Monday, April 5, 2010

Settled in Nepal

Okay! In case you've lost the thread: we were planning, for months, to volunteer with a program in Pokhara. Our contact had a death in the family and could not coordinate our visit. A week or so before going to Nepal, we emailed some random organizations we found on the internet and offered our services. We got the most enthusiastic response from the Esther Benjamins Trust, a UK-based org that rescues Nepali children who have been, or are at risk to be, trafficked into forced employment in Indian circuses.

For our first six days we stayed at a swank apartment in Thamel, the most touristy part of Kathmandu. The place was great for 21 hours of the day, but from 7 to 10pm, two cover bands on neighboring rooftops battled for stupid supremacy. We could not really imagine the clientele that would bother walking up three flights of stairs to hear "Love Me Do", "Even Flow", "Come as You Are," "Wild World", and a medley of your favorite hits by The Doors. Not only did each band play the same three-hour set list every night, but they BOTH PLAYED THE SAME SET LIST. Stupid. But the view was nice:
Here is an even prettier, if smoggy, view from the top of the monkey temple:
And here is a picture of the terribly polluted river:
And here is a picture of one of a billion temple statues around Kathmandu, this one in Bhaktapur's Durbar Square (we're really racking up the UNESCO World Heritage sites):

Bridget wanted to make sure you noticed that Nepali statuary carvers did not scruple to provide their subjects with ample genitalia. To draw attention to this tradition, it also seems that there are people who wander around temple sites slapping the statuary genitals with pink chalk, every day. Perhaps they make up a caste of their own!

Anyway, on the seventh day we moved into a room at the site of the Esther Benjamins Trust's refuge in Godawari:
View Larger Map

They are putting us up and feeding us for two and a half weeks while we try to create program-related teacher resources for use in the US and UK. We humbly acknowledge that this is a pretty amazing outcome. We are grateful! Make a donation to these folks!

On April 21st we head to Lukla to begin our nine-day trek, watch this space for more about that.

Shin Ramyun
Back in Brooklyn in the summer of '09, we discovered an amazing product called Shin Ramyun. Saying it's a brand of packaged ramen noodles would be like describing Bruce Wayne as a millionaire and leaving it at that. That's right, Shin Ramyun is the Batman of ramen noodles. Why? Cuz it's spicy. So spicy that you can water it down with twice as much water as the package recommends, toss in a bunch of fresh veggies and an egg and it will still spice your face right off.

How many packaged brands of ramen have their own wikipedia page? Don't answer that. Just revel in this unsourced claim on that page:
Like most instant noodles, it offers only minimal nutritional benefits.
Um, citation needed, right guys? Sounds like original research to me, in clear violation of wikipedia policy!

Anyway, I don't know why I wrote this except to say that Shin Ramyun is awesome, and has been available in every country we've visited so far, making itself a narrative through-line for our entire eight-month journey.