Saturday, November 28, 2009

What We See

The picture at the top of this page was taken from our roof patio in Pharping, and looks across a deep farming valley, through the notch at Pharping Pass, across the Kathmandu Valley, and ends on a view of snow-capped mountains that form part of the Himalaya chain that sorrounds the valley, which is about 25 miles long and 20 miles wide. Pharping is in the mountains to the south of Kathmandu. Each day, we're eye-level with the passenger jets that cross above the mountains from India to the right of the Buddhist monastery and gradually sink into the valley and land at Kathmandu's international airport.

The narrow, twisting blacktop road between Kathmandu and Pharping is only 12 miles long, but it takes about 45 minutes to cover the distance, due to the two-way traffic that is forced to squeeze by with two wheels in the dirt and perceptious dropoffs into deep ravines only feet away. As we pass the small villages lining the road, we move from the flatlands of Kathmandu at 4,000 feet, pass Nepal's major university, begin to dip up and down and around picturesque hills and dales, pass an abandoned cement factory, and then climb up into dark, mountain passes that curve around the gorges until we reach Pharping at 6,500 feet.

Most people in the valley are engaged in farming in one way or another, but some foodstuffs are transported from India to the south or China to the north. This becomes a problem when the few major roads into the country or the valley are blocked for one political reason or another.  The beautiful valley floor is carefully tilled to take advantage of its riches, and the various governments have banned the commercial harvesting of trees which line the mountains to prevent erosion. However, the never-ending march of a growing population is a very serious threat to the future of this heart of Nepal. As more and more farmland is being replaced by strings and blocks of brick and concrete houses and apartments, the question of a self-sustaining society is paramont.

At night from our patio I see strings of lights across the valley that I've never seen before. While Kathmandu has a 2009 population of 2 million, Patan, the third largest city in Nepal and directly south of Kathmandu, has only 200,000+, but is growing by leaps and bounds. We recently drove south through Patan, passed street after street of new buildings and houses under construction, crossed a newly-constucted bridge over the Bagmati river, and ended up at that abandoned cement factory, which marked one-third of our journey to Pharping. --Jerry in Nepal 


Humor: Thanksgiving

As you probably know, Thanksgiving in Nepal falls on the same day as Thanksgiving in Texas, give or take a few time zones. Nepali Thanksgiving goes back to the time the Bahuns, members of the Brahman caste, crossed  the border into Nepal as they escaped the Muslim invasion of India around the 12th century AD. 

Once in Nepal, the Indian pilgrims, who were Hindus, met with the Newars, native Buddhists living in what is now the Kathmandu valley, and they gathered in peace and participated in a thanksgiving feast of rice, dahl, momos, and cranberries. So, unlike the first Thanksgiving in the U.S., in Nepal the visitors were Indians, but like the first Thanksgiving, we ate our fill and went to bed.

Like the day after Thanksgiving in the U.S., the day after Thanksgiving in Nepal is devoted to Christmas shopping, and the main intersection in Pharping, a village a kilometer up the mountainside, was reportedly clogged with bargain seekers on motorcycles, bicycles, rickshaws, and foot all day. In Pharping the shopkeepers wrap up all their goods in gaudy paper during the holidays, so every purchase is a present!  As for Christine and I, we decided to wait a few days for our weekly trip to Kathmandu, where we'll snag our brightly packaged Christmas gifts at Bluebird Market or in Thamel. 

Ooops, I seem to be out of scotch. Guess I'll have to take a quick trip to Pharping Fresh House after all. --Jerry in Nepal 

Friday, November 27, 2009


Thanks for stopping by. While my native home is in the U.S., Austin, Texas, to be exact, I spend 3 0r 4  months each year near Kathmandu, and thought I'd like to write and photograph my responses to experiences as they happen. My interests and activities are diverse, so there will be no particular order to these entries. If I touch upon something that you're particularly interested in, please let me know ( This blog will be much more fun if it's interactive. --Jerry in Nepal