Section Seven

A commentary regarding the Political, Social, Cultural and Psychological state of today's world; expressed in terms of loving sarcasm.

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Location: United States

I know how you have to live inside yourself, isolate yourself because emotionally and mentally you have no equals here. How, more often than not, you have to compromise your thinking just to be understood. How you long for someone with the capacity to meet you where you live. On your level. (credit: Lawrence Hertzog)

Thursday, February 15, 2007

We Interrupt this Message to Bring You .... A Miracle!

Despite my obsession with continuity, I'm going to interrupt my boring (so I'm told) Nepalese story to relate an honest to goodness miracle. The set up is that about five years ago, my parents took my younger sister, Deb, and I to Spain and to Fatima, in Portugal. It was an amazing pilgrimage. Upon my return, I gave a small bottle of the water we obtained from a spring adjacent to the apparition site to our UPS driver, Rick (who is also Catholic). My father, who is an ordained deacon, had blessed the water. Two days ago, Rick called me at 6:00pm to tell me that as his father lay dying in the hospital, Rick poured the water from this bottle all over him. Rick's father is completely healed, and the doctors are calling it a miracle. The story goes on... I was chatting with a client, George, on the telephone, today, and I told him the story. After a moment of silence on the other end of the phone, George began to tell me that he had left the Catholic Church, but that he really needed to hear about God's working in our present lives. Please say a prayer for George. Please also remember that February 20th is the feast of Jacinta and Francesco.

Tuesday, February 13, 2007

"Don't go to the Zoo, It's Dirty..."
Nepal... the ongoing saga....

On my second day of visiting the factory site (Deb stayed in the hotel pretending to be sick, and watched Bali-wood movies, all day), the only truly remarkable item was that I caught a glimpse of an emerald rat snake, crawling along the stone wall that encloses the factory courtyard. It was the movement that attracted my attention, when I saw this majestic, beautifully brilliant, green snake slide silently under the wall. From 20 feet away it looked like it was about 5-6 feet long; about as thick as my wrist, with a large, bright eye. Of course, my camera wasn't ready, so I had to pull this image off of the web.

While I was thrilled with my wild-life encounter, (still hoping to see a tiger or leopard in the wild), the factory personnel were very concerned that I would be upset by it. So, just to mess with their minds, I kept bringing it up in conversation.

Since, we were told that it wasn't the right season for leopards or tigers to come down from the heights, Deb and I decided to visit the zoo. Our suggestion was met with abject horror. Our host cautioned us that we wouldn't like the zoo, because "it is dirty." I was stunned and amazed. Daily, we drove through the city streets where goats are butchered on the side-walk, while the wild dogs fight over the offal. Dead animal carcasses are on display everywhere. Trust me, you would never eat chicken again, if you had seen what I've seen. It's hard to imagine that anything could be "dirtier" than real life in the city, so our passion for zoos won the day.

Our host was right, it was dirty. But, we spent a pleasant afternoon. Here are some of the photos we took:

The hyena (or is it a jackal?) was only about five feet away from me, when I took this picture. The fence that he was in wouldn't hold my cat (if I had one).

Unfortunately, the selection of animals was pretty limited, but they had some amazing birds.

Guessing that these are a chicken and a condor, but couldn't tell you for sure. Unfortunately, the man-eating tiger didn't make an appearance, but the leopard was pretty lively.

Next time... The Ancient City, and The Feast to end all Feasts!

Friday, February 09, 2007

What about Nepal...

The reason that Deborah and I ended up going to Nepal is because everyone from the client company bailed, and because of State Department warnings of Maoist Insurgency surrounding the capital city of Kathmandu, no one else from the engineering company working on the project would go. I think when I asked my boss if I could go, she thought I was kidding.

If you've never been to a third world country, it is truly indescribable. The entire country is a juxtaposition of the lowly to the sublime. From the heights of the beautiful Himalayas you can see the entire Kathmandu valley, but from the valley itself, the smog blots out the majestic peaks except in the late evening. Even in this picture to the left, taken on our second day there, you can barely make out the peaks. We were at 9,000 feet about 12 kilometers outside the city when this picture was taken.

We stayed at the Crowne Plaza in Kathmandu. Looking at this picture, our room was somewhere in the middle on the top floor. Every morning a crew hand-swept (yep, using a homemade whisk broom type thing) the lawn and gardens. The marble palisade was buffed to a high-gloss shine, and there were at least two or three door-men to greet you with a "good morning, madame" and a salute. I really could have gotten used to that. The hotel attracts a large clientele from nearby India, and the holiday and party saris that were worm by the majority of the female guests were beautifully dramatic. For the week that we stayed, there was a wedding reception held in the hotel function hall, every night. I think we may have looked a little out-of-place in our jeans and sweaters, but it wasn't like we could (or wanted to) hide the fact that we were American, anyway.

Our days were spent working (visiting the factory site), and/or resting, but on our second day, our host took us to the Monkey Temple in Kathmandu. It was busy and crazy, and really neat, but of course, our luggage hadn't arrived yet, so we couldn't take pictures. Our host took pictures, and nothing demonstrates the difference between the Eastern mind-set and the Western mind-set more dramatically than the way we take pictures. NO PICTURES OF MONKEYS! Although, they were everywhere. I was leaning on a railing looking down, when a large monkey swept right by my face. It was startling to say the least. Then, we took the walk down the 365 steps, back to the city. Our host informed us that his grandfather used to climb up and down these steps at least once/day. I was going to tell you all that we had climbed UP these steps, but as adventurous as I am, you at least know I'm not crazy!!

As far as our sightseeing went, I really have to say that this was the high point. Unfortunately, the only other ancient and historic surviving structures are creepy temples, and broken down palaces. I cannot stress how tired one gets of temples, after temples, after temples. The religion in the Kathmandu valley is a weird amalgam of Hindu and Buddhism, where they worship "all gods" (just not the one True God). Christianity and evangelization are still illegal in Nepal, although this law hasn't been enforced since about 1995.

Next... My wildlife encounter, and a trip to the zoo!

Wednesday, February 07, 2007

It's Been a Long Time...

I know, I know, it is with some embarassment that I once again take up my keyboard, and foray into the world of blogging. Is anyone still out there? LOL! Anyway, So much has happened since my last post, that I don't even know where to start. The nature of my job, project manager for a consulting firm, is such that I have to work 60 hour weeks from November through January. This year, I had to work even longer hours, because I was invited to travel to Nepal for a client in December, and had to squeeze two extra 60 hour work weeks in sometime else. Wait..., it gets better! At the eleventh hour (literally!), the client called to say that no one from their company could make the trip, but since I already had the ticket, I may as well go. And, they would pay for a traveling companion of my choice!! So, I guess this first post will be about that trip. Let me just preface it with the following:

Yup, it's like that!

Anyway, I was able to clear the time off with my younger sister's (Deborah's) boss, and we managed to get Deb's flights (for two days later). We left from Boston on an all-night flight to London on Friday. From there, after a layover of about 5 hours, we went on to Doha, Qatar. It was about a three hour layover, there. Our final flight to Kathmandu lasted an agonizing five hours (after a short stop in Bahrain during which we didn't deplane). The only real drama that occured during the trip was that in Doha, the airline was going to refuse to let Deborah fly because she hadn't received a paper ticket. We had booked that part of the flight on Thursday night, and left on Friday. I just love the efficiency of Qatar Air!! My dilemma, at the airport, do I stay or do I go? (Just kidding). We finally had to buy another ticket for her (the only seat open being "business class", of course), and made the final leg.

It took us 27 hours from Boston to Kathmandu. Tired, hungry, and bedraggled, we were greeted at the airport by the owner of the business we were investigating. He had brought one car for us, and one for our luggage. Unfortunately, our luggage had decided to stay the night in Doha because it was too tired to make the rest of the trip. Have I mentioned how much I love Qatar Air! Once we were at the hotel, it was about 2-3:00pm then, we went to bed, and slept the blissful sleep of the exhausted traveler for the next fourteen hours.

Our next exciting edition.... Visiting the country!