Friday, December 3, 2010

My dinner

I'm waiting for my roommate to finish getting ready before heading out for a drink, so why not time for a quick post?

This is a picture of my courtyard from outside my front door. It is also where I bought my dinner tonight. Can you see where?

I had two delicious sticks of satay (meat on a stick, one mutton, one chicken) that was cooked ON A BIKE. The guy said he's here once a week. Mmmmmmm...

Tuesday, October 12, 2010

Oh yeah, Disney world...

I almost forgot the point of my post! Here's a pic of where I am
right now, enjoying a giant, heavily taxed, hoegaarden...

I made it to Disney World!

Oh wait, I mean Singapore! Enough people have told me to update this
thing so I guess I stop procrastinating. Like the natural
procrastinator I am, I hve an excuse. I don't have a laptop yet and
why would I want to stay in my office longer when there is so much of
Singapore (and se Asia) to explore?

The singapore govt has given me the green light to work in this
city... er... country! Even though i was an hour early for my appt,
after 5 minutes of hanging out at the ministry of manpower (MoM, great
name) office that masquerades as a posh hotel lobby <insert pic which
I would do if I knew how my iPhone worked>, voilà, come back on
Saturday for your employment pass card!

Ok the process wasn't really that painless because at my first appt
last week, I forgot my white embarkment card. You know, that stub
they hand you back from the customs form you hand in when you enter a
country. . And by forgot i mean lost (ok really prob threw away). Who
knew you had to keep those things? Alright, I'm just a dumb American.
Whatevs. The woman at MoM was completely shocked that I didn't have
Mom: "you need to give me your white card. I don't know what to do
without your white card."
Me: "oh, oops. Hmmm. Ok well what do i do if I don't have my white card?"
Mom: "you need your white card, la. They gave you a white card when
they gave you this stamp" points to visa stamp in my passport "I need
your white card"
Me: "yeah I know that what card you are talking about. But I don't
have it. What are the next steps I need to do?

She looked at me as if I just asked her if I Was allowed to traffic drugs.

Mom, completely agitated: "i need your white card. I can't do anything
with your white card."

Me, trying desperately to fight the urge to flip the table: "yeah. I
don't got it. What am I suppose to do?"

Mom: "maybe your boss can write you a letter?" shrugs.


My work admin person had no idea what such a letter should say, nor
did I. She suggested I go to Malaysia and reenter to get a new white
card. Oh wait only problem, I can't leve the country without a white
card. Can't stay in the country and can't leave. I was beginning to
feel like Tom hanks in that really awful airport movie.

In the end, getting a replacement white card was spending two minutes
in line and having a woman write down a random number on a piece of
paper. No bigs. But I man do these singaporeans love their rules!

Friday, September 3, 2010

The shortest update ever...

... blogging in a city were internet is absurdly slow (stupid natural disaster!) is next to impossible.

A mini-mini update:

- lots of bugs have been going around my group of volunteers. I got a crazy fever the day i was suppose to leave for likir and was laid up in bed all day. Luckily my friend Lucy was also feeling under the weather and was there to throw water down my throat any time my eyes opened

- Stayed with a great family in Likir, the aba-le (father) was the amchi (tibetan doctor), the ama-le was a squirrelly woman who talked A LOT of ladakhi to me which left me saying hamago (i dont understand) every 10 minutes. Daughter in law Nilza who spoke pretty great english and generally was fantastic, and lastly tyhere was nono-Singhe, her 4 year old son who is a GIANT drama queen but wants to be a monk when he grows up.

- found out whats its like to be a human donkey. carried massive amounts of barley on my back for 5 hours

- met a crazy monk named monlam who showed us around the gompas (monasteries). amazing

- got a private tour of the dalai lamas HOUSE outside of leh. WTF?!?!

- got blessed by the head lama of ladakh, Bakula Rinpoche, the recently found 4 year old reincarnate!

- went to pangong lake -- GORGEOUS

- leaving for a mini trek tomorrow.

catch ya on the fliup side

much love

Thursday, August 19, 2010

new place for pics

oops forgot to include a link to some pics. i want to upload more, but i got yelled up for hogging bandwidth...

behind again!

Keeping a blog is hard and expensive -- ok well expensive by Indian standards, Rs 90 per hour here in Leh and thats for using a computer run off a diesel generator. Speaking of, a couple days ago when I was at an internet cafe, an older german couple started complaining about how it was ridiculous to be charging so much for such slow internet. Bitch Jen couldnt handle their complete ignorance. Me: You do realize there was a GIANT natural disaster that just struck Leh 7 days ago leaving almost 200 people dead, hundreds still missing, and Leh with electricity for only a few hours at night. This poor man's (pointing at the shop owner) entire tourist season is COMPLETELY ruined. So instead of being unappreciative brats, you should be thanking the man for keeping his shop open and providing you spoiled lot with some connection to the outside world. \rant Then when my friend Laurel came in, I in fine Seattle-ite passive aggressive fashion, said loudly, "Laurel, the internet is very slow today, but I know you are a compassionate person who appreciates any internet connection that could be provided to you." Stupid tourists...

I didnt get around to writing more about Takmachik (chik means 1 and I think takma means standing/place/medal or something). All I've written about is the worry. We ended up staying in T-chik for extra days as 5+ bridges were out between Takmachik and Leh. Plus, we had no way of communicating with anyone outside of the village. It was a bit scary to 1 feel so isolated and 2 realize im completely dependent on technology.

Im glad we ended up staying there longer. It helped me deal with the trauma of having run for my life. We also got to help them in the recovery process by digging canals. I did the canal digging for one day and helped to get water running back into the village! The rest of my time was spent pumping water, doing dishes for my ama-le, helping cook, chuli, pumping water, chuli, chuli, falling in love with the villagers, and pumping water. Did I mention I pumped gallons and gallons and gallons of water. When it takes all your energy to pump a couple gallons of water, it really makes you realize how precious it is. I learned to "shower" using about a gallon of water.

I have so much more to say about Takmachik, the people, the landscape, what I learned there, and how incredibly fortunate I feel. But, alas, I have to go pick up the salwar kameez I had made(it costs Rs150 to be made -- $3!) then off to our final dinner in Leh. Tomorrow we are off to Likir for 9+ days, where Ill be at a homestay by myself!

Next adventure, here i come! Lets just leave out the near death experiences, k? Thx!


Sunday, August 15, 2010

21 days...

... and 5 times of actively trying not to think about dying is apparently my breaking point when I cry my eyes out followed by hysterical laughter.

So I'm guessing by my lack of email that the news about Ladakh didn't really spread to America. Either that or my "friends" don't actually care about me ;)

Here are a couple links to news stories:

And heres a link where posts of our well-being are updated:

phew! what a crazy few weeks. I cant believe Ive only been gone for 25 days. It feels like a lifetime and a half. I dont even know where to start to describe the last 12 days.

Ok to start, Takmachik is just absurdly breath-taking. Here's the view from the village. The journey to Takmachik was a fun bus ride (the other participants in the programme are hilarious, brilliant, and mostly British, which means I get lots of shit for "butchering their language"). Helen and I stayed with the mayor of the town, where there are about 71 households and around 500 villagers. The mayor, Nurbu, has a deep burly raspy voice and knows some English (but translating Nurbu-ese is a whole other art) . His wife, Diskit, is an amazing woman. She doesnt speak English and my Ladakhi is for shit, but by the end we were having a jolly ol time. They have 5 kids, the youngest, Rigzin (18-19), lives at home and is really shy. One son lives in Khaltse (JCB worker), one daughter is a cop (who they said I look like), another is married in a nearby village, and the last works in Leh.

My first day is spent wondering what I got myself into with the compost toilet, struggle to communicate, electricity only at night from 730-11, and butter tea (yep, thats tea with butter in it).

The first full day we get at chuli-ing (apricots). Chuli mangpo mangpo!

Worry of the day: can my legs manage squatting for 20+ days...

The second night is when the torrential downpours started. It rained buckets for a few nights and some during the day. Our house just had a new room built onto the second floor that was still missing glass in the windows and a roof was being put on over the 2nd floor hallway. Oh, did I mention that ITS NOT SUPPOSE TO RAIN IN LADAKH! Apparently its only started raining in the summers over the last 4 years. The houses are all built out of mud. The roofs have a layer of willow wood then a layer of mud. So the rain = not good news. My ama-le (mom) and aba-le (father) were up all night tending to the storm.

Worry of these days: People who say global warming isnt real are completely full of horse shit. I feel guilty for being such a mass consumer and not doing anything about mass consumption in the US. But, I will admit, the statistician in me wanted to see the numbers and see if these rains are really an anomaly and whether or not it really was that much more water. I mean, really, its not **that** much water.

Well, thats when I was up for a rude awakening. Our group of 17 were up on the top of the town playing with the local kids -- frisbee, catch, baseball. Lamo (local 20 yr old who is wonderfully friendly and loud) comes over with a worried look and just keeps saying chu mangpo mangpo, many many more water coming. Me: oh yeah, it looks like its going to rain. and I continue playing and talking with others. Then I look up to see only foreigners in the parking lot. EEEP! WTF?!?! not a good sign. I go to investigate. There are a load of kids on top of the mountain screaming down at the village. No idea what they were saying, but I assumed they were just playing. THats when I started to see the shear terror on everyones face. What I ascertained was that there had been something holding up a bunch of water and that it was breaking. The water would be coming towards town any minute and no one had any idea which way it was going to go. You could hear trees start to snap and fall out of the way. Then I heard this deafening sound of water crushing. I looked around again and saw all the locals running for the top of the hill/mountain. I ran for my life and made it up the mountain in 5 seconds flat. I didnt see the actual wave of water, but my friend , Felipe, has footage of the entire scary event. Up on the mountain top, all I could see was a giant path being cleared from the water. It kept coming in waves and the sound made me sick to my stomach. People were crying and with each wave of water, we fled higher and higher. Luckily the water didnt hit and houses. It did take out the bridge into town and created a GIANT gorge, ruining a lot of fields. All of that brown in the picture to the right use to be greenery.

The story of how word of the water flood goes like this. Sonam was up at the drok, a meadow about an hours walk from town where people take their cows etc. He saw a giant pool of water, which had formed from all the rain, break a bunch of trees and cascade to form a bigger pool of water that was also about to give way. Thats when he took off running and made the trip back to Takmachik in 15 minutes. He saw lots of kids playing on the bridge into town, which was ultimately destroyed, and thankfully screamed loud enough for them to hear. He said that if he had waited 10 more minutes, he wouldnt have made it back before the water.

That night was full of fear and terror. Most of the village slept up in a community hall called Panchayat Gar. The villagers are amazing and saved one of the three rooms just for us foreigners and brought us lots of food. No one had any idea if there was going to be more flooding. There was definitely a lot more rain, which meant the really strong potential for landslides.

The next few days were full of worry about our safety, about being stranded in Takmachik, and the fear of running out of supplies. With the catastrophies that hit Leh, we had no idea what was going to happen. More on the rest of my stay in another post. Right now I'm off to dinner!

Oh wait, before that. Anyone know how I can set up a fundraising website where we can raise money for this little village 20 miles from the border of Pakistan that Ive completely fallen in love? Their irrigation canals were completely wiped out by the flash flood and they could also use some flashlights (battery-free of course because they have no waste management, more on this later).

Much love!