Presenting…myself?

28 09 2010

Sorry it’s been a while since I posted anything. My internet was down the last week and I’m suddenly working on all these new projects and feeling as though I have very little time left in Nepal since the upcoming Dashain and Tihar holidays will knock out a fair amount of October and some of November. Teaching has also picked up a bit, though it’s still as unpredictable as ever. The awesomely fantastic(!) Indra Jatra holiday officially ended yesterday but there was still a holiday hangover in the air today. I spent as much time as possible in the thick of it and will post video footage just as soon as I have some editing time (not likely in the next week, but I’ll try). You’ll just have to be patient! Your wait time will mimic what we all experienced awaiting the royal Kumari’s appearance. However, there’s no way I can duplicate the mosh pit effect when she finally appeared.

One of this week’s projects was delivering a talk on what I’m doing here in Nepal. But finding out a few days beforehand that you’ll be giving a hour-long talk is, shall we say, very Nepal. Ke garne. I think it went okay but while Nepalis are incredibly friendly, they aren’t overly demonstrative in other ways, so it’s difficult for me to tell what effect the “From Iowa to Nepal (and Vice Versa)” topic had on my audience. And besides that, the monkey walking around on the roof of the building outside the window during my talk (that only I could see since it was behind the audience) was a little distracting. But hey, at least it was an interesting distraction. Stay tuned, Cedar Rapids audiences, for the forthcoming “From Nepal to Iowa (and Vice Versa)” presentation, sans monkeys. More on monkeys later…

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11 responses

11 10 2010
Anna

Kathryn,

This hasn’t much to do with your text, but I am quite curious about if there is a lot of street art in Nepal? Do you see many buildings, trains and buses with scribble on it? If so, can you see any differences between that type of street art/scribble and the type in your Iowa/the U.S.? And how do you separate street art from scribble?

Anna

11 10 2010
Kathryn Hagy

Hi Anna,

There are a few comments under the “Tuk tuk goose? No, tuk, tuk rooster” post that somewhat answer your graffiti questions, as well as a link to a fellow Fulbrighter’s observations on Kathmandu street scribbles/art. There is a still a profession of hand-painted signs that stores use, however I thin you’re referring to street art created in official capacities. Mostly what I’ve seen in the way of “unofficial” street art are the symbols my fellow Fulbrighter refers to on his blog, and political slogans. Having not quite made it through their political growing pains (Nepal is still without a constitution), propaganda from current or leftover causes are everywhere. This is the biggest difference I see between street art in the U.S. and Nepal. Having lived in New York, most of what I saw there promoted the ego of individuals instead of the beliefs of political factions.

I think scribbles can be art but it depends on what you mean by “scribbles.” I don’t see the same type of defacement of property here as in the U.S. if that’s what you mean (e.g. writing on bathroom walls). Nepal already has enough problems on their hands with litter removal and other infrastructure problems without the added headache of “art” vandals. But then again, these are details I might not have noticed yet.

6 10 2010
Lindsey

Kathryn,

It seems as if there is always a celebration or festival going on in Nepal! Is that because you are in one of the bigger cities? The city seems very vibrant and community oriented as compared with the U.S. Do we have similar festivals in the U.S. that are celebrated in big cities that we just don’t hear about?

6 10 2010
Kathryn Hagy

Hi Lindsey,

Yes, there are festivals in big U.S. cities that you don’t hear about in Iowa. For example, Puerto Rico day is a massive event in New York City due to the extremely large Puerto Rican community there. There are other festivals, but that’s one I can think of off the top of my head because I experienced it while living in NYC. The Indra Jatra festival that I recently wrote about is a Kathmandu holiday that isn’t really celebrated in the rest of Nepal. And it’s true that the city is more community-oriented than much of the U.S., except maybe, for example, the southern USA or pockets in Kentucky and Virginia where people have large, extended families who remain close.

30 09 2010
Jay Shuldiner

Hello Kathryn!
I ran into Suresh today at the Taj Mahal and told me about your blog.
Best wishes,
Jay

3 10 2010
Kathryn Hagy

Jay!

So nice to hear from you and thanks for checking out the blog!

Cheers!
Kathryn

29 09 2010
yer sister

“the monkey walking around on the roof of the building outside the window during my talk (that only I could see since it was behind the audience) was a little distracting”

I read this bit out loud to my office mate and she cracked up.

30 09 2010
Kathryn Hagy

I’m glad I could amuse you.

29 09 2010
Suresh Basnet

You have been doing a phenomal job in sharing your experience with us- I’m very proud of your hard work and the great progresss you have made in learning the culture and get things done despite various challenges.
Thanks!!!
Suresh

28 09 2010
Ben Kromminga

Hey Kathryn! Do the people from Nepal seem to be interested in cultures outside of their own or are they mostly unconcerned about the affairs of life outside their country?

30 09 2010
Kathryn Hagy

Hi Ben,

Well this is a big generalization, but its Americans who are known for being unconcerned about affairs outside the USA. Nepal has to be concerned about life outside their borders because they are surrounded by two of the biggest (and growing) world powers: India and China. And, sadly due to Nepal’s status as a developing country, they are very reliant on foreign aid. There are about 5,000+ officially sanctioned NGOs (non-governmental organizations) from other countries in Nepal. The number of unofficial NGOs probably puts that number higher. Many young Nepalis want to go abroad for their education and there are signs all over Kathmandu advertising “easy” visa to other countries. Likewise, many poorer Nepalis who have little access to education and opportunity work at what we would term “blue-collar” jobs in the Middle East. Almost everyone I meet has at least one relative living abroad, so there is interest in other countries, but how much of that interest is for the attainment of cultural knowledge for its own sake is beyond my knowledge. The Nepali college students I’ve talked to are very interested in the life of the American college student and the U.S. educational system. My guess is that the ability to sit around and ponder philosophical ideas is still reserved for those who have wealth, education and other resources to support this. Much of the rest of the population is probably working hard just to get by.

Kathryn

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