November 24, 2012 - You can go your own way....
Traffic enjoys complete freedom of expression in Nepal
The installation of 'Endangered Species' is near completion. Hit by a debilitating bacterial infection on Tuesday shortly after my last posting, energy levels dropped to zero and I was faced with relying on an absolutely brilliant group of volunteers from KIAF to take the work by van to the site and begin putting the thing together. Ignoring the effects of being ill wasn't the wisest thing to do, but I wanted at least to get them started.
By lunch time everyone was on site, and with only a few minor changes to the structural elements, we had the panels up by early afternoon. While the bacterial infection was doing its best to take over my body, I was out of the zoo past the street vendors into the blazing afternoon sun looking for a chemist in Jawalakhel (the 'hel' part of that word is so apt given how I was feeling).
My symptoms were among the most common experienced by travellers - especially those who come from exceptionally clean developed nations - and Finland is squeaky clean as nations go - so the chemist was quick to give me what was needed to counteract the resources being systematically drained from my body.
Back at the zoo, I started drinking the Electrolyte solution by the litre and overseeing the setting up of my work while chattering school children in trim uniforms were herded about by their teachers like sheep from one cage to another. Naturally if you drink you need the toilet, and by some amazing stroke of luck my installation is less than 5 meters from the public lavatory.
I don't intend to labour the point, but after a few litres of the Electrolyte, I paid my 3 Rupees to the young woman with her baby sitting by the entrance, and braved the assault on the senses inside to relieve myself. Fifteen minutes later I returned and paid another 3 Rupees, and becoming slightly self conscious on my third visit, she looked up at me with a bemused smile which soon morphed into one of pity. I shrugged my shoulders and said something about needing a season ticket to the toilet which clearly didn't register and I resigned myself to the 3 Rupee deal as a small price to pay for such convenience. I was certainly her most loyal customer ever and given that she had a young family to support I was at least doing some good to somebody.
The medicine wasn't working fast enough, nor was it dealing with the underlying infection and after another night of extreme discomfort I headed off to CIWEC (Private Travel Clinic) on the advice of a Finnish friend following my FaceBook postings.
There are not may places in the world where you get private treatment for 65 USD including the medication. Here I am two days later feeling pumped and ready to rock. Is this me? A few runs up and down between Mangal's apartment and our own - equivalent of 2 x 8 flights of stairs and I'm feeling confident that I'm back on form.
A shop front in Patan
Yesterday I took a leisurely walk over to the Camera Circle to pick up a faster Internet connection to upload videos. I poped into the Zoo on the way to see what remains to be done with my art work, and make a mental note of what was needed. With camera in hand I took some back alleys and found myself absorbed in the tranquility of the narrow winding lanes. It doesn't take long to engage people on the street. The greeting 'namaste' with the two hands in prayer form at the face is a tricky one with a camera in one hand and a soft box in the other, and I wondered if this was somehow an unacceptable compromise.
In the evening I realise that in 2 days I've managed to misplace my new cap and lose my sleeveless fleece. The cap was lost on the way to the clinic. The fleece is pretty much a mystery but in this atmosphere of Buddhist temples and burning incense I notice that I am bothered only momentarily before entering a state of non-attachment.
Two young boys in a doorway, Patan
Three men take a chai break outside a tea shop in Patan
A local laborer in Patan
Young boy, Patan
Grandmother, inside a Buddhist Temple, Patan
Grandfather, inside a Buddhist Temple compound, Patan
Young boy, Patan
Today late afternoon is already here and I've been to the zoo to get the last bits of painting done. The Cambodian artist Leang Sekon's work is only half done and I spent a few minutes with him sitting alone on a bench near his plastic Naag, talking about the challenges he was facing given the scale of his piece. Later I took a too-expensive taxi into Kathmandu to see Juha Rouhukoski who was also still in the process of putting his environment together. Artists using electricity face serious challenges as there are several power cuts during the day and they are often during the middle of the day when most visitors will have the opportunity to see their works.
I've stopped taking taxi's all the way home - preferring to stop in Jawalakhel because 1) I love the name of that place; 2) taxi drivers know exactly where it is, and 3) I get a chance to explore all the tiny lanes and courtyards leading back to Sasto Bazar. Every day turns up a new unexpected opportunity to connect with Nepalese locals and I'm having too much fun handing my lighting equipment over to some young guy standing around so I can concentrate on the subject. Photographer's dream this place.