In the Fast Lane

My landlord Ram giving me a ride into town.

Tihar (Diwali): Festival of Light

Festival of light
Of shadow
Of course
One cannot exist
Without the other
But who wants to celebrate shadow?
The dark side of the moon
The deep ocean
Our inner demons
The place where danger lurks

We are not encouraged
To engage
To explore
To confront shadow

It takes courage
Which, when taken
Can be most enlightening

Tihar festival in Nepal, also known as Diwali in India, is not only the festival of light but also the start of the Newari/Nepali New Year. Newars are the people inhabiting the Kathmandu valley.

Broken Boon in Need: Update 2

For the first time since Wednesday I saw Pasang smile. He also responded for the first time to my questions. His parents also looked a lot more relaxed. They must have finally realised that financial help was coming through. Pasang was released from hospital today. With that my involvement will end.

Last night I visited Swiss people who helped me with Teo’s text in German. It was quite late by the time I left. Public transport in the city finishes at around 9 pm. A bus did come my way. I waved, as you do here if you want to board a bus. It stopped but was empty of passengers. The driver and conductor were on their way home from work. That did not stop them to take me and drop me off where I needed to be, free of charge.

How is that for service, where in the (first) world would that happen? Little things like this make Nepal such a great place. Despite all the poverty and suffering human kindness prevails here. Even a 10- year armed conflict could not destroy that.

Film South Asia

From 11-14 October Film South Asia was held in Kathmandu. FSA is a documentary film festival that is held every second year. I had no idea what to expect, but I was really impressed with the festival. Screenings took place at Kumari cinema, a modern complex with to cinemas. The one complaint I had was that films were only screened once, which meant that you could only see half of the films on offer. I was impressed with the organisation. The catalogue, presentations, discussions etc. were in English, a real bonus. All films were in English or had English subtitled.

Below is a list of my 4 favorites in order of preference just in case you may come across an opportunity to see them:

Between the Lines (95 min),
India 2005, by Thomas Wartmann
Documentary about the Hijra community in Mumbai.

Eisenfresser (Iron Eaters), (82 min) ****
Bangladesh 2007, by Shaheen Dill-Riaz
Documentary about seasonal workers on gigantic shipwrecking yards.

Chaame Due! Tara Nabirsa! (Forgive! Forget Not!), (52 min)
Nepal 2007, by Pranay Limbu
Docudrama about a journalist detained for 15 months in an army barrack.

Living Goddess (96 min)
Nepal 2007, by Isabel Withaker
Documentary about the three Kumari's, living goddesses of Kathmandu Valley.

2000 Candles

Light and darkness, such a magic combination.
The stupa of Boudhanath, Nepal

Broken Bone in Need: UPDATE

The boy, Pasang has been operated. His family raised the first 4,000 rupees for the operation, a large enough deposit for the hospital to actually do the operation. I raised 4,000 rupees here in Nepal from people I know and the last 5,000 I raised in Holland through family and friends who have been most generous.

So thanks to all your help. This boy has been saved from becoming a crippled beggar for the rest of his life and the family no longer has to spend years in debt because of a simple but costly fall of a playing boy!

I have never felt so good to be able to help out. With so little such a dramatic difference was achieved in people’s life. I am beginning to get a glimpse of how Teo Baba must have felt. He dedicated most of his life to helping people in need in Nepal
(PS: Teo Baba was a Swiss guy whose story I am following at the moment, click on his name to see more information about him).

Broken Bone in Need:

Today I went for a walk in the back lanes of Boudhanath hoping to film women winnowing. I had barely turned off from the main road when there was some commotion ahead of me. As I approached the group of people a young man asked for help.

“What is the problem?” I asked. “This boy has a paralised arm”, he said. I took a closer look at the scruffy kid that was cornered by the crowd. People grabbed his arm to show me. He screamed. The filth on his face could not hide his agony. One look at his elbow was enough for me and my little medical knowledge to diagnose a badly broken bone near his elbow. The lower arm just dangled and the broken bone was almost poking through his bruised skin. Not a happy sight. The accident had happened 3 hours earlier…

I had to raise my voice to stop the people around him from touching him. They had no idea what was wrong with him and that their handling was causing more pain and could worsen the injury. I managed to explain what was wrong and urged them to take the boy immediately to a hospital.

Lack of money was the real problem it seemed, could I help? I only had little money on me, and I am reluctant to give money without knowing how sincere the need is. I offered to take the boy to a clinic and take it from there. His parents were identified, together we walked to the main road. They wanted to carry and hold the boy. Thank God they listened and let the boy walk himself, which caused him the least amount of pain. I have never seen such a tough kid, he looked distressed and dazed, but not a tear.

We got into a crowded shared taxi, the huge potholes in the road caused more agony for the kid, but there was no other option. I raised him onto my lap so he dangling arm would not hit the seat.

He was straight away looked at in the emergency room. X-rays confirmed what I feared. His bone was fully broken and displaced so badly that he will need an operation which will cost 13,000 rupees, about 150 euros/NZ$290 (4-6 months of salary). I paid for the x-rays and gave the boy some Reiki, hoping it would ease the swelling and thus the pain a little. He was given a half cast for the time being and kept in hospital for observation till the operation this Friday.

I often question the benefit of giving money to beggars or poor people, as this is only temporary relief, and does not much for sustained improvements. I do give my spare change to people with disabilities as there is no social welfare here. A little goes a long way. Education would go much further as this case of ignorance demonstrates.

Today I did give money as it was an emergency. I would have given more if I had it on me, but I didn’t. Anyway, I would like to check first with the doctor to see how much the family can help themselves and how much discount the hospital can afford. I intend to do that tomorrow.

If any one of you (in Holland or New Zealand) feel like helping out financially, let me know immediately. Feel free to pledge a contribution (by email at: marcel[dot]baaijens[at]gmail[dot]com). I will match it dollar for dollar. Once I know if it is really needed I will call on your pledge (money can be deposited into my New Zealand or Dutch bank account). I will keep you informed.