The Pirates of Kathmandu

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Being a Tourist now and again

Nice day Friday the 17th, enjoyed Swayambu Stupa (“the Monkey Temple”) but it’s a tourist site and I offer no particular new ideas as to describe it.

Nice View. Tibetan chanting. Long walk from Ratna Park to there. Didn’t buy anything but got ideas for future trinkets. Sitala mandir was relatively quiet. Bus back during rush hour.

Had a near miss while crossing the street as a bus rounded the corner; not with the bus; there was a boy barfing out the window in a projectile manner as if he was watering a garden. Somebody is looking out for me though – managed to jump back just in time. Sometime I will make a YT video about the etiquette and strategy of crossing the street in Kathmandu. I generally do okay with it – so far. In 2008 I nearly was hit – I instinctively looked to the left instead of the right. That’ll do it. It was the only time I was that careless.

Prayer line activation

Let’s all pray for my friend Ellen, recuperating from knee surgery; another friend who had surgery about a month ago; a third Hindu friend whose father just died suddenly of a heart attack (the man was younger than me); and still yet another person suffering from depression. A person without a surgical scar can still feel deep pain.

Blog statistics

The blog got sixty hits yesterday; most it ever got was 83, usually more like forty per day though. Please do forward the blog address to people you know who might wish to read about health care in Nepal, and please do make comments on the blog. There is synergy between the FB page, the blog and YouTube. Posted some short clips on YT from Swayambu… Check them out!

Photojournalists from Montana.

Heather Ericson is a college photojournalist from Montana. MSU has an ongoing internship with media here in Nepal, and it’s her turn. She grew up as an international vagabond, her parents took her to forty countries before she was ten years old. I met her on the plane from BKK, we had a nice chat to pass time in the transit depot in Delhi then shared a sprint through the terminal to catch the KTM flight. Her baptism to Nepal photojournalism was to cover the end-of-May political demonstrations. She is now producing more mundane stories. Such as me. (Yes, I am mundane, gotta admit it).

Heather’s first plan is to follow an LNC nursing student through a typical day, on Monday. Then Wednesday to attend my class in the ballroom, and take photos there. When the story related to the critical care nursing course is published here in Kathmandu, it will include a reference to my book and the FB fan page. Heather has already published a number of photostories in the Kathmandu Post, and these will appear there. She has agreed to take a copy of my book to the book reviewer from that paper. I may get interviewed.

Heather will keep all photos of me and LNC whether they get in the paper or not, and share later. I ought to get some really nice photos from that. My “good” camera seems to have officially died.

As to Piracy…..

This would be well and good if I has managed to pull off a coordinated publicity campaign. I have brought the pdf of my book, ready for digital printing, to Kathmandu, on a flash drive. This country is not a signatory to international copyright law, and if I got it printed here, I would be “pirating” my own work. Oh, I’d spoken with my publisher about this, back along, and we had a laugh about it – but it’s still technically piracy to make a private arrangement of this nature. Still haven’t decided about printing in Kathmandu but some local publicity can’t be bad.

Train leaving the station

Now, as to printing. Despite this half-baked publicity idea, I think I have passed the window of opportunity for getting the book printed and distributed here in this town while I am still here. I contacted a person with connections to a printer and the cost was $1,300 for 1,000 copies minimum. Oh sure, there is a retail markup so that theoretically you end up with $2,600 when they are sold, which pays back the initial outlay. Then of course the seller gets a big share, but the chimera of profit, shines on the horizon ….. Would I sell that many? Now really? This is not the biggest market for English-language books, even if the book is about current issues in Nepal. Maybe a hundred…..

…. All is Vanity

The idea of leftover books by the truckload made me stop and think – that’s a lot of boxes of books to store somewhere if I don’t sell them all! So I put the printing and distribution on hold while working on my actual projects. To produce them now would take two weeks or more – the clock is ticking and may have run out…..

The logical thing to do is to go to EKDA, the one and only medical-book supplier, and talk with their people about selling the book on consignment over the long haul. I face up to the idea that publishing here is essentially a “vanity project” – something to undertake for my own satisfaction. When you look at it though, isn’t life a vanity project?

Touts and agents at the domestic terminal

So – that’s all for now – I am in the domestic terminal awaiting the Bhairawa plane. There is the section outside the ticket counter, and then the section inside security. When I arrived, three guys guided me through the outer part, to find the booth where foreigners pay a special tax (170 nrs). Then, the asked me to wait while they took my passport, the ticket and the tax document to the ticket counter for me, returning with the boarding pass. Very nice. Then they asked me for 500 nrs apiece for this service.

Why did it surprise me that they were not doing it for free. 🙂

I can see how this would be valuable for many foreigners navigating the airport if they haven’t been around – but I didn’t think it was worth a lot of money. (but who am I fooling? It did make it easier and worry free for me…. )

I gave them 100 rupees to split. I admit, I teased them by first pulling one three one-thousand rupee notes……that was cruel. They were not acting happy as I got up to go through the inner security.

This is my only domestic flight this summer. Otherwise I would have to greet these same guys again, and next time they won’t be as helpful.

Waiting room scene

It’s a drizzly overcast day here, I have the impression that flights to the mountains are cancelled – there are certain hillside landing strips that are line-of-sight only. Awaiting word on Bhairawa… hour to go.

Nearby, awaiting a flight, is an older woman dressed in traditional garb including a shawl, green potey, yellow patuka, Magar-style nose jewelry, and heavy earrings. She is busy talking on a cellphone with a jewel-encrusted cover.

I wonder what ringtones she has.



About Joe Niemczura, RN, MS

These blogs, and my books, and videos are written on the principle that any person embarking on something similar to what I do will gain more preparation than I first had, by reading them. I have fifteen years of USA nursing faculty background. Add to it fifteen more devoted to adult critical care. In Nepal, I started teaching critical care skills in 2011. I figure out what they need to know in a Nepali practice setting. Then I teach it in a culturally appropriate way so that the boots-on-the-ground people will use it. One theme of my work has been collective culture and how it manifests itself in anger. Because this was a problem I incorporated elements of "situational awareness" training from the beginning, in 2011.
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One Response to The Pirates of Kathmandu

  1. gaynor says:

    No trip to Nepal is complete without a good barfing story. My best story involves traveling by bus to Mugling, with 3 vomiting children (my own) and arriving with my clothes stiff with their vomit. As if this wasn’t bad enough, I stepped off the bus into the path of a man spitting in my direction – large gob landed on my trousers. (Sorry to anyone with a delicate stomach)
    As to the tipping of your helpers at the airport – I have under-tipped and over-tipped and felt miserable after doing both. It’s a tough one. Hard to work out the correct amount as locals rarely need the same kind of assistance. Bargaining can also be tricky. Once I was bargaining in a small shop, quibbling over a couple of dollars when I spotted a child’s crutch in the room behind.

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