Living In a Bandh

Perhaps you’ve heard about the bandh (or ‘strike’) going on in Nepal right now, or you’ve heard me refer to bandhs before, and are wondering what it’s actually like. So, here’s a bit of an explanation about what the bandh is like for me, personally. I don’t mean to say that my experience is everyone’s, because I don’t live in the main Kathmandu area, and I certainly don’t ‘get’ all of the nuances and history that make this situation the way it is. This is just what it looks like from my perspective.

Friday night was rainy, but we all went on a walk to a grocery store I hadn’t been to before (far nicer than the ones I usually go to – I think I’ll head there from now on!). We stocked up on items just in case we couldn’t get more food later on. One of the many things you do “just in case” because it’s pretty hard to plan on things around here…

On Saturday, there was a big “labour day” (I think) type rally. Many Maoists came in from the villages to Kathmandu to join the rally. Evidently, sometimes people in the villages are forced by the Maoist cadres to join the protest. The end result of this on our end was that there were literally thousands of extra people in Kathmandu this weekend. So, we were told to go home Friday after school and keep our gates locked starting that evening. Usually we just lock our gates overnight, but with all of the extra people in town who need somewhere to stay, sometimes they’ll just open your gate, walk into your house, and stay there (or ask for food, or money or something else…)! This didn’t happen to us, but it was a possibility. We still have our gate locked. I stayed home all day, though some people in our house went out. I didn’t need to go out and figure that it doesn’t hurt to be cautious. The girls here (Emily and Jessi) made homemade bagles which were such a nice treat!

On Sunday, the bandh officially started. “Bandh” is simply the Nepali word for “closed”, and there can be all different types of bandhs, such as education bandhs (all schools closed), vehicle bandhs (no driving), etc, and it can be called by people other than the Maoists. However, this is a Maoist general strike, which means it is a) more serious because it is called by the Maoists, and b) it applies to pretty much all parts of “life”, not just cars, schools or grocery stores. So, officially there are supposed to be no vehicles on the road (except for ambulances, press vehicles and milk trucks), no businesses open (except for very small veggie stands), and, in general, it’s safer to stay at home than to go out without good reason.

On Sunday, the first day, it was hard to tell if it was going to be a serious strike (like one that you really need to stay inside for, or one that you just should stay inside for, you know?), so I played it safe and stayed at home. Jessi, who’s staying at the guest house for quite a bit before moving into her own place for four years (with SIL), made a good Southern breakfast – biscuits, sausage gravy, scrambled eggs and bacon! I helped by opening all of the sausages and getting the meat out (yes, Mum, with my bare hands!). It was such a yummy treat!

I made dinner in the evening. I made my very first tourtiere! This is like a coming of age thing, in my opinion! Haha… This is a French Canadian pie that we have every Christmas Eve, and occasionally at a few other special family events. I had to make the pie crust from scratch and it actually turned out flaky! I wasn’t even worrying about how flaky it was; I just wanted it to hold the filling and be edible, and it turned out just perfectly! I also tried to make our family’s jello salad recipe which calls for applesauce. I had to make that by hand, too, and it had a significant (and negative) result on the final product. It tasted alright, but it wasn’t at all the way it should have been.

My first tourtiere! 🙂

We went to bed Sunday night not sure at all if we would have school or not the next day. Things can change so quickly here that they decided to wait until 6:30 am to make a decision.
Monday morning, closer to 7:00 than 6:30, we found out that school was, indeed, off. I stayed home and enjoyed a cozy day relaxing. I spent the morning computer doodling. For fun, I decided to design Star Fleet Admiral uniforms for a girl, and it was such a fun way to spend the morning. Here are some of my favourites:

These are tunics that are supposed to go with black pants. This is the one I think is most like Star Trek uniforms.

I like this one.

My favourite, but not much like a real Star Fleet uniform… 🙂

Today is Wednesday, and we’re still off school because of the bandh. I can’t remember the exact details of everyday, so here is a run down of the things I’ve been up to. I played SkipBo, watched Star Trek:TNG, played our new keyboard, cleaned my room (very thoroughly!), went to Bible study, got my Japanese Encephalitis vaccination, tried to write some blog entries (though it’s taking awhile!), Skyped with all of my family, and gone into work for a few hours to get some stuff done. I am in pretty good shape for lesson planning and whatnot, which is great, and I will need to get started on the assessment portfolios for my students in the next couple of days.

We’re still going day-to-day here; some Nepalis I’ve asked (like our didi) seem to think that it will continue along for at least another few days and may even come to some fighting before it’s over. But, that could change overnight, too. The important thing for people to know, though, is that I’m in no danger being here. We live and work outside the main Kathmandu city (we live in Patan, on the other side of the bridge that leads into Kathmandu proper). I am not going out anywhere except close by for necessary things. When I’ve been out, I’ve seen some large groups of people marching down the street chanting and waving red flags, but I just changed my direction and walked down another road. So, you don’t need to worry about me, but you can pray that Nepal gets things figured out and that it is safe for everyone again. I’ll let you know when we’re back to normal here!

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