Living in an area where many other ex-pats reside means that sharp eyed businesses spot a great opportunity to make some money. In the four years that we have been here at least 5 new bakeries have started. Now we have 11 bakeries within ten minutes walk of our house!
12 Baskets: the newest addition – great pizza bread and french sticks.
Hermann Helmers: Long established and popular with the germans.
La Pana: Argentinian bakery making the best and cheapest chocolate brownies in town.
Ageno: Loaf of brown bread for 45p, great fresh chocolate donuts and the chocolate torte (chef’s own recipe) is the best cake in the area.
The Smart Bakery: Their croissants and pain-au-chocolat are superb. Also currently our favourite for bread.
Sara’s Bakery: Great bread and cakes but a little expensive. Two shops within 10 mins of our house.
Higher Ground: Good all round bakery and popular for breakfasts.
I’ve missed out the Vienna bakery and the German bakery. And then there is the ‘Secret bakery’ near the British School that I couldn’t possible include a picture of.
There are also seven high end mountain bike shops within ten minutes walk and countless restaurants including Thai, Vietnamese, Japanese, European, Nepali, Indian, Continental, Italian.
It makes for a slightly odd mix alongside ancient temples and road side shrines but it all helps to keep these bears happy.
At 6:15am, with the first signs of dawn, we could see the mountains were ‘out’. It was Saturday morning, we had no church responsibilities and made a snap decision to give ourselves a treat. We had a quick breakfast, packed lunch and took a taxi to the Chandragiri Cable Car station. We had been up with friends ten months ago and spent the day walking in cold rain, so we decided then that the next opportunity that came we would take.
Everest is the one with the plume.
It was a rare perfect day and from 2500 metres we could see Dhaulagiri, Annapurna, Manaslu, Cho Oyu and Everest, five peaks over 8000 metres. This last month we’ve been engulfed in smog most of the time and there seemed no reason why the skies suddenly cleared. We’ve both had busy periods at work so it was a tonic to get out of the city and walk 8 miles up and down the wooded ridge of hills lying behind our flat.
It was one of those rare days when we kept looking at one another with disbelief that the views were so clear and feeling like we were the luckiest people in the world (along with the thousands who had the same idea of course). The walk finished with banana lassi at the Hatiban resort, watching the eagles doing acrobatics, and then a walk down to the road. This is where the dream usually ends as its a horrible windy, dusty, road/track back to Kathmandu. But a group of Nepali rock climbers in a new four wheel drive saw me scouring the road for a bus and offered us a lift back to our door.
A perfect day.
80 of us eventually found our way up the long climb to the edge of the jungle where Nepal Evangelical Holiness Theological Seminary is sited. The Asian Theological Association were leading a workshop on transformational learning. That probably doesn’t sound like the most exciting way to spend 3 days but it was one of the most encouraging experiences I’ve had here.
There are 7 Nepali colleges affiliated to ATA and they got a great attendance by requiring us all to be there and giving financial discounts to institutions with a good number of faculty present. Highlights were:
This was the first part of a four-year training programme encouraging and enabling colleges to shift to a learner centred style of teaching. Most teaching here is very traditional, from primary school up to Masters’ level. This year was on theory, next year is on practice – I can’t wait!
Articles in UK newspapers recently highlighted concerns about pollution in UK cities. Apparently the particularly damaging particles (PM2.5) are 50-100% higher in London than World Health Organisation limits of 10 mg/m. I thought I would compare this to levels in Kathmandu. It’s sobering reading. Only on the best days, at the best times is Kathmandu’s air quality the same as London’s worst. Kathmandu’s worst is 1600% worse than the WHO limits.
Its beautiful outside the main city at this time of year. Its the rice harvest and its fascinating to see harvest as it would have been in the UK 150 yrs ago.
This was the only piece of machinery we saw, a foot operated threshing machine.
After the harvest they will dig out this land to make bricks in the kiln in the background (one of the main causes of pollution).
Its tough work.
And after the beauty, its back to the beast……….
Cycling home from Namobuddha last weekend the heavens opened as I started the hour and a half climb up to the pass. It had rained a lot for a couple of days but now it just poured down. After sheltering for half an hour I realised it wasn’t going to stop and pressed on, thankful that Nepali rain is warmer than British rain. Much of the dirt road had become a stream and in two places I had to ford rivers that had materialised in the last 24 hours. I saw a motorcyclist get on to his bike after answering a call of nature and a second after he left a landslide came over the spot he had been standing.
Kathmandu is in the hilly area of Nepal and so most of this rain disperses and joins the rivers that flow from the Himalayas south towards India. In the south, plain lands that run east to west across the length of Nepal bear the brunt of this kind of weather and you have probably seen on the news pictures of terrible flooding.
The Baptist Church in the east and our friend Bharat (whom I wrote about previously) in the west have been working with churches to provide food and shelter for those in need. Over 100 people have died in floods and landslides. More than 100,000 are affected. Some have lost homes and many families’ food stocks as well as this year’s rice harvest have been destroyed. The price of vegetables in Kathmandu has been shooting up as it becomes clear that many crops are lost and transport is difficult.
From a more developed country’s perspective it is hard to appreciate how vulnerable poor people’s lives are here. There is no insurance. Many labourers are payed on a daily basis, if you work you get paid if you don’t because all the fields you work in are under water then you receive nothing. And a daily wage may be under $2. Such people have big immediate needs but more than that they will need long term help.
This blog isn’t written to solicit funds but because many of you pray regularly for Nepal. However if you would like to give then one way of doing so is through the BMS Relief Fund. You can find info here: https://www.bmsworldmission.org/appeal/disaster-recovery/
They are already involved in the recovery work.
Preaching on humility, I felt I needed to correct the pastor who kept introducing me as Professor Saunders. I also often get called Sir Andy which doesn’t help my humbleometer. Little did I know that I was going to encounter a perfect example of humility after the service.
Rubbish Collection Point
The church was an hours bus ride (15p) to the north of the city. Getting off at the ring road and following google maps to pick our way down an extremely muddy road through a bamboo clothes market we passed a rubbish collection point just before we arrived at the church.
Rubbish is a huge problem in Kathmandu. Huge amounts of waste are dumped at the side of the road, in the Bagmati river or down ravines. There is a rubbish collection service that is pretty efficient. Our waste is collected twice a week by a lorry, tractor or rickshaw. However there is as yet little effective education about waste and the environment so rubbish litters the streets and spoils beauty spots.
After the service the pastor and Devendra invited us to come and see ‘the project’. It consisted of three simple breeze block rooms adjoining the church. We sat in the gloomy and slightly damp smelling office wondering what on earth could be happening here.
Divendra has a passion to educate children in the importance of creation care and waste mangement. Starting from scratch he approached two schools to ask if he could work with them. They were highly sceptical but his passion and grasp of the subject won him an opening. Now he works with 6000 school children.
He teaches about the environment and recycling. They place recycling bins in every class room and collect paper, plastic, metal and compost every 2 days with a rickshaw. They teach children how to make greeting cards from recycled paper and ornaments from recycled plastic. All profits are split 50/50 with the schools who have become supportive partners.
Divendra is in this project for the long term. He has studied projects around the world and reeled off figures illustrating that working with children to educate them in waste mangement can be very effective in changing a culture but takes 10-15 years.
In my sermon I commented that inNepali society people instantly know on meeting a new person whether they are above you or below you in the hierarchy of relationships. I noticed Devendra nodding. He told us that usually those who work with waste are the ‘untouchables’ from the old caste system. His family were deeply upset that he was working with waste. He has two Masters degrees and they expected him to have a big office and the trappings of power by the age of 34. He is clearly conscious of the shame others place on him but his passion drives him forward.
Humility in action.
When I graduated from Spurgeon’s College I was 33, it was my second degree, I’d worked as a teacher and had four years experience in full time christian work. Through the Baptist structures I had been called to serve as pastor in a church and could look forward to being provided with a house, a salary and even a book allowance.
It was a treat (3 hours long!) to be invited to the Baptist Bible College Graduation at the weekend.There is a great love of ceremony and dressing up (one way in which I don’t naturally fit into the culture!). Tassles are ceremonially moved from one side of the mortar board to the other on being presented with the certificate. And there is a feast at the end, fitting as families and friends have often travelled for many hours to attend.
The B.Th graduates were students I first met nearly 4 years ago and it was wonderful to see the huge progress they had made. 4 years ago some could hardly put together a sentence in English and most had never sat down to read a whole book apart from the Bible. Now they graduate with a heart and competence to minister in the church.
However, what a contrast to my graduation! All are under 26, their degree is not recognised by the government and very few will have a salaried post to go to. Most of the boys will have to plant a church or build up a small fellowship if they are to be pastors and for the girls there are even less formal opportunities. The Baptist denomination does have some funds to help church planters but there certainly won’t be a book allowance! Amazingly though about 90% of graduates do continue in full time ministry. I wonder what the percentage was from my year at Spurgeons?!
Other news: We have our visas – great rejoicing! Jenny has started work on her dissertation. The monsoon should be ariving any day soon.