Darwin 2: starting point …

19 Sep

Accommodation

Suppose you don’t want to spend a lot of money, actually,

  • you want to spend as little as possible
  • you want to have company around the clock, like being in a six-bed-room, 12 square meters, mixed male and female piled on top of each other in bunk beds
  • you want to be welcomed by a manager with the nicest Asian smile at 2 o’clock at night who doesn’t mind your late arrival because he still has a lot of tidying up to do
  • you don’t care for fast wi-fi, instead, you want to meet wonderful, relaxed people who – being on a work-and-travel-visa – go to work, do their laundry and their cooking and beer drinking, laughing and chatting at any time of day-night, who are easy-going enough not to bother about cleaning up their mess after warming up a can of Heinz’ baked beans
  • you love the type of air conditioning that converts a sauna bedroom into a cold room emitting a monotonous “white noise” that puts you to sleep and a sudden jerky rumble that startles you every time it turns on or off
  • you are rugged enough not to mind spotting hair of all colors, lengths and types in the shower

then you book into:

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Gecko Lodge is a hostel, give yourself one night and you’ll throw everything your mother ever taught you about hygiene over board!

The less readable sign says:

 Thank Heaven for dirty dishes!
They have a tale to tell.
While other folks go hungry,
we’re eating very well,
with home and health and happiness,
we shouldn’t want to fuss,
by this stack of evidence

God’s very good to us.

And in fact: the work-and-travel folks sometimes earn around 25 Au$ per hour and can buy food and drink at will and still help out a penniless old lady (whose ATM bankcard didn’t work because she had forgotten to tell her bank she was going overseas; thank you, Iva!). Mind: you can get that visa until you are 31 years old. Afterwards, you are simply too old!

I liked Gecko Lodge, it’s out of town, has a small pool, a bus stop right next to it, a good-natured Chinese manager who proudly carries his little daughter around while still doing his job after sunset, nice sociable people from all over the world, a porch, a veranda with chairs and tables, fridges, clean sheets, you name it … geckos (and other mini fauna), too, of course …

Downtown

(remember I’m not Wiki … for real infos, google!)

The library, wonderful building, one hour free internet, air conditioning, café with a view, silence, order, cleanliness

wow-Intersection: at green traffic lights cross right and left and diagonally; you can even take pictures in the middle of the intersection (!!!!)

Stick by the rules, you are being taught in a nice way, so be good, the rules are many, people expect you to abide by them, better start getting used to them:

 

Artists

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Aboriginal women painting and selling their art in the street. They are not from Darwin but further south

To the left of them there was a man painting on a big canvass. He was not unfriendly but he didn’t want to have his picture taken, least of all, a picture of his picture.

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2 WOMEN DIGGING for GOANNA & EGGS; CAROLYN KENTA, ERNABELLA PUKATJA. This is what the lady is writing on the white rim

Without signature and explanation the picture is less valuable.

In the Art Gallery I got to talk to Edward Watts Blitner from the Ngukkurr area and a member of the Marra tribe. At first I was really worried that I might disturb him. He seemed so absorbed in what he was doing, highly concentrated. In the end he turned out to be very open and forthcoming and the only thing I was sorry about was that I had such little familiarity with the Australian accent.

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 painting a Brolga (crane)

The pictures often tell mythological stories which were once told in song and dance cycles at ceremonies, stories about a narrow escape or with an educational intent. One myth is about a man who escaped two hunters that were about to kill him jumping into a billabong and getting transformed into Ngalyod the Rainbow Serpent. As a snake he bit his pursuers and killed them. Later the man who had saved his life by becoming a serpent became a Brolga crane and as such was able to avoid further persecution and danger. Fan-tas-tic!

Another story tells about two sisters who loved to dance near a billabong in spite of being warned by their tribe not to do so. Now, if one thing is true: young girls and boys never listen to their elders, anywhere in the world. The consequences for breaking the rules in aboriginal life are rather harsh! You want to have your own way? Fine, you will, but only once. The Rainbow Serpent got upset and transformed the disobedient young girls into Brolgas. Actually, these birds are very beautiful. They live on the waterside where they make dance movements which have been imitated by the Aborigines.

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I had a long discussion with the artist about aboriginal art, which, in his opinion, is a natural kind of flow that comes out of a person, you can’t be taught and you can’t teach it.

My opinion: the exact opposite. You teach, the children sit down and learn, at school, in courses, at home, wherever.

He kept shaking his head: “No, no, no … It doesn’t work like that.”

Now, look at the picture he is painting. Doesn’t it look carefully … painstakingly planned?

I was to understand what he tried to convey to me much later when I talked to Coco, who had lived with aborigines for a long time. (But I still believe in teaching and learning, I just can’t help it).

And I fell in love with aboriginal art …

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Just a little help in reading the aboriginal art iconography – Courtesy of What is Aboriginal Art? By Margo Birnberg, a short introduction to the understanding of aboriginal art 

… and I started getting interested in didgeridoos, musical instruments, which I would get to know better on my trip to Kakadu National Park.

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Didgeridoos are those long artfully painted tubes with a wax rim on top where the mouthpiece is

… my TRIP from DARWIN TO LITCHFIELD AND KAKADU NATIONAL PARKS

How difficult it can be to get there, that is a whole different story which I will tell you in my next letter.

Cheers

Gerburg

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Darwin: thinking of …

10 Sep

… Charles, what comes to mind? Lessons about Evolution, the Origin of Species, survival of the fittest and most adaptable (and merciless, okay, no, he didn’t say that). So why would a place where the explorer himself never set foot on be called DARWIN? I think, the First Officer and the Captain of the HMS Beagle must have really liked the voyages with this weird guy, keen observer – explorer – theoretician. And after Darwin had got off the ship and started dedicating himself to organizing, editing and publishing the reports on his collections, the officer and the captain of the Beagle got the task of surveying the shores of Australia and they called the nice new port at the Top End Darwin.

Coming from a Roman summer (hot), to a Sydney winter (fine days but cold nights and mornings), where would you want to go to warm up? The tropics sounds great and Darwin is the northernmost city of Australia, a stone’s throw away from Indonesia and the equator, with a temperature between 19 degrees (night) and 36 degrees (daytime). That’s nice and waaaarm! Only 4 hours flight from Sydney, slightly different time zone, just half an hour, but set your watch (!), Australians can be over-punctual.

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this may look really new and modern …

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… and unexciting to you

Some of what is really interesting here is underground.

Remember WWII? Another ANZAC memorial? No! Look at this:

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Now why would anyone want to bomb Darwin? Who? Germans? Japanese?

Australia wasn’t on the list of the countries to be occupied but after WWI Darwin became a key location of the Singapore – Australia defence line (I guess they saw it coming).

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note the words “naval refuelling station”

Clearly, never underestimate your enemy!!!! Seeing huge fuel tanks on the Darwin waterfront the Imperial Japanese .. bla .. Forces didn’t think twice and bombed the oil out of them on the morning of February 19 in 1942 destroying the naval base and killing more than 200 people.

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Japanese air raid, successful, these things blow up like hell

Australian guns and searchlights on the waterfront hadn’t been of any help, the attack came from the air. Gee, didn’t they KNOW, the Japs had planes? (Mitsubishi was already a name to be taken in consideration!).

Then, brilliant idea, put that stuff underground!

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… the tunnels were built entirely in secret … 400 men … sneaking in and out of this hillside like rabbits … sandfly-filled mangrove swamps … not an ideal working environment (understatement!)

Secret?! The soil that had been removed from underground remained dumped at the entrance of the tunnels clearly to be seen during reconnaissance flights (just in case Japanese intelligence officers were wondering what was going on now). Never mind, the tunnels were made of concrete walls with steel lining and were bomb proof. However, they turned out to be not entirely water proof in the long run. They were restored and ready to be visited in 1992 at the 50th anniversary of the bombardment.

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a hell of a lot of work (5 tunnels)

These pictures probably mean “everybody, really e-ve-ry-bo-dy,  lent a hand”

overworked           and          under-payed

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The tunnels, now a museum with posters and explanations  

Australia, keep these things in good condition, Kim Jong-un may NOT be “blustering”! (as Aussie newspapers suggest) Oh okay, no, no chances, he’s gonna nuke us right away …

Wartime humour: I found the menu really funny.  However, as the saying goes: “war is not a picnic” (Yeah, I know, it’s “life is not a picnic”)

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“joints” are large pieces of meat cooked in one piece, not the ones you smoke; the meaning of the name of the inn? … no idea!

On the whole, as all the ANZAC memorials tell, Australia had and still has a military force to be reckoned with. Amazing the Catalina flying boats, you would think, you don’t need anything else.

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Perfect multi-purpose war equipment: search and rescue, bomb and lay mines, medical supply and courier service, reconnaissance and sabotage. Had they been faster, they would have done the job and won right away.

Happy to be over ground again and back to the present: tropical vegetation, the well kept ruins of the town hall, Bicentennial Park (nice benches in the shade, green grass carpet, public restrooms: clean and for free), Christ Church Cathedral, as garrison church first destroyed by the Axis powers, then rebuilt by the military and finally, in 1974 cyclone Tracy struck and (besides devastating the whole town) wreaked havoc on the church leaving only the porch of it standing. It happened one hour after Midnight Mass on Christmas Day. (Je …)

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lush green tropical vegetation

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Ruins of the Town Hall (cyclone Tracy,1974)

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Bicentennial Park, green and clean

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Christ Church Cathedral, the old porch integrated into the new, modern building

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Cyclone Tracy Memorial window (Dalle de verre technique, pieces of glass)

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Multi-ethnic Darwin: countless origins, cuisines, languages, >50 shades of beige-brown, at the night market you meet them all  

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Mindil Beach at sunset

No salt water croc in sight but having heard of them I gave up the idea of going swimming in the morning.

Cheers

Gerburg

Sydney and around: beaches, beaches, be

8 Sep

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clean! public! spectacular!

Just listen to these names:

Bondi Beach (say [bondai] otherwise no one is gonna tell you how to get there),

Palm Beach (wow-name),

Barrenjoey Lighthouse, Bronte Beach (if you think you’ll find “Wuthering Heights” there, you better look up vice-admiral Horatio Nelson, Duke of Bronte),

Whale Beach, Shark Bay, Dolphin Point, Narrabeen (hear the Beach Boys in your mind’s ear: “… Santa Cruz and Trestle, Australia’s Narabine … Everybody’s gone surfin’, surfin’ U.S.A.”)

Balmoral (not the one where the Queen keeps out of sight when she doesn’t want to show her feelings or the lack of them)

 

Names that sound at once familiar and new, exotic, classy, promising fun, leisure, sport, relax

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Ocean pool: water always fresh, conditions always safe, no crocs, no sharks, no currents that suck you into the open sea

and two hours free parking somewhere in the vicinity. If 2 hours is not enough, you take you Opal Card (smart, remember?) and go to the beach by public transport.

This is what you want to do, when the conditions are right (preferably not in winter, remember, summer is around Christmas): sailing, swimming in the ocean or in public ocean pools, surfing, diving

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the boardwalk down by the sea

And this is what you can do any time of the year, because even in winter you feel like being on the sunny side of the earth most of the time:

  • basking in the sun, lounging in cafés sipping at an aperitif or a healthy smoothie or a coffee (but don’t call it just coffee, order a “flat white” or “long black” with or without milk on the side, make it almond or soy milk for a ridiculous 50 cents more),
  • beach walking or just strolling along the literally litter-less waterfront promenades and smooth boardwalks,
  • whale watching, bird watching, blue tongue lizard watching (don’t wait until it pulls its tongue out to check if it’s blue, even a different type of lizard is still worth taking a picture of). Here’s the bird I watched
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seagull following its shadow

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run gecko run

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“One more pic and I’m gonna throw myself down there”

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

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towards the lagoon

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the lagoon is pretty big

Safety is important to Australians: on a sunny winter day you see helicopters circling over the rough sea where reckless surfers challenge the waves. They were too far away to be taken pictures of.

Sorry, no photos of sharks and crocs or selfies of coffee sipping ladies.

Cheers

Gerburg

I like … Sydney

20 Aug

After hearing divergent opinions about it, – in the sense that Melburnians like Melbourne better, Canberrans like Canberra, some Sydneyans like Melbourne, some like Sydney, non-aligned foreigners stay neutral because they want to go into the outback and see, if crocodiles are more dangerous than 21st century traffic, – I decided I had to start from somewhere, why not from Sydney, where I already know someone?

First thing you do, when you get to Sydney, you post the skyline on Facebook, so everybody knows you are there.

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This is not the pic I posted on FB, here I’m getting closer to the city already

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Second thing you can’t stop taking pictures of is Sydney Harbour Bridge

I shot hundreds of pictures of the Opera House and The Bridge, from all sides, left / right / inside / out, underneath, above, close up, far away, I just couldn’t get enough. I was fascinated, the two constructions had cast a spell on me, the lens of my camera was drawn to them like a magnet.

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I didn’t go inside at first, reserved the guided tour (37 Oz bucks) for my last days in Sydney

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Tried to have them both in one picture plus a picturesque tree in front (in all, not really brilliant)

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

And soon you realize that Sydney isn’t just made up of skyscrapers, it’s a mix of the old and the new, obviously not like in Rome and other ancient cities, the difference between old and new not being 2000 years but more or less 200, but still! The “old” houses and churches, from colonial Georgian over neo-Gothic, Victorian and post – WWar II styles are a charming surprise among the tall, shiny towers.

The Old and the New

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View of “The Rocks” (historic quarter)

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Cadman’s cottage

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Campbell’s Cove (ITALIAN VILLAGE!!!)

 

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Downtown: St. Philip’s (lots of churches between the skyscrapers)

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Suncorp Place, regular skyscraper

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facades

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CVB (obvious, short for Queen Vic Building, Romanesque Revival, impressive on the outside, expensive inside!)

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Her Majesty Queen Victoria (here as “patron” of young Asian artists)

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St. Mary’s Cathedral (Gothic Revival, awe-inspiring) photographed by Asian tourists with the same enthusiasm as Cologne Cathedral 😉

Something funny, something historical, something sad

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..it happens or is this art?

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still in use

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Observatory (very old, don’t remember how it works)

Clear rules

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Rules are …

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… rules

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ANZAC Memorial (Australian and New Zealand Army Corps, they didn’t miss a war)

Sad History

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Barangaroo didn’t trust the white colonists that had arrived from overseas from the start. As Bennelong’s second wife she opposed her husband’s being an interlocutor with the British. Most of the Gadigal people are believed to have died of smallpox (epidemic 1789)

The park is nice, the Gadigal people aren’t there

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would have been nice to meet …

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… a soul

And at the end of the chapter, as does the Lonely Planet (not that I’m putting myself at the same level), the question is “how to get there and how to get around”. It’s easy! You can ask your cousin to take you there by car. Not every day! Parking is about:  ½–1 hour: $8 and that’s probably budget. No, you don’t want to waste money like that. You get yourself an OPAL card,

quote: “Opal makes getting around on public transport easy. To travel anywhere from the Blue Mountains to Bondi, or Goulburn to Scone, all you need is an Opal card.”

It’s a smart card, you only pay for what you get: long trip – more money, short trip – less money. So far, so good. You get on the bus, you tap on, there are beautifully coloured readers everywhere on the bus, you hold your card against it and you have started paying; you get off the bus, you tap off, you hold the card against the reader and you have payed for your trip. The problem starts, if you forget to tap off or you don’t tap successfully, then the card is smarter than you and you pay until the end of the route. I found out the hard way. Another thing: you have to learn where to get on and where to get off. So there are stops, where people get on and there are stops, where people get off. If you, not being familiar with the system, try to get off at a get-on-bus-stop, you cause confusion to the local expert users of this sophisticated system. I managed to give the bus driver and fellow travelers an excellent example of foreign simplicity on my last bus ride. Next time I’ll know better.

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And they help keep the city clean

Love to all of you until the next letter

Gerburg

Australia: Amsterdam Huangzhou Sydney

26 Jul

A couple of hours stop-over in Amsterdam: dash to the city centre (from the airport not even ten Euros coming and going, roughly 20 minutes), dash through its alleys, take a few significant pictures, all that just because your kids never took you along with them. They probably thought I wouldn’t be interested.

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The Eleventh Commandment: Voluptatibus Fruendum (for a spiritual moment)

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bikes and canals

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Bikes and churches (churches either closed or charging entrance fees)

Then with Southern China Airlines, stop Huangzhou. Pretty little hostesses render excellent service and take excellent care of me and my gluten-free diet. After more than ten hours I start feeling violently sick nonetheless. Can’t even find my (keep-it-down) pills anymore. Lots of options: I can spend the night in the loo, I can stay in my seat with one of those throw-up bags in my hands, I can tell one of the pretty little hostesses, I can open the window …. The hostess says, there is medicine, but only for emergency. And this? what is this? I silently ask. They give me a cup of hot water. While I drink it, I see my reflection in the mirror: I’m white like a Geisha. The hostesses should pay me for keeping them company. The water helps!!!!! I make friends with two young women from Denmark and from Holland (one in her early 20s, the other one in her early 40s, and myself …). We vow to help each other changing planes in China. My experiences with KunMing and Bejing were terrible. But then Huangzhou turns out to be the transit friendliest airport in all of China. You just proceed to your gate, no holding up and checking and queuing and stamping and whatnot. So we sit down and have a nice cup of coffee. It was so calm and unspectacular, I didn’t even take a picture. But thank you girls, I enjoyed the morning, afternoon, whatever it was.

Then Sydney, so similar to Europe, yet so different. I’ll tell you next time. I’m having a problem uploading the pictures. I guess I’m gonna resort to manual work for the time being and then type it all on the computer under better conditions. Bear with me, everybody

love Gerburg

Best Kids 2

12 Sep

Exceptional kids

My friends’ children and the miracle of …

Lively little boy sitting still!

… a lively little boy sitting perfectly still!

 

Seeing the book she exclaimed: "Oh, Pinocchio! I like Pinocchio!"

… a little girl seeing my gift from Italy exclaiming: “Oh, Pinocchio! I like Pinocchio!”

 

Twelve years ago: the liveliest boy, today the most serious student

… growing up: Nasib, twelve years ago the liveliest boy, today the most serious student

 

Muskan: studying in the dark during a blackout

… Muskan’s sense of duty: studying in the dark during a blackout

Januka

My host family call her “their daughter”, in Europe we would say a bit less affectionately, she is an au-pair-girl, similar to our sons and daughters going abroad for a while, living in a family, helping with the housework for a couple of hours, studying, learning … Januka comes from a village in the West of Nepal and is the eldest of many siblings. My host family have taken her in about a year ago and Januka does everything she can to recompense them for the chance they have given her. In the morning she goes to school, later she helps with the chores and does her homework. On Fridays school is from 5.15 a. m. to 7. 15 a. m. (yes, a. m.! Think of the teachers!) so the students find enough time to work or help their parents during the week-end, half Friday and Saturday. Januka is also good at cooking and applying Henna.

Januka studying in her room

Januka studying in her room

 

Making tea for all of us

Making tea for all of us and  … smiling, even though we interrupted her studies …

 

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House cleaning

 

Januka helping Muskan do her hair

… helping Muskan do her hair

 

Januka applying Henna designs to one of the guests hands (face, ears)

… applying Henna designs to one of the guests’ hands (face, ears); needless to say: he is going to be a famous anthropologist one day

I’m sure all the other guests will agree when I say: “… miss your smile, Januka.”

Vishwa Shanti Vihara School

When I came back from a month’s stay in Nepal 12 years ago after teaching English in a Buddhist Monastery school I had a real culture shock. I couldn’t understand how youngsters like the ones in Europe could be so restless, continuously moving, chatting, unable to pay attention, cracking stupid jokes, laughing apparently without reason. Now I was curious if anything had changed in the Vihara, too. True, the boys have become a good deal livelier, more open, comunicative but at the same time they are calm during lessons, interested, attentive, respectful …

The monastery is still there, with a few cracks but nothing broken, the abbott of the monastery is the same and the headmaster of the school a former student remembered me for the songs I did in my lessons (Beatles with the elder students, didactic songs with the younger ones). He had liked this techique (as he said) and had continued to improve his English with songs and later with films. We, the abbott, the headmaster and I agreed to try out my little theatre play with the students. The play is about the life of the Buddha. I had started to write the play many years ago when I had the idea of combining two things: teaching to speak English and dealing with the life of the Buddha. The students responded to the play with more enthusiasm than I had expected. As the headmaster told me, in spite of being a bit shy in the beginning they enjoyed acting. In the pictures you see them all being very serious and concentrated but in actual fact, we had a lot of fun and a good many laughs together.

Curious

Curious

 

Learning should be fun

Learning should be fun; first practice still sitting

 

Real actors are not just sitting on the floor

Real actors are not just sitting on the floor

 

Trees and flowers populate the scenes. There is a part for each student.

Trees and flowers populate the scenes. There is a part for each student.

 

the father and the mother of Siddhartha

Siddhartha’s father and mother (the laughs!)

 

Me, teaching to act

Me, teaching to act

After this boost in motivation I will now finish the play, formatt it and then send it to them.

On one of my last evenings on Durbar Square in Kathmandu I came across these youngsters. They were taking care of an old homeless woman, giving her to eat and to drink and the young chap cleaning her fingernails. As young as they are, they must have realized that being kept clean has something to do with dignity.

Feeding the old lady Momos

Feeding the old lady Momos

 

Giving her water to drink

Giving her water to drink

And if they go to the discotheque after their good deed, so much the better.

Kumari

Ok, no problem.

Ok, no problem.

The last child I am presenting to you remains without a picture. It is forbidden to take fotos of her, because she is not a child, she is the Kumari, a living goddess, … and who wouldn’t want to be one! Except, when you google her name and read about the life she leads, you can’t help thinking that Dalit street children probably lead a healthier life from the psychological point of view than the poor little goddess that spends her whole childhood until her first menstruation locked away in her special home. She comes out only on festivities or when an earthquake threatens to wreck her house.

A young man in Bhaktapur tells me that their Kumari leads a normal life and gets locked away only for a short period of time together with her parents: a compromise between tradition and a child’s right, because believe it or not, even Kumaris have got one life only.

Different in Kathmandu, where every day tourists gather in the little courtyard at Kumari Marg until she appears at a window and looks down at the people with her big, earnest kajal lined eyes.

Listening to the tourists it seems to me that even Europeans believe in child goddesses and have never heard about a child’s right to play, to have peers around them, to go to school, to have a toy, a favorate dish, to walk with her own feet, to laugh out loud, to throw a fit … all rights that they would claim for their own children at any time.

Still standing amid destruction: at 4 p.m. she appears at the window for just a minute

Still standing amid destruction: at 4 p.m. she appears at the window for just a minute

Let’s hope that Kathmandu one day will find a similar compromise for the life of the little Kumari like in Bhaktapur.

Bye bye

Gerburg

Best Kids 1

12 Sep

Wishing for …

“Children learn by doing, and Play is their work”

Children learn by doing, and Play is their Work

Kindergarten in Kathmandu, Bishalnagar

In the displaced people’s camp in Thali, thanks to private initiative the evacuees’ children lead an almost normal life.

 

 

 

 

 

In the camp in Thali; playing and having a biscuit

Thali: playing and having a biscuit

 

Flying kites over Bhaktapur

Flying kites over Bhaktapur (the kite is difficult to see; below: tents of the Red Cross China)

 

Improvising ping pong in Patan

Improvising ping-pong in Patan (on the right tent of Red Cross China)

 

A shadow as a toy

Who knows where this guy is gonna lead me?

Reality is …

… begging for money

still, they were put there with a minimum of care

Still, they were put there with a minimum of care

 

Having come all the way from the South to Kathmandu

Having come all the way from the South (Terai) to Kathmandu hoping to find work but ending up in the street begging

At the Pashupatinath temples there was nothing else at hand than the small bananas meant for ritual offerings. I bought them all. It took a few seconds for I don’t know how many kids to appear out of nowhere and to finish them. Who knows where the food offerings in the temples go in the end. The gods will understand that mine go straight to the living humans.

no amount of bananas could ever be enough

No amount of bananas could ever be enough

 

 

 

 

too shy to ask

Too shy to ask (Patan, Krishna Mandir)

 

Not too shy to ask but not too needy either

Not too shy to ask but not too needy either. Me: “Do you speak English?” They: “Yes, money, give me money, he he he.” Giggle, giggle. (Thamel, Kathmandu)

Living in poverty, even before being born. Pregnant women do hard physical work, here rebuilding in Sanku (20 km east of Kathmandu), the worst quake-ravaged place in the area.

baby on the way, parents and relatives building a makeshift home

Thank you for smiling

 

home of the baby to be born

Home of the baby to be born; a blue plastic sheet for a roof

 

 

dressed up to take the bus to Kathmandu with mum

Dressed up to take the bus from Budhanilkantha to Kathmandu with mum (in the back the child below)

 

It's not the money, it's all the rest that stinks

It’s not the money, it’s all the rest that stinks

Finding solace in the sight of school children.

In the Kathmandu Valley and in towns the majority of children go to school at least for some time, a taxi driver from Pokhara tells me. He also says that in the rural areas children must help their parents a lot, and this keeps children, especially girls, from going to school.

coming home from school on a Sunday afternoon

Coming home from school on a Sunday afternoon, on the slopes of Kathmandu Valley, near the White Monastery

 

Mothers wash, iron and polish shoes every morning

Mothers wash and iron clothes and polish shoes for school every day (Thali)

Devout youngsters:

They visit their religious sites with friends, boyfriends, girlfriends to perform their rituals and take pictures and selfies while doing so, or they respectfully accompany their parents and grandparents and help them light butter lamps, fire for  worship, and offer flowers and foodstuff.

Wait Mum, another turn of the wheel, another prayer

Wait Mum, another turn of the wheel, another prayer, Om Mani Padme Hum

 

boy with tikka on his forehead, the centre of wisdom; no religious function without a tikka!

Boy with tikka on his forehead, the centre of wisdom; no religious function without a tikka!

 

Krishna Mandir, Patan

Krishna Mandir, Patan, young people tending a consecrated fire for prayers and offerings

 

Daddy, whose soul? which pigeon? Better feed them all

Daddy, daddy, whose soul? which pigeon? Better feed them all! (Patan, Durbar Square)

 

Soul or pigeon, I'm gonna get ye!

Soul or pigeon, I’m gonna get ye!

 

Got a tikka with daddy

Got a fresh tikka with daddy

Temple sites, temples, shivalingas, mandirs, everything that is used for rituals can become a playground, a gym, a fair …

Kirtipur, lionback riding

Kirtipur, lionback riding

 

Improvising a band: good rythm

Improvising a band: good rhythm (Kirtipur)

 

Shivalinga climbing contest

Shivalinga climbing contest, Thamel, Kathmandu

 

Mini stupa dating with icecream; background: two makeshift schoolrooms and the the big stupa

Mini stupa dating with ice-cream; background: two makeshift schoolrooms and behind them in moss green instead of chalk white the big stupa

Under the OM sign: Daddy taking pictures of his daughter and her friend at a temple site especially for women in Pokhara: girls go there to ask for a handsome boyfriend, young women for a good husband, married women to get pregnant, elderly women for long life of their husbands!

Right, it’s a temple for women but the centre of the prayers: men

Daddy taking pictures at a temple especially for women in Pokhara: girls ask for a handsome boyfriend, young women for a good husband, married women to get pregnant, elderly women for a long life of their husbands (that makes sense!)

Praying for a handsome boyfriend

At Pashupatinath: while down at the Bagmati river at the ghats the fires are burning and the grieving are crying, up at the temples young men are working out and young girls are … looking beautiful

May Shiva help us

Jogging at Pashupatinath: May Lord Shiva help us

 

Jogging at Pashupatinath

Jogging at Pashupatinath, too fast to get the camera ready

 

Kung fu fighting, fast as lightning

Kung fu fighting, fast as lightning, he posed for me because I told him he reminded me of my son (beefy)

 

pushups, 26, 27, 28 ... and the sun is shining, the air is humid ...

push ups, 26, 27, 28 … and the sun is shining, the air is humid …

 

They took a picture of me, too, but that's not the same thing

They took a picture of me, too, but that’s not the same thing

 

having fun, in the back tha gats

Having fun, in the back further down the burning ghats

 

Playing soccer between the temples of Durbar Square, Patan

Playing soccer between the temples of Durbar Square, Patan

Youngsters working:

Reconstruction in Bhaktapur

Reconstruction in Bhaktapur

 

Between two heavy loads, still time to great the stranger and form a heart with his hands

Between two heavy loads, still time to great the stranger and form a heart with his fingers

 

Working at the roadside: cleaning shoes

Working at the roadside: shoeshine boys

It was good to have him as a guide. I would have probably found the way myself, but he needed the money and who knows, I could have sprained an ankle … Nice chat, too, school problems are more or less the same all over the world for boys that don’t sit down and study (his sister is at university).

It was good to have him as a guide (I would have probably found the way myself, but who knows, I could have sprained my ankle

View over Pokhara right after the rain, it didn’t get any better than that

 

somewhere in between work and fun: fishing for dinner

Somewhere in between work and fun: fishing for dinner

 

He likes his work. You can get anything in his little shop.

He likes his work. You can get anything in his little shop. Study? Homework? In between two customers.

 

At work with their parents:

selling souvenirs with mum (Swayambunath)

Selling souvenirs with mum (Swayambunath)

 

Construction site: building an earthquake safe toilet at Pashupatinath

With mum and dad at the construction site: building an earthquake safe public toilet at Pashupatinath

Wouldn’t it be wonderful to have a real Kinder Planet?

Bye-bye

Gerburg