Tuesday, January 23, 2007

final shots from the tibetan reception center

tuesday was a sad day as i said goodbye to the kids at the tibetan reception center. it's hard not to get attached to them (except the bratty ones), but i was warmed up to the inevitable goodbye from some of my favorites leaving for dharamsaala over the past week or two. i hope i touched their lives like they touched mine.
for those of you who love kids, you'll be sad to know that this is the final photos from the tibetan refugees. for those of you who hate kids, i'm not sure if there's anything i can do to help.
so here you go.
making funny faces
some kids beg to get their picture taken, but never smile. this older child for example.
self-promoting artist
playing with paper planes in the hallway
the kid in the middle has been at the refugee center for over a year, mainly due to medical reasons.
this is great. the kid on the right in monk's clothing, used to walk around dressed like a hip-hopper. he had the hat to the side, a track suit, and a chain hanging from his neck modeled after 22" rims with the spinny things. we used to exchange gang signs to each other, and he told the teacher he was a tibetan hip-hopper. then on monday, he walks into class and is now a novice monk. it blew my mind away.
this kid is a good kid.
one of the kids with one of the other volunteers from france.
reality. waiting in line for food.
on my last day, one of the other volunteers gave the kids leftovers from lunch. it was spicy chili chicken. here are two of them with their mouths on fire.
on the last afternoon, we dressed the kids up in costumes, and painted their faces. this girl (who we call the 'hullo, hullo' girl, since that's all she says to get our attention) would call us yelling 'hullo, hullo!' and then start doing a dance that looked half hindi, half hawaian.
my favorite kid getting glammed up
i think she wanted her photo taken, but i couldn't understand what she was saying.
the mosh pit at the costume party
a little one dressed up. this girl has been scared of me for the past 5 weeks, except on the last day. maybe she was glad to be out of there.
remember in 'goodfellas' when joe pesci asked if he was a (expletive) clown. i don't know why this made me think of that.
the moustache isn't real
the aforementioned good kid dressed up like a cat
it took 20 shots to get them to smile
this kid is rad. taught him secret handshakes and high fives.
my favorite looking like a showgirl
this girl is funny. she always leeches onto the volunteers and never lets go. she could spend a whole afternoon attached to you. see photo above with the french volunteer for a perfect example.
here she is disguised with a wig. she can be like a dog who protects her owner sometimes. when other kids try to play with a volunteer she's holding on to, she snarls and threatens to attack.
this little angel likes to cry a lot for attention. sometimes it actually works.
little pinkie
little red devil
the 'hullo, hullo' girl, and my favorite. when the teachers told my favorite that i was leaving, she didn't speak, but smiled to be courteous, in a surprised and shocked way. i told her i'd hope to maybe see her in dharamsaala, and my last image walking out of the refugee center was of her, her little brother, 'hullo, hullo', and the kid i taught secret handshakes goodbye. made me a bit sad. the next day, the french volunteer told me that my favorite was very quiet and calmer than usual. i guess the saying goodbye part isn't new to them, since about 98% of the kids make the journey across the himalayas without their parents or other family members. and most never see their family again. i'm glad my favorite six year old at least has her 3 year old brother to be with throughout the journey to the tibetan government in exile in india. free tibet.

i'm tired.
good bye
Dónde está Ché Pelotas?

Monday, January 22, 2007

this weekend's weekend getaway

this weekend's getaway from the smog of kathmandu was to nagarkot, about 2 hours east of kathmandu, and 800 meters higher. it's amazing, it's only about 30 km away, but takes a couple hours to get to, due to changing busses in bhaktapur, and slow crowded windy, dusty, thin roads.
the big draw for nagarkot, is a clear view towards the himalayas. it's famous for the sun rising above the jagged snow-capped peaks. the town is high above the kathmandu valley, with a panoramic view of the tallest range in the world. after sunrise on sunday morning, the plan was to head down to changu narayan, a hindu temple and unesco world heritage sight on the way back to kathmandu.
of course, both sunrise and sunset at nagarkot were filled with clouds, with sunrise looking like the ocean beach fog in san francisco.
lit a butter candle in front of a buddha for good luck in bhaktapurhand made wooden masks in a shop in bhaktapur, a place i visited a couple weekends ago
here is where magnificent photos of the himalayas would have gone, but fog killed that idea. but all was not lost. ended up hiking most of the way back to kathmandu, partially for hiking exercise, and also because of a nationwide blockade on the roads of nepal by 'public transportation' (a very loose term) drivers. last friday, a student protester was killed by maoist cadres in the southern region of lahan. protesters then torched 14 busses in protest, and a curfew down there was established. on sunday, the 'public transportation' workers closed all roads to traffic except for motorcycles and a few taxis. so it ended up that protesters were protesting other protesters burning busses due to a protester being killed.........but anyway, the hike was great, as we passed through chhetri villages, holy temples, and an old sadhu. the hike felt a bit like a holy pilgrimage.
these girls greeted us at the start of the hike. i gave them a passport photo of me as a souvenir, and took photos of them for the same reason.

the hazy farming countryside on the way back down to kathmandu
this was the greatest part of the journey. halfway on the trek back, some village kids had us climb a little hill to meet this man, babu, a geniune sadhu, or a holy hindu man who renounces material things, and wanders from time to time on spiritual journey. here he is offering us coffee, in his tiny, rammed-earth abode.
he's 73 years old, is originally from calcutta, india, has been a sadhu for 50 years, has lived in this home for 40 years, has been visited by many, and speaks a pretty good amount of english.
here he is holding a picture taken by a former volunteer building a school nearby. you can't see it, but in the background of the photo, the leaves of the trees right above babu's head looks like the hindu god, vishnu.
his secret to staying healthy and alive is eating nothing but vegetables, removing grains and rice from his diet, and smoking lots and lots of dope. homeboy tokes every day, and is popular with the male villagers aged 16-25.
elephant at the hindu temple, changu narayan
wood carving details on the eave of one of the temples
a nepali tradition, sitting around with afternoon milk tea.

speaking of wandering holy men, does anyone know Dónde está Ché Pelotas?

Sunday, January 21, 2007

A Good American

Back in the USA for less than two weeks and what did I find myself doing (on the last day of the year)?

shooting guns!

Now wait a minute my international friends; this is the USA. It's dangerous here. About 30,000 people are killed each year here by guns. If you are mathematically challenged, that's about 80 people a day! Add to that the 75,000+ injured by guns each year and you'll understand why you need to know how to protect yourself in the United States. This isn't South America or Asia; this place is dangerous.

And my friends in California and New York, back off. I'm not living in the Bronx or Oakland, this is St. Louis, the most dangerous city in the USA. More dangerous than Detroit and Compton according to CBS News.

In fact, I saw this shady looking guy walking up my street New Years Day, the day after I was shooting guns, and I was thinking to myself, "I should follow the example of my government and preemptively take this guy out." I could take the time and effort to try to find out if he is a threat to me and my family but why waste the time? He could take me out before I do.

Then I got to thinking, well, what if I don't have a gun. So I started practicing with a compound bow. You never know what hand you'll be dealt.

But maybe it was Thomas Jefferson who put it the best, "The strongest reason for the people to retain the right to keep and bear arms is, as a last resort, to protect themselves against tyranny in government." I'll shot to that.

Friday, January 19, 2007

This Week in Kathmandu :: Episode II

For the week ending on the 20th of January 2007, this is, This Week in Kathmandu:
Buddha sits, sadhu leans
The remaining photos are from the Tibetan Reception (Refugee) Center. This was my last full week, as my volunteer time ends on Tuesday the 23rd. There have been a flurry of kids leaving this past week for Dharamsaala, to start their new lives at the Tibetan government in exile. Four busses have left this week, with some of my favorite kids on board. I've been clicking like crazy at the Art Refuge, trying to capture every moment before I leave on Tuesday. Here's this week's top pics:
the brother-sister duo with the most appearances on This Week in Kathmandu
check out this sketch of the Dalai Lama that this guy drew at the Art Refuge. Impressive, isn't it.
a newbie who just arrived at the TRC shows off her latest artwork.
these girls (one is the sister in the photo two shots above) arrived at different times at the TRC, but they've been pretty much inseperable. They rank in my top 5 favorite Tibetans of all time, bumping His Holiness the Dalai Lama to number 6.
i'm tall
These kids are receptive to anything artistic, including shamelessly plugging Global Transmission. Of course they're kids, so sometimes things go wrong on the set, such as the props being upside down.
These two sisters are also in the Top 5 Tibetan list. They left for Dharamsaala on Tuesday, much to my sadness. But before they left I gave them my business card, and told them to first learn English, then learn to use the internet, email me, and then read the mantras of the Global Transmission blog religiously.

Speaking of reading religiously, Dónde está Ché Pelotas?