8/21/18

Plogging For Plastic Wastes, by Hemang Dixit


Question: With this sort of awareness of the bane of plastics in tiny Nepal (below) and in Europe, what are we in the USA and the rest of the world doing to address the plastic pollution crisis?  Don't leave it up to government; it's everyone's responsibility.

IT'S TIME TO CLEAN UP & GET ON WITH BIO-DEGRADABLES! ~DM/Himalayan Snows


In Europe there is awareness about recycling of plastics

The Guardian reported recently that the figure of recycling of plastic in Norway was as high as 95%. Norway recycles each used plastic bottle twelve times. Germany claims to do a lot of recycling too and claims that its efforts are more successful than that of the Scandinavians

The Swedes were perhaps the first to burn their trash and use the energy obtained for heating purposes in a major town. This is an ongoing project which is being copied in other parts of the world. In Sweden they have gone further and adopted a novel idea to deal with plastic waste. The originators of this activity which is being copied in many countries of Europe with enthusiasm are the Swedes. Basic idea is from the Swedish word ‘ploke’ which means to collect. One starts by putting on running shoes, picks up a container, even a plastic bag in one’s hand and jogs around the park or city streets / lanes, stooping periodically to pick up garbage which has been strewn around by ‘Litterbugs’ of the community.
Going around parks with their pet dogs and collecting the ‘poo’ in plastic bags and throwing it in the bin does not solve the problem of the plastic bag which is not biogradeable. Styrocene cups for coffee are also major offenders. What are required are cups made of paper which are biodegradeable or even of plastic which decompose quickly.
In Europe there is awareness about recycling of plastics. The Guardian reported recently that the figure of recycling of plastic in Norway was as high as 95%. Norway recycles each used plastic bottle twelve times. Germany claims to do a lot of recycling too and claims that its efforts are more successful than that of the Scandinavians.
This is not possible in Nepal. Kathmandu Nagarpalika is said to have a plan for management of wastes in co-operation with different municipalities in the valley. The road to the overused dumping site at Sisdole cannot be used during the monsoon season so our wastes pile up all over the town. Long term solution was said to be at Banchare Danda together with the construction of a plant to convert the wastes into compost. Reality is that during this monsoon period the wastes of Kathmandu have not been removed. The hope is that private parties will do this.
However on 1st Asar 2075 (15 July 2018) a stretch of 100 meters of Anupam Tole of Pokhara Municipality of Gandaki Pradesh became the first Municipality of Nepal to asphalt a road with plastic garbage. The wastes were first converted to pellets, mixed with bitumen, spread on the road and finally compressed to make a metalled surface. This section of the road was inaugurated by mayor Man Bahadur KC. Congratulations to all the pioneers of Gandaki for their initiative.
It is interesting to note that this technology of using plastic wastes by converting into pellets and then for building roads has been introduced in India. About 15 kilometres of metalled such road was made in Jamshedpur, the steel city of India. Roads built in this fashion last must longer than those constructed in regular fashion. It is cheaper too as the amount of bitumen required is reduced by almost 10%.
An article in the daily Star newspaper of Bangladesh states that about 15 kilometres of road has been built in Jamshedpur, the steel city of India. As from 2015 the Government of India has made it mandatory to utilise plastic wastes for making roads. Currently as many as 11 states in India have utilised this technology to build as much as 100,000 kilometres of metalled roads in the country.
Apparently plastic use has increased greatly since 2005 and is becoming a problem. To counter it the Bangladesh government is implementing its 3R policy (reduce, reuse and recycle) in two major cities of Dhaka and Chittagong where it is a major problem. The use of plastic, it is felt will make the metalled roads more durable and longer lasting than the existing process. Ghana, in West Africa is building roads out of plastic bags too.
We in Nepal, taking the examples of India and Bangladesh and in line with the initiative of Pokhara should set up medium sized plastic pellets manufacturing units in some selected sites in Nepal for recycling plastic wastes. Our newspapers have reported that a number of our highways and newly constructed roads need urgent repair to lessen the daily accidents that occur. Using these plastic pellets for the building of our roads will solve two major problems that we Nepalis have been contending with.
Later information about plastics that was posted in Facebook is that so far about 6.3 billion tons of plastic have been produced. Of this 12% have been burnt, 9//5 have been recycled. The estimate is that there is currently 4.9 billion tons of plastic remaining in the world. However, plastic is also a necessity for modern day living. For example the keeping quality of much what we eat is preserved for longer periods and does not have to be thrown away if not consumed. It is used for making modern day clothing but plastic has become the bane of modern living. Plastic is a basic component for the development of the information technology which modern living cannot do without. The debit aspect of all this is that because of it erratic disposal, much of it finally ends up in the oceans and leads to the death of fishes, turtles and even birds which thinking that it is eatable end up by being suffocated or clogged up by this indigestible material. The present plastic wastes, if heaped at one site will create a mountain that is bigger than the 8848 metres high Mt. Everest of our land and reach up to the skies.
Sweden now has a shortage of plastic wastes and has to import these for utilisation to heat cities during winter months. Another piece of news is that the Japanese have found in their garbage dumps an enzyme that digests plastic and are developing it further. Is this the saviour of humankind?
(Spotlight magazine, Kathmandu, Aug. 17 2018)
SEE MORE - FACTS & FIGURES, at: www.thecivilengineer.org/news-center/latest-news/item/1498-the-plastic-pollution-problem-in-charts


8/9/18

Crossing the Dark Waters: Reflections on Jang Bahadur's Trip to Europe in 1850

“They came, they were seen, and forthwith they conquered. To look at the lustre of their retinue, to count the diamonds which sparkled on their brown skins, to mark the gemmed turbans, the jeweled aigrets, the white bird of Paradise plumes―who would not have been forgiven for believing that the whole party might be an incarnation from the ‘Arabian Nights’... Coming in this guise, lavishing diamonds and gold, enshrined in a halo of oriental mystery, the Nepal Embassy became at once the talk of the town.” (From a London newspaper, July 24 1850)

In 1850, almost four years into his reign as the most powerful man in Nepal, Jang Bahadur Rana set out on the first Nepalese mission to Europe, where he visited England and France. The Prime Minister, along with his two youngest brothers Jagat Shamsher and Dhir Shamsher Rana, plus an entourage of officials and a covey of servants and personal attendants, arrived in Southampton on May 14, 1850, after a month-long sea voyage from Calcutta. It was Jang Bahadur’s first time traveling away from the subcontinent.
Accounts of the momentous trip are told in several memoirs and history books, and in the English and French press of the time. What dazzled many Europeans was the splendor of the premier’s attire. But there was more to the trip than how he looked. In Europe they, he and his entourage were hosted by important officials, visited numerous places of historic, economic and military significance, participated in many state-sponsored events, and enjoyed some of the pleasures of Victorian London and Napoleonic Paris on their own.
What tends to have been forgotten over time are the complications members of the Nepalese party confronted while attempting to sustain their caste status as conscientious Hindus.
Maintaining Caste
These days we give little thought to Hindus traveling abroad, but in the mid-19th century leaving home on the Indian subcontinent and crossing the ocean―the ‘dark waters’―to foreign lands was a frightening prospect. Attention to the long-established rules for maintaining caste purity was taken seriously and often achieved with great difficulty.
The fear of losing caste and the rules for observing caste values are grounded in the ‘Dharma Shastras’, ancient laws that have guided Hindu religious life for more than two thousand years. The Shastras clearly banned crossing the ocean (‘samudra-yana’) to visit foreign lands. Why? Because, as religious scholars have pointed out,it was nearly impossible to observe the obligatory personal worship three times a day, and other requirements while traveling on a ship at sea. Restrictions regarding food, drink, and commensality were especially challenging. The risk of traveling afar in the company of non-Hindus was to live in a state of perpetual pollution from the sin of ‘mleccha samparka’, politely defined as ‘mixing with foreigners’ though ‘barbarians’ is a more accurate definition of ‘mleccha’.
For Hindu travelers to avoid or counteract the consequences of impurity and to rid themselves of guilt, an especially odious and lengthy routine of penance was prescribed. In its strictest form, lasting up to three years, the penitent was allowed to eat only a little food as infrequently as every fourth mealtime, to pass each day standing and each night sitting, and to bathe morning, noon, and night. Upon return to India, a bath in the holy Ganges was considered essential to regaining caste purity. (On their return from Europe in early 1851, Jang Bahadur and his companions did just that during a stop in Benares.)
The concerns that Jang Bahadur, his two brothers and the other travelers in his party expressed about observing caste restrictions, especially while eating, are described, for example, in the memoir of their official minder, Orfeur Cavenagh. The British had assigned Captain Cavenagh as “Political Charge of a Mission from the Court of Kathmandhoo to Her Most Gracious Majesty” in London. In that capacity, he accompanied and guided Jang Bahadur and his brothers on a daily basis, sometimes interpreting for them (though they also had an official interpreter) and had every opportunity to observe how they behaved. Their efforts to maintain caste purity are also mentioned by other authors, historians, and curious European journalists.

Unknown Rules
As an ‘old India hand’ and Hindi speaker, Capt.Cavenagh was well aware of Hindu customs. He did all he could to assure that the party had adequate accommodations, with bathing, cooking, and eating facilities that met their needs. He also mentions several occasions when their European hosts breached local convention and ‘broke the rules’ to accommodate some of the strange customs of their honored guests. Perceval Landon writes that their British hosts, who were largely ignorant of their guests’ needs and tastes, were especially “anxious not to transgress the unknown rules of caste.”
For their part, the Nepalese did their best to avoid breaking the most fundamental customs regarding ritual pollution. Padma Jang Rana, a son of Jang Bahadur writing from his father’s personal journal, describes life aboard ship on the first leg of their sea journey out of Calcutta as having been “arranged in a thoroughly orthodox Hindu style” –
“The Europeans [he writes] wondered at the Minister’s seclusion during mealtime, and the scrupulous care he always showed in keeping himself and his things aloof from the touch of any non-Hindu. So rigid was he in the observance of the customs of his country, and the principles of his caste, that he... never tasted anything but fruits while on board the steamer, and even then, not before placing a thick screen in 'front of him, to save himself from being stared at.
This is a unique feature of the Hindu character, for while Europeans feel no delicacy in taking meals in public, Hindus, especially of the higher grades, ...always take their meals in privacy.”
Padma Jang Rana points out that to Jang Bahadur the ship’s “common deck implied abominable contact with objectionable people.” Thus, during the first few days of the long voyage, until arrangements were worked out for the Nepalese servants to prepare meals onboard, all food for Jang Bahadur and the others was both cooked and eaten ashore. This Hindu character trait appeared “unintelligible to Europeans to whom our universal ‘chowka system’ is a constant puzzle.” The rule was that cooked food carried away from the ‘chowka’ (the cooking place) was considered unclean, hence unfit for caste-conscious Hindus.
Hide the Cows
Two examples of the care the Nepalese travelers took regarding food and drink show how Hindu custom sometimes bumped uncomfortably up against European convention. For their own convenience aboard ship, the Nepalese brought cows that they alone milked (but, being considered sacred, never slaughtered for food). Shortly after boarding the P. & O. line’s steamship Ripon in Alexandria, Egypt, for crossing the Mediterranean Sea, Jang Bahadur came to Capt. Cavenagh “sadly distressed” to learn that other cows on board were killed to provide meat on the European menu. So affronted were the Nepalese at this, Jang Bahadur is said to have told Cavenagh if there was no way of stopping “this most objectionable practice..., he would immediately quit that ship and engage another.” Cavenagh averted that by arranging with the purser to carefully conceal the time and place of cow slaughter, a plan to which Jang Bahadur uncomfortably agreed.
Once that was settled, the Nepalese set up housekeeping on the ‘Ripon’ for the remainder of the journey. An article in the London press describing shipboard accommodations, mentions that given “their strict notions” regarding religion, diet, bathing, and dread of contaminating the food, cooking vessels, and utensils –
“they were compelled to engage the whole of the forecabins and saloons of the Ripon, in which they fitted up cooking apparatus, which was constructed out of a large square box made of planks and paddle-floats, filled with mud and sand. The fuel they used was charcoal. Their principal food on board was poultry, kids [goat], eggs, rice and vegetables. They took in themselves at each port they touched at, what water they used.”
   

















The Paddle Steamer Ripon at the Port of Southampton, England
Dock their Tails
Another problem arose when it was found that the sheep brought on board the ‘Ripon’ for the Nepalese to butcher and eat were of the European long-tailed variety, which they told Cavenagh they were forbidden to eat. To the ship’s authorities this seemed easy to make right. So, as Cavenagh tells it, out of sight and probably with a bit of jollity on the part of the crew, –
“an animal with an apparently orthodox tail was duly made over to the Nepalese party for execution. The appointed executioner was not disposed to become too inquisitive as to the origin of the shortness of the tail of the fine fat sheep destined to become the dinner of himself and his fellows. Unfortunately, however, amongst the members of the Minister’s suite was an old Kazi under a vow not to indulge in animal food for a certain period; under no circumstances, therefore, could he partake of the repast. This old gentleman, who was of rather a crabbed disposition, insisted upon being allowed to examine the sheep to satisfy himself that his brethren acted in accordance with their religious tenets. The result of his minute scrutiny established... that the animal they were about to sacrifice had originally been born with a long tail.”
Capt. Cavenagh was of the opinion that the companions of the “old Kazi,” Karbir Khatri, were prepared to ignore the docked tail and get on with cooking up a nice mutton curry. But out of respect, apparently, for the concerns of the elder gentleman they outwardly expressed great astonishment at the revelation. Or, as Cavenagh put it, with a touch of irony –
“Inwardly, I fancy, many were the curses against their friend’s officiousness. However, the requirements of religion must be obeyed. Monsieur le Mouton [with the docked tail] was at once released and bundled up stairs to join his companions and to become food for heterodox Christians instead of orthodox Hindus; whilst the suite for the rest of the voyage were obliged to content themselves with rice and flour and such like comestibles.”
After arriving in London, Cavenagh assumed Karbir Khatri must have been barred from examining what went on in the kitchen, for nothing more was heard about short-tailed sheep.
Cut the Carpet
The Nepalese party’s concern for keeping rigid standards of separation from the Europeans went well beyond what they ate, to the point of rearranging the furnishings. One London journalist described the lengths to which they went to avoid contaminating situations –
“In the matter of eating and drinking, the Nepaulese gentle-men continue to keep rigidly to their rules of faith and custom. As regards animal food, they eat mutton and goat’s-flesh .... cooked after their own fashion by their own retainers. Fruit is the only refreshment, as my readers may be aware, of which the Nepaulese will partake in the dwelling of Giaour [meaning ‘gaur’, ‘an infidel’ in Persian]; and in consuming even it, the most curiously rigid system of isolation appears to be requisite.
"At a recent féte, at which all artistic and aristocratic London were present, the Nepaulese, before they sat down to their collation of peaches, nectarines, and so forth, were not only ensconced in a closed room with trusty sentinels at the door, but the carpet of the apartment in which they sat, and which was of the same piece as that which covered the floor of the adjoining chamber, was, at their request, severed at the threshold, and rolled back on either side, so as to destroy the idea of any immediate connexion or communication between themselves and the neighboring infidels.”
Don’t Drink the Water
What to drink, and to drink from, were also problematic. The Nepalese were guests at numerous receptions and parties in England, at which they took no drink and ate nothing more than some raw fruit. In those days, as historian John Whelpton explains, Hindus of “pure caste” would not accept water from “impure” sources, which included ‘iyuropiyen’ (Euro-peans) or 'kristan’ (Christians). Impur-ity could be transmitted through water from ‘mlechhas’ but not by touch. Thus, while Jang Bahadur and members of his party could shake hands with their European hosts, they would not accept a glass of water from them.
Their behavior confounded no less than Queen Victoria herself. When Her Majesty met Jang Bahadur during an event at the Palace, she expressed the hope that he would make a tour through the United Kingdom beyond London before leaving the realm. Then, as Cavenagh tells it –
“His Excellency, in reply, stated that he was extremely anxious to do so, but, unfortunately, his religion offered an insuperable bar to his travelling as much as he could wish, as difficulties were experienced with respect to his securing suitable cooking utensils. Her Majesty, appearing somewhat surprised at this answer, I at once explained the peculiarities of the Hindoo faith, more especially as regards their being prohibited from making use of cooking-pots that had been rendered unclean by the touch of one of another creed or of inferior caste.”
Jang Bahadur and his brothers eventually toured a bit more of England and some of Scotland where, along the way, they encountered a drinking water problem at a railway station. According to a rather high-sounding newspaper account, what happened at Castle Station went something like this–
“His highness being thirsty the interpreter inquired for some water, and, in the emergency, one of the [railway station] porters hastily procured it in one of the men’s coffee cans. This not being accepted, and the porter supposing the vessel was too plebeian for his highness to use, a clean tumbler, containing the pure element, was tendered, but also solemnly rejected. In this dilemma his Highness, or Magnificence, as the splendor of his costume would warrant his being styled, caught sight of the stand-pipe and hose by which the engines are supplied with water, and supposing it to be a spring, endeavoured to find where he could dip in his own drinking-cup, and procure water unpolluted by contact with any vessel in Christian use. The whole party curiously examined the water-pipe, but of course could make nothing of it, and returned to the train with his Highness’s want unsatisfied.”
Mixing socially with European ‘mlechhas’ abroad was, at times, clearly onerous.
⎼⎼
By Don Messerschmidt, ECS Nepal magazine (Kathmandu), August 2018. 
http://ecs.com.np/features/crossing-the-dark-waters-reflections-on-jang-bahadurs-trip-to-europe-in-1850

Sources: ● Orfeur Cavenagh,Reminiscences of an Indian Official’ (1884); ● Padma Jang Bahadur Rana,Life of Maharaja Sir Jung Bahadur’ (1909); ● John Whelpton, Jang Bahadur in Europe: The First Nepalese Mission to the West’ (1983); ● Percival Landon, Nepal (1928); ● Purushottam S.J.B. Rana,Jung Bahadur Rana: The Story of His Rise and Glory (1998);and ● contemporaneous European newspaper accounts quoted in Whelpton’s book. 

8/8/18

A Friend of the Broom: The First Nepali to Visit England

It’s been said that Prime Minister Jang Bahadur, in 1850, was the first Nepali to visit England. One early account goes so far as to say that he was “The first Asian to visit England.” Another describes him as “the first Hindoo of so high a caste who has ever been presented to the Queen.”
The latter claim is probably correct, but Jang Bahadur was by no means the first Nepali, first Hindu, nor “first Asian” to visit England. He was, however, the first head of state from Nepal to do so, in 1850. (The second was his nephew, Prime Minister Chandra Shamsher, in 1908.)
The first Nepali known to have lived in England was from Bhaktapur. As a young man, Motilal Singh fought and was captured in the Anglo-Nepal War of 1814-16. He spoke English and impressed his British captors, one of whom encouraged him to migrate to England. Once there, however, and down on his luck, he joined the poor London street people including cripples, children, and other foreigners to eke out a meager living as a crossing sweeper.
A crossing sweeper’s job was to brush away muck, mud, and manure at city street crossings to keep pathways open for ladies in long dresses and gentlemen in fine apparel, for which he was given a gratuity.

Before automobiles, the streets of Victorian London and other cities were often crowded with horse-drawn carriages. It was said that in London alone, close to 100,000 horses passed along the unpaved city streets each day. You can imagine all the odiferous horse buns that had to be swept away to clear a path for those well-dressed ladies and gents to pass unsullied.
One day Motilal’s crossing sweeper career came to a sudden but happy end. According to a June 1850 London newspaper account –
"Every one who has passed through St. Paul’s Church-yard to Cheapside on a rainy day, when birch brooms are very much in requisition, must have noticed the well-known Hindoo crossing-sweeper, who has for years past regularly stationed himself at the northeast angle of the Cathedral. A day or two ago he was at his post as usual, when the attention of the Nepaulese Ambassador [Jang Bahadur Rana], who was passing at the time, was attracted towards him. His Excellency ordered the carriage to stop, and entered into conversation with him [in Nepali], the result of which was that he threw his broom with desperate eagerness over the railing....
"He now appears every morning arrayed in a new and superb Hindoo costume and is not too proud to recognise his old acquaintances and friends of the broom."
After that, ‘Mutty Lall Sing’ (as he was known to the English) was often seen with the Nepalese mission visiting many places as an informal interpreter and companion. He is said to have accompanied the Nepalese entourage to France and is thought to have returned to Nepal with them.
There is no mention, however, of Motilal in the published accounts of Jang Bahadur’s historic European tour. His story appears only in a few short, obscure accounts in English newspapers of the time. The snippet above is from ‘Vicissitude of Fortune’, in London’s ‘Indian News’ of June 17, 1850. It was reprinted among excerpts from the European Press appended to John Whelpton’s ‘Jang Bahadur in Europe’ (1983).
More recently, the Nepalese researcher Krishna Adhikari, while investigating Nepalese migration to England, found yet another story about Motilal in ‘The Economist’ of June 1, 1850. It forms the basis of Adhikari’s own short study entitled ‘A Nepali in Victorian England: Motilal–Soldier, Crossing Sweeper, Chronicler,’ published by London’s Migration Museum at www.migrationmuseum.org.
Better to be a lowly Friend of the Broom than a down-and-out Nepali beggar on the filthy streets of Victorian London. Better yet to be discovered and compassionately befriended by Jang Bahadur and his brothers, dressed up in Nepalese finery, and cheerfully toss your broom aside for a new life.
By Don Messerschmidt. Reprinted from ECS Nepal magazine (Kathmandu), Aug. 2018. 

http://ecs.com.np/spilled-ink/a-friend-of-the-broom-the-first-nepali-to-visit-england

Illustration: One-Legged Crossing-Sweeper (artist unknown)

7/24/18

Crossing Nepal's Risky 'Parris' of Old





Ever cross a ‘parri’? Here’s your chance, vicariously.

I’ve had fun recently perusing mountaineering books dating back over half a century looking for dangerous river walks. Wow, what travelers in Nepal’s outback went up, across, around, over, and through in the early days of trekking. Some of them wore hob-nailed boots and carried clumsy wood-frame-and-canvas backpacks. But that was nothing compared to the obstacles they faced, often scared and befuddled, on trails through roaring river gorges.
Consider what climbers on the 1954 British Expedition to Baudha Himal faced while trekking along the Buddhi Gandaki River. It was there, well below the peak, that they encountered a particularly spectacular bamboo ‘parri’ across a cliff face. Their account describes traversing one spectacular stretch “Where the rock walls of the gorge fall vertically” blocking passage. Then, either “the track goes under water and one wades downstream; or it climbs a thousand feet to avoid the obstacle; or it is built out on catwalks of dilapidated bamboo on the walls themselves.”

They describe these “incredibly gimcrack” catwalks, or gangways―known locally ‘parris’―as fearful to traverse. “Miscellaneous bits of wood and bamboo splinters formed the hammock-like ‘pathway’, tied together with rotting pieces of twine,” we read in ‘The Moated Mountain’ (1955). One of the Brits noticed “with more than a little trepidation” that the knots used to bind the ‘parris’ were granny knots, a derisive term for reef-knots (or square-knots) tied the wrong way, making them exceptionally insecure. But then they noticed that “the material forming the footing was probably as likely to give away as the knots.” In either case, “Directly beneath these shattered contraptions the grey glacier-torrent swirled along, ... mercilessly swift. If a man once fell into its smooth cold grasp there would be no hope whatever of saving him.”

Where the parri was absent, the traveler faced the bare cliff and either waded “up to his neck” in the river or would “claw his way desperately along the hanging rock,” or performed an acrobatic “fly-crawl along an outward-sloping ledge overhanging the torrent.”
In short, bamboo parris were treacherous. But, so were those made of wooden planks.

In 1950, H.W. ‘Bill’ Tilman and party crossed a particularly dangerous plank ‘parri’, deep down in the Marsyangdi River gorge on the Manang trail. Today’s modern travelers have the option of going up and down this route by bus, jeep or motorcycle, or by walking, either on the road or by an alternate route opened by the Annapurna Conservation Area Project (ACAP). But in 1950 there were no such options, nor were there in the 1960s when I first trekked this way.

In his classic ‘Nepal Himalaya’ (1952), Tilman describes the Marsyangdi River parris as wooden galleries “seldom wider than a single plank ... reached by a stone staircase or up-ended logs with footholds cut in them. When the river was low many of these cat-walks could be avoided by a little boulder-hopping in the riverbed. In the rains the traveler has no choice. He must then mind his step, for the planks are greasy with rain or with spray from the surging river.”

Sometimes they had particularly frail handrails, “better left alone or at the most touched rather than grasped. The track, slimy, slippery and half overgrown after months of rain, presented the unwary with many opportunities for misadventure. One had to shuffle very quietly over the narrow planks of the ‘parris’ which were greasy enough to warrant the strewing of a little sand for those misguided enough to wear rubber-soled boots.”

Be grateful today that most of Nepal’s wild river crossings have safe modern steel bridges. In my mind’s eye, however, I see myself in something like an old vaudeville filmstrip close to slipping off one of those gimcrack gangways into the roaring river.

Originally published as 'Crossing the Risky 'Parris' of Old' in ECS Nepal magazine (Kathmandu), July 2018, http://ecs.com.np/spilled-ink/crossing-the-risky-parris-of-old. Photo from ‘The Moated Mountain’ by Showell Styles (1955).



6/8/18



The ruins of 
AMAR JYOTI HIGHER SECONDARY SCHOOL in Luitel, Gorkha District Nepal, after the April 2015 Gorkha Earthquake. This school was originally built in the early 1960s by the United Mission to Nepal (UMN). An additional building was added later, courtesy of the Indian Government.

Since the Gorkha Earthquake the 400+ students of AJHS School have been suffering in cold and heat, rain or shine, under tarps and in tents and other makeshift facilities.
Promises from several agencies to rebuild the school have not come through, so we at the all-volunteer, non-profit Gorkha Foundation (I'm on the Board of Advisors) are taking up the challenge to raise the estimated $200,000 needed to go ahead with construction of a new facility. 
It is time to rebuild. 

 IF YOU CAN HELP -- please do! -- go online to www.Gorkhafoundation.org, or contact me directly at dmesserschmidt[at]gmail[dot]com. 



5/30/18

RUM DOODLE INSPIRATION

If you are familiar with the mountaineering spoof 'The Ascent of Rum Doodle' by W.E. Bowman -- it is VERY popular! -- you may wonder what inspired the author to write it. Here's my take on that, my theory: Go to 'A Himalayan mystery -- solved?' at http://old.himalmag.com/component/content/article/4819-a-himalayan-mystery-solved.html

I wrote and published the article a few years back, but it needs more circulation. And, I'd appreciate any comments in feedback (preferably to my email address; it's where I do most of my online business).

Enjoy the read.







See also the public group Facebook page:

The Ascent of Rum Doodle tribute page "We had Climbed the Wrong Mountain"

5/15/18


Andy Morang's blog, 'World of Decay,' presents a fascinating panoply of photos, many in black&white, of urban decay in the American South, and elsewhere.... 


Andy's blog is not all on urban decay, however, for he has recently posted a number of photos with commentary from the Nepal Himalayas taken on a trip I led in October-November 2017. Search "Nepal" on his blog to see vibrant ancient Himalayan culture alive and well, eminently fascinating and photogenic, in the modern world. 

For an introduction to film photography using a Leica camera search "Leica" on his blog. He's proficient in both film and digital imagery, But there is something to be said about the artistic aspects of film photography

Film Photography is (not) dead; Long Live Film Photography!

Andy can be reached at kodachromeguy at bellsouth.net

A Combi at an old Volkswagon dump.

The crowd at a riverside country fair in Nepal, with a long suspension bridge overhead.

Mannequins in Kathmandu.








It is time to read an Asian American writer: JHUMPA LAHIRI

Jhumpa Lahiri is the Pulitzer Prize–winning author of the short story collection Interpreter of Maladies, as well as the collection Unaccustomed Earth and two novels.
Why you should read her: Informed by her own experience as an immigrant, Jhumpa Lahiri's work addresses the anxieties and struggles of Indian-American immigrants and the deeply felt cultural gaps they encounter in a country very different from their homeland.
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Among Lahiri's many books are: 
* The Lowland* Namesake* Interpreter of Maladies and * Unaccustomed Earth
All her books are listed on her Amazon Author's Page at: www.amazon.com/Jhumpa-Lahiri/e/B001H6GTG0

Writer Tom Wolfe Dies at 88


Tom Wolfe—the journalist and author of many celebrated works, including “The Kandy-Kolored Tangerine-Flake Streamline Baby,” “The Right Stuff” and “Bonfire of the Vanities,” died Monday at age 88, according to The New York Times. His masterful use of colorful language and “novelistic techniques” in his nonfiction work ushered in the era of “New Journalism” in the 1960s. Wolfe wrote on California counterculture and LSD, the first American astronauts, and the culture of money and greed in 1980s New York. He also wrote essays for New YorkHarper’s and Esquire—believing that journalism had effectively removed the novel as “American literature’s main event.” Wolfe died in a Manhattan hospital.

Photo by Gasper Tringale/Reuters

Read it in The New York Times at www.nytimes.com/2018/05/15/obituaries/tom-wolfe-pyrotechnic-nonfiction-writer-and-novelist-dies-at-87.html

5/8/18

SWINGING IN A HIMALAYAN HAMMOCK by Erin Green (April 2018, ECS Nepal magazine)

I’VE BEEN SEARCHING FOR A GOOD HAMMOCK, and I’ve
found a Nepal-produced piece of resting perfection. They’re made by a tight team of three just outside Kathmandu. Since the business began, these hammocks have traveled all over the world—to Chile, America, Switzerland, and beyond. They’re super lightweight, durable, and made by hand. Well, they’re made by two hands. It’s a nice story.
I had the pleasure of meeting Yelamber Sing Adhikari who gave me an introduction to his business, Himalayan Hammocks. Besides my lifelong love of hammocks, I liked his voice. It’s like it was created swinging in a hammock. Plus, Yelamber had a touch of an American accent, giving my roots a little cuddle. If he hadn’t spent time studying and climbing in the States, these Himalayan Hammocks wouldn’t exist.
Yelamber had spent a summer climbing in Wyoming, driving around in his Suburu and crashing on friends’ couches. He’d climbed in Nepal before he went to study in the States, and he dug the diverse group of climbers in Wyoming. I think the group dug having a climber from Nepal around, too!
Eventually, he returned to Nepal and got involved with the Himalayan Outdoor Festival, which has been going on now for seven years. It’s a weekend combination of competitions—three cycling events, three running events, and two climbing ones. That can’t be easy to organize. But, he loves it. It’s growing as an event, and more and more Nepalis are taking part. That’s exciting.
The Himalayan Outdoor Festival also puts on the Adventure Film Festival, which is a selection of the same films shown at the Boulder Adventure Film Festival. Excitement, adventure, thrill, determination, focus, and endurance describe the events of the Outdoor Festival and the content of the films. After all of this adrenaline, you need some time to chill out.
That’s where Himalayan Hammocks comes in.  

Yelamber never thought he’d start a business with his hammocks, though. He’d just returned to Nepal, with his own American made hammock that was falling to pieces. He brought it to his local tailor, Parshu Ram, and asked if he could replicate it.
Parshu Ram is a tailor for the army by trade. He didn’t just replicate the old hammock, he enforced it and made it perfect.
It’s lightweight, only 300 grams for the hammock itself. It’s made of durable, waterproof Ripstop nylon, uses tough Beal climbing ropes to attach to carabiners, and ropes containing easy-to-attach-to daisy chains (so you don’t need to mess around with tying knots). It can be transformed into an emergency shelter by turning it upside down and made into an A-frame, and it has a mosquito net. It is about 8 ft by 4.5 ft, comes in pretty colors, and takes a minute to set up.
His friends wanted some.
He and his wife put their heads together and decided to give the business a go. They asked Parshu Ram, who has two kids in college, if he was in. All the money he makes outside his army work goes towards his kids. He came on board. They registered the business as a small business cottage industry in Bhaktapur in 2014. With the help of social media, especially Facebook and Instagram, the word got out about Himalayan Hammocks.
This is what Yelamber thinks is so cool; the relationships he’s built with people via his hammock’s social media sites. He says, “It’s a pretty amazing experience to have made really good friends from this. Plus, they’re amazing climbers and adventurers, so they send awesome pictures.” He gets a bit of free marketing when his friends and customers send him pictures of his hammocks dangling off slacklines above Lake Superior, or swinging over the snow at the base of Mt. Denali. He’s made friends and clients all over the globe from this venture.
Right now, Himalayan Hammocks is just a nice little business. It will grow in the future, but right now they’re pacing themselves. When bigger orders come in, Parshu Ram hires a few of his friends to help out. They’re stocked at Mountain Hardware and a few other small shops around Kathmandu and Patan, and available online.
I asked if he thought about selling abroad, but he believes the cost could be too high. Definitely too high for huge stores like REI, but perhaps some smaller independent shops would be able to stock their product in the future. They do have some international customers, who don’t mind the mighty shipping costs. This hammock is worth it.
Yelamber had a Swiss volunteer who took a whole bunch of hammocks, about 30 or 40, back to Switzerland to sell. “I guess she sold them for a really good mark-up, because she brought me a 10-liter outdoor solar shower. That was really sweet of her, cuz, you don’t expect someone to say, ‘Hey I sold your hammocks really well, here’s a solar shower.’ I’ve met some really great people from this. If not for Himalayan Hammocks, I wouldn’t have crossed paths with a lot of these people. So yeah, it’s really nice.”
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This article was originally published in ‘ECS Nepal’ magazine (Kathmandu) 
and online at http://ecs.com.np/craft-reviews/swinging-in-a-himalayan-hammock. 
For more about Himalayan Hammocks, see  –