Submitted by Ben Ayers on Sat, 2010-11-20 08:55.
The monsoon rains arrived late this year and overstayed their welcome well into September. The rain just kept coming, flooding the streets of Kathmandu, grounding airline flights, and making nearly everyone edgy and irritable. I kept postponing my scheduled visit to the field, hoping to make it out once the rain stopped, but was eventually forced to bite the bullet, grab my favorite umbrella, and march reluctantly out into the rain.
Submitted by Ben Ayers on Thu, 2010-08-12 09:50.
I’m 35,000 feet above somewhere between Washington DC and Doha, on an airplane full of salt-eyed travelers snoozing under the tiny fluorescent lights. I realize now that I am aware of death, but I do not understand it at all.
Submitted by Ben Ayers on Tue, 2010-05-04 07:48.
Nepal has fallen victim of yet another nationwide strike called by the Maoists in their attempts to gain political control of the government. This strike has been called indefinitely and the Maoists claim to use all of their cadres (100,000 strong in Kathmandu alone) to enforce the complete blockade of all businesses, transportation, and government services until their political demands are met. Today, even people riding bicycles were sent home by angry Maoists armed with sticks and slingshots posted at nearly every intersection in the city.
Submitted by Ben Ayers on Tue, 2010-05-04 07:45.
I’ve never been an antique collector, although I admire old things and occasionally have the urge to surround myself with them. Nepal is full of cool old stuff, especially in the remote areas in which we work. Many of my friends collect old Buddhist artwork or furniture from across the Himalayas and, thus far, I’ve always been more of a voyeur than a serious collector.
Submitted by Ben Ayers on Sat, 2010-02-27 12:51.
Dear my seven or eight readers –
I made two new year’s resolutions around my blog. First, that I would write more frequently and try to include photos. The second point was that I would try to focus my writing more on our work and to also mention what kind of silly adventures my Marmot gear ends up in as I stomp around the hinterlands of Nepal. I have been admittedly lax on both points, as I feel one should be with resolutions.
Submitted by Ben Ayers on Sat, 2010-02-27 12:47.
Since the beginning of time, it seems, one of the main forms of political protest in Nepal has been the general strike or, in Nepali, the bandh. These bandhs occur with varying frequency depending upon the immediate political atmosphere, but tend to average around one per month. During times of turmoil this number grows significantly, often reaching one each week or more.
Submitted by Ben Ayers on Wed, 2010-01-20 21:33.
A friend just brought a steaming thermos of salt and butter tea into the office, and the greasy brew warms me a bit as it goes down. But the tea is quickly cold in the frigid office. It’s noon and I haven’t removed my down jacket today, and nor do I expect to.
It’s not that Kathmandu is all that cold, it’s a balmy 43 degrees outside right now and this is about as cold as it ever gets here. But, the complete lack of indoor heat seems to drop the temperature another ten degrees at least.
Submitted by Ben Ayers on Wed, 2010-01-06 13:45.
It’s the holiday season and I find myself, yet again, vowing to be a more regular contributor to my blog in the coming year. It’s not that the outcry from my seven readers has been terribly deafening, but rather that sitting down to write is a very cathartic and healthy thing for me.
Submitted by Ben Ayers on Wed, 2009-09-30 13:44.
There is a strange sense of order in the domestic terminal of the Kathmandu airport -- some common logic among the whirlpool of people and goods that constantly shuffle across the open and dirty warehouse. There are untold numbers of young Nepalis in western dress, raisin-faced old women laden with gold earrings and elaborate saris, and always a few of foreigners usually looking a bit bewildered. The airport possesses a kind of beauty that somehow, indescribably, makes sense. But this is lost to the untrained Western eye.
Submitted by Ben Ayers on Mon, 2009-08-10 13:16.
I still don’t understand the appendix, even though I’ve had the privilege of looking at mine – all pink and red and limp in a glass vial - while recovering from the surgery in a Kathmandu hospital. It seems to me to be like a roulette wheel, or some organ of chance whose function is simply to cause some of us sudden and intense pain in the lower right-hand quadrant of the abdomen, followed closely by a trip to the hospital and hopefully, speedy removal.