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Himalayan Studies Semester, Spring 2010


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OK, so we’ve all learned by not that you don’t have to speak Nepali to live in Kathmandu. In fact most tourists during their stay here learn little more than danyabad (thank you), and sometimes not even that. This is largely due to the fact that wherever you go, there will always be taxi drivers who understand what you want, shopkeepers who want to chat with you and probably a good number of educated Nepalis roaming the streets who might just speak English better than you do. Convenient yet sometimes disappointing- that’s globalization for you.

In light of these facts, the question becomes, why, in our short stay here, do we put so much effort into learning Nepali? Some of the more flip Dragon’s students here might tell you: what else would we do for 2 hours every morning?! But after a steep learning curve hastened by our excellent language teachers, we are reaping the benefits of our newfound knowledge and have come up with some more convincing reasons behind our hard work.

Reason number 1: Language acquisition distinguishes the tourist from the traveller (an idea that we explored in depth at the beginning of this course in Pico Ayer’s essay “Why We Travel”). This is not to say that all tourists speak no Nepali and all travellers speak the language fluently. However, while tourist might come here for a week and feel content speaking only English with the excellent staff hotels and restaurants in Thamel, a traveller feels obligated to make some effort to cater to the culture around them. This might be a “Namaste” here and a “Danyabad” there, or it might be looking through a dictionary to learn “charpi khahaa chha?” (where is the toilet?). The key word is not so much ‘learn’ as ‘try’ or ‘make the effort’. It is the effort and not the result that distinguishes the action.

Reason number 2: Trying to speak another language show’s respect towards another culture. In Buddhism, the physical prostration of a student before a teacher indicates a willingness to absorb and learn the dharma as well as humility to the master who gives this knowledge. In learning another language, we prostrate ourselves before that culture, opening ourselves to the teachings it has to offer.

Reason number 3: People like you more. As soon as you open your mouth to attempt a Nepali phrase, you turn from the incomprehensible Other into a potential friend. Every person wants to feel human connection but often judgements and misconceptions that occur across culture lines prevent us from making this connection. By learning another language we can reach across cultural barriers and integrate more easily into Nepali society. This is probably one of the biggest lessons we have been exposed to in Kathmandu. In restaurants, we delight waiters with our clumsy and slow attempts to order. Riding buses, I have been invited to tea at a Nepali’s house no less than five times. The last time I took a taxi, we spent ten minutes in a surely silence (I had bartered the man from 500 to 300 rupees) but when I timidly began a conversation, the driver told me with a great feeling all about his family, profession and the city of Kathmandu.

It is an intensely satisfying feeling to realize that you have just had a meaningful interaction with someone from a vastly different culture. For me personally, those moments are why I travel.

In conclusion, I have come to believe that all learning is good. Whether or not this learning will someday save your life, earn you money or even serve you in any way at all, it opens your brain to new possibilities and ideas and may spark interest in other areas. The more we practice this learning and openness, the easier it gets and frankly, good learners and thinkers are always in demand. Whether or not we use our Nepali when we go home, I think I can speak for 11 of us when I say that those two hours spent every morning in a stuffy classroom with our teachers completely worthwhile.

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Himalayan Studies Semester, Spring 2010

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Nepali bolnuhunchha?

Deva Steketee,Himalayan Studies Semester, Spring 2010

Description

OK, so we’ve all learned by not that you don’t have to speak Nepali to live in Kathmandu. In fact most tourists during their stay here learn little more than danyabad (thank you), and sometimes not even that. This is largely due to the fact that wherever you go, there will always be taxi drivers […]

Posted On

04/3/10

Author

Deva Steketee

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The other night, I offered to made Mexican food for my Nepali host family. They were very excited that I was going to be the one cooking for a change, and they had no idea what Mexican food was. I went with my friend Pawan all over my neighborhood to many fruit and vegetable stalls looking for avocados. Most of the time people did not know what we were even talking about, and it didn't help that I said it was a vegetable while Pawan said it was a fruit. One nice gentleman asked if we were looking for ice cream, and another one asked us if we were lost in english. We told him that we were looking for avocados, and he said that they were out of season, but that his friend had a tree if we wanted to go check that out. Otherwise, Bhat Batini, the big supermarket here, would be the place to look. We felt it was a victory when on the way to Bhat Batini we asked one more shop keeper if she had avocados, and she knew what they were! Even though she didn't have any.

At Bhat Batini I bought the ingredients to make fresh salsa, cheddar cheese (made in nepal actually), taco sauce, tabasco sauce, and premade jarred salsa, as well as a can of pinto beans cooked with jalapenos. I asked if they sold tortillas or tortilla chips, and the answer was no. So I bought taco shells, instead, and for dinner I broke them into pieces to serve as tortillas chips. I also bought chicken breasts and bell peppers and onions. At home, my Didi (older sister) and Bahini (younger sister) helped me to chop away for the salsa, vegetables and chicken, and were impressed with my cooking skills which i would say are pretty basic compared to theirs. I stir fried the vegetables and sauteed the chicken, topping it with the taco sauce. I made "Mexican rice" like my mom taught me, cooking it in the rice cooker and then mixing the premade salsa into it to give it a nice color. For tortillas, my Didis made chapati, the nepalese twist on our Mexican dinner. I called my Amaa in, and she looked with big eyes and the many bowls of food spread across the table. In Nepalese culture, usually you are served a plate of food, and the food that you touch is all for you. There are strict practices around food and not contaminating it by touching another persons food. We do not do make your own taco night ever here so I took a plate and made my Amaa three tacos with everything on them. The rest of my family (7 of us) went through asking me questions about what different things were and how to make the tacos. They were very adventurous though and everyone tried and food and liked it! It felt so good to spend time in the kitchen with my didis and create something to give back to them for all of the meals and kindness they have given me.

Later on in the evening they asked me to play my harmonium for them because i have been learning for my independent study project. We had a little sing along and my brother brought out his drum to play along. Overall it was a special and memorable evening that i feel was one of the best times i have had here in Nepal.

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Himalayan Studies Semester, Spring 2010

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Nepalese Tacos

Sarah McKenzie,Himalayan Studies Semester, Spring 2010

Description

The other night, I offered to made Mexican food for my Nepali host family. They were very excited that I was going to be the one cooking for a change, and they had no idea what Mexican food was. I went with my friend Pawan all over my neighborhood to many fruit and vegetable stalls […]

Posted On

04/2/10

Author

Sarah McKenzie

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Last week we had a man named Yoi Kayestra come to speak to us about Ecotourism. Before this lecture, I felt I could figure out the word and its application for myself. Ecotourism: be a tourist with consideration for the environment. But when you really think about it, tourism is detrimental to the environment becuase in order to be a tourist you have to travel which really racks up your Co2 emissions, and you consume more than you usually do at home. And while it may be simple to think that I can be a ecotourist if once i get to my destination, I recycle and don't leave my lights on when i'm not around, and walk around instead of taking taxis everywhere, these are things that while they are good to do they have more application where I am from rather than where I am going.

Nepal is an interesting place in regards to ecotourism because of the trekking industry, through which the environment suffers greatly. Nepal also relies heavily on the tourist industry for economic prosperity, as tourism is one of the major industries here. Tourism started in 1951 with the Democratic revolution, and really took off in the 1980s. 1999 was a peak year with 4,910 tourists, after which tourism went into a slump due to political instability in the country. In 2005 it picked up again, with a new record of half a million tourists in 2007, the majority of which were from the UK, then the US, China, Japan, Germany, and France. In that year the country made a $213 million ross profit from the tourist industry. 2011 has been officially delcared visit Nepal year, so those of you beginning to think about plans for next summer, Nepal is the place to go.

What does the tourism industry mean for Nepal's environment though, especially the mountain areas that are so popular for trekkers? Due to the inconsistent government and general lack of order in the country recently, environmental regulations have not been abided by, or people have just not been made aware of them. Before defining ecotourism, Yogi Kayestra defined a few other types of tourism that I did not know.

Responsible tourism- is when you know where the money you spend goes, how your activities affect the environment and local people and culture.

Quality tourism- is a strategy adopted by countries such as Bhutan where they limit the number of tourists and require them to spend a certain amount of money, so that while they have fewer tourists they are assured that they will spenda desired amount of money.

Control Tourism- limits the number of tourists who are able to go to certian areas to preserve those places from the strain of increased population.

Alternative tourism- the idea that new areas should be developed for trekking and visiting.

And finally Ecotourism. Coined by a member of the world tourism organization from Mexico, the term Ecotourism means traveling in a way that emphasizes environmental conservation, the well being of loval people, ensuring that these people recieve the benefits of the money you spend, and traveling in a way that is sustainable to the environement you are entering and the people who reside there. Yogi Kayestra offered a code of conduct specific to the more rural trekking regions of Nepal. It includes 1)using alternative sources of energy. An example of how to do this would be to stay in a hotel that you know uses solar energy, and to let them know that is why you chose them so that they continue to use solar energy and other hotels find insentives to switch to alternative energy sources. Another issue related to this isfuel used for heating water and cooking food. In the rural areas of Nepal some places use firewoodas fuel.There are not enough trees to support just the native population, and even those trees would rather not be cut down. Tostay in a hotel in one of these places and take a hot shower every day, requires a lot of fuel. Thinking carefully about where this hot water is coming from and what it takes for the locals to provide it for you is important. Also, when a group of touristsgoes into a restaurant in a rural area and all order different things to eat, this also uses more energy than ordering the same one or two dishes for everyone, not to mention you willget your food much quicker. 2)Not buying plastic water bottles. This is a big one around the Everest region where trekkers are drinking lots of water, and with no proper recycling or even trash system, these bottles just get dumped on the side of the trail. 3)Separating garbage and carrying back unburnable things. This one is similar to plastic bottles, but if you brings things with you that you cannot dispose of, and the establishments in the area cannot dispose of either, carry them out with you and dispose of them properly. 4) Use the bathroom away from water sources. While trekking it can seem convenient and sanitary for yourself to be close to a water source to clean yourself, but you are contamination the water source for the entire population by doing this. 5) not trekking related, don't buy antiques. Most of the antiques in Nepal are stolen from ancient areas many of which are world heritage sites. By buying antiques, you are supporting the dissapearance of the country's historical artifacts and world heritage sites.

While this code is Nepal specific and mostly trekking specific, I think it can be applied to tourists anywhere. I know for myself that I have not really considered theenvironmental and social impacts the my traveling has had, but I see an opportunity to become more aware of the consequences of my actions, especially in places where there might not be the same systems in place for protecting the environment and the people. Simple things like bringing a reusable water bottle with me when I travel, looking for locally made gifts and items or fair trade stores, eating in local restaurants, staying in local hotels, researching what if any alternative sources of energy are being used in the country and seeking out places that are using them, and just generally being more aware. As a tourist, one might think that they are just looking in on another culture and are therefore separate from it, not only physically separate by staying in resort hotels and not interacting with local people, but also mentally but not really considering the culture and lives of the local people who live there. As Dragons has encouraged its students to do, I also encourage you all to be travelers and not tourists. Don't look at another country from behind the window of an airconditioned tour bus but walk the streets and take tuk tuks with the local people. Strike up a conversation not with your tour guide but with the shopkeeper from whom you bought hand made gifts or the waiter at the restuarant where you tried your few words of the country's language. Engage! As all of us on this trip can tell you, its a much more fun, rewarding, and respectful way to travel.

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Himalayan Studies Semester, Spring 2010

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Ecotourism

Sarah McKenzie,Himalayan Studies Semester, Spring 2010

Description

Last week we had a man named Yoi Kayestra come to speak to us about Ecotourism. Before this lecture, I felt I could figure out the word and its application for myself. Ecotourism: be a tourist with consideration for the environment. But when you really think about it, tourism is detrimental to the environment becuase […]

Posted On

03/31/10

Author

Sarah McKenzie

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    [post_content] => We've hit the mid course mark! I can't believe how fast the time has gone. My days are packed full of activities; language class, lectures, isp, group time, transportation, etc. etc. A week feels like a day to me now. I'm finally able to catch my breath when I reach home at night. As a group, this feeling of stress was beginning to express itself by grumpy moods and exhausted body language. Our instructor team pulled the group together to talk about this current mindset. We needed to slow down but we didnt know how. So we tried this exercise, to bring our minds into the present. We began acting out how we felt as our instructor Shannon narrorated a story of a typical day in our lives. Suddenly she stopped, and told us to partner up with the person closest to you. Silently, we were told to study the person in front of us.I looked into Nick's face, seeing the same rushed expression as my own. Shannon continued to talk about how the person in front of you has felt the same feelings you have in the last month, feelings of insecurity, fear, frustration, stress, happiness, even anger. It was the first time I had really looked Nick in the eyes and thought about what his time in KTM has been like and how similar and different it is from my experience. I just wanted to give him a huge hug, hes become such a good friend and I feel like we all had forgotten to stop and check in with each other. And then we were off, walking around the room again, pretending like we were back in our busy KTM lives. Not stopping for anything, not stopping to think about how we felt about our experience and ourselves. Shannon told us to stop again and partner up with another person. Deva's cute, happy face was infront of me. I wondered if I had had the opportunity to really talk to Deva yet. I didnt think so, I had been "too busy". We brought the group back together and talked about different emotions or thoughts that had come up in this exercise. We contemplated goals, challenges, and request that we had for our group and wrote these things down so we could always remind ourselves of them. This time was meant to show the group that we can bring peace into our days. We dont need to feel stressed out all the time, making time for ourselves is really important. Its too difficult to function at such tense levels. We need to remind each other to take a step back and really look at Nepal and the new people we meet. Otherwise things just pass us by too fast for us to catch. I think this is a good reminder for everyone to make time in their day to reflect on their day, lives, and self. This exercise really helped me ground myself more and remember to live in the present.
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Himalayan Studies Semester, Spring 2010

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Mid Course Reflection

Hannah Oblock,Himalayan Studies Semester, Spring 2010

Description

We’ve hit the mid course mark! I can’t believe how fast the time has gone. My days are packed full of activities; language class, lectures, isp, group time, transportation, etc. etc. A week feels like a day to me now. I’m finally able to catch my breath when I reach home at night. As a […]

Posted On

03/31/10

Author

Hannah Oblock

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There are times when Nepali class takes place in the library or the classroom/sauna, and then there are times when it does not. One of these such times was last Monday when our dragons group, accompanied by Nishaji and Rajeshji, enjoyed a scrumtious breakfast at the local Basbari Nepali cafe, Swagat. Arriving at 9, quite late for our regular eating routine, we were informed by our guru Rajesh that during this meal, only Nepali would be spoken and each of us would be fined 1 ruppee for each time we engaged in English with our peers.

With our daunting task in mind, we each started out by placing our orders with a successful majority of us winding up with what we intended. Personally, I indulged in a Nepalese masala omelette which due to me inability ro properly phrase "what are the ingredients in this omelette?" in Nepali, was a suprise bite by bite.

Although our group was significantly quieter during this mela than usual, myself especially since I had for some unknown reason chosen a seat right beside Rajesh, we all managed to find some great topics to chat about. There was the usual "what are you eating", "what did you eat last night", "what are you doing today", "what did you do yesterday", "where is the bathroom", and "what time is it". Much to my delight, somehow my table even managed to have a nice conversation about our favorite movies, although translating the titles proved challenging and explaining the plot and reasons for liking them was no-doubt incomprehensible.

It is quite wasy in many parts of Kathmandu to get away with using English when interacting with Nepali's, so excersices forcing us to speak their language are very important. Even though it was partially out of fear of Rajesh taking all of our money that prompted our efforts, once we got rolling, it was was incredible to see how easy it was to stick to the native language. We have had fabulous instructors and each of us has become fully capable of basic conversation in Nepali, which has at least made my experiences smoother and more enjoyable.

Although our formal classroom Nepali lessons have come to a close, from here on out all of our classes with be similar to this breakfast. It is the Nepali people around us who will be teaching us as we stumble through the next 6 weeks of encounters. In my opinion this is the most effective learning style.

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Himalayan Studies Semester, Spring 2010

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Mitho Chha

Montana Feiger,Himalayan Studies Semester, Spring 2010

Description

There are times when Nepali class takes place in the library or the classroom/sauna, and then there are times when it does not. One of these such times was last Monday when our dragons group, accompanied by Nishaji and Rajeshji, enjoyed a scrumtious breakfast at the local Basbari Nepali cafe, Swagat. Arriving at 9, quite […]

Posted On

03/31/10

Author

Montana Feiger

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In Anil Chitrakar’s first development lecture, he talked with us about the nature of change. What factors bring change, what effects change has, the fundamentals of change, Anil made these broad, conceptual titles tangible realities with his unmatched ability to reason and connect with his audience. His second lecture took a more specific route, as he focused on the nature of institutions and systems and Nepal’s challenges in particular. We were once again astounded by his wealth of knowledge and ability to make us see the issues that often frustrate us in a new light.

In a developing nation like Nepal, there seem to be countless problems whose size alone makes tackling them look as simple as scaling Everest…without oxygen. In previous weeks, our group has been in charge of researching and presenting various development issues in Nepal and leading brainstorming sessions regarding their potential solutions. Because of this, we are no strangers to the complexity of development problems: how to earthquake-proof a city, what to do about a food crisis, and where the country should get its electricity only begin to scratch the surface. I know I’m not alone in feeling overwhelmed by the plethora of problems that Nepal faces, and while becoming more and more attached to the nation, frightened for its future.


One of the main sources of Nepal’s development problems comes from overpopulation in metropolitan areas such as Kathmandu. Anil reminded us that in order to begin to tackle overpopulation, the birth rate has to go down. Some people would leave it at that: the birth rate has to go down, and that can’t happen because in a cultural and religious context (the context that largely dictates the nation), telling people to use birth control more often wouldn’t be a very effective method. Anil told us to look at the root of this problem. Why do people have so many children in Nepal? We already knew the answer. People have so many children because the infant mortality rate is so high and the way of ensuring you have a family is to have as many children as possible. In order to make this change, a number of reforms are needed: sufficient education in rural areas about having children and sufficient healthcare, just to name two.


If we examine problem management in our modern day, the response of governments all over the world has traditionally been to wait and see what happens, then to study the issue (despite the fact that all issues have already been studied seemingly thousands of times), to make actions that propagate the issue illegal, to tax it, or to teach it. Take any issue we face, be it political, social, or economic, and the response to that issue will fit in one or many of those categories. What Anil argued was that these responses are tried and they have given us little to no resulting progress. We need to change the way institutions and systems act in the face of challenge, and in many case that means working with the root of the problem.


Anil used another example of education in Nepal. Nepal’s literacy rates are depressingly low, and the number of children who are uneducated or not in school is astounding. My own Aama never learned to read or write, and while I read about cultural identity issues in Nepal she struggles through an “Adult Education” workbook, learning to read the words for “cat” and “dog.” Upon examination of the education system in Nepal, we learn that schooling is only free for children up until year 6. If the family cannot afford education, children drop out of school after our equivalent of 6th grade. If education were free for only a few more years, the drop out rate would begin to decrease, and the path to extending free education would be paved. Furthermore, the number of girls that drop out is extremely high, and for the most mundane of reasons: there are no sanitary bathroom facilities, and as girls grow older they cannot use the bathroom out in the open like the boys can and choose instead to leave school. It’s shocking that an issue as simple as toilets could lead to such an enormous illiteracy and insufficient-education problem, but as Anil showed us, sometimes the solution is not nearly as massive as the daunting nature of the problem makes it out to be. Small changes, like a separate area for girls’ toilets, could have a huge-scale effect on the development of a nation such as Nepal.


Anil ended his lecture by reminding us that we only have one earth, and one chance to experiment with social change. One half of the human beings ever born in the history of the earth are still alive today, and with that much knowledge and general capability, now is the time to find innovative and manageable ways to change for the best.

[post_title] => Breaking the Cycle with Innovation [post_excerpt] => [post_status] => publish [comment_status] => open [ping_status] => open [post_password] => [post_name] => breaking-the-cycle-with-innovation [to_ping] => [pinged] => [post_modified] => 2010-03-30 00:00:00 [post_modified_gmt] => 1970-01-01 00:00:00 [post_content_filtered] => [post_parent] => 0 [guid] => http://yakyak.chandigarhsoftware.com/?p=48852 [menu_order] => 0 [post_type] => post [post_mime_type] => [comment_count] => 0 [filter] => raw [categories] => Array ( [0] => WP_Term Object ( [term_id] => 397 [name] => Himalayan Studies Semester, Spring 2010 [slug] => himalayan-studies-semester-spring-2010 [term_group] => 0 [term_taxonomy_id] => 397 [taxonomy] => category [description] => [parent] => 257 [count] => 117 [filter] => raw [term_order] => 22.1 [cat_ID] => 397 [category_count] => 117 [category_description] => [cat_name] => Himalayan Studies Semester, Spring 2010 [category_nicename] => himalayan-studies-semester-spring-2010 [category_parent] => 257 [link] => https://my.wheretherebedragons.com/category/spring-2010/himalayan-studies-semester-spring-2010/ ) ) [category_links] => Himalayan Studies Semester, Spring 2010 )

Himalayan Studies Semester, Spring 2010

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Breaking the Cycle with Innovation

Alex Kryzanowski,Himalayan Studies Semester, Spring 2010

Description

In Anil Chitrakar’s first development lecture, he talked with us about the nature of change. What factors bring change, what effects change has, the fundamentals of change, Anil made these broad, conceptual titles tangible realities with his unmatched ability to reason and connect with his audience. His second lecture took a more specific route, as […]

Posted On

03/30/10

Author

Alex Kryzanowski

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    [post_content] => Every Monday is Entertain Nepalis Day, also known as language class excursion. Instead of our normal two-hours of Nepali in the program house, we spend the morning at a site in Kathmandu. Last Monday we were instructed to meet in the morning at the park in Balaju (with the logistics of exactly how to get to said destination left to us to figure out). Our navigation consists of a mix of asking directions and Amy’s ingenious idea of following the hints of greenery. 

We meet Rajesh-ji and Nisha-ji, our language teachers, inside the gate. The rugged, sparse gardens and trees seem a mirage in the middle of Kathmandu’s intense urban crowding. A scattering of children play, while teenage friends and one couple find quiet space to talk. A tiny girl develops an intense fascination with the ability of the gate to open and close, open and close, and her enthusiasm works its charm on her father. A few women pass, carrying their morning puja offerings to the cluster of temples.

To one side of and slightly below the small temples lies a replica of the magnificant statue at Buddhanilkantha, our language excursion of the previous Monday. Like the much larger version, this statue of Vishnu depicts the god as Narayan, creator of life, floating in the cosmic sea. Water strokes the limbs of this Vishnu as well, although he is presently attended by a single, elderly caretaker, rather than the young priests who lovingly rinsed and garlanded the mighty, reposing figure at Buddhanilkantha. We are each sent to interview Nepalis about the park, our first assignment of the morning. Not wanting to interrupt the women doing puja, I look around for others. Just outside the low wall around the temple complex, I find a group of boys, probably ranging from eight to twelve years old. My interview with them is more entertaining than informative. My Nepali is not quite up to the task of translating their fast speech; in the end, I learn more about the fish in the pond than the significance of the pond. (For your information, fish are called "macha," and it is very important to know that the park has both red and gold fish!) I ask the children to show me which gods have shrines in the temples, and they take me to small shrines dedicated to Hanuman, the monkey god; Ganesh, the elephant-headed god; Sita; and Shiva. The knowledge and casual reverence of the children impresses me.I join a few other Dragons students who are interviewing a couple elderly men beside the entrance to the temple complex. The priest bestows on each of us a tikka, carefully dabbing yellow, vermilion, and silver on our foreheads, then pressing flower petals into our hands. We gather together and present our findings in a little pavilion whose brick wall quickly sprouts a giggling, talkative audience – our interviewees, their friends, and unabashedly interested passers-by. The park, it turns out, was built by the royal family. Since the king of Nepal is traditionally believed to be the incarnation of the god Vishnu, he was forbidden to lay eyes on the statue of Vishnu at Buddhanilkantha. This may be why the replica at Balaju was created. Now known as Mahendra Park, the gardens are also referred to as Bais Dhara Balaju, Park of Twenty-Two Taps, for the twenty-two waterspouts. Susannah’s interviewee told her that he was very happy we were trying to speak Nepali and that we took the time to stop and talk – Westerners, he finds, are often in too much of a rush to stop and be friendly. It is a comment we have heard a lot, one which reminds us of the value of our hard work, despite our shyness and occasional frustration.Our next assignment is to make some purchases. Rajesh-ji instructs me to find teraota (13) julabi and euta (1) salai (a box of matches, it turns out). Hannah is sent scouting for parsha, a round Nepali sweet, while others find a needle and thread, lasun (garlic), soph (fennel), and other spices. It is somewhat daunting to not know what we are looking for – we suddenly hope that we have stayed on our teachers’ good side, lest they decide to play some tricks with our hapless language skills. However, our miniature retinue is helpful, taking us to the bakery or general store, depending on our tasks. Afterward, we sit down for some khallo chiya (black tea) or dude chiya (milk tea) and to sample the foods we bought – parathas, alu chop (paratha-like snack), julabi (fried spirals of syrupy sugar overload), and, of course, biscuits. We pass on the garlic, however. [post_title] => Entertain Nepalis Day [post_excerpt] => [post_status] => publish [comment_status] => open [ping_status] => open [post_password] => [post_name] => entertain-nepalis-day [to_ping] => [pinged] => [post_modified] => 2010-03-27 00:00:00 [post_modified_gmt] => 1970-01-01 00:00:00 [post_content_filtered] => [post_parent] => 0 [guid] => http://yakyak.chandigarhsoftware.com/?p=48856 [menu_order] => 0 [post_type] => post [post_mime_type] => [comment_count] => 0 [filter] => raw [categories] => Array ( [0] => WP_Term Object ( [term_id] => 397 [name] => Himalayan Studies Semester, Spring 2010 [slug] => himalayan-studies-semester-spring-2010 [term_group] => 0 [term_taxonomy_id] => 397 [taxonomy] => category [description] => [parent] => 257 [count] => 117 [filter] => raw [term_order] => 22.1 [cat_ID] => 397 [category_count] => 117 [category_description] => [cat_name] => Himalayan Studies Semester, Spring 2010 [category_nicename] => himalayan-studies-semester-spring-2010 [category_parent] => 257 [link] => https://my.wheretherebedragons.com/category/spring-2010/himalayan-studies-semester-spring-2010/ ) ) [category_links] => Himalayan Studies Semester, Spring 2010 )

Himalayan Studies Semester, Spring 2010

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Entertain Nepalis Day

Janet Chikofsky,Himalayan Studies Semester, Spring 2010

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Every Monday is Entertain Nepalis Day, also known as language class excursion. Instead of our normal two-hours of Nepali in the program house, we spend the morning at a site in Kathmandu. Last Monday we were instructed to meet in the morning at the park in Balaju (with the logistics of exactly how to get […]

Posted On

03/27/10

Author

Janet Chikofsky

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With our ISP presentations and final party in their planning phases, our time in Kathmandu is coming quickly to its end. I know I speak for most of the group when I say I never thought the six weeks here could ever go by so fast! It is now the time when reflections are being made; reflections of our time with our Nepali families, on what knowledge we have gained about Nepali language and culture, and especially reflections on what our ISPs have taught us.

Every afternoon, Monday through Friday, the schedule frees up to enable us to have meetings with our ISP mentors or to explore places in the city that are related to our ISP. In our group we a have wood mask carver, jewelry makers, a volunteer at an orphanage, a researcher on the writing process of the new constitution, a suitar player, a harmonium player, and last but definitely not least, two "yoginis". A "yogini" is the female form of the word "yogi"and it is what I have been focusing on becoming turning my time here for my ISP. I chose to focus on yoga because it has been a passion of mine for the last two years and it is actually what inspired me to 1) take time off from school and 2) travel to Nepal!

As I have mentioned, yoga has played an enormous role in my life especially in the last two years. Along with a very regular practice and doing yoga 5-7 days a week, I have also taken a yoga theory class offered at Colorado College, several yoga weekend long workshops, and an 800-hour yoga teacher training course. What yoga gave me was not only physical strength and flexibility, but also a greater sense of self-confidence, acceptance, calmness, and openness. It was a constant reminder to slow down and to embrace every moment of every day as much as possible.

When it came time for ISP shopping, I had already decided that I was going to focus on yoga. Although I already had knowledge of the theory of yoga and a lot of experience practicing yoga, I felt as thought what I knew was only the tip of the iceberg. When my adviser Sweta told me that I would be working one-on-one with a yoga mentor I become so excited. I was picturing myself practicing asanas (poses) and meditation with a very old, wise, and very flexible man (If you google image Iynegar, you will see what I was expecting). So I was very surprised when my cool, stylish, motorbike-riding, mentor Rupesh who is probably in his mid or upper twenties was introduced to me on the day of our first meeting. But don't get me wrong, I was not disappointed. I realized after our first week of meetings how knowledgeable he was in yoga and how much he had to offer me.

My ISP schedule was set up so that I met with Rupesh three times a week in the afternoons at the program house for 2-2.5 hours. The first hour was spent practicing asana and pranayama (breathing). After that we would discuss different aspects of yoga theory including the history, famous yogic texts, the theory of Maya (illusion), the aim of yoga, the body's energetic system (chakras and pranas), the four different types of yoga according, etc.

Rupesh always made sure that I understood the difference between the meaning of yoga according to the traditional yogic theory and the yoga that I am experiencing. He emphasized that it is silly and useless to believe in a theory that I have not yet experienced myself. For example, the aim of yoga according to Pantajuli (the compiler of the Yoga Suttras) is to join the individual soul with the universal soul. In more simpler words, the aim of yoga is to attain enlightenment. What Rupesh wanted me to know was that it is worthless for me to practice with the goal of enlightenment in mind, the concept of enlightenment is still too abstract to me. Therefore, I should not have my aim of yoga to be enlightenment until I feel it.

On my days off I enjoyed exploring yoga schools and studios in Kathmandu. I visited a yoga ashram school on the outskirts of the city to interview Swami Chardresh, the owner of the school. (Swami is a title similar to the title of Yogi). My meeting with him was extremely valuable. He had set up the school as a way to offer a good education to children from lower-income families. The students focus on yoga and self-development along with their regular Nepali education. We discussed many ideas and themes in yoga theory and then to my surprise he says, "Ok, we meditate now." Luckily I had the day fairly free because for the next hour we sat in seated meditation. On the other side of town far away from the quietness at Swami's school, I tried out two very western studios in Thamel what were totally targeted towards American tourists, including the only Bikram studio in Nepal. Neither of the classes I attended were as good as the classes I took with Rupesh. They were simply like any other class you would take in America. Even though I didn't learn anything new from these classes in terms of yoga asana or theory, my experiences at these studios did help me to understand what Rupesh was trying to teach to me all along: That the most important thing about studying yoga is not learning about all the theories or memorizing the 8 limbs of yoga. The most important thing to realize about yoga is how to practice yoga and to create my own Susanna yoga

I am now at a point in my ISP where I no longer practice asanas with Rupesh. When we meet it might be a little bit of pranayama practice, but the majority of our time is spent in discussion. He has now instructed me to practice on my own and only on my own. I know the poses, I know my body and what it is capable of. I am the only one who is able to feel what poses my body wants to do. So it would be worthless for me do poses that another instructor is calling out that do not challenge me or are not what my body needs at that time. When practicing, after a warm-up of sun-salutations, I am to remain still for some time only listen to what my body is feeling. From the sensations I am feeling, I start designing my yoga practice for the day depending on what poses come to me naturally. With this heightened awareness, I am able to make discoveries about my practice.

Listen, discover, awareness. These are three words that once had no importance to me and now mean everything to me in terms of my yoga practice. And what I have realized during my time here is that these are words that are also important for us to remember in our everyday lives. If we don't listen to what our bodies are telling us, we end up harming ourselves. We keeps ourselves from discovering the important things about ourselves and that hinders us from developing any sense of self-awareness.

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Himalayan Studies Semester, Spring 2010

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Yoga ISP – Listening, discovering, becoming aware

Susanna McMillan,Himalayan Studies Semester, Spring 2010

Description

With our ISP presentations and final party in their planning phases, our time in Kathmandu is coming quickly to its end. I know I speak for most of the group when I say I never thought the six weeks here could ever go by so fast! It is now the time when reflections are being […]

Posted On

03/27/10

Author

Susanna McMillan

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    [post_title] => Independent Projects and Pictures - Part 1
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Himalayan Studies Semester, Spring 2010

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Independent Projects and Pictures – Part 1

Instructor Team,Himalayan Studies Semester, Spring 2010

Description

Posted On

03/26/10

Author

Instructor Team

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No matter how awesome the Beatles may be, everyone in our group seems to have a growing dislike for the song "Norwegian Wood", and I'll admit - it's all my fault.

Ever since I brought my sitar to the Program House earlier this week, I've been treating people to endless (and most not so perfect) renditions of the song, which is one of two that I've learned so far. Along with practicing endless scales and picking out some simple tunes on my own, I can play the Nepali folk song "Ressam Fididi" - but don't quote me on that, because I'm going by pure phonetical pronunciation here – and the beginning to another song, that Sunit, my mentor, says is played at auspicious occasions, like weddings and the like.

Despite only having a basic knowledge of such a complex instrument, I'm excited to finally have picked up something that doesn't frustate me when I'm not immediately good at it. As my parents will confirm, piano and guitar lessons in years past didn't amount to much: I've just never been good at practicing and staying consistent with an instrument. However, this time, I think, is different. Though I've never listened to traditional Indian or Nepali music before, and the only sitar music I've heard is an odd Ravi Shankar song here and there, there's something about sitar that just fascinates me. Maybe it's because it's so beautiful - the detailed engraving and craftsmanship that went into mine is amazing. Like Nick said - even if I never were to play again (not happening, by the way), it would be a piece of art by which to remember my time in Nepal. Or maybe it's because I feel like there’s so much out there to still learn about the sitar; sure, I can pluck out a song or two, but my mentor does the most amazing things and works incredible music out of his sitar like it’s nothing.

I’ve also always looked on in envy as most of my friends sit around and jam and play music just for fun. Live music is such a big part of my life, and I’m thankful that I’m learning to play an instrument myself – so now maybe I can be a part of those impromptu jam sessions. Not to mention two of my friends and I were joking last summer about me learning sitar and the band that we’d start if I did. And well, now I am…so maybe this summer Tuna On Rye (don’t ask) will come into being.

And if not, well, I’m content with having had a chance to start learning something completely unusual and unique, and that I can bring home with me and continue in years to come.

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Himalayan Studies Semester, Spring 2010

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Sitar Hero

Amy Franquet,Himalayan Studies Semester, Spring 2010

Description

No matter how awesome the Beatles may be, everyone in our group seems to have a growing dislike for the song "Norwegian Wood", and I’ll admit – it’s all my fault. Ever since I brought my sitar to the Program House earlier this week, I’ve been treating people to endless (and most not so perfect) […]

Posted On

03/26/10

Author

Amy Franquet

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