dinsdag 29 maart 2011

Mijn appartement in Lazimpat, Kathmandu

I found an apartment! It is very light, including a garden! Check this video.

zaterdag 26 maart 2011

Apartment search, Holi and the Hash House Harriers

Last Saturday was the first time to get out of Kathmandu and see some of the countryside in the Kathmandu valley. Every Saturday there is an event from a group called The Himalayan Hash House Harriers. This is a group with two purposes: running and walking through the valley of Kathmandu every Saturday, and drinking beer afterwards. This time it was not just a ‘hash run’ but it was also Holi.
Holi is an Indian and Nepali festival were people party, dress up and… throw water and powderpaint at everyone they see. This could be a nice festival but in Kathmandu it is more or less an excuse for groups of men to walk around drunk and try and grope woman. So a great time to get the hell out of Kathmandu and breathe some fresh air! When me and the other new volunteers arrived in the small village where we would start our walk we were attacked by a bunch of children and after that by the other hash runners. Wet and with paint in our necks and faces we met the hash group. This consisted of people from the UN, some famous guy who is actually the designer of SesameStreet/the Muppets , VSO volunteers, Danish embassy guys, German telephone company workers and so on and so on. About thirty people from 18 till 60 years of age from all different countries and backgrounds. The walk started along ridges and paths with great views of the valley. After 1,5 hours we where back and beer and snacks where ready. And then a circle was formed and we had to stand in the middle, down a beer, sing a song and we were proud new members of the Hash group!
Back in Kathmandu it was time to sort out apartment stuff. But where to start? On the internet I found some houses and contacted the agents. Next day we met up with a guy who would show us nice apartments in the area of our choice. The first one was good: 2 bedrooms, bathroom, kitchen, quiet area but too expensive. The second one was… in the same house as a big Nepali family, so far goes privacy. The third one was big but dark and on the ground floor, everybody seemed to park their motorcycle right in front of the entrance door. So… some days after I saw some more apartment but still not the best. I have about three agents searching for me know. I am pretty sure I will find something in the next couple of weeks!

woensdag 16 maart 2011

Language and Loadshedding

Namaste! Besides this greeting my first words in Nepali are: ‘Malai panni jaanus’. They mean: ‘Me water give’. So instead of ‘panni’ I can also say: Malai beer jaanus, Malai taxi jaanus, Malai yoghurt jaanus. Just learn the word of what you need and you can start asking people! So Nepali seems an easy language
J. My first language lessons started this monday and I must say that they are actually fun! Our two trainers work with different tools including repeating, dialogue and having a good time! We also discuss cultural facts like how to dress or how man and woman behave different in Nepali culture. And the homework can be as follows: ask two people in Nepali their name and where they are from; and learn how to count till five. It is amazing to see how happy people are to talk with me in Nepali, even if its just stupid simple talk J. The local shop where I buy my coffee will now also be my homework dialogue place J

I think I found out how the system works so I will try to explain it.
Loadshedding: The system where, in different areas of the city and all over Nepal, power is regularly cut off. There is just not enough power to keep the country running day and night so they spread it out. This indicates that we only have power at certain times a day. We can get to know these times by looking at the ‘load shedding schedule’. This schedule hangs in the lobby of my guesthouse and the times are different every day!! So… every day you have to look at the schedule and sort out what is the best time to do what. The schedule of today was: electricity from 9 till 1 and from 4 till 8. So eight hours a day. If there is no electricity you only have one led-bright emergency light in your room, cold showers, no telephone network and no internet. This situation can shortly be described as: no fun! Unless… you find your way around it. If there is no electricity you can walk to the Thamel district where you have internet 24 hours a day; you can drink beers with friends around a candle; you can do your yoga exercises or read a book by led light. It’s all about the planning!

zondag 13 maart 2011

My first days in Kathmandu: A party, welcome dinner, guided tour and jetlag...

Here I am, sitting in a chill out internet/restaurant/lounge in the middle of Thamel, the backpackers area of Kathmandu. I will give a short account of my adventures till this far, and promise next time my writing will be more exciting ;)

My flight was quite relaxed as well as I had four seats for myself :) At Kathmandu everything went pretty fast, got my bags and there a Nepali guy from VSO was waiting for me with a car. Through the airport crowds and we drove straight into the streets of Kathmandu. Busy, but I immediately saw Kathmandu is smaller and nicer than for example Manila. Upon arrival at the guesthouse Jimi Oostrum was there, my future colleague + the ultimate volunteer guide of Kathmandu. Instead of a quiet night I was asked if me and the other two new VSO volunteers (David and Simone) wanted to join a dinner of a VSO birthday girl. Of course! A great opportunity to meet the other volunteers. There were about 15 of us and we had a great time. Including Dahl Baat(rice with sauce), Everest Beer and dancing in a closed lounge bar till late. And late in Nepal means till about 12 o clock at night ;) All the bars here are supposed to close every night at eleven!

Next day volunteer John invited me, Simone and David to walk around Kathmandu. He showed us the supermarket, good places to buy bread, eat lunch and buy clothes. Of course we actually had some coffee and a good lunch as well. The touristy center is called Thamel and is full with beer gardens, restaurant and shops. And the restaurants have great food like middle eastern hummus, pad thai and even cheese platters! At five we left for our welcome dinner at the VSO office. Saturday was a day with no plans and of course the day the jetlag finally hit me… Couldn’t sleep at night and couldn’t get out of bed during the day. Bit of a headache and not hungry. All I did that day was getting lost around Thamel and try out skype with Koen. Felt better in the evening, so I think I just needed a bit of rest.

Today is Sunday and I decided to write this blog and see if I can get my photo’s online. VSO arranged us a tour guide today and we went by car to see the Monkey Temple, another big Stupa and a Buddhist Temple. It was beautiful! The sun was shining, the temples were nice and quiet, and the monkeys adorable J

So altogether these first couple of days were even better than I expected really. With a great group of VSO volunteers, Kathmandu being a busy, but friendly city and a relaxed start of my stay. But… to stop all the fun, the In-Country Training starts tomorrow! And that will be 6 weeks of language training and workshops. We’ll see how that goes!

maandag 7 maart 2011

How it all began...

In January 2011 I made my decision. A month before that I found an offer in my mailbox. It said: 'job description possible placement Nepal'. I knew that VSO is not the organisation that would offer simple placements like 'become an english teacher at a primary school'. But the offer I opened that day exceeded all expectations. The placement brought together the skills of connecting different stakeholders and creating structures and small changes within an organisation. It asked for the skills that I had developed during my career. And all this within the Nepalese Ministry of Education, a government office that works together with NGO's, schools and companies in and outside of Nepal.

In Nepal children cannot choose how they want to be educated or what kind of education they want to receive. In Nepal they (or 'we' ) are working on the possibility for children to go to school; that there are enough teachers and that there is a good quality of education.

So we all know I said 'yes' to this new adventure. I will leave March 9 to Kathmandu. On March 11 I will start my in-country training for two months. I will learn the language, learn about the culture and stay with a host family for a week. After those two months I will start as Program and Documentation Officer at the Ministry of Education. I will keep you posted on my experiences!

woensdag 2 maart 2011

The great Himalinda adventure is about to start....


I'm leaving march 9
Goodbye party march 4
Designed my first blog: march 2