- 3:23 pm - Fri, Feb 22, 2013
Quest to find one’s identity
Who are we? What are we? How can we learn not just to survive but to thrive in the midst of the challenges we face moment by moment, day by day, year by year?
– Tsoknyi Rinpoche in “Open Heart, Open Mind”
There are various facets of personality that a person has while living in a society. For instance, I’m an artist by profession but without considering the social inhibitions, I do have other identities, depending on the roles I have to carry. In that way, we all are on a quest to find our true identity which in itself is a challenge because the moment we’re born, we don’t know what lies ahead of us. Every moment and everyday can bring new obstacles in front of us and we attempt to maintain a balance by being cautious.
The above quote is very simple but its truth holds profound meaning. Even a stray dog on the streets has an instinct of survival but the ability to calculate things by being aware and conscious is what separates us from animals. We are always on the lookout to appear rational but we shouldn’t just live to survive but should be able to find our worth.
There’s an incident mentioned in the book that made me reflect a lot about my own life. The author talks about a predicament he faced while he was abroad. He once had to cross a see-through bridge that connected two high buildings. But as soon as he started to cross it, he became numb and apprehensive as he thought that the bridge wasn’t strong enough. After calculating whether to make a move or not and witnessing people easily crossing it, his mind convinced him to move. But his heart stopped him again.
Photo:Chandra Shekhar Karki
So this incident tells us that an event that has happened in the past makes a habitual pattern in us which we believe to be the truth. But unless we try to find the reason behind how we act in a certain way and break the inhibition, we can’t move forward.
This book may look religious but it’s been written from psychological aspects. It has focused on various incidents that we face everyday and the way we perceive such events. We’re bound by responsibilities in life and are often stuck due to obstacles that come our way. So the book also talks about how we can untie such knots or problems that our heart and mind faces. It talks about Buddhist philosophy too, and has presented truth and reality in a simple way which makes it an essential reading.
An interdisciplinary visual artist, Ranjit for a long time has focused her artistic works on woman’s sexuality, identity and gender perspectives. She’s also the director and coordinator of LASANAA, an alternative art space which is a non-profit art trust established in 2007.
LASANAA has published five books so far which include a book called, “Glocalization of Art, A Nepali Context” which is a compilation work of various writers on contemporary art situation in the country.
An avid reader, Ranjit says that one of her favorite Nepali writers is Krishna Dharabasi. “His book ‘Radha’ is worth mentioning because we normally see Radha from the perspective of Krishna. But in his book, he has presented Radha’s perspectives and her viewpoints as well.”
Ranjit believes that the growing number of violence against women demands that we need to focus and prioritize women’s issues. “I’m against any sort of discrimination as I believe that everyone has the right to live in his own way. In Nepal, patriarchal system is still followed strictly in many households. Thus women are obliged to live for others by sacrificing their own needs,” she says.
Talking about art, she explains that many people think that art is an object and the painter is a subject. “It’s hard for me to separate art from life as I think that art is a part of life.”
She believes that art is a form of expression and she derives her inspiration from what she sees in the society, her imagination, literature, her experience and things she has felt, and various other aspects of life.
“Life as a whole and nature inspire me. But not just nature per se but human nature and how a person behaves is also a subject of my interest and work,” she says. “They say that art is a mirror of society and that we as artists represent this current contemporary time. So we also have a certain responsibility which we give justice through art.”
Ranjit’s five picks
Seasons of Flight by Manjushree Thapa
Manjushree’s work as a writer is commendable and she’s one of my favorite authors. I really admire her way of writing. But if I have to choose, I pick this book of hers which is about the life of a Nepali woman who goes to the US. The book is basically about identity, finding one’s true self, and talks about the context of sexuality, identity and cross-cultural issues. What I like about her style of writing is that she really goes into the depth and focuses on details and characters.
Purity and Danger by Douglas
This is a very old book that got reprinted. Women’s sexuality has been analyzed and portrayed through a different angle in this book. It also talks about how people manipulate sexuality. In a patriarchal society, discrimination against women takes place, based on sexuality. So this book is helpful to understand that as well.
Knots by Gordon Perry
This is a craft book which I borrowed from a friend. It looks simple but is handy as it provides a guide on making various kinds of knots. For example, there’s a procedure of making a sailboat knot which doesn’t get loose by any outer means but by just touching its tip it gets untied. Making a reference to these knots, I’ve worked on artwork related to human relation which is my ongoing work. There are various relations that one shares, be it with a stranger, acquaintances, friends, parents. So I’ve focused my artwork on that basis.
The Whole Woman by Germaine Greer
I read this book when I was in Australia. This book pretty much reminds me of an incident there. In the book, the author talks about how the health industries persuade women to manage their bodies. The author has written various issues that women face in this century and presents it in such precise and witty manners.
Ghanchakkar by Sanjeev Upreti
This book has been written from the perspective of a lunatic and is about illusion in such a captivating way. This is an unconventional book which shows the mind pattern and perception of a person who is struggling with his own mindset. This book is commendable for its writing style and is one of my favorites.
As told to Nistha Rayamajhi.
- 3:23 pm
She’s Come Undone
A story that stays in your mind long after you’ve turned the last page
The best contemporary fiction, it seems, offers us either one of two Aristotelian alternatives. One, an escape (however momentarily) from the chaos of our lives, and two, heroes who are somehow better than us and inspire us, or antiheroes whose lives are so disastrous and whose problems are so heart-wrenching that they make our own lives seem downright easy in comparison.
In “She’s Come Undone,” Wally Lamb manages to do both. The story narrates the account of Dolores Price, a 40-year-old woman who recollects her harrowing process into adulthood. The character is depicted as a compelling heroine who is first defeated, only to rise above the worst life has to offer.
Dolores survives through a lot: The unraveling of her parents’ marriage, her strained relationship with her mother, and from being ostracized by her peers to being raped at a young age. If you’ve read Nabokov’s Lolita, you can’t help but notice the striking similarity in the plotlines. Both characters are raped by sociopathic older men posing as father figures. But Nabokov’s Lolita comes undone from the experience whereas Lamb’s Dolores emerges as survivor after being a victim.
You can’t help but sympathize with a character whose mother responds to her daughter’s onset of menstruation with, “That’s great, Dolores. Thanks a lot. That’s just what I need right now.” Yet Dolores emerges from the shadows of her past and finally figures out life by the end of the 465-page-long book.
The plotline is pretty depressing but it’s the narration that keeps from giving up on the book. Also the characters have a way of taking form and growing on you. Dolores, even in her most self-deprecating moments, manages to keep you rooting for her. Dolores’ mother earns our sympathy in spurts as does her grandmother, Thelma, whose inability to relate to her own daughter and grandkid brings us to the realization that oftentimes, even in our own lives, we’re unable to connect to the ones closet to us. Call it generation gap or simply refusing to see where the other is coming from, there are times we just fail to understand the complexities inherent in a person.
Since Oprah selected her first work, “The Deep End of the Ocean” by Jacquelyn Mitchard, her knack for choosing books with troubled plots has been evident. So it doesn’t come as a surprise that she chose Lamb’s book for her Book Club in 1996, albeit four years after its publication.
There was a great deal of gushing over the fact that, despite being a man, Wally Lamb has managed to write a book from the point of view of a woman. Whether or not Lamb accurately captures “the woman’s psyche,” can’t be said because he’s not writing about “women,” but about a particular woman who suffers continuous abuse at the hands of person after person, year after year, and who time and time again encounters an array of idiosyncratic people who hardly exist outside of Oprah Book Club selections.
Yet when you reach the last page, you can’t help feeling a sense of satisfaction as, by the end of the narrative, the heroine becomes stronger and independent rather than weak because of her troubles.
Yes, Dolores copes with her difficulties by rewarding herself with food and overeating which adds to her problems. Yes, she falls in love with a man who turns out to be a narcissist in love with her willingness to please him rather than with her. Nevertheless, she grows on the reader as a heroine who isn’t looking to be rescued but who’s trying to find her own path in her own way.
The part when Dolores goes off to college to fulfill her dead mother’s dreams and starts intercepting her roommate’s letters from her boyfriend and then secretly coveting the seemingly perfect man is intriguing. The episode that narrates Dolores’ closeness to the cleaning lady at her dorm who is also obese and filled with self-hate and her subsequent misdirected cruelty at the lady is enough to make you wonder if humans are by default hypocrite beings.
Following a suicide attempt, Dolores spends seven years in a private mental hospital, and after she has finally both recovered and lost a lot of weight, she sets out to find and win Dante’s love. The story takes another turn when Dante is no longer the man she had made him up to be.
After a point, it seems as if Lamb is unwilling to let go of Dolores and hence the story just drags on. Toward the end of this introspective work of fiction, Dolores faces abortion and infertility. She encounters AIDS, Parkinson’s disease and hints of the Holocaust. You begin to wonder if Lamb was actually writing a script for a television serial.
However, the book’s blurb comes with a promise: You’ll never forget Dolores Price. And the book lives up to the expectation that comes with such a promise. Part sad, part hilarious, the book in some ways reminds us that despite the pain life might bring, we must have the courage to rise above the odds and live again; and that’s enough to overlook the slight glitches in storytelling.
- 3:22 pm
Peri Peri Chicken: A perfect setting for very nearly perfect meals!
A quaint restaurant located in Jhamsikhel, opposite the Army Chief’s residence, Peri Peri Chicken, however, isn’t just another place in the area. Catering the most scrumptious chicken delicacies and a few Newar and Nepali items, the eatery specializes in Peri Peri Chicken which is flame-grilled chicken coated in Peri Peri, a hot and fiery sauce the restaurant imports from India.
Whether you’re in the mood to bask in the sun or want to enjoy a laidback chitchat with friends in a cozy area, the place has just the right settings. With outdoor seating arrangements to an indoor lounge to a tiny (and dimly lit) yet well-stocked bar, you can choose where you want to sit, depending on what sort of ambience you’re in the mood for.
Also the spaced-out seating arrangements give you enough privacy and don’t make you feel uncomfortable and conscious about having a loud conversation.
The menu includes an appetizing array of chicken delicacies. The foods have a slight kick for spiciness but they aren’t that spicy, either. Also, the sauce they use has a lemony-freshness to it that masks the spiciness, making it easy for even those who prefer their food non-spicy to fall in love with their meal.
However, there’s not much variety and chicken dishes primarily dominate the menu. But there are light snacks and even pastas and sizzlers to choose from if you’re not in the mood for too much meat.
Photos Courtesy: Prianka Rauniyar
The starter, Sukuti Sandheko, which is spiced meat pickled with green chilies and herbs, is light and crunchy. The chef, it seems, has perfected the recipe and hence gets the taste just right.
The Peri Peri Chicken, served with Greek salad, confirms that the chef has an amazingly light touch, rare mastery of textural contrast and the inventiveness to compliment his technique. From the color of the chicken, you can see that it’s been cooked to perfection.
When you take a bite, you won’t be disappointed as the chicken is juicy and enticing. The tangy sauce makes it all the more savory and divine.
Then there’s that salad that accompanies the chicken. Presented with colorful ingredients, each mouthful explodes with a zesty flavor. Sweet, sour, crisp, soft – it’s delightful!
If you’re there for lunch or dinner, don’t forget to order a bowl of Spicy Rice to go along with the Peri Peri Chicken. You can also have the flavored rice by itself, but the combination of rice and chicken is simply amazing.
The mixed Chatamari is definitely something that’ll have you reaching out for more. Even when you’re overstuffed already, you can’t help but give in to the succulent taste of egg and chicken over a thinly rolled roti.
Prices are reasonable, given the quality and the portions. The food is mildly addictive and the service is prompt which makes for an interesting combo. The waiters are friendly and attentive, scurrying over to refill your water glasses before you’ve even thought about asking for some more.
The bar doesn’t serve a variety of drinks. But if you want to have a drink or two over a game of live football on the big screen, then head over to Peri Peri. You’ll have a few basic options to choose from – the regular rum, gin, vodka, whiskey and a few cocktails like Screwdriver, Long Island ice tea, but once again, the prices are surprisingly low as compared to other restaurants in the same area; so it’s a safe bet.
Admiration for Peri Peri Chicken doesn’t come so much from its uniqueness or its off-the-beaten-path vibe but rather from its fearless pursuit of an authentic ingredient and daring to keep the menu simple and basic.
The only regrettable side to this place is the fact that it doesn’t serve desserts. One of the owners, Satish Pradhan, defends this by mentioning that the crowds they cater to aren’t dessert-fancying types. But you just wish they had the option. Just in case you’re in the mood for something sweet after enjoying the fiery chicken. It’s just a small glitch in this attractive and flavorsome addition to foodies’ universe.
Peri Peri is not your quintessentially restaurant-like restaurant. And when you walk out, you feel as though you’ve been on a journey to somewhere that’s genuinely a bit different and far, far away from the hustle bustle of the city. It’s like you’ve discovered a great little secret. Step in at Peri Peri Chicken even if it’s a little out of the way. You’ll be glad you made the detour!
Opening hours: 12 noon to 10:30 pm
Budget: Rs 500 – Rs 800 for a meal for two
Call: Satish Pradhan 9801038660
- 3:21 pm
THE WEEK BUREAU
Here are some things you should know for a quick and easy home spruce-up. Some things the interior designers won’t tell you…
Upholster old furniture
Use a solid color to upholster your furniture. This gives an otherwise cluttered room an illusion of space. If you want to be funky, consider upholstering your sofa or chair using more than one color of fabric. For example, if you have a sectional couch, you might alternate medium to dark shades of one color for the back and seat areas. Chairs can be upholstered in the same manner. However, just remember that you do not want different fabrics covering one piece of furniture.
Use an accent piece
Invest in a single, dramatic piece like a chandelier or a huge floor lamp. An accent or a statement piece will carry and hold together less dramatic accessories in a room. Choose accent pieces wisely. In most cases, less is more when it comes to making a stylish impression within your home. It is more about the unique features of the pieces you choose rather than the quantity, so make sure you decorate simply without making your house look cluttered.
Splash some colors
Paint boring shelves in different colors for an instant uplift. You can also opt to line the shelves with wallpaper with interesting patterns. This not only brightens a room but gives the shelves an illusion of depth and can aid in making the room appear larger. Small tricks like these can work wonders in
uplifting the look of your home.
Build a seating area or place a bench next to large windows. By simply throwing in a couple of colorful cushions, you will have a nice cozy spot where you can read and relax. Use the space under the window ledge to store books and other things for an efficient use of space.
Pay attention to details
Small touches like table settings and flowers make more of a difference than you think. A bowl of fruits can add a dash of color and life to your décor. A curtain tieback can hold your draperies in place as well as give it an interesting twist. You can opt to hang your necklaces and jewelries on your dressing table or place a bowl of rings on the dresser to liven it up. There are a lot of creative ways to spruce up your space if you just give it some thought.
Stick to a color combo throughout the house if you want a cohesive look. Orange-green-white work best to give you a relaxed feel. Paint tends to dull and chip overtime, and you may be overdue for new walls if your home is still painted white from top to bottom. Start with one room at a time and consider which colors will liven up the space. To make your house look bigger, pick lighter shades.
Enhance the length of a room by hanging a series of artworks similar in size, shape, pattern and frame alongside each other. Increase the height of a room by hanging them vertically. This trick helps direct the viewers’ eyes.
Make small changes
Use a bench along one side of your dining table. This looks great and helps when you are entertaining a big crowd. Also, instead of using set furniture, try mixing pieces. Revamp cabinets by changing the handles. Small changes will break familiarity and add freshness.
Work with lights
Candles can cheaply and effortlessly change an ambience and mood. Use them liberally in and around your home. A cluster of candles at a corner or a large single piece in an elaborate candleholder add a romantic touch to your décor.
Cut down on volume
Replace your thick velvet curtains with lightweight ones or sleek blinds. Thick curtains take a lot of space and if they are dark-colored, reduce so much light that a room can look smaller and darker.
A little known interior design trick: Placing your furniture away from the walls and closer together in the center of the room actually makes a room look larger. The space behind the furniture pieces adds to the depth perception of the room.
Smell plays a huge role in setting a mood, especially in a bedroom. Scents can both lift you up and calm you down. Romantic fragrances like vanilla, rose and lavender will soothe your nerves and help you relax
- 3:21 pm
Hike to Ghyampe Danda
THE WEEK BUREAU
Ghyampe Danda, situated at 1,800 meters, is a Gurung settlement and one of the best places for the view of mountains, valleys and bird watching. It is four kilometers away from Surya Binayak in Bhaktapur and around 20 kilometers away from Kathmandu.
Ghyampe Danda is ideal for people who want to hike around the Katmandu Valley but have restricted time and budget.
A day bag
Reasonable walking shoes
Light warm jacket
An extra pair of clothes
This is an easy to moderate hike and is fit for all age groups. You can choose the jeep track which is more easy and comfortable or take an uphill trail for more adventurous hiking.
Public vehicles to Surya Binayak can be boarded from the Old Bus Park of Kathmandu. It will take around 30 minutes in public bus to get to Surya Binayak. You can also take private vehicle to get there. You will also enjoy driving on the wide stretch of the Araniko Highway or you choose to go on by yourself.
From the Surya Binayak Temple, the hike to Ghyampe Danda takes around two hours.
The hike is one of the popular trails for short trips around the Kathmandu Valley. In addition to the bird’s eye view of the three valleys of the capital, it is also popular for beautiful views of sunset and sunrise. The hilltop also gives a nice view of the Himalaya from the northern and southern ranges.
The place is also ideal for bird watching and you will also get to taste different local fruits like raspberries if you visit there during March-April. It is also famous for the view of a nearby mountain which gives an illusion of the Sleeping Buddha.
If you hike for another hour from Ghyampe Danda to Ranikot Gahri, you can view the backside of Mount Everest. You can also extend your hike to Bagh Bhairav or Lakure Bhanjyang and walk to Lubhu, from where you can get back to the city.
The hike trail to Ghyampe Danda is also popular for cycling.
Mornings and evenings are chilled while you can enjoy the warm sun in the afternoon. This time of the year is said to be the best for the hike to Ghyampe Danda.
socialtours, Tridevi Marg, Thamel
For details, call 4412508, or email at email@example.com
- 3:20 pm
Chhaproma: Tragic trilogy of broken homes woven together
With Nepali commercial feature films garnering positive feedback and loyal audiences even in urban areas, young Nepali filmmakers seem encouraged by the newfound appreciation of Nepali films. Post the success of “Loot” and positive feedback on other films like “Sick City,” “Lalteen,” and “Soongava,” the trends of Nepali films are definitely on the rise.
Amidst the commercial releases, three independent filmmakers with their production house Chhaproma Studio has come out with their first feature film named after the production house. Chhaproma (The Hut) is the first feature film venture of directors Khitiz Shrestha, Rajan Kathet and Shail Shrestha, graduates of Media Studies from Kathmandu University.
Chhaproma is a 68-minute feature-length film with three chapters that portray different stories. The content however revolves around the conflict of the lead characters with the society and within themselves. The film depicts the immediate effects of the decade-long insurgency as well as its long-term consequence on people of different gender, age and background.
The first chapter “Ma Janna” (I won’t go) strongly establishes the theme of the whole film, which is about the conflict between an individual’s desires and social obligations resulting in broken relationships. Laxmi and Balaram/Bale come to Kathmandu to escape the horror of war but their lives are falling apart as both are unaware of each other’s pains.
The second chapter is titled “Nagarjuna” after the famous hilltop north of Kathmandu. The story is about Ram, a man in his early twenties, who has left his affluent family home, his friends and a girlfriend and has been living in the streets.
The last chapter is titled “Shukrakit” (sperm). It’s about a newlywed couple whose marriage is falling apart due to the husband’s illegitimate affair with his boss.
While the screenplays of the first two chapters are very strong, the third chapter misses the mark. Though the scenes are well written throughout the chapter, the end part is confusing.
The cast is the strongest point in the film. With the ensemble of veteran theatre actors to debutants, the directors have succeeded in making them so real that one might even relate to someone they know from experience.
Sarita Giri, who plays the character of Laxmi in the first chapter, outshines all the other actors by her smooth character execution. Laxmi is constantly stitching clothes like she’s been stitching her life to make it bigger and better. But the constant prick from the needle is taking its toll on her as well as on her husband.
Giri has breathed life into the character as a distraught wife working hard to maintain a decent life in the city. Her dialogue delivery and expressions are flawless.
Other actors also seem comfortable and natural in their roles. The directors should be accredited for keeping their characters real but with enough drama to make the all the eyes glued to the screen.
The dialogues are beautifully written which is mainly based on the contemporary conversational style. Unlike most Nepali films, the dialogues don’t sound too fake or awkward. The lines flow smoothly like overhearing people having normal conversation.
The background score is soothing and subtle. The audio recording and editing also deserves applause. The background music isn’t loud, yet not negligible. It complements the scenes very well and at times cleverly threads two different scenes together.
Traditional gender role reversal is one of the highlights in the film. While women are shown to be the ones with control and power, men are the ones who need assurance and are looking for easy ways to escape their sufferings. Though women are shown to be equally affected by the situation, they are depicted as more reasonable and stronger than their male counterparts.
Chhaproma is set in a realistic setting. Though there are scenes of regret and hopelessness, the end can be defined in many ways; it can be a hope or a tragedy, depending on the audience’s perspective. The characters, however, are looking for a life that suits them and almost all the lead characters find their way away from city.
The main unique selling point of the stories is the realistic approach to it and an open ending for the audiences to contemplate on later. The movie plays with frustrations and philosophies and reflects on relationships. This might not be an ideal watch for people who look for the entertainment factor in the movies but even for the lovers of Masala genre, the movie is worth a watch.
The film is screened every Saturday at different locations. The first and second screening took place at Martin Chautari and Mandala Theatre respectively. You can follow the film’s Facebook link: facebook.com/chhaproma for the screening details.
- 3:20 pm
Revive old Saris
THE WEEK BUREAU
Saris can be sexy or formal or both. But they can also be quite difficult to handle especially if you haven’t perfected the technique of draping a sari which in itself can be quite a hassle.
It’s also true that women can’t keep away from buying saris. Every occasion calls for a new sari and that way, after being used a couple of times saris invariably just end up taking extra space inside our closets.
But you can turn things around and revive those old saris with a little bit of creativity. Make dresses out of saris. The light material of the saris are just perfect for summer dresses, be it short dresses or long maxis. The unique patterns of a sari will make a dress interesting and one of a kind. And you can also opt for saris with big patterns to give your dress a more retro look.
All you need is cotton or linen fabric to give base to screen the transparency of the saris. Then, decide upon the design you would prefer and ask your trusted tailor to finish it up for you.
- 3:33 pm - Fri, Feb 15, 2013
The plight of orphanages
After witnessing the helpless condition of homeless orphan children in Nepal, Jonathan Rowett, England started arranging funds for Happy Home, an orphanage at Hattiban, Kathmandu. He has been gathering funds since 2006 but three months ago, he came to know about the funds being misused and the children being subjected to physical and psychological torture.
Rowett arranged funds through foreign donors from Slovakia, Japan, and Germany but didn’t have the slightest clue about its misuse. The sponsors are now after the proprietor who has 65 children living under his care.
Through volunteers and teachers at the orphanage, evidences regarding how the children were suffering from repetitive beatings, sexual abuse, and neglect in their health, education and overall well being slowly started to surface. Even though eight children have narrated behind the scene accounts of abuse to Central Child Welfare Board (CCWB), Rowett says the case hasn’t progressed much. “The proprietor also admitted of misbehaving with the children in front of CCWB but later denied it,” he says.
Photo Courtesy: Jonathan Rowet
The situation is extremely critical, he explains as the parents have been denied access to their children currently residing at Happy Home. With volunteers support, Rowett has managed to get 11 children out of the orphanage. But many are reported missing.
“We found out that the children were made to cook, do house hold chores at odd hours, were deprived of food, sometimes made to eat from dustbin along with endless list of other torments,” says Rowett adding that he is concerned about the abuse rather than the misuse of funds.
“We’ve cancelled the funds and are trying to spread the word but all we’ve received so far from CCWB is a list of directives for the proprietors to follow,” he says.
The orphanage is also running Happy Home International School within the orphanage premises with four children in each class. Kishor Kunwar, who volunteered as a teacher for nine months says that though the students were initially reluctant, they finally shared their stories of abuse.
“They were being forced to eat insect infested food and rotten vegetables,” says Kunwar.
14-year-old Nima Tamang* (name changed) who was recently rescued from Happy Home mentions that her life there was really sad. “We weren’t allowed to go home and had to wake up at 3:30 in the morning to do chores. We were restricted from even talking to volunteers.”
Rajesh Sharma, member of Child Protection Committee, Lalitpur who is investigating the case of Happy Home informs that the “Standards for Operation and Management of Residential Child Care Homes 2012” which was reformed last year under the Ministry of Women, Children and Social Welfare has set a criteria to open an orphanage – The numbers of caretakers should match the number of kids.
“Happy Home, in the legal sense, is neither a school nor a hostel. If it was a school it should have been registered under District Education Office. It has been registered as an NGO but you can’t run an orphanage like that,” says Sharma.
Many orphanages run as a lucrative business says Sharma adding that children are made to appear as orphans in legal papers by creating fake ID’s to lure the sponsors.
He adds that for orphans to increase there should be issues of conflicts and natural disasters but private orphanages are increasing at such a rate that it doesn’t justify the need. “The question is do we really need so many orphanages because if it questions the security of the children then it should be critically investigated.”
According to Ram Bahadur Chand, Officer of Central Child Welfare Board (CCWB), there are 767 orphanages in Nepal out of which 571 orphanages are in Kathmandu Valley. Since last July, CCWB has monitored more than 70 orphanages in the capital and many fail to meet the required standard.
He informs that the basic guideline to open a residential orphanage is the ability to look after at least ten children by providing basis rights to education, health, entertainment and right to live in a well maintained environment. According to the Children’s Act 1992, the orphanages should be able to submit personal file of health and academic report of each child to the District Child Welfare Committee.
“Many people including the orphanage owners are unaware about child rights,” he says.
The underlying issue Chand points out is lack of coordination, orientation and awareness with the growing number of orphanages that work without proper approval from the government. The foreign volunteer’s need permission letter from the government of Nepal and District level office should also grant permission but there seems to be severe lapse in this matter.
“There is conflict between the sponsors and the proprietors in Happy Home’s case but our main concern is to work for rights of the children,” says Chand. “We have made a report with 17 guidelines for the proprietor to improve the condition of his orphanage and if the guidelines aren’t followed immediately then further action will be taken.”
Laxmi Prasad Tripathi, Under Secretary of Ministry of Women, Child and Social Welfare says that the formulation of new standard has brought hope that its implementation will help to reform the system and complications of orphanage operation in the country.
“The donors directly approach the orphanages bypassing the government which leads to mismanagement of funds when they should actually channelize the money through CCWB for accountability,” says Tripathi.
Considering the case of Happy Home and growing number of profit based orphanages, Tripathi mentions that the policies need to be strictly implemented. One of the best ways to systemize orphanages he says would be by initiating Public Private Partnership so that the government can coordinate with various NGOs. The issue he says is not about the lack of resources for the private organizations as lots of sponsors are pouring in but it is about honesty, commitment and proper coordination from the concerned sectors.
He mentions that the standards for operation of child care homes have been reformed on the basis of the National Child Policy 2012 that incorporates four main subjects of child rights which include survival, protection, development and participation. “If we can incorporate and put all the subjects into practice then only can child rights can be secured,” he says.
Through Convention on the Rights of the Child (CRC), the ministry plans to implement the policy and directives of alternative care in future. The guideline of CRC alternative care which has been approved by United Nations Convention on the Rights of the Child (UNCRC) has been adopted in the Child Act policy of Nepal. The National Plan of Action (NPA) for children which is a 10 years plan also incorporates the concept of alternative care.
“The problem is that the last resort has been our first option. Many parents have been admitting their children in orphanages so we need to raise awareness regarding importance of family environment so that it further regulates growing number of private orphanages.”
The alternative care policy demands for orphanages to be used only as the last resort. The first priority for the orphans will be kinship care where guardians of blood relation take the child under shelter. The second option is foster care; the third is inter country adoption followed by outside country adoption with institutional care as the last option
“Institutional care cannot be compared with the kind of upbringing that’s possible in natural family environment so the first priority should goes to guardianship,” says Tripathi.
CCWB also agrees that the monitoring of orphanages through the regulated standards will help improve the deteriorating condition of orphanages in the valley. Sharma of Child Protection Committee, on the other hand, adds that it has become vital for CCWB to investigate with utmost care.
“It is however illegal on the CCWB’s part to give directives to the accused owner of Happy Home as it hasn’t been registered as an orphanage in the first place. It should first ask the owner to register the orphanage and then take action against them,” says Sharma.
Rowett believes that the situation demands a better legal action for the accused as the report by CCWB does not clearly mentions the issue of abuse. With lack of proper evidence and report provided by CCWB on the Happy Home case, Rowett is working on taking the case further through the help of a lawyer and is determined to rescue the kids.
The Ministry of Women, Children and Social Welfare works closely with CCWB to protect the rights of children and has witnessed a lot of cases of mismanaged private orphanages in the country during its monitoring procedures. With the reformed Standards for Operation and Management of Residential Child Care Homes, 2012, the government is hopeful that its implementation will help improve the condition of orphanages in the country.
The Week met up with Upendra Prasad Adhikary, Joint-Secretary of Ministry of Women, Children and Social Welfare to talk about the condition of orphanages in the country.
What are the basic guidelines to run an orphanage?
There’s a limited guideline that has been mentioned in our reformed policy of Standards for Operation to run an orphanage in the country. Every guideline in the Standard has a list of laws that needs to be taken into consideration. The admission procedure, residential care facilities, infrastructure, protection of child rights are some of the issues that have been incorporated in the policy.
How has the government supported orphans of the country?
There are four orphanages run by the government in Biratnagar, Rajbiraj, Birgunj and Butwal with 27 orphans in each orphanage. There are a lot of private orphanages that are running in the country so they also have taken the lead to take care of underprivileged children that the government is unable to support at the moment due to lack of proper resources. We’ve been monitoring the issues of misconduct at orphanages by researching with CCWB as child rights issues have always been our priority. With the recent implementation of new standard, we’re positive about brining reforms in the issues of orphanages.
What are the basic challenges that the ministry is facing regarding government orphanage centers?
Besides the issues of misconduct on the private orphanages part, there are lots of challenges regarding government orphanages in the country. We haven’t been able to open child care homes in all districts. The second challenge is that we can only keep limited number of orphans in our child care homes but there are lots of orphans and we haven’t been able to look after them. Moreover, we don’t have child care homes in Far Western and Mid Western regions. We also need to improve the environment of child care centers and the budget constraint is the main hindrance in that matter.
With lots of private organizations coming up, what is the government planning to do to monitor them?
In the future, the government plans to give utmost priority to Child Protection as this has been our main concern. Providing quality and standard living to children will be the main focus. We hear of mismanagement of funds by the orphanage owners and mistreatment of children so we really need to investigate deeply on such critical issues. The CCWB has been monitoring the orphanages in the valley and if there are cases of mistreatment then it takes legal action. Our biggest challenge is to monitor the orphanages that have been operating illegally. The main issue right now is that orphanages are failing to follow the guidelines so we need to better our monitoring system.
- 3:33 pm
Children on the streets
They look around and fix their gaze at a group of young people who have gathered near a tea shop at Basantapur. In ragged clothes which barely save them from the cold chills of winter, the street kids roam around looking for a chance; to make some money or get something to eat.
“Dai Chiya (brother tea please),” the street kids stretch their small but dirty hands and start begging for a hot cup of tea. Some brush them off while a few hand them their cups. They are eager to talk to people and ask for tea, biscuits and cigarettes but if one begins to ask their names and other personal details, they disappear in no time.
“These kids are very insecure that they will get into problems so they refrain from giving away personal details,” says Juju Kaji Shrestha, founder of Heartbeat, an organization that has been working for street kids since 2009.
All the street kids at Basantapur have an identity card hung around their necks that they carefully hide underneath their clothes. These identity cards are given by the organizations that provide them food.
Photo Courtesy: Bishal Bista
“We go to the organization’s office at Bhotebahal and play there for a while and they provide us with food coupons,” says Dinesh Ghimire*, a 12 year-old street kid. But Dinesh, like his other friends, does not want to stay permanently at any organization.
Shrestha points out freedom as one of the main factors that make street kids choose streets over rehabilitation. “These kids have come to the capital from different rural parts of Nepal with big dreams. Their heads are filled with making money rather than having a good life which is the reason behind many children organizations failing to counsel these kids,” he says.
Centre for Child Welfare Board (CCWB), a government body in collaboration with different NGOs and INGOs working for children issues, has tried to bring programs for the rehabilitation of street kids in the past but none of their programs took off. The board has been blaming the lack of budget for the shelving of the programs, but Ram Bahadur Chand, officer at CCWB adds that delay in appointment of executive director at the board has also pushed the programs further in limbo.
Whatever may be the cause, it is apparent that government is seriously lagging behind in effectively tackling the issue of street kids. Due to the lack of government intervention, these street kids not only lose out on having a home, education and better future but are also exposed to crimes from an early age.
DIG Keshav Adhikary, spokesperson of Nepal Police says that street kids get involved in criminal activities because of lack of awareness. “Many times, they are not able to judge the consequences of their actions since they have been devoid of any guardianship and upbringing,” he says.
According to the Police data, there are around 300 street kids in the capital who are devoid of shelter. Some 100 other street kids loiter on the streets by day and return to a temporary shelter by night. Among them, 99% of the kids exploit dendrite to get high.
Shrestha agrees with DIG Adhikary that street kids do not get a chance for a better future due to the lack of parental custody and care. “They’re more vulnerable to bad influence and I get taken aback by the attitude of the educated young people who give these kids drugs and other harmful substances which further spoils their chances of rehabilitation and integration,” he says.
Chand accepts that rehabilitation of street kids is a challenging task. “These kids are first identified and then admitted to a rehabilitation centre. Then their response to counseling has to be taken into consideration. If they respond well, then the counselors will be able to recognize their problems and shape their minds to integrate them into the society,” he says.
But many organizations working for street kids have only been providing the kids with food. “Providing food to the street kids will at least keep them from hunger but these organizations are, in a way, encouraging the street kids against rehabilitation. When there is a permanent source of food, the kids will choose to stay on the street rather than get into any organization,” says Chand.
Shrestha, on the other hand, refuses to believe that the organizations are to be blamed. “What we need is social awareness. The organizations are small groups of people who are doing as much as they can. The main point is the society’s attitude towards these kids,” he says pointing towards a group of youngsters who were offering a cigarette stick to a street kid.
It is high time that government takes the case of street kids as a serious problem and allocates required budget to address the issue. The non government organizations should update their programs than just distributing identity cards to the street kids. The general public, on the other hand, should also acknowledge street children as a serious issue and help them acquire their basic rights such as nutritious food, health care, a safe shelter and proper education.
- 3:32 pm
The downside of self diagnosis
You’re feeling a bit more tired than usual. You’ve muscle twitches in unusual places. Sometimes, there are sharp, stabbing jabs in your chest. Over time, the symptoms worsen and you’re convinced that there’s something wrong with you but you’re either overworked or doctor-shy and don’t visit the hospital. What do you do? You turn to the internet.
Even if you are not a hypochondriac, the internet is definitely not a friend to rush to with health woes. In fact, it’s the perfect way to exacerbate the anxiety you already feel about your health and that anxiety ends up causing more symptoms, thus perpetuating the problem. Then, every headache is a brain tumor and every bout of indigestion is either stomach cancer or angina. Basically, every minor pain you suffer from is invariably incurable forms of terminal terror.
The internet convinced Surabhi Malla, 31, mother of a cute two year old girl, that she had breast cancer. “I had tender breasts and I decided to look up my symptoms online,” says Surabhi who entered the key words “breast tenderness” and came up with a list of possibilities from pregnancy and hormonal imbalance to cysts and maybe even breast cancer.
“The “maybe” was enough to make me nervous. I panicked and that led me to notice the unusual spots around my breasts. Gradually I had more symptoms, so I went back to researching,” she says adding that in a matter of a few days she was sure that she, in fact, was suffering from breast cancer.
She travelled to Delhi, India for treatment along with her husband leaving their two year old under her mother’s care. “I wanted her to have the best possible treatment and since we didn’t want to consult doctors here, we thought it’d be best to go to Delhi,” says Anup Malla, Surabhi’s childhood sweetheart for eight years and husband for five years.
Anup mentions how all their worries and fears turned out to be baseless when tests confirmed that Surabhi was only suffering from mild hormonal imbalance.
“We were first shocked then relieved. How could all that research on my part have been so wrong?” wonders Surabhi admitting that all the symptoms were cooked up in her head after she misdiagnosed herself.
Before we laugh at Surabhi, it’s best to remember that we’ve all done it at some point in our lives – feeling edgy or upset, we’ve turned to the internet and googled our symptoms; typed in “sore throat” in our browser’s search box and reached the conclusion that we could possibly have a particularly rare and incurable case of throat cancer.
A lot of people today get their health information online and a majority of those decide whether to see a doctor based on what they find. Sometimes, it leads to a series of misdiagnosis and subsequent health scares. Overactive imagination coupled with panicked self-diagnoses almost always lead to such extreme apprehension that earlier absent symptoms slowly surface.
Bandana Shrestha’s story is no different. “Once I had terrible stomach cramps. According to several sites, I either had colon cancer, rectal cancer, colitis, irritated bowel syndrome or was pregnant. I decided I was pregnant according to the list of symptoms under pregnancy,” says Bandana who quickly became one hundred percent sure that she was indeed pregnant.
Next up were bouts of morning sickness and episodes of depression that she blamed on hormonal changes as a result of the pregnancy. Bandana could even feel the tightening of her belly. When she finally got a pregnancy test kit and the results came out negative, she had a difficult time persuading her mother-in-law that she hadn’t had a secret abortion.
“I had spent weeks trying to decide whether to keep the baby or have an abortion and my whole family had been counseling me. It was all in vain,” says Bandana the embarrassment still evident in her voice.
“It’s is an era of self-diagnosis,” says Dr Kamal Raj Thapa, MD resident at Bir Hospital adding that people should avoid ‘googling’ their symptoms because of the wealth of inaccurate and misleading information on the web.
With information readily available at the click of a mouse, it isn’t much of a surprise that many people resort to online help for their medical problems however trivial or severe. Without a proper examination, the fine nuances of your symptoms are overlooked and what you get is a broader, more general diagnosis since the information you enter online isn’t tailored to your history and the environment you are subjected to.
“A lot of patients today visit doctors after they’ve wrongly diagnosed themselves and while some are relieved to find out that they aren’t as sick as they assumed they were, some are rather confused and no amount of convincing from the doctor will make them feel better,” says Dr Thapa.
“It’s like they’ve made up their minds about their illness based on what they’ve read,” he adds mentioning that people are getting an unhealthy dose of misinformation by relying on advice and anecdotes from anonymous sources.
“Don’t freak yourselves out by doing your own medical research. Rely on an expert’s opinion,” suggest Dr Thapa.
While an internet search of your symptoms might seem like a simpler and quicker solution than waiting for an appointment with your physician, you’re often swamped with stories that raise false alarm and cause much stress. So head to the doctor to check out what ails you even if you’re convinced that you’re part of the 0.01% of people who have that rare disease. You can use the internet as a reference after you’ve been properly diagnosed but until then get your hands off that keyboard!
Pain killers are drugs used to relieve pain. Most of them belong to a class of drugs called Non-steroidal anti-inflammatory drugs [NSAIDS], which control inflammation, fever and mild pain.”Taking them without consultation, taking a double dose for quicker relief or using the left-over medicines later for similar symptoms can put people in trouble,” says Dr Kamal Raj Thapa, MD Resident at Bir Hospital.
• Can cause ulcers and bleeding in the stomach.
• Can cause acidity, nausea, vomiting, diarrhea, constipation, dizziness, rashes, and headaches.
• Boost blood pressure and can counteract the effect of some blood pressure medicines.
• Cause kidney and heart problems in case of prolonged use.
There are two types of cough syrups. Those used for dry coughs are called cough suppressants or anti-tussives, while those which help coughs with phlegm are called expectorants. Since a lot of them are alcohol-based, people can get a high with the use of these medicines.
• Mouth dryness
• Ringing in the ears
• Nausea, stomach pain and constipation
• A pounding heart or uneven heartbeat
• Dizziness, blurred vision, drowsiness
• Restlessness, confusion and reduced concentration.
Antibiotics are drugs used to treat infections caused by bacteria. Our immune system can fight bacteria and stop them from multiplying enough to cause an infection. But, there are times when our immunity is low and the body is unable to control an infection. That is when you need an antibiotic. Those who take antibiotics unsupervised are mostly unaware of the proper course of the medicine and have a tendency to stop taking it as soon as they feel better. “If you don’t complete the full course of the antibiotic or use antibiotics too often, the bacteria may become resistant and the drug will become ineffective,” says Dr Thapa.
• Nausea, vomiting, diarrhea and dizziness.
• Inflammation of the large intestine especially in the elderly.
• Allergic reactions like swelling of lips, face, and tongue.
• Certain antibiotics can reduce the effectiveness of oral contraceptive pills.
• Vaginal infection caused by growth of fungus due to suppression of good bacteria.