Thursday, January 27, 2011


Today I tried a drink called "Nimbooz" by 7up. Despite the name, it does not have any alcohol in it; it's a version of nimbu paani, which I guess is the Indian version of lemonade. The label says it has "asli lemon juice" (I think 'asli' means 'natural' in Hindi). I guess it is true, but the back reveals that it has 0.08% fruit juice. It tastes like someone put some lemon dish soap in a jug of water. 

I hope it doesn't give me high bone fever.

Sunday, January 23, 2011

Encouraging Slippers are Encouraging

Some days you'll take any encouragement you can get. Even from slippers. 
(Update: In case it isn't clear from the picture, they each have double thumbs up!)

Saturday, January 22, 2011

Fun facts about Nepal

Here are some neat facts about Nepal compared with the US from Apparently, the per capita GDP of Nepal is $1,200 compared to $46,400 for the US ...

Thursday, January 20, 2011

Current reading: Hell's Angels

Nearly everyone who has ridden a bike for any length of time will agree. The highways are crowded with people who drive as if their sole purpose in getting behind the wheel is to avenge every wrong ever done them by man, beast or fate. The only thing that keeps them in line is their own fear of death, jail and lawsuits ... which are much less likely if they can find a motorcycle to challenge instead of another two-thousand-pound-car or a concrete abutment. A motorcyclist has to drive as if everybody else on the road is out to kill him. A few of them are, and many of those who aren't are just as dangerous - because the only thing that can alter their careless, ingrained driving habits is a threat of punishment, either legal or physical, and there is nothing about a motorcycle to threaten any man in a car.  
-- Hunter Thompson, Hell's Angels
 And that was written in 1966, way before texting and driving ...

Monday, January 17, 2011

New home

I'm finally getting settled in the new apartment.  When I arrived in Kathmandu I was staying in a monastery guest house. It was nice, and particularly nice for a friend of mine to have set it up in advance (there is a nice peace of mind in knowing you will have a bed!) but it had a hotel room feel and I didn't feel like I wanted to live there. Also, I was told there was a desk in the room, which is true but it's not exactly the kind of desk one could do work at :

The "desk" in my guest house ...

Maybe it's nitpicky, but for me I can get work done only if I have a decent desk (well that's not really true, but it makes working much easier / more pleasant). So now I'm living in an apartment rented by the Fulbright people which is really nice. It's part of a house and has an upstairs and downstairs. Here are some pics:

Dining room



My room (it has a nice balcony, which is not pictured)

Now that is a desk ...


Living room

There is one other Fulbrighter in the house. She's also a PhD student so she's pretty studious, which is a good match and makes the house quiet and peaceful (I had worried before that it would be full of partying undergrads ...) Anyway, load shedding begins soon, so I'd better wrap this up.

Sunday, January 16, 2011

In case you were wondering ...

That's right, "punk not dead" ... turns out it has been living in a Tibetan monastery in Kathmandu. Who would have guessed?

Saturday, January 15, 2011

Butterfly in the sky ....

In case you're wondering what the equivalent of a month's rent looks like in books, here you go:

I went a little nuts at the bookstore today, but it's far away and I only want to make one trip there. Now to get down to business ...

Thursday, January 13, 2011


I'm in Kathmandu now getting settled, but I thought I'd post some pictures from India. I landed in Delhi and went to Majnu ka Tila, the Tibetan refugee area. Unfortunately, I arrived at just before midnight and all the hotels and guest houses were completely full. Lucky for me I met a Tibetan guy who let me stay in his room. It was a small, unheated place no bigger than 8' by 8' but 4 Tibetans were living there - but it beat staying out on the street!

I took the train to Varanasi from Delhi and the train arrived about 10 hours late and by the time we got to Varanasi it was a bit over 26 hours late. I was later told that the trains are late because the track switching is done manually and in the thick fog of winter, they cannot see the signals. When they can't see they have to stop the train to go check the signals.

I arrived just in time to crash the Tengyur Translation Conference in Sarnath and talk to some people about my research.  The conference was interesting and I got to meet a lot of people. I also managed to visit the site of the Buddha's first teaching and catch a glimpse of HHDL before I left!  Anyway, here are the photos:

Trying to sleep on the train. I didn't bring a blanket so I had to use my towel!

The hotel in Sarnath. Looked like a level from some zombie first-person shooter

On the train

Me and a guy from the train

Riding in a tuk-tuk

At a Hanuman shrine

Saturday, January 8, 2011


I finally made it to Sarnath, India.  It's the place of the Buddha's first teachings.  My train from Delhi was a little over 26 hours late though.  It was about 10 hours late arriving and had to make frequent stops (they say because of the thick fog).  Anyway, I've surely missed my chance to meet with the professor I waned to meet here, but I'm taking the chance to visit the places.  I visited a Jain temple for the first time and learned about their intense practices (going naked, not eating, etc).  The monk at the temple had lots of photos to show me.

The train ride was really really cold.  I was used to the (comparable) luxury of Chinese trains, which do not have open windows and provide a blanket for sleeper cars.  Luckily, a Tibetan family lent me a blanket the second night.  Together with my towel and jacket, it made for a not too chilly night.

I leave for Kathmandu on the 11th and I hope I can settle into a nice routine there (and post some photos too!).

Thursday, January 6, 2011

A man of means by no means ...

I made it to Delhi and I'm staying in Majnu ka Tila, which is the Tibetan area.  I didn't know that winter is high tourist season so when I arrived at midnight all of the hotels were full.  Lukcy for me I met a Tibetan guy who let me stay in his room.  It's a small room (maybe 10' x 10') with four Tibetan guys living in it.  Without them I'd be out on the street!

Tonight I take a train to Varanasi.  From there I'll make my way to Kathmandu. 

Monday, January 3, 2011

New Music

 I have a new song on Bad Panda records called T27.  Check it out and read a short interview with me here.  It's about 18 minutes long, so get ready!

Sunday, January 2, 2011

Nepal / India

Tomorrow I leave for a short trip in India and a long stay in Nepal.  I'll have a camera and some internet access so maybe more interesting things are to come!