Green bricks

First published by Nepali Times

The Kathmandu Valley’s smog owes much to the highly polluting brick kilns that dot its southern expanses. What’s worse, the smoke billowing out of these towers obscures the terrible conditions in which its workers – including many children and donkeys – slave for minimal reward. These are the victims of the capital’s housing boom.

It’s time we moved away from ‘blood bricks’. This may be possible now, as Animal Nepal’s award to Indra Tuladhar of Bungamati Itha Udyog last week indicated. Tuladhar was honoured for producing ‘clean and green’ bricks using Chinese technology, and the animal welfare organisation hopes other brick producers will follow suit to reduce pollution and stop the exploitation of kids and animals.

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Ban Blood Bricks

First published by The Kathmandu Post and Asia News Network

By PRAMADA SHAH and LUCIA DE VRIES

Two weeks ago the Animal Nepal rescued a blind working horse and her foal from a brick kiln in Harasiddi, Lalitpur. They were skin and bones. We named them Shakti and Mukti. The rescue again reminds us of the importance of advocating against brick factories that abuse people, animals and the environment. On World Animal Day today, we invite the public to join a consumer campaign to ban ‘blood bricks’.

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Yes, E-bikes!

First published by Nepali Times

When my Hero Honda Splendor bike got stolen last year, I felt a deep sense of loss. The Honda had grown on me like no other bike had before. The bike (re-baptised as ‘Heroine Honda’) took me to remote destinations inside the Kathmandu Valley, opening my eyes once more to the beauty of this place we live in.

Buying a new Honda did not seem like a good idea. Valley bikes get stolen at the rate of 140 a day. Queuing for petrol for hours no longer appealed to me. So instead I decided to find an e-bike: the Foton TDP33ZWG, fresh from Zhucheng, China. It somehow reminded me of a centaur. The bike’s front looked feminine, with a cute white basket and a scooter-like dashboard. It had an extended back part, with a solid battery compartment and tool box under a comfortable seat, and a sturdy back seat. I did not even take a test drive. Just paid and drove off.

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Dana’s gift

First published by Nepali Times

Yesterday I heard the news: Dana had died. She probably died the way we knew she would go, on a cold winter day, on the street, unwashed, staring at occasional passers-by with her unwavering dark eyes until they became uncomfortable and left her to die.

A train of memories. Her first appearance in my Patan neighbourhood. One day a well built, barely dressed person collapses in front of my two-storey house, face down in the mud. When the person is still there some hours later, in the same position, I start to worry. “Dai, please wake up!” I call and shake the foul smelling body.

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Laughter-saughter

First published by Nepali Times

The first time I came across a jingle word, a fast growing phenomenon in the Nepalese language, I was in a taxi. The driver hailed from Dapakhel and I asked him what his village was like. Dapakhel was something out of this world, he explained, as from there one can see ‘Airport sairport’. I thought I misunderstood the last bit, and asked him to repeat. At night, from his house, the driver said, one can see all the lights of ‘airport sairport’. I asked him for the meaning of sairport; he merely shrugged his shoulders.

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Donkey in the back

Night was falling when I drove Animal Nepal’s rickety ambulance towards the Donkey Sanctuary. A man on a motorbike passed the car and looked inside. His face froze; he decreased his speed. Soon he drove along the ambulance, glancing inside.

The man was not eve teasing. He was looking at the patient in the back of the car, an adult white donkey, positioned rather uncomfortable in the tiny car. The donkey’s head partly stuck outside the window, her nostrils flaring. Once in a while she tried to reach me with her nose, as if to say, ‘please take me out of here.’

 

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Picturing war

First published by Nepali Times.

War is hard to capture. The heart of war is a schizophrenic place where extremes of love and hate, heaven and hell, touch and ignite each other.

Few photographers can capture this. But when they do the image is never forgotten and sometimes even change the course of history. A little Vietnamese girl, naked, fleeing a napalm attack, the soldier in the Spanish civil war caught at the moment of his death, Saddam’s teetering statue or prisoners being tortured at Abu Gharib, these images lie buried in our minds and hearts and have become part of humanity’s common consciousness.

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