Eyes without a Face

Kathmandu, Nepal.

Eyes without a Face…I think that was a Billy Idol song. Wonder if he spent any time in Nepal.

     Anyway, feelin’ Nepal today. This one is the top of the Boudhnath Stupa in Kathmandu. If you feel like your being watched in Nepal …just look up, because you probably are. I really didn’t get out of the Kathmandu Valley much when I was there (I HAVE to go back), but my god. I have no regrets. What a city, valley and culture.

Ouch …owww

Pashupatinath, Kathmandu, Nepal.

     I have to tell you, for the way these guys live, and the diet they must have, they are a happy, as well as healthy and in-shape bunch. From a westerners perspective, or at least mine, these Sadhus are a culture unto themselves, no matter where you see them. Always a smile on their painted faces. Always willing to talk and show you their “house”, or corner, or mat is more like it. I spent some time at Pashupatinath, and went back more than once. Get there early and you can watch the morning preparations. It was well worth it, and the more I talked and got to know these guys, the more down to earth they became, from a conversation point of view that is. This was taken right around the corner from my last Pashupatinath post, “The Boys“, and right above “Sadhu Joe“.

     Yes, that is his foot, and yes, that is a fly on his toe. A very “bendable” fella here, who can be seen in the travel galleries of visitors all over the web, as well as in multiple BBC & NG videos and books written about Nepal and the Kathmandu Valley. Seeing him, as well as “The Boys”, in videos on TV always puts a smile on my face. Seeing this shot, and remembering some of the yoga positions they got themselves into, always makes me think “Ouch”.

 

 

Little Princes

Book Review: Little Princes

Little Princes: One Man’s Promise To Bring Home The Lost Children Of Nepal
by: Conor Grennan

     One man’s promise. One man’s realization. One man’s inspiration. One man’s calling. There are many things you can call this book and many things you can call this man Conor Grennan. Inspirational would definitely be one of them.

     Conor, now 29, starts off in Prague, leaving his day job of eight years for a year of travel around the world, starting with a three-month volunteering position in the Kathmandu Valley of Nepal, which he approaches with some humorous trepidation and a bit of “doing it for the wrong reason” kind of outlook. What, and who, he encounters at the Little Princes Home changes his life forever. Conor describes his first encounters here in a “hilarious antics kind of tale” and slowly unfolds it into a heart warming, engaging and emotional story of his experience at Little Princes and the children he meets there. The first thirty or so pages maybe the best “introduction” to a book I’ve ever read.

     For those not familiar with Nepal – at this time, around 2006, Nepal was in the midst of a civil war. Many of the children at this home, as well as plenty of other homes around the Kathmandu Valley, were not only orphans, but were caught up in child trafficking, which is extremely prevalent in Nepal, at this time, as well as today. Children are taken from their villages and parents at a very young age, with the promise of a good education, being taken care of, and the promise of a good future. The civil war only expanded the trafficking, as people and villages on the outskirts and more rural areas of the country became poorer. Parents who couldn’t feed their families thought they were doing the best thing they could for their children. Giving their children to the traffickers never to hear  from them or see them again.

     As Conor works the three months at Little Princes he slowly weaves an engaging tale through and about the children there, as well as Kathmandu, slowly transforming from scared and confused to confident and fatherly. He animatedly describes the children and their antics, connecting names and personalities throughout the book, bringing the children to life through his light-hearted writing style. At the end of his volunteer stint, Conor travels the rest of his journey throughout the world, to end up back home in New Jersey. Not for long though, as promises he made pull him back to Nepal.

     This time with a true purpose. Conor starts his own children’s home in Kathmandu, not only rescuing, watching and protecting children, but setting off throughout the mountains of Western Nepal to find the families of these children. An animated tale of adventure and frustration ensues, until Conor makes it back to Kathmandu. At this point, with the help of Farid, his partner, and many others, Conor realizes not only the dream of the children, but his own. Children see pictures of their parents that they thought were dead, families start calling, showing up in Kathmandu, and Conor’s dreams of reuniting the children becomes reality …but not without its problems, of course.

     A heart warming story, sometimes hilarious and funny, other times heart wrenching and tragic. A very well written story of the children of Nepal, as well as one man’s realization of a dream to help those children that helped him form that dream. Throughout, Conor writes in a lighthearted style which really lets this book and story shine through. A truly inspirational tale of what can be done if one only tries. If you’re at all interested in Nepal, this could be the best book I have ever read about the country. If you’re at all interested in child trafficking, what you can do to help stop it, what it entails and why it happens, again, highly recommended. If you know nothing about Nepal, or any issues in the country, but like travel memoirs, highly recommended.

Bottom Line:
…For any reader the least bit interested: Highly Recommended – This was a great book.

     Help me keep traveling, reviewing, and taking pictures. If you want to buy this book, or any other book through Amazon, than click and buy through the photo above. Thank you!!! John

PS: Even if you don’t want to buy the book, aren’t sure, or looking for another, or more opinions, click the link above to see 52 more reviews (at this point). Not one below four stars, and most five-star, plus an article by the author.

The Boys

Pashupatinath, Kathmandu, Nepal.

     A few of “The Boys” sittin’ around on the banks of the Bagmati River at Pashupatinath. Some of the more interesting people I’ve met on my travels really. I sat and talked to these guys over a period of a couple of days and they were quite cordial and humorous. A bit more about sadhu’s here. If you read – I would take the article as a general overview, and not quite literally as entirely factual and representative of every sadhu out there.

     These guys here can be seen all over the internet, and most likely in any guidebook to the Kathmandu Valley (there are actually pictures of them on the wiki page linked above). From Lonely Planet to personal photo galleries across the web. All too ready to “pose” for the cameras, they know how to ham it up and have fun. The guy with the rolled up hair I liked to call “Robin Hood” as he did remind me of him for some reason. A good time and a much different experience than whats going on across the river (the burning of bodies, the cornea excision center, etc, etc).

     One of the great reasons to travel really. Meeting cultures totally different from your own and learning about those cultures while actually being immersed in them. …and talking and learning about the lives of people as seen below. It does just fascinate me.

August 13, 2009

Two short previous posts on Pashupatinath: “Sadhu Joe” & “Already Parted“.

Already Parted

Pashupatinath, Kathmandu, Nepal.

     For those who haven’t been: Pashupatinath.
     A holy Hindu site along the banks of the Bagmati River in the Kathmandu Valley.
     If your not familiar with the culture, and are headed there, the best advice
     I could give you is to just sit and watch. Take your time, don’t hurry through.
     It’s a fascinating place, in a spectacular setting with some of the most interesting
     people I have ever met.

 August 17, 2009