Tuning in to Nepali Radio

Listing to Nepali radio on my phone

Nepali TV and radio have always been some of the hardest things for me to understand. People speak exceptionally fast and use lots of words that I’ve never heard before, so I usually only get bits and pieces. I was so grateful to have the BBC available on the radio in Nepal so that I could listen to the news in English as we were driving to work. But now that we’re back in the US, I miss Nepali radio! I don’t miss the talk shows so much because I couldn’t understand them very well in the first place, but I do miss the music.

Luckily I don’t have to miss it so much anymore because I can get Nepali radio on my phone ūüôā I just recently got an iPhone, and my mom showed me this cool app called Tunein Radio that you can download for free. It allows you to listen to music from all over the world. There are several Nepali radio stations available, although not every channel is always reliable. Sometimes you have to try a few before one will come through.¬†Of course I could always listen to a song or two on youtube, but there’s something about the spontaneity of radio that’s just more fun. Although music is what I’m listening to most, I find myself tuning in to talk shows too because I’m realizing how much I miss hearing Nepali being spoken. Both talk and and music radio can also be great language-learning resources. At the very least, I’m hoping that hearing more Nepali will help me improve my accent. Happy listening!

Reactions to “Birth in Nepal”

Basanti and her family. Subina Shrestha is on the very left.

There’s an interesting documentary that I wanted to link to about birth in rural areas of Nepal. The movie (at the top of the page) is created and narrated by Subina Shrestha, a filmmaker and journalist. Although I try and veer away from movies/documentaries, etc. that are sad, I found this one really moving and wanted to share.

The film follows Basanti, a 31-year-old woman about to give birth to her sixth child. It documents the final week of her pregnancy and then her labor and delivery. Luckily she doesn’t face any major physical obstacles and gives birth to a healthy baby girl. But, as the movie documents, many women in remote areas of Nepal face much tougher deliveries.¬†Labor and delivery are often painful and difficult experiences for all women, but imagine not having a hospital to go to or a doctor on call to perform a c-section if things went wrong?

Although hearing about the physical challenges of labor and delivery in a rural and remote part of Nepal made me pause, it was the social pressure and expectations that Basanti faced that were hardest to watch. There’s a moment in the film after Basanti has her daughter when she calls her husband, who is working in India, to tell him the news. She’s only able to leave a message, but he never calls her back. She says it’s because he’s mad that she didn’t have a son. Another woman mentions that Basanti told her that if Basanti had known it was a girl, she would have aborted. The preference for sons in that community is overwhelming and one of the more difficult things for me to come to terms with as an outsider and foreigner.

A preference for male children is an aspect of culture in Asia that I’ve never gotten used to. But it’s definitely not uniform throughout Asia or Nepal. In the Sherpa/Tamang village I stayed in, I felt like a preference for sons wasn’t as prevalent. In general, women seemed to have more autonomy there than among other families I had lived with, and many people were okay with having daughters. For instance, my host sister had three daughters, and although she said that she would have liked a son, she was okay with her daughters and told me she probably wouldn’t have any more kids.

In Kathmandu, there’s also less of an overt preference for male kids. I never felt like people were overly concerned with having male children, but I did feel a subtler preference for sons. When people would reference future children I might have, they would say to me, “When you have sons,…” I never heard anyone say, “When you have daughters,…”

As I get into my twenties, and more and more people I known have started having kids, pregnancy and childbirth have become more of a real thing for me. I’m not thinking of having a kid anytime soon! But issues surrounding pregnancy and childbirth have become a bigger part of my consciousness if that makes any sense. I think that’s partly why I felt such a strong reaction when I saw this movie. Anyway, the director Subina Shrestha is speaking at the TEDx conference being held in Kathmandu on July 28th, so if you’re in Nepal, you should totally go see her speak!

A Fox’s Wedding

It’s been quite stormy around here. In Kathmandu, the month of Chaitra (what we’re in now) is known for it’s lightning, thunder, and rain. The monsoon doesn’t officially start until June, but if I didn’t know any better, I would probably assume this was it. Along with the storms, we’ve been getting some funny rain patterns. Sometimes it will start, stop, and then start again throughout the day, and yesterday it was pouring rain on one side of the house and brilliantly sunny on the other.

I told Buwa about it at dinner last night, and he told me that when he was a kid, they used to say that a sunshower meant that the¬†shyaal (foxes) were getting married. But it wasn’t just foxes that were involved. There was¬†a biraalo baaun (brahman cat) officiating and kukur (dogs) playing instruments during the¬†janti, a procession during the wedding where the new bride is brought to the groom’s house. I then remembered that Tri had told me this story a few years ago while we were watching a Japanese film by Akira Kurosawa called¬†Dreams.

It’s a fantasy movie composed of eight short stories. Although I didn’t watch the whole movie, the IMDb page says that the stories are mostly about “man’s relationship with his environment.” The first one, called “Sunshine Through the Rain” is about a little boy who slips out of his house during a rainstorm and goes to a forest where he witnesses a fox’s wedding. The foxes end up seeing him, which is very bad luck for the boy. He returns home and his mother tells him that a fox has left a knife for him with which he must commit suicide. She tells her son to go and beg forgiveness from the foxes so that he doesn’t have to go through with it. The image at the top of the page is the little boy walking into the forest in search of the foxes.

Now that I’m recalling what happened in the story and looking up the details I’ve forgotten, I’m remembering what a disturbing tale it is! Sometime I’d like to watch the whole movie. It’s a bit slow but its stories are intriguing. I think you can stream it on Netflix if you have it, and here¬†is a good review of the whole film if you’re interested.

Because the Nepali story and the Japanese one are so similar, I’ve been trying to find out if they could be related. The first thing I thought is that the tale might have spread to East Asia along with Buddhism. I found a page from Wikpedia about¬†fox folklore in Japan, and the page does suggest that some of the stories about foxes could have a connection to Buddhism. It also notes that many of the stories about foxes were recorded in a book called Konjaku Monagatarishu, translated as¬†Anthology of Tales from the Past. This book was written in about¬†794-1185 AD and includes tales from India and China in it.

What I love about blogging is that it gives me a good reason to go searching around the internet for interesting stuff. I especially love Wikipedia, and as I’ve been exploring information about sunshowers, I found out that a lot of different cultures say that something special happens when the rain and sun are battling it out. This page gives some examples. For one, some people in the US claim that “the Devil is beating his wife” when the sun and rain are both present, but more interesting than that, most of the cultures mentioned on this page claim that some kind of animal is getting married while it’s both raining and the sun is shining. Below I copied the sayings from the website that mentioned something about animals getting married. Look at this…

  • In¬†South African¬†English, a sunshower is referred to as a “monkey‚Äôs wedding”, a loan translation of the¬†Zuluumshado wezinkawu, a wedding for¬†monkeys.[2]¬†In¬†Afrikaans, it is referred to as¬†jakkalstrou,[2]jackals¬†wedding, or also¬†Jakkals trou met wolf se vrou as dit re√ęn en die son skyn flou, meaning: “Jackal marries¬†Wolf‘s wife when it rains and the sun shines faintly.”
  • In¬†Hindi, it is also called “the foxes wedding”.[2]
  • In¬†Konkani, it is called “a monkey’s wedding”.
  • In¬†Sinhala, it is called “the foxes wedding”.
  • In¬†Bengali, it is called “a devil’s wedding”.
  • In¬†Brazil, people say “Rain and sun (chuva e sol), Snail’s (caracol) wedding”, “Sun and rain (sol e chuva), Widow’s (vi√ļva) marriage”, or “Casamento da Raposa” (Fox’s Wedding).
  • In¬†Arabic, the term is “the rats are getting married”.[2]
  • In¬†Korea, a male¬†tiger¬†gets married to a¬†fox.
  • In various African languages,¬†leopards¬†are getting married.
  • In¬†Kenya,¬†hyenas¬†are getting married.
  • In¬†Bulgaria, there is a saying about the bear marrying.[2]
  • In Tamil Nadu, South India, the¬†Tamil¬†speaking people say that the fox and the crow/raven are getting married.
  • In¬†Mazandarani language, in north of¬†Iran, it is also called “the jackal‚Äôs wedding”.
  • In¬†Pashto, it is also called “Da gidarh wade” or “the jackal’s wedding”.

I can imagine why many areas in South Asia and the Middle East would have folklore about animals (mostly jackels or foxes) getting married. Contact among and between these places was and still is common. Of the above languages, that includes: Hindi, Konkani, Sinhala, Bengali, Mazandarani, Tamil, Pashto, and Arabic (not all related languages).

The European cultures and languages that make use of this folklore may have come up with it independently, but the wedding aspect that is associated with sunshowers seems so specific to me, so maybe the folklore about the wedding goes all the way back to Proto-Indo-European. Maybe it spread to areas of Europe with the spread of language (that would include Bulgarian, Afrikaans, and Portuguese, spoken in Brazil).

But I’m so intrigued by the similar folklore that has African routes, the “monkey’s wedding” that comes from Zulu and the “Hyenas wedding” that comes from Kenya. Could folklore from other parts of the world have influenced the African folklore? Or could the African folklore have influenced folklore elsewhere? Could these tales have arisen independently? I would guess they probably did, but it seems so incredible to me. Is there something about a sunshower that seems particularly matrimonial? So many questions… I don’t really know anything about the rise and spread of tales, stories and oral traditions, but the whole thing is quite interesting.

Poverty and Wealth, Side by Side

Masala Bou wrote an interesting post about wealth and poverty in India and her reactions to it. Her experience reminded me of my own in Nepal, and these last few days, I’ve been trying to understand and tease out my own reactions to wealth and poverty.

According to The World Bank, Nepal is the poorest country in South Asia. I’ve read a number of different statistics about the percentage of people living in poverty, and they seem to vary a bit, but from what I can tell, between 30 and 40 percent of people in Nepal live below the international poverty line, which means they live on less than $1.25 a day. The problem with this definition of poverty is that it’s a little bit arbitrary, as many thresholds are, and it ignores the fact that quality of life does not necessarily go down with decreased income. A lot of the people that would fall under the poverty line in Nepal are subsistence farmers who grow what they eat and don’t need much money to survive on or even live well. For about a month two years ago, I stayed with a Sherpa farming family a rural area of Nepal that practiced subsistence farming. Although they also had a small lodge for trekkers that brought in some money, and the husband in that family was a teacher for part of the year, they had a very small income. I’m not sure if they would fall under the international poverty line, but they were quite poor by Western standards, and I met with other families living in the village who definitely did fall under the international poverty line. But were these people really poor? When I think of poverty, I think of destitution and squalid conditions, but this family was definitely not living in that type of situation. They had a comfortable house, they owned land and always had enough to eat.

But there are a lot of people in Nepal who do live in much worse conditions and don’t have land or houses of their own. The poverty that you see is a strange and disturbing contrast to the wealth that’s also present in Nepal. I’ve met Nepali businessmen here who have done tremendously well and are richer than anyone I know in the US. They build expansive houses and buy cars worth hundreds of thousands of dollars (with Nepali tax included). And then right outside the gate to their house, there’s a man sleeping on the street.

The disparity in wealth, the gap between the rich and poor, as far as I can tell, is growing in Nepal. I just saw the documentary Inside Job about the people largely responsible for the irresponsible lending in the US that led to the recession. Definitely see it if you haven’t. Not only was it fascinating, it also made me angry as hell. The greed of these powerful people have connections not only on Wallstreet but also in DC just blows my mind. The film notes the growing wealth gap in the United States, a disparity that I’ve heard is increasing in other parts of the world as well.

Shortly after I arrived in Nepal, I wrote this post about the economic innovation happening here, and as I reread it now, I can see how excited I was when I published that post. It is exciting; people are doing creative things, starting successful businesses, changing the country. But somehow I feel more wary of the whole thing than I did back then.

I’ve been thinking about my¬†wariness¬†and trying to figure out why I’m feeling that way, and I think it has to do with my upbringing in the US. I grew up on the American Dream. The idea is that if you have the smarts and can just work hard enough, you can make it. You can get an education, have your house and car, go on vacation. There’s this idea that success is purely based hard work and smarts, not where you grew up or who you know or who your parents know. Of course it’s a lie and intellectually I know this but I think I still wanted to believe in that meritocracy and not just in the US but in Nepal too. And then I came here and realized on more than just an intellectual level that the world doesn’t work that way.

What has shocked me in Nepal is just how much who you know matters. Occasionally you hear stories here of people rising up, working hard and using their smarts to start companies and make lots of money, but it’s almost never as simple as that. I always knew this but to really understand it on an emotional and experiential level is different.

Living in Nepal has put both poverty and wealth in perspective for me, but also confused me a bit. While living here, I’ve felt both incredibly rich and really poor. I feel wealthy because I look around and see people sleeping on the streets and know that I have warm place to go home to and three square meals a day; I feel really grateful for that. But I feel financially poor thinking about how little I’m making every month. As far as Nepali salaries go, it’s not bad at all, and I feel grateful to have a job and a steady income, but in comparison to American salaries, it’s very little. Although we don’t have to pay rent (because we live with Tri’s family), we end up spending a lot on groceries, clothing and our car, more than we probably would in the US. It’s quite strange that we have to spend so much on these things, but food here has become very expensive (as I’ve heard is also happening in other places around the world), and there are few clothing sales or second hand stores that sell things cheaply, so we pay a premium price for clothes. On the salaries that we have, there’s no way that we could buy a house for many many years to come, even with meticulous savings. Because a lot of people feel like the salaries paid to workers aren’t enough, if they have the resources, they’re turning to business to make money. And it’s great if you are able to be successful at that, but for those who aren’t, it can be difficult.

Before I came to Nepal, I wanted to keep open the possibility of settling and making a life here. But over the last few months, I’ve felt more and more like that would be near impossible for us. If we couldn’t eventually (in the years to come) make some kind of business venture work, then there’s no way we’d have enough funds to live the lives we’d want to live, buy a house, keep our car, travel back to the US to visit, save for retirement. Right now, we’re doing okay. We’re young and don’t need much to live on and even though we’re not making much, it doesn’t matter. I didn’t come to Nepal to make money; I came to be with Tri’s family, learn more about Nepal and its culture, improve my Nepali, and figure out myself out a bit. But when considering the future, it would be very hard for me to feel financially secure in Nepal. So we’ve pretty much closed the possibility of settling here. I always want to make Nepal part of my life, and I dream of the day that we might be able to spend part of the year in Nepal, maybe a few months during the summer. But for now, we plan to go back to the US, probably in another year or so.

Eating Locally in Kathmandu

Recently I saw the move Food, Inc. I’ve been hesitating to watch this film for a long time because I was told it’s incredibly depressing, but I gathered my courage and watched it one day a few weeks ago. I’ve heard a lot of what’s in the movie before, about how animals mass-raised for consumption are kept in awful conditions without proper ventilation, about how some chickens are bread to have extra breast meat and are so¬†top heavy¬†that they can only walk a few feet before falling down, about the antibiotics fed to livestock. I did learn a lot from the movie, though. Before I watched it, I had never heard of¬†Food Libel Laws, which make it easier for food producers to sue for libel. Opera Winfrey was sued in 1998 for making some kind of disparaging remark about beef and Mad Cow Disease on her show.

I also didn’t really know the extent to which The Monsanto Company has been affecting small famers in the US. Their policies and practices are particularly on my mind these days because they’re trying to set up test plots in Nepal (with the support of USAID), something I think would be awful for the farmers here. Here are three articles that describe the issue in further depth:¬†Nepali Times¬†article, Republica article, ekpantipur article.

Food, Inc. is part of a movement that’s been generating speed for at least the last decade, although probably much longer. There have been a number of books and movies about fast food and mass food production in the United States. The two that come to mind are Fast Food Nation, published in 2002, and Supersize Me, a film featuring Morgan Spurlock, that documents his month eating only McDonald’s food. Other books and publications that have tried to promote alternative ways of eating are books like Michael Pollan’s Eat This, Not That and¬†a book called Wild Fermentation by Sandor Katz. (Courtesy to my mom and brother for introducing me to a lot of these people and books).

I have a pretty cursory knowledge of this movement and its impact, but it has always seemed to me that one of its problems has been its inability to get a socio-economically diverse group of people involved. However, the basic messages that a lot of the books and movies set forth could benefit anyone. Some of the messages that I’ve come away with are things like mass-produced food is not so good for us and some of the food our grandparents and great grandparents cooked and ate should be reintroduced into our diets. The movies and books also suggest that we eat organic and local when available and when it fits within our budgets. None of these ideas are revolutionary or new, but probably good to remind ourselves of.

Living in Nepal has made it feasible for us to follow some of these suggestions but impossible to stick with others. For instance, organic food is hard to find here. There is a small market that I know of that sells organic produce and daal, but it’s far away and expensive. A lot of our food comes from small farms near our house, and I doubt that they use a ton of pesticides, but I don’t think they’re organic either. When I lived up in the hills with a Sherpa family, all of the food that they grew was organic (not certified as such), but they never used pesticides and their fertilizer was natural; it came from cows and chickens. But as far as I know, most farmers do not farm organically in the Kathmandu Valley, so our vegetables are generally not going to be organic.

Organic or freerange meat is also hard to come by. Although all of the meat we eat is local, from what I’ve heard, not all of it is raised in the best of conditions. You can get local kukhura, “local/free-range chicken,” (mentioned in this post) but it’s hard to find and again, expensive.

One thing that’s really easy to do in Nepal is eat locally. ¬†Part of the reason for this is our fairly simple diet. Our main food consists of rice, daal,¬†vegetables, flour (for making roti), and meat. Of course, I eat candy, crackers, biscuits, etc. that are often imported, but generally, on a daily basis, almost all of the food I eat comes from inside of Nepal and often from inside of the Valley.

The fields on which most of the saag we eat is grown

A fair number of the people living the Kathmandu Valley are still famers, and there are always fresh, locally grown vegetables available. Nepalis eat a lot of saag, which is a catch-all name for greens. The fields on which the saag we eat is grown are right near our house…

As I mentioned in some previous posts, Buwa has land right outside of the valley, and it’s rented out to farmers. We buy our rice and wheat from those farmers. Here’s our huge bucket of rice that came from a Nepali field…

Nepali Rice

We also get milk delivered every day from a farmer who lives nearby. He milks his cow in the morning and brings the milk to us in a container. It’s very yellow; the milk I used to buy in the US was always white. Someone told me that it’s yellow because the cow just had a baby, and so I guess the yellow color is indicative of extra nutrients and fat in the milk, but I saw something else online that said that yellow milk is caused by carotene, found in grass and other green plants. The milk I used to buy in the US was relatively more processed than the milk I drink here, so it’s unlikely that I ever would have peered into a container to find yellow milk.

I don’t think my diet is necessarily healthier here, but it is simpler, and living in Nepal has definitely led me to eat more locally than I would in the US. Part of the reason why my diet is so simple is because I don’t have as many options, but when I get back stateside, I will have lots of option, and I don’t know if I’m going to want to limit myself to eating locally. When I’m back in the US, if I see some great-looking imported fruit in the grocery stores in the winter, I don’t think I would stop myself from buying. But I think eating locally and even more than that being around farms and farmers has made me more aware of the whole process of growing food and what that entails.

The Power of Names

I just re-watched one of my favorite movies of all time,¬†Spirited Away, directed by Hayao Miyazaki. All of his films are fantastic, both light-hearted and serious, full of detail, and always tackling universal issues like growing up, forming one’s identify, and conserving natural resources.

I’ll give a short synopsis for those who haven’t seen it (spoiler alert)…Spirited Away is about a little girl named Chahiro who moves to new town with her parents. During the drive to their new house, Chahiro’s dad veers off the main road to explore a bit, and they end up at the entrance to an abandoned theme park. While walking around, they smell cooking food and head towards the source. The delicious food tempts Chahiro’s parents into eating, and her parents gorge themselves, but Chahiro eats nothing. It turns out that the abandoned park is actually part of the spirit world, and the food that her parents ate was meant for the spirits. Her parents’ piggish behavior turns them into pigs, but Chahiro remains a human. However, despite the fact that she has not been turned into an animal, she has no way to get home, so must start working at the bath house in the spirit world. Over the course of the film, she goes through many trying experiences, learns to work hard, fights a demon, and gains courage and strength that didn’t posess before. She also frees the friend she has made, Haku, from the bonds of the bath house owner, turns her parents back into humans, and leaves the spirit world.

One of the underlying themes of the movie has to do with naming and identity. When Chahiro starts working at the bath house in the spirit world, she must handover her name to Ubaba, the owner of the bath house, in order to gain employment there. She is given a new name, Sen. Ubaba controls the workers at the bath house by stealing their names and giving them new ones, so if Chahiro/Sen ever forgets her real name, she can never leave the bath house, which is exactly what happened to her friend Haku. He is a river spirit who forgot his real name and has never been able to stop working for Ubaba. Part of Sen’s adventure includes helping Haku remember his real name and who he is. There is something powerful about the characters’ real names, the knowledge and ownership of which allow them to remain free and independent and avoid the grasp of Ubaba. The power that is accorded to names in the movie reminded me a little bit of the way that names are viewed in Nepali culture.

For starters, there are specific rules that dictate when it is appropriate to call someone by their first name and when it is not. It’s impolite to refer to people by first name in many circumstances, especially with elders. We have something similar in English. Children often use kinship terms like mother, father, grandmother and grandfather (or their equivalents like¬†mommy, daddy,¬†etc.) because not doing so is generally impolite. Growing up, I knew a few people who called their parents by their first names, but I always felt weird about doing it with my own parents.

This feeling of embarrassment about using first names with elders is multiplied a hundred times in Nepal. It’s extremely rude to call your elders by their first names, so kinship terms are used instead. Each term reveals the particular relationship between the person being referred to and the person using the term. For example, I often mention Mama and Maijiu on this blog.¬†Mama¬†means maternal uncle and is Tri’s mom’s brother.¬†Maijiu¬†means maternal uncle’s wife. Paternal uncle is said in a completely different way (kaka). There’s something about this rule that gives a certain power to first names. I guess that part of it is that uttering someone’s first name suggests that you are senior to them, so saying someone’s name in a way confirms your higher position in the hierarchy.

Wives are also not supposed to call their husbands by first names, although husbands can refer to their wives by the first name, a rule that I’m not too keen on. Once, when I was in Nepal two years ago, I was going out with Mamu to the store. Buwa was going to arrive before we got back to the house but he didn’t have the key, so she asked a neighbor to give him the key when he got there. To refer to Buwa, Mamu wouldn’t say his name; instead, she called him¬†sir, a term the younger neighbor might have used to refer to Buwa (not the name that Mamu would have called Buwa while talking to him).¬†I’ve also heard women refer to their husbands as¬†uhaa¬†or¬†hajur, both honorific third person pronouns that can be used for men or women (the closest equivalents in English are “he,” “she,” “him,” or “her”).

There is another part of Nepali Hindu culture that accords power to names.¬†The Nwaran ceremony is a ritual that takes place after the eleventh day in a child’s life (it might be a different day for girls; I’m not sure). During this event, the child is given a ‚Äúsecret name,‚ÄĚ based on his horoscope, that he’s not supposed to disclose to anyone else. It reminds me of Christian baptism, although I don’t think the names given during baptism are supposed to be secret. If anyone else finds out about this name, they can supposedly use it to gain power over that person. When I was looking for information on this ceremony, I was able to find stuff about the rituals but not so much about the significance behind them. If anyone knows more about it, please chime in!

I’m not sure if my ramblings are really making sense. There’s no direct parallel between Spirited Away¬†and naming practices in Nepal, but something about that movie reminded me of Nepali culture. What do you think? Is it valid to make these connections between Spirited Away and Nepali/Hindu culture?

Organ Donors, Actors, and Eye Surgeons

Before I got my¬†license¬†as a teenager, I decided to mark that I wanted to be an organ donor. My parents encouraged me to, and I have no religious or other objections that would prevent me from being one. Although it’s painful to consider the possibility that I might die, I know rationally that putting that little mark on my¬†license¬†could make a big difference in someone else’s life.

Candles and incense were lit to remember the dead

Organ donation is widely promoted in the US, but it’s still rare in Nepal. However, after Mamu died, Buwa donated her eyes to the Tilganga Eye Centre.¬†On Saturday, there was a ceremony to honor people who have given their eyes after death, and since Mamu donated her eyes, we went to attend the event. There were quite a few people in the crowd, which is a fantastic sign. To get that many people interested in and supporting organ donation is a great thing. Outside of the hospital, they built a display with flowers that listed all of the deceased donors’ names, and as part of the ceremony, family members of the dead lit incense and candles around the display. Some families got to meet the recipients of their love ones’ eyes: we didn’t, however, because the children who received Mamu’s eyes are very young, but the doctor who operated on these kids told us that he’ll introduce us to them in a few years.

Joel is the guy on the right

Tilganga Eye Centre is a¬†really incredible place that works to treat patients from all walks of life. One of the people who drives the work there is a man named Doctor Sanduk Ruit. He’s a fantastic eye surgeon who has traveled all around Nepal to perform¬†cataract¬†surgery on people living in rural¬†areas.¬†He’s also done a great job of increasing publicity for the hospital. One way he’s successfully brought attention to the centre is by making connections with well-known people who become brand ambassadors for Tilganga. Recently he made a connection with the actor¬†Joel Edgerton who was able to make it to Nepal and come to the event on Saturday. Joel’s most recent film is called¬†Warrior, which Tri and I saw a few weeks ago. I can’t watch fight films to easily (I cringe when somebody gets hurt), so I was in and out of the room while Tri was watching, but Tri sat through it from start to finish and really enjoyed it.

Here‘s and article about his trip to Nepal and Tilganga. He’s a super easy going, down to earth kind of guy, and I’m really excited for Tilganga because I think his support will help them increase other support to the hospital from abroad.

Besides attrracting actors, Tilganga also attracts world-class doctors, often those who want to make a difference in the lives of Nepali people or who want to give back somehow. One such doctor is a well-known lasik eye surgeon based in both the US and the UK.

I first got glasses in the third grade and then switched over to contacts in seventh, but I’ve never felt comfortable with either of my two options. Glasses feel heavy on my face, and contacts are unwearable past 8 or 9pm for me. I’ve wanted to have lasik eye surgery done, but I my eyes may continue to change in my twenties, so I’m wary of doing the procedure right now. However, Buwa thinks that if I do decide to have the surgery done, I might be able to get it done with this doctor.

Lasik Surgery Equipment

Besides having a fantastic doctor, Tilganga also has great equipment made by the German company Zeiss. If I have eye surgery done in the US, I’d probably have it performed at an average place with an average doctor for a couple thousand dollars to do one eye. For both eyes, the price could rise above $4000 dollars, but if I do it here, I might be able to get it done by this great surgeon with great equipment for a few hundred dollars. I’m finding this idea hard to resist. My mom is pretty against me doing it Nepal, but maybe I can convince her that it will be okay. There’s lots of time for me to decide anyway, so I’ll do some research and keep thinking about it.