Saturday, March 19, 2011

Holi & Cheese

Holi is a Nepali celebration of colors. In reality, Holi is a day for smearing colored powder on your friends and neighbors and throwing water balloons at anyone who walks by. It’s great fun, especially if you’re watching the festivities on the street from the safety of a sealed motorpool van.

Multi-colored kids would pelt our van with water balloons. The RSO on board would respond by opening the window and shooting them with his water gun. This delighted the onlookers, many of whom had been earlier victims of the young mischief-makers.

The real reason for the motorpool transportation was for a trip to the farm of a French cheese maker. When I discovered that there is a French guy who makes fresh cheese just outside of Kathmandu, I insisted that the CLO organize a trip. So a group of use went up to the peaceful spot and enjoyed a nice afternoon of cheese, bread, and sausage (all made right there on the farm) and, of course, wine (NOT made on the farm). I almost forgot I was in Kathmandu.

Friday, March 11, 2011

Things They Should Tell You in A100

I've compiled some advice that should be given to all new officers in A100. This mainly applies to working at hardship posts. I'll add to the list as I think of new things, or as others contribute something.

ALWAYS carry toilet paper wherever you go. And hand sanitizer.

Bring comfortable shoes you don't give a crap about.

Learn to like, no love, tea.

Buy good earplugs.

Never ask, “What kind of meat is this?”

Always buy the generic first class letter stamps, not the ones with cute designs whose amounts will be outdated in a matter of months. (I still have an entire sheet of 39 cent stamps featuring classic cartoon characters.)

Online bill paying and Skype will be your best friends.

Buy the annual subscription to an online greeting card web site.

Courtesy of Hannah: Never wear heels when you're a control officer. NEVER.

Friday, March 4, 2011

Freak Show

I am a freak. When I walk down a road in Nepal (outside of Kathmandu) I am a pale-as-can-be, red-headed, blue-eyed freak that causes young and old Nepalis alike to stare in awe as I pass. Sometimes I'll smile at the kids and say, "Namaste." Satisfied that I won't bite, they squeal with laughter. The freak can speak!

This was most evident during my 5-day road trip in eastern Nepal. It was amusing at first. But by the third day of open-mouthed stares, it was old. As someone who doesn't particularly enjoy the spotlight, being on display all the time was annoying.