Thursday, July 30, 2015

While the world mourns Cecil...

"While the world mourned Cecil, the 13-year-old lion that was allegedly shot by an American hunter in Zimbabwe, an even more devastating poaching incident was quietly carried out in Kenya....

In recent years, the poaching of elephants has increased exponentially because of the demand for ivory in Asia, where it's used for unproven medicinal purposes. Between 2010 and 2012, poachers killed more than 100,000 African elephants — a level of destruction that put the species on the road to extinction. Unlike many other animals, elephants mourn the death of their brethren, wrapping their trunks around the bones or carcasses of the deceased."

As the world mourned Cecil the lion

Knock on Silicon

Laptop problem the last few days...took it to a New Road 'mechanic', and it came back with problem it didn't have going in.
Ke garne?
At least back on line for now...tentatively...knock on silicon.

Sunday, July 26, 2015

The Egglish

Notwithstanding very precious exceptions (humblest apologies to beloved friends and aquaintances), I have come to generally feel about the English Egglish a disdain in equal magnitude with their offhand dislike of US-Americans.

I now unreasonably associate the English accent with condescending prattle and haughty f*ckwithty. So be it, I could do worse than to be prejudiced against a people generally holding the inveterate notion that they are the most knowledgeable of the village idiots, and that they must let everyone know it with a fetching wit and smashing wisdom.

above image found here:

Carhenge near Alliance, Nebraska (photo credit:

Princess of Venus

Where fart you now?

...haplessly cheeky today...

When Death Comes

When Death Comes

When death comes
like the hungry bear in autumn;
when death comes and takes all the bright coins from his purse
to buy me, and snaps the purse shut;
when death comes
like the measle-pox
when death comes
like an iceberg between the shoulder blades,
I want to step through the door full of curiosity, wondering:
what is it going to be like, that cottage of darkness?
And therefore I look upon everything
as a brotherhood and a sisterhood,
and I look upon time as no more than an idea,
and I consider eternity as another possibility,
and I think of each life as a flower, as common
as a field daisy, and as singular,
and each name a comfortable music in the mouth,
tending, as all music does, toward silence,
and each body a lion of courage, and something
precious to the earth.
When it's over, I want to say all my life
I was a bride married to amazement.
I was the bridegroom, taking the world into my arms.
When it's over, I don't want to wonder
if I have made of my life something particular, and real.
I don't want to find myself sighing and frightened,
or full of argument.
I don't want to end up simply having visited this world

-by Mary Oliver

Saturday, July 25, 2015

Great Himalayan Fiction

(Advisory: Scathing, yet, hopefully realistic assessment--don't mind.) 

I am certainly not the only one who sees the Great Himalayan Trail (Trick?) to be a well-funded (Himalayan) snow job. Although, I might be one of the few Himalayaphiles willing to call it out publicly (many others have shared their disbelief with me in private), especially in the face of a moneyed industry that has grown up around the fictional line on a map. A corps of well-paid and articulate people have worked feverishly to will the concept into being with exuberant energy and talent despite Himalayan obstacles and Himalayan chasms and lack of a any semblance of a contiguous trail.

Even the talented gentleman who wrote the eponymous guidebook makes a striking confession. In his Acknowledgements he mentions the three Sherpa guides who made it possible by joining him 'every step of the way'

Three Sherpa?
Ever step of the way?

This is a skilled, veteran trekker with many seasons of experience in Nepal. If he needed three Sherpa guides every step of a cross-country journey to find the way, negotiate logistics,  technical sections and survival, then what hope is there for the average trekker to pick up a guidebook and go?

In fact, an elite, world-class trail runner tried that and was dangerously off course within days, losing personal items and forced to return to Kathmandu by vehicle, perhaps lucky something worse did not happen.
Again, if a elite, seasoned trail runner was immediately lost, then what hope is there for an average trekker?

"One Trail to Rule Them All" was put forth with a grandiose, kingly name at a time when Nepal had just ousted a 239 year-old tyrannical crown--perhaps a more appropriate motto during that dynamic time might have been One Trail to Unite Nepal or even The Trail to Unite Them All. After all, the country was just out of a ten-year civil war and working to come together as a newly born democratic republic. Yet, even my above alternate names would miss the mark considerably until there actually is a trail. 

There is no one such trail or even a contiguous series of trails. If a person is lucky and with adept guides and tremendous logistical and technical gear and support (arranged with a great amount of funds), then they might be able to trek across the country from the eastern to western border, but certainly not on any singular trail, or even one contiguous route linking trails. There simply are not trails linking other trails in a number of remote areas even as maps might hazardously make it seem unless some very lengthy detours and wild zig-zags are undertaken to connect sections (such detours are not indicated on any of these maps).

Moreover, the seasonal window for crossing secluded, technical, mountain passes on a cross-country high traverse is relatively short and through isolated, rugged, uninhabited highland areas along the ramparts of the Himalaya. Spending time in this no-man's land at altitude including traversing technical passes requires not only the aforementioned expert guides with technical skills but a good deal of supporting gear and food and staff to help with both and not just route-finding. Certainly, such an expedition-style journey is outside the ken and budget of casual trekkers and even elite trekkers for that matter.

Additionally, there is no Lower GHT. It is simply a conceptual line on a map, and I personally know the two guys who casually placed that line on a map. They did it from an office in inner-city Kathmandu far away from any remote trails. One of them never trekked in his life, the other manages a company that specializes in taking foreigners to Annapurna, Langtang and Everest and did no recce whatsoever in the majority of the country. 

Please don't get me wrong. People have hiked cross-country, and of course that is totally possible. Some people did near cross-country walks decades before the 'launching' of this posh project, but no one has hiked the so-called Lower GHT route, because it  simply does not exist (the highly sponsored and talented group who hiked border-to-border followed a myriad of trails and not an advertised route). 

To the credit of SNV (the Dutch INGO that funds along with help from DFID, the aid wing of the UK, the heavy promotion and dazzling salaries of a multitude of people both foreign and domestic working on promoting the GHT fantasy), they have retreated from 'One Trail to Rule Them All' realizing at least that the initial title was total fiction, although not sure how it was vetted in the first place with the many paid experts that were on board.

Further retreats have been made, yet whatever the amorphous conception has been molded into at this point, with all due respect, the cash-infused notions of the GHT and Lower-GHT are nothing like the names suggest. I humbly request that people affiliated with the swanky campaign might reconsider associating their good names with it no matter what the financial rewards might be.

At this point, with all due respect, great Himalayan truth needs to trump all else now more than ever as Nepal re-builds post-quake and I/NGOs and government agencies, agents, and accomplices might do well to consider a new, more transparent paradigm. If nothing else, then do it for the safety of trekkers who might be fooled into attempting a long-haul hike on a non-existent route.

Follies like this prompted a Nepali journalist to cry out, "Does Nepal need DFID or does DFID need Nepal?!" It is a fair enough question, especially for a citizen of a country burdened by indefinite 'aid'. Nepali journalists should turn the heat up by continuing to ask valid, hard-hitting questions of these outsiders operating in their homeland and demand credible, evidence-based answers.

Outside of humanitarian quake relief, Nepalis might do very best with the opportunity to choose their own programs and own targets without outside intervention that often enables dysfunctional elements of the status quo and therefore, empowers and embeds the wrong people while disempowering and disenfranchising the 
citizenry through mis-governance and paralyzing entitlements. 

Removing the deadweight, malignant establishment players and entities will be the best anyone could possibly imagine for development. It would allow the Nepali people the freedom to follow their own dreams with their own capabilities and efforts unencumbered by donors, diplomats, politicians and an entitled gang.

Many cheers for your patience and consideration regarding my comments above and please keep on trekking, sightseeing and adventuring. Nepal offers endless cultural and natural treasures along with a legendary hospitality that will charm visitors in an enchanting Himalayan land. And to the misguided of the aid workers, donors and I/NGO staff who've traveled overseas to effect change in Nepal, please give renewed consideration to the trekker's maxim, "The Himalaya might change you, please don't change the Himalaya."

#FreeNepal #DonorDarlings #myGHTbs

Friday, July 24, 2015

Another day, another bandh

Actually, Nepal has been in an endless #bandh (closure) for the foreseeable past -- a bandh that has crippled the people...a bandh resulting from the political establishment and entitlement gang and their dysfunctional status quo -- a self-serving status quo that is supported and underwritten (knowingly and mostly unknowingly) by foreign agents (including diplomats, I/NGOs, donors, and aid workers).

And then there are the day-to-day bandhs of a restless people wanting change, wanting freedom and making an impact the only strongest way they seem to know how -- shutting everything down that they can in a dysfunctional system. Despite the negative effects on commerce in a depressed economy, the long-running bandh spawned by corrupt officials and the vehicle halting bandh of the day, for me the latter type of Valley bandh is a chance to walk along uncluttered roadways. Yesterday, I made a comparatively quiet stroll to Basantapur from Thamel along narrow and uncrowded passageways.

Bandh or no bandh the ticket takers at the monument sites are always at their stations and ready to collect fees (a money-grubbing habit they learned from foreign advisers) that never seems to trickle back to the area for which entrance is gated.

One astonishing discovery du jour was Seto Machindranath Temple...a compound behind a wall that collapsed off a main thoroughfare near Ason Chowk. Just behind the crumbled wall the glorious temple can now be seen; otherwise, it had been hidden from street view. I have passed by this very busy area many times without the slightest notion Seto Machhindranath Temple was awaiting discovery there.

The temple is dedicated to one of Kathmandu's preeminent deities, Seto Machhindranath (similarly, Patan has its  famous Rato Machhindranath). Except damage to the minor retaining wall at its perimeter, the temple is fine and intact post-quake.

Below are photos from today of this mystical site revered by locals.

#FreeNepal, #DonorDarlings, #Corruption, #Bandh

Thursday, July 23, 2015

Another Quake felt it in Thamel, Kaydoo, 22nd July

According to the U.S. Geological Survey (USGS) website an M4.0 Light Earthquake struck just WSW of the Kathmandu Valley on Wednesday (June 22nd, 2015 at approximately 10 PM local time). 
The epicenter is reported at 27.639°N 85.196°E with depth at approximately 12.3 km (~7.7 mi).

Clearly and briefly felt by residents of the Valley.

#NepalQuake #Himalaya #Kathmandu

Tuesday, July 21, 2015

हा हा

Some e-special snacks at #Bauddha, #Kathmandu

No Problem!

-no master plan
-no feasibility study
-no capacity building
-no foreign agents

No problem!

#Nepal #Corruption

Monday, July 20, 2015

Politely, don't believe the hype, and by all means, please don't spotlight the hype

Totally alarmed at sensational photos of Kathmandu and Nepal still being posted on social media. With the exception of a comparatively few places (which have been identified and are receiving care and attention), Nepal is doing quite fine. The images are alarming and turning potential tourists away precisely when the economy needs them most. Posting them is not doing one of Nepal’s most vital industries any favors and directly injures the many people who rely on tourism from hoteliers, restaurateurs, taxi drivers, goods sellers and suppliers, guides and porters and everyone in between from Kathmandu to Everest Base Camp and back again. Posting gratuitous images seems a self-serving ploy to elicit money for dubious projects without regards to a greater whole affected by a graphic mis-portrayal. 

With the exception of a very few places, Kathmandu and all of Nepal are open and ready for tourists and the people are totally looking forward to receiving visitors, again.

One illustrative example, a friend’s home was damaged in a remote village of Gorkha District, not far from April 25th quake's epicenter. His father received 15,000 rupees (about 150 USD equivalent) from the local administration. With those funds he has already fixed up the home and built a new two room shelter that is quake-resistant. The community there has worked together and swiftly rebuilt each other's homes and more.

Contrast that with many mind-blowing stories of deception including filing of false pleas from people with undamaged property to gain (and get) sympathy money—actively doing a disservice to real victims in true need.

It is sickening dishonesty when the task of recovery is acute for some people. I don't know how people can justify taking the opportunity to feed off the misfortune and misery of others, and that includes carpetbagger foreigners capitalizing, too. Sensational photos are not helping and can paint a false image of the situation and discourage visitors and sabotage a hardworking industry that could otherwise immediately endeavor to revive Nepal.

With all due respect, the best a foreigner can do is visit and encourage others to visit this enchanting land. Nepal will be glad to welcome all with a legendary hospitality and endless natural and cultural treasures.

#NepalQuake #DonorDarling #Corruption #FreeNepal

Sunday, July 19, 2015


To anyone depressed or with a loved one who is facing #depression, there is helpful information out there…maybe this link will assist – and if you have reliable friends (challenging to find as an #expat in a foreign land), then seek them out. Be well. 


Why the 'World's Biggest Democracy' Still Fails

An Uncertain Glory: India and its Contradictions -by Amartya Sen and Jean Drèze
was written about India and applies directly to Nepal as well. Below is a telling excerpt from The Economist review of it.

"The authors argue that the state fails mainly because of deeply entrenched inequality. A ruling elite defined by caste, but also by gender, education and income, has an utter lack of interest—verging on contempt—in improving matters for the rest. Newspaper editors and readers, judges, NGO activists and academics are also drawn largely from privileged backgrounds, and care little."

#Corruption #FreeNepal #Nepal

Nepal's constitutional jeopardy

Continued in-depth coverage and insights by Bell…still, he only briefly mentions the foreign agents (diplomats, INGOs, donors) subsidizing and motivating (directly and indirectly) the miscarriage of duties by the entitlement gang.

Hopefully, he will soon take aim at ill-informed, ill-acting foreign agents, particularly the ones controlling massive funds that give themselves and the political establishment enough leverage and clout to continue a deadly game of charades for all but themselves.

The following regarding the aid paradigm in Africa relates directly to everywhere that ‘aid’ runs unsupervised …

How to Rob Africa by Anas Areyemaw Anas


Dead Aid by Dambisa Mayo

#ThomasBell #NepalQuake #Nepal #Corruption #FreeNepal #DeadAid #AnasAreyemawAnas #DambisaMayo

'The Revolution Will Not Be Funded'

INGOs and foreign agents, with all due respect, please go home...your hearts might be in the right place...and effects on a one-to-one basis might be terrific  -- overall the effects of non-emergency aid are a total disaster and holding down the very people and communities advertised as being lifted up.

With all due respect, please get yourselves out of the way and let the talented and capable people follow up on their own dreams and skills without interference from wayward bureaucrats and an establishment with unmerited power (bolstered by INGOs and foreign agents directly and indirectly).

For Unsettling Reference:

And the wise and wonderful, talented and daring Anas Areyemaw's, How to Rob Africa

#Corruption #FreeNepal #NepalQuake

Friday, July 17, 2015

Ultimate Loser

Being called a #loser is actually considered a compliment in #Buddhism. Now isn't that #lovely?

A trek by any other name is still a trek :)

The following is my personal response to a post by Rich Ball regarding the so-called West Dhaulagiri Trek:

Great site for rugged runners. Keep up the nice work Mr. Ball!

One bone of contention…. There is no Lower GHT (and no  upper one for that matter), just a line on a map, and I personally know the two guys who randomly placed that line on a map far away from any trails in an office in central Kathmandu. One of them has never trekked in his life, the other runs a company that specializes in taking foreigners to Annapurna, Langtang and Everest and did no recce whatsoever...unless you know someone who has hiked this so-called route (and not the group who simply hiked border-to-border following a myriad of trails and not the 'advertised' route), then with all due respect, please reconsider referring to it as anything but a fictitious trail.

Additionally, just so you know, Map House (aka, Crap House – their maps fall apart in a day or less) appropriated my information from my Guerrilla Trek map for the Dhorpatan map that you mention and they did so without acknowledgement and without payment. They did not ask for permission and therefore, I humbly request that this site does not promote that map and company until they make good on due acknowledgement and payment.

My apologies for raising these issues on this public forum, but in my humble opinion, the truth needs to trump all else now more than ever as Nepal re-builds and organizations like SNV and Map House might do well to consider a new, more transparent paradigm. Cheers for your patience and consideration regarding my comment and requests and please do keep up the great work that you are doing promoting trail running and trail runners in Nepal.

Will be pleasantly surprised if Rich Ball allows the above on his otherwise great site (therefore here it is for the record on my traffic-less blog, haha)

Update: Credit to Rich Ball for allowing my comments on his site despite snug ties to SNV and Crap House whom I implicate above for deception and transparency issues -- the type that has dis-empowered Nepal for centuries and continues to bully and incapacitate the good people of Nepal robbed of opportunity.

Thursday, July 16, 2015

Your Swahili is better than their Nepali

I am completely astonished at Nepal guidebook writers who scarcely pronounce a lick of Nepali (at least understandably) yet are still somehow producing guidebooks to the country (offhand, I know four such toungeless authors, one of whom doesn't have a handle on English, too). Yes, they are writing in-depth information about a land where they do not speak or understand even marketplace lingua franca or better.

Your Swahili is probably better than their Nepali. And we all know about your dreadful Swahili ;)

It is a valid do they do it? How to possibly manage the field research without language skills? I mean, they don't have to be perfect by any means, but can they truly discover and write detailed information without minimal language ability? It is mystifying...

How to gather information in English, especially in out of the way places including rural, off-the-beaten-path, upland areas? Maybe they totally rely on guides/translators along whole routes and recces, and if so, it might then be doubtful that unbiased, accurate information can be compiled in English based on second-hand information...hoina?

Otherwise, seems it would take enormous, audacious talents to research it all in angreji (English), ho-la.

Ke Garne?

#FreeNepal  #Trekking #Himalaya #Swahili

When in Rome...

...there are many types of Romans and Roman behavior. Hopefully, when in Rome, we will do as the wise, kind-hearted Romans (and not the ignorant Romans, not the lewd and lascivious Romans, not the corrupt, mealy-mouthed, haughty Romans) the end, may the following light our way...

"No need for temples. No need for complicated philosophy. Your own mind, your own heart is the temple." - Dalai Lama

#WhenInRome #Buddhism #DalaiLama

'Volunterrorism' in aid-ridden Nepal

For the people traveling overseas to effect change in a faraway country, may the Himalayan trekker’s adage light the way, ‘The Himalaya might change you, please do not change them.’

My apologies if the message is harsh, especially to the rare aid worker making a true diffeence...however, the effects of foreign intervention on a country I love has been deathly harsh. Therefore, I feel the need to speak out now more than ever as Nepal re-builds.

If anything, work to free people of oppressive governments, that is the best that we can do for those of us who cannot resists getting involved one way or another. Then the freed people will be free to pursue their own dreams and life with their own skills and talents.

#Corruption #FreeNepal #NepalQuake

Slept like a Gurkha last night!

Albeit a caffeinated #Gurkha. A truly elite Gurkha would have known better than to drink down a Coca-Cola followed by a chiyaa (Nepali tea) after a late dinner… this on top of a java-filled day.

A genuine Gurkha would not have squirmed under the bed covers for an hour in anticipation of the upcoming encounter with #Hypnos and #Morpheus. Jai Mahakali! Ayo Gorkahli! (Glory to the Goddess of War! Here come the Gurkhas!)

Vegetarian Attack and Counterattack

A friend made the following provocative post to our Buddhist studies group on Facebook:

is there anything holy about vegetarianism? even agriculture kills bugs, snakes, mice, etc. if you eat or wear clothing, most likely, something was killed for you.
this fact freaked maha kassapa out and that is why he left home and became a great disciple of the buddha.
"One day, however, when Pipphali Kassapa was inspecting the fields, it happened that he saw, as if with new eyes, what he had seen so often before. He observed that when his people plowed, many birds gathered and eagerly picked the worms from the furrows. This sight, so common to a farmer, now startled him. It now struck him forcefully that what brought him his wealth, the produce of his fields, was bound up with the suffering of other living beings. His livelihood was purchased with the death of so many worms and other little creatures living in the soil. Thinking about this, he asked one of his laborers: "Who will have to bear the consequences of such an action?" — "You yourself, sir," was the answer."
The following was my reply:
so true...paradoxically, in order for humans to live other beings and living things die...did not Maha Kassapa minimize that by ordaining? i mean, inspiration to be 'holy' worked for him, although that can be a loaded word.
doesn't intention play a vit
al role regardless of action...knowing the misery that goes into a production of a pound of meat, i choose not to that misery comparable to say a shovel plowing a field and slicing through an unsuspecting insect that doesn't know it was coming in first place and until then was living an unencumbered existence?
and besides would one excuse the other?
seems a bit incomparable to an animal raised in pathetic conditions suffering a pathetic existence until the end it seems mostly just a selfish taste for flesh..."He who, seeking his own happiness, punishes or kills beings who also long for happiness, will not find happiness after his death" --Dhammapada

there is also issue of environmental degradation (meat industry is a leading cause of the following: deforestation, water depletion, ocean dead zones, species extinction) with massive resources poured into livestock industry and overzealous fish harvesting particularly relative to other foodstuff...

Getty Images

#Vegetarian #Buddhism