Arriving in Kathmandu: August 2007

Hello everyone!  It’s a wet Sunday morning here in Balkot.  A day off for me.  Whew.  Things have been so busy.  But I’m not really going to get into that right now.  I sort of feel like I should introduce people first.  I meant to send this email out earlier, and it’s possible I might have, but it’s not in my sent box, so I thought I’d send it again.
First, I am so happy.  There’s a smile that just sits on my face almost constantly.  There’s not much I can do about it.  Which is quite okay with me.  Grin.  Let’s see…. Important people.  Bishu-ji. After my first week here I feel closer to her than to any of the other teaches, so it’s a bummer that she’s headed to Kalimpong and not stayed here.  My first weekend here in Kathmandu Bishu ji invited me to spend the weekend with her at her house.  She and her husband rent a first floor apartment in a 2 storey house.  They have 1 bedroom, a sitting room (where I slept) a small kitchen and then a sort of store room/ passageway/ pujaa (worship/shrine) room.  The bathroom is out back.  Her husband is a wonderful artist, and just in general a pretty great person.  And I had a really good time with them.  Bishu and I went into the city and walked around.  After that I was able to get around that same section of the city by myself without a map (pretty good on both our parts – smile).
I live in the classroom/library/kitchen part of the program house compound.  It’s three storeys made of yellowish bricks with a bamboo and tile roof.  There’s an awning over some chairs outside on the ground floor and there are often people relaxing there.  Then the building is split into two sections.  The whole bottom floor is classrooms.  Then the second floor of the right section of the building has two bedrooms one of which is mine.  The two kitchen staff Tembi (who’s somewhere between 18 and 21 years old and just a lovely young man, great smile) and his grandfather or great uncle or something Dapurei Bhaje live in the room next to mine.  On the third floor in this right section is the kitchen which is off limits to students.  I’ve been enjoying hanging out there with Tembi and Dapure daai and the other man who comes in and helps Ratna daai.  I talk with them or help clean the rice or cut vegetables or just sit and listen to conversation.  I love kitchens.  I think they’re my favorite part of most houses.  And here in this culture, they’re really a hub of activity.  So the second and third floors of the right hand section of this building are off limits to students.  The second floor of the left section of the building has a library (which I recently finished organizing – tons of great books about Nepal and great novels, too) and a conference sort of room.  Then on the third floor, above these, is the dining room where all the students, teachers and office staff (me included) will eat.
I know two of the three teachers who will be here (they were my teachers in Kalimpong): Shova ji (who I really really like and respect) and Soorja ji who’s not the best teacher but is pretty awesome and a GREAT part of the program.  Then there’s Sanjib-ji who I also really like, but who wasn’t in Kalimpong when I was there.
Minu is an 18 year old who is volunteering with the Hospitality program that Pitzer runs offering food, housing and some assistance to sick people who come from rural areas for treatment here in the Kathmandu area.  Minu is pretty great, and so tiny.  Grin.  She’s lovely. Durga is the daughter of the family that owns the program compound.  She’s also 18 and has just finished high school.  She just recently got her 12th standard results (she passed everything) and now she wants to study business in college.  She’s also great!  Then there’s also Buwan daai who does a lot of administrative work and has a great sense of humor and talks with me tons, which I appreciate.  Ratna daai works in the kitchen and the office, Bhombahadur daai works in the compound doing maintenance type work .  Lots of men. Grin.  And they’re wonderful. Oh!  There’s also Dapure daai’s son, Tendi daai (kind of like my name), who also works in the kitchen.  So lots of wonderful people, like I said.
And there’s Margie-ji, the program director, my boss and the other American.  She’s also lovely.
So those are the most important people bar the 10 students who are here right now.  I’m a pretty big fan of the students as a group and most of them individually, which is nice.  My job as program assistant is to support Margie-ji in much of the administrative work and then things like maintaining an open flow of communication with students, making sure lectures are planned and guest lecturers paid, being in touch with the host families and maintaining communicaitons with them, facilitating the essays etc that students will be writing (helping to make sure they understand what’s expected of them, etc).  And then simply being a good role model for them and being enthusiastic about the program and respectful of all staff adn students.  I feel pretty good aobut my role so far.  Smile.  I am blessed to be working with wonderful people whom I like and respect.
Anyway, this is getting long, but these are some of the people in my world right now.
Much peace and love to all of you,
Thandiwe
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About Thandiwe

Hopeful cynic, creative, seriously silly, lover of people and places, hypocrite, third-culture kid, queer, life-long learner, white woman, Christ follower, outdoor enthusiast: I am a seeker of justice and truth who has re-found my spiritual home in progressive Christianity. I serve as the Associate Pastor at a small Christian Church (Disciples of Christ) congregation near the mountains of Colorado where I live with my beloved.
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