Drones to the rescue

Feeling Groovy

Feeling groovy

Finding rare images of Kathmandu’s colourful hippie era

Relics of the hippie era in Kathmandu have been slowly erased by the passage of time, and whatever remained in Jochhen from that psychedelic period was brought down by last year’s earthquake.
One of the few hippie hangouts that is still intact on what used to be called Freak Street is Snowman Café. On a recent afternoon, it was packed with Nepali youngsters but none of them had any idea how the street got its name.

William smoking bong “I brought this bong from Kathmandu and used it for a while. It is basically a bamboo water pipe. It got me so stoned that I forgot what day of the week it was. So I gave it up.”

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Healing together

First published by Nepali Times
Religious organisations show solidarity with earthquake survivors
Lucia De Vries in RASUWA

HELPING TOGETHER: IRW officer Bilal Agmad Zargar (left) and LWF officer Chenyen Nekor (right), together with a volunteer hand over construction materials to Nirmala BK in Kalikasthan of Rasuwa.

A Muslim relief agency joining hands with a Christian organisation to help Buddhist earthquake survivors in a largely Hindu country may sound implausible but that is exactly what happened in Rasuwa earlier this month. Continue reading

Brick by brick

First published by Nepali Times

How Sanogaun’s women are rebuilding better quake-resistant homes
Lucia De Vries

Pics: Paul Jeffrey

Sanogaun, a small Newar settlement on the southern fringes of Kathmandu was flattened by the earthquake last year. Now, the community is using an innovative technology to rebuild all its 49 homes so they are cheaper and resistant to future quakes.

The interlocking brick technique developed by Nepali inventor Gyanendra R Sthapit at the Habitech Center of the Asian Institute of Technology in Thailand combines the strengths of rammed earth and compressed blocks. It has been used in post-tsunami reconstruction in Thailand in 2008 and after Cyclone Nargis ravaged Burma in 2010 to build more than 1,000 homes, schools, and health clinics. In Bhutan, over 100 quake-proof houses and schools have been built using the technology. Continue reading

Een onmogelijk dilemma

First published by Trouw

Orgaanhandel | reportage | Nepal worstelt met zijn huidige transplantatiewet. Die is te strikt en houdt daardoor de illegale orgaanhandel in stand, zeggen experts.

Hoe koop je een nier? Met wat valse documenten kom je een heel eind. Dat leerde Nepalees Sarju Shrestha, illustrator en kunstenaar, toen zijn schoonvader vorig jaar begon te sukkelen met zijn nieren. Continue reading

Vrouwen zijn de motor achter wederopbouw van Nepal

First piblished by Trouw

Vandaag werd in Nepal de aardbeving officieel herdacht. Op het moment dat de Nepalese premier een krans legde bij de Dharahara-toren, waar veel mensen om het leven kwamen, versjouwden Sunita Tamang en Srijana Maharjan gezamenlijk een partij modder. Ze droegen rubber handschoenen, veiligheidshelmen en stofmaskers. Samen met zo’n dertig andere vrouwen restaureren Sunita en Srijana een waterreservoir in hun dorp Dakchhinkali.

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Through our eyes

First published by Nepali Times

Just a few minutes into Narbahadur’s film the audience gasps. After four days of walking the 18-year-old former child soldier arrives home in a remote part of Humla district. He has warned the viewers: ‘There is nothing in my village.’ But they are unprepared for the images of grinding poverty in the young filmmaker’s home: malnourished sisters swatting flies, an emaciated mother, and his grey-haired father, a blacksmith who is going blind.

Narbahadur’s film, My Sun Rise, is part of the Through Our Eyes trilogy produced by three teenagers who joined the Maoists when they were only twelve. Like Narbahadur (back centre, pic), Sukmaya (centre) comes from a Dalit background, and as a child was painfully aware of the fact that she was ‘at the bottom and always the last’.

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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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Little Heroes

First published by Nepali Times

When Pabitra Tamang’s parents found out she was suffering from a life-threatening disease called a-plastic anaemia, they took a desperate decision: they left their jobs as daily labourers to take care of five-year-old Pabitra and her two sisters.

With no money to pay the rent, the landlord threatened to throw them out of their tiny Bhaktapur room. All three children left school and moved into the hospital, much to the chagrin of the medical staff. Only Pabitra kept smiling: she loved the extra attention and her chance to visit the hospital’s playroom.

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Jong zijn in Nepal

First published by Onze Wereld.  Also published by Landenreeks Nepal, Amsterdam: KIT.

Het is donderdag en bijna donker. De straatjes die naar de Banglamukhi tempel in het hart van Patan leiden, een oude koningsstad vlakbij de hoofdstad Kathmandu, zitten tjokvol. Jonge stelletjes op Suzuki motoren navigeren via de eeuwenoude toegangsweggetjes naar het tempelcomplex. Donderdag is de dag om de godin Banglamukhi te vereren. Die is verantwoordelijk voor het liefdesleven van haar gelovigen, wat met name jongeren van heinde en ver naar de tempel doet komen. De Banglamukhi tempel staat symbool voor zowel de oude als de nieuwe cultuur in het snel veranderende Nepal.

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