave an example of New Zealand and how we need to emulate that model in order for farming communities to grow. Hmmm.

After buying some chhurpi and pustakari (which is pretty good), we left and continued our journey towards Khalanga, Salyan. By the way, this isn’t the same Khalanga as the Khalanga before. Apparently there are a lot of places called Khalanga in Nepal. Khalanga is also the name of Salyan’s district HQ. Just before we reached Khalanga, we made time for lunch. In Khalanga we basically stopped by to meet the LDO… who is very new, about seven days into his job and wasn’t really aware of much so we only spent about ten minutes there.

We stopped by the MEDEP office in Salyan bazaar for chiya then it was off to Ghorahi, Dang!

Dang is basically in the Terai plains so it’s quite a change of scene here. We checked into the Green Valley Hotel and it’s a nice change from yesterday’s gauley hotel. There seems to be some power problem as the light keeps going off and on, it’s like a disco here! I’m just thankful that I get to charge my laptop, my phone and have 3G signal and wifi! Yes, I admit it. I depend on technology. Lol.

It’s quarter to eight in the evening and I’m writing for the day now so I don’t forget later and I’m sure apart from having dinner nothing more will happen on DAY 173.

Over and out.

Can’t wait to get back to Kathmandu! I realise I love Kathmandu.

Project 365 - Day 172 : Gau Ghar ko Dukha

DAY 172 : Gau Ghar ko Dukha

Date: 19/10/2014

I don’t know if I talked about the hotel that we stayed in last night. Well if you ever happen to go to Khalanga in Rukum then Hotel Asian is your answer. I was expecting smelly rooms, stained bed-sheets and pillows that felt like rocks but it was heaven. I write this because tonight, our group separated in two different “hotels” in Tharmare, Salyan. I use the term hotel very loosely here. They are more of a village home turned into a guest house. To be honest, I am perfectly okay with it as I have stayed in a lot of interesting places during my travels across various villages and settlements in Nepal. I don’t think few of the other members of this group were quite prepared for the sleeping arrangements tonight though. Lol. There’s also a group of boys, footballers apparently; they’ve been staying at this Hotel Universe for a few days now and I can hear them singing antakshari as if they’re right next door. Well, they are right outside our room. Oh well, they’re bringing business for the hotel owner so I hope they continue eating, drinking and spending!

To start the day off we drove about 15 minutes from Khalanga, Rukum and from then onwards, it was about 50-60 minutes’ walk downhill to a village. I forgot the name of the village. Shit. We were there to listen to the farmers about how seed farming. The farmers and the area is quite known for onion seed farming. Unfortunately, the community has been rocked by a scandal in the recent past when a certain company by the name of “CHASO” came with a promise to buy all the seeds. They took the seeds and didn’t give the farmers a penny. When a farmer dai was quizzed about savings, he shared that he sometimes saves Nrs 10/20 a month in the community savings fund… that’s so saddening. Hmm!

We had lunch nearby and started our walk back up to where we had left the vehicles. Along our uphill trek, we saw people being carried down in stretches – probably to the nearest health post. Oh what a struggle it must have been to carry the stretcher along such a path. Hmm… Garho cha hai?

I was relieved when I saw the vehicles! It was quite a walk. And we had the midday heat! Bang on 12PM! We went and interviewed/listened to various figures from the farming community, the LDO of Rukum, a shoe vendor who had a success story to share so that was good to hear! He used to be a driver in India and had spent many years working abroad but after an injury, he couldn’t drive anymore. He returned to Nepal, got the skills and training through MEDEP and started his own shoe store. He makes shoes and also mends them. He shared that he earns similar to what he did abroad and has the bonus advantage of being his own boss unlike working abroad when he felt the pressure of the bosses.

We left Rukum and headed towards Salyan. Just before we got to Salyan we stopped by another co-operative which collects milk! We had quite a nice welcome there, tikas and mala! The tika isn’t just a dot, it’s like very very visible! I’ve shared a photo. I’ll write about the various micro enterprises over on my blog so I won’t write down anything here.

Anyways’ we reached Tharmare – a small town in Salyan with a very big chowk lol. We had a delicious plate of daal-bhat tarkari masu at Hotel Sharada and now it’s time to call it a night. Ahh!

Project 365 - Day 171 : Lex in RUKUM!

DAY 171 : Lex in RUKUM

Date: 18/10/2014

I really should’ve set off earlier this morning because I only reached the airport at 8.25AM and our Buddha Air flight to Nepalgunj was for 8.50AM. Anyways’ the aircraft hit the runway at 9.15AM – so I guess we were pretty fine! Damn the airport was busy this morning… I guess the peak season is kicking in!

Oh… in case you were wondering, I am on a work trip with five other people and we’re heading to Rukum, Salyan and Dang to visit and see the work done by MEDEP. I believe I will eventually write about MEDEP and how micro-enterprise has helped the locals of the areas that we will be visiting.

We hit the road as soon as landed in Nepalgunj. After an hour we stopped by a river-side “hotel” place for some khana. Delicious daal bhaat with macha ko tarkari! Straight out of Karnali river I believe. We reached Khalanga in Rukum at around 7.45PM. I think we would’ve reached a little early had we not get jammed in a small stretch of muddy road. We had to push the vehicle out of it’s misery. Thank goodness there were other people helping us.

Apart from that small stretch of road, the drive was great! Somewhat narrow road but hey, I think we’re used to it by now. The scenery was beautiful. It’s so good to be away from Kathmandu… then again I feel like a little dot. In Kathmandu I kind of know everything and here I feel so new. So raw.

We checked into Hotel Asian and it’s pretty good! Beats Birtamod ko Hotel Orchid by miles. Clean room, clean linen and clean toilet. Ticks all the boxes. Unfortunately, the wifi isn’t working well but thank goodness for my NCELL 3G.

I’m with all older people and professionals working in different media publications. I’m trying my best to participate in the talks and all lol. But yes I do feel out of place. It’s cool though. I’m just grateful that through this work, I am able to see a little more of my own country.


Project 365 - Day 170 : Housing Issues


DAY 170 : Housing Issues

Date: 17/10/2014

The day didn’t quite work out as I had planned. Nonetheless, I still managed to get a few blog posts done. I was calling up Hepali Height Housing and CG Hills Housing for prices! I would love to live in a CG HILLS Home but even the cheapest three bed property on 3.5 annas start at 1 crore 92 lakhs. Then again, you’re paying for the swimming pool, communal facilities and a premium housing colony! In the other hand the cheapest property with Hepali Height Housing starts at 1 Crore 20/30 Lakhs and since they’re at the beginning phase, you can actually cutstomize quite a lot of the features and request for more land etc. We’re on the initial phase of searching for a house because it makes sense to sell the current property we have and buy/move into a smaller/cheaper property! The thing is, I don’t believe we as a family will ever come back to Nepal and live here all together… so we don’t need a big house. A simple one with a few rooms should do us good.
I got a haircut from chowk.

I headed to Durbar Marg to see Sakil’s store. I also had to meet Bivit to get the memory cards and so on. We had dinner at MEZZE and hopped over to Thamel for a drink or two! Laxmi also joined for a drink as I had to handover her Bipul Chettri CD.

I called it a night at around 9PM.

Project 365 - Day 169 : Mellow Day

DAY 169 : Mellow Day

Date: 16/10/2014

I’ve been working away from work since yesterday and today was no exception.

From my ‘caffice’ (café+office), I observed this really well dressed man walk straight into the glass door… there was such a loud bang noise and the man himself was very shocked with what had just happened, I just tried my best  to look concerned. I found it very amusing too!
I met Subigya to talk about the Tracing Nepal videos as he is in the process of creating a video for us.

I met my cousin Sadhana too! She recently returned after finishing her bachelors in the UK. She’s the same old Sadhana! Lol!

Sadhana and I hit Thamel to grab some food where we met Nawal. After a while, Sadhana left and Laxmi joined us. We just chatted about Laxmi’s recent trip to Jomsom and beyond, her feelings about leaving Nepal soon and getting back to work in the UK.

Ah! So many UK Nepali people here!