Last Thursday we were at some friends’ place for dinner when out of the blue we hear music coming from outside! A group of Nepalese guys known as “crazy band” set up a full concert outside in the front yard. Their tour bus consisted of a 3 wheeled bike loaded with speakers and groupies each carrying a piece of the drum kit. They mostly played Nepalese classics but played AC/DC for the white people in the crowed since we were rocking out with them so hard. We were dancing up a storm for the entire time they were there and learned some awesome local dance moves and songs. Our new friends honored our efforts by giving us each a necklace made out of local flowers. Although we wanted them to stay all night, the band packed up after a couple of hours and were on their way to spread they joy to other houses in the neighbourhood. The band was out in full force thanks to the Hindu festival called Tihar.
Tihar (alo known as Diwali or Deepawali) is the second most important Hindu festival in Nepal (Dasain is the first). The five day festival honors certain animals, starting with offerings of rice to the crows which are sent by Yama, the god of death, as his messengers of death. On the second day, dogs are honoured with Tikas and garlands of flowers (in the afterworld it is dogs who guide departed should across the river of death). On the third day cows have their horns painted silver and gold, and on fourth day the Bulls are honoured. Deepawali is occurs on the 3rd day of the festival and is the most important day, when Lakshmi, the goddess of wealth comes to visit every home that has been suitably lit for her presence. So all of the buildings around Kathmandu are covered in lights (much like Christmas but 10x more intense). On the fifth day of Tihar, brothers and sisters meet to place Tikas on each others foreheads. Sisters offer small gifts of fruit and sweets and brothers offer money in return (looks like women have this power everywhere in the world).
During Tihar, most people go back home to their villages, so SERC was closed and the hospital was unusually quiet since most of the staff and even patients went home! Even patients in the ICU went home for the holiday!
Friday we went out to the house of music to watch a local band that consists of a Nepalese woman and her french husband, along with the husbands son from another marriage. They run an information center in Kathmandu and the Nepalese woman runs a program where she teaches other women who have been abused to play punk rock as a way of releasing anger.
The next day, we were up bright and early to go to the hospital to watch Dr. Shakya perform a skin graft on one of our patients who sustained a burn when she grabbed a door handle that was charged. She also had her thumb and the tip of her finger amputated in the process because they were so necrotic from the burn. After the surgery the dr. Quickly returned to his office where he was met by a slew of patients and a drunk 22 year old man who broke his arm after falling off his motorcycle. But, in his defense he stated that he was “only a little bit drunk”. His arm was put in a cast and he immediately started picking and breaking the cast so he could move his arm more freely. He was still a little drunk and the nurses were loving whatever he was saying (too bad we don’t understand Nepali).
In the afternoon we took a taxi to the Himilayan Outdoor Festival which was complete with bands, a rock wall, slack line, delicious food (mo-mos!!), a sketchy zip line/rappelling, mountain biking, and some awesome outdoor films. After eating and spending the majority of the day trying to master the slack line (which ended up snapping 30seconds after Caitlin called it), we headed inside to check out some of the films. The first was about a group of climbers who all had an amputation, and refused to let it get in their way of being active and enjoying the outdoors. 2 had leg amputations, and one had an arm amputation. Truly inspirational! The second was about Nepale men who summited Everest then paraglided to the base of the mountain where they cycled to a river, then kayaked to the Ocean… The Ultimate adventure from the most extreme headwaters!
On Sunday we went to work at the hospital and made it to a film at the Human Rights Film Festival about the sad state of cotton farming in India. Ever since the introduction of genetically modified seeds from the company Monsanto, crops have been struggling and farmers have to put their land on the line to pay bills. The state of farming is so bad that one farmer commits suicide ever 30 minutes.