dinsdag 30 augustus 2011

Teej Festival, Trailrunning, Goodbye Parties and Dutch visits!

Some great experiences since I last wrote my blog! Let’s start with the festival of Teej. My colleagues were already telling me about this weeks ago, playing Teej Youtube movies and asking me if I was going to dance with Teej. Teej is the Nepali festival for women. The women in Nepal will start living in the house of the parents in law the moment they get married. They will not much get the chance of visiting their own parents again. Besides that they live a life of hardship: in their new family they are less loved and respected. One time a year they have time to go back to their own family and sing and dance, expressing their emotions and hardship. And this is called Teej festival! It involves one day of dancing, one day of fasting, dancing and visiting the temple and one more day of dancing. The Nepali women ago home, start wearing red sari dresses and dance with their own family. Basically they enjoy being together again. Check out this movie to get some idea of how this dancing looks like.

Before the actual festival starts there are already many parties where woman are invited to celebrate Teej. One of these parties was organised for all women who work the Nepal Government Ministries. I was invited to join my female colleagues and off we went to the festival, with five woman in the back seat of the car. The festival was in one big tent, with I guess around 700 women and 50 men. First were the speeches, then the food and then chairs were set aside and the dancing started. I was the only white person in the whole festival! And that means everybody wants to dance with you, take pictures of you and talk to you.... I felt very famous! The ‘highlight’ of this famousness was when I was called forward by a famous Nepali folksinger and had to dance with the head of the democratic party Nepal!! Television cameras were zooming in and... tomorrow it’s on Nepali television!! There goes my neutrality position concerning politics haha!

The next day I got up at 5:30 in the morning. Some days before I signed myself up for the first Nepal Vertical Kilometre Run! About 100 people came to the bottom of the biggest mountain of Kathmandu Valley and we were gonna climb it and come back down again. If you spoke with me 6 months ago and told me I was gonna do 13,5 km of trail running up a mountain in 6 months time, I would have declared you mad!! But trail running is my new sport here and after 4 months of running practice I thought it was time to see if I could do these kind of runs! And I did it!!! I climbed/ walked/ran 13,5 kilometres up and down the biggest hill of Kathmandu Valley. We even got lost one time and did an extra 3,5 above the 10 kilometres! I am very proud of myself!  My next challenge is the Pokhara Triathlon in February 2012! 750 meters of swimming, 20 km of cycling and 5 km of running. I should be able to do that by then! 

Proud of finishing the run, together with some famous Nepali Everest runners, Karel and John.

That evening I was still going strong, not feeling the muscle ache yet and me and all my friends went to Roberts leaving party. We danced at UB40 Grahams music and tried out some more Teej dancing.

Simone, Robert and me @ Roberts Leaving Party

My friends Simone, Antoine, David, Jimi, Ben, Karel and me!

The following day I received a text message stating that Daniel Schreij was about to arrive at Shangri La Hotel, just around the corner of my house. After two days of delayed travelling he and his sister finally arrived! Its great and weird at the same time to meet a good friend on the other side of the world. To show my house, have them meet my friends and get them acquainted with Kathmandu. In the afternoon Hanneke arrived and now the four of us are going around seeing places. We went to Swayambunath the monkey temple, Asan the old city and the old square. And they love it! Sometimes I forget in what a great city I live in, I take it for granted, therefore it’s great realize this by seeing how my friends are enjoying themselves so much. Michele is thinking about an internship and Daniel is thinking of visiting Nepal again next year! So my big master plan of getting my Dutch friends to come and live here in Kathmandu has started to take shape...

woensdag 10 augustus 2011

Pokhara Adventure, Work Succes and the Romeo’s and Julia’s of Nepal

Last weekend me and two friends left for two days of Pokhara. In Holland people would tell you you are mad if you opt for a weekend away which involved eight hours by bus to get there and eight hours back! But I finally wanted to go and see Pokhara! And it was worth it!

Friday we left at 7 in the morning. At three o clock we arrived in Pokhara, a beautiful city with a huge lake and towering mountains above(more than 8000 meters!). We went to Dorieke and Karels house, a Dutch couple, but only Dorieke was there. In the evening she made us cheese fondue!!! This is one of the things I really miss from Holland.
Pokhara girls trip: Liffy, Katie and Dorieke @ Devi's falls

The next day we headed out to lakeside, strolling through the park, taking pictures, eating ice-cream and hiring a small rowing boat. We ended up spending the afternoon on the middle of the lake swimming, sun tanning, enjoying the views of mountains and watching people paragliding. All with a nice beer and some crisps. I will come back here in November with Nicole for sure!
Me with Pokhara Lake in the back

Back in Kathmandu I had some small successes at work. I had a meeting with my section team to discuss my policy structure set up. Everybody was very enthusiastic, had feedback and the section chief wants to discuss it with the joint secretary soon! If he agrees we can start implementing this policy management and development structure and this will hopefully lead to better policy development and management and therefore, better implementation!

Me and my VSO colleague Jimi in government uniforms!

To end this blog a small reflection. In Nepal there is still a caste system. A caste system is a type of social structure which divides people on the basis of inherited social status. Although many societies could be described in this way, within a caste system, people are rigidly expected to marry and interact with people of the same social class. If people fall in love with somebody from another caste this can lead to hatred and violence from the families. Most of the time the couple has to flee from their villages and try and create a new life somewhere else, without family and hiding one of their castes background. These Romeo and Julia stories happen regularly in Nepal. VSO volunteer in Nepal Dilman Dila created a documentary on this. Check
Untouchable Love
It is very impressive and makes you realize that there are still so many prejudiced people in this country, and some very brave people who condemn the caste system for the one they love. If you are interested you can buy the dvd from me for 10 euro. The money will go 50% to the costs of producing the movie and 50% to the couples who married inter caste and are still suffering from the consequences. Transfer 10 euros to L.F. Ris, 385241259 and I will bring the dvds with me in September.