Sunday, October 31, 2010


I'm about to admit something that may be grounds for dismissal from the Foreign Service. I don't like jazz. I'm sorry, I tried. But it just doesn't do anything for me. High-pitched clarinets with zig-zaggy notes all over the place. I need a little more structure in my music.

But jazz is a staple of the State Department's cultural exchange programs. This week is the 8th annual Jazzmandu festival in Kathmandu. Tonight the Ambassador hosted a performance by a group of jazz musicians - 3 Americans and 2 Nepalese. The Nepalis in the audience seemed to enjoy the performance, especially the jazz rendition of a popular Nepali folk song. That was actually kind of fun.

I wonder if I could bring over a bluegrass band for our next exchange program.

Sunday, October 24, 2010


I’ve been thinking about my stuff a lot lately. My HHE hasn’t arrived yet, so I’m still living off my UAB (which, as I look back, I under packed). I’ve been dreaming about where I’ll put my things, where I’ll hang the pictures, that kind of thing. I think I’ve figured out why “stuff” is so important to Foreign Service Officers. It’s the one part of our lives we have complete control over.

We live in homes that we didn’t choose with furniture that we didn’t pick. [I don’t say this to complain. There is no way the State Department can provide furnished housing in such a way to satisfy everyone. This is just a reality of working in the Foreign Service.] Even with all of our own belongings surrounding us, our houses can feel like home only up to a certain point.

So we buy stuff. Within just a few weeks of arriving in Kathmandu, I had already bought a gorgeous Kashmiri rug, a few knickknacks, and some jewelry. It helped me feel a little bit settled into my new house.

In Nepali, stuff/things is called “cheezwiz.” No kidding. So I’m waiting impatiently for my cheezwiz to arrive and longing for the day when I can put my own books on the shelves, cook with my own pots & pans, and put out my own picture frames.

Thursday, October 21, 2010

Acting Public Affairs Officer

I've been the Acting PAO for a couple weeks now. I love it! Doing the administrative stuff for the section as well as my regular IO responsibilities keeps me very busy, but it's been a great experience.

I've done all the paperwork for hiring two new positions and re-defining an existing LES position; I've lost a battle with Dulles to ship a ton of books through the pouch; I've converted a storage room into an office; I've written remarks for the Ambassador and the USAID Mission Director for a regional conference; I've created a Public Affairs policy for the mission; I've handled several press requests from journalists in Nepal, India, and the U.S.; and I've revamped the embassy's Facebook page.

I haven't felt this sense of accomplishment in a loooooong time. The only problem is that my brain won't shut down. I go to bed and my brain is still spinning; I wake up at 4:30 am and my brain kicks in to gear. They didn't cover that at FSI.

Monday, October 4, 2010

म नेपाली जस्तो छु

(I'm just like a Nepali)

I'm starting to get the hang of living in Kathmandu. I can push my way through a throng of motorcycles to cross the street. When night falls as I'm walking home, I'm getting pretty good at not stepping in holes or dog poop. But the constant honking still gets on my nerves.

Sunday I went shopping for fabric in Thamel, the "touristy" part of town. I bought a book by a Nepali woman. I bought a small bronze Durga statue and had tea and interesting conversation with the shopkeepers (in Nepali, thank you very much). I'm having a ring made. I bought two cotton shirts from a small shop and bargained with the kid by persuading him in Nepali that "I'm not a tourist, I'm just like a Nepali, so give me the same price you would give a Nepali person!" And I browsed some Kashmiri carpets.

I did not, however, buy fabric.