Today’s big earthquake was distressingly close to Sundrawoti

On the morning of my 10,000th day on earth, I woke up to discover that while I slept, Kathmandu had been hit by a devastating earthquake. The initial report I received included the quake’s magnitude, that the ground had shaken for ten minutes (this turned out to be an exaggeration), and that over a dozen people had died on Everest. All told, 211 people had been reported dead.

My first reaction: “That number is going to go way up.”

It did, but fortunately not (yet) as much as I initially feared. And so far as I know, nobody I know personally perished in the tragedy. Tevel B’Tzedek sent an email shortly after the earthquake indicating that “nothing” had happened in Sundrawoti. It later became clear that many houses there were severely damaged, but all residents of the village seemingly managed to escape with their lives. A series of updates via Facebook over the past two weeks reassured me that Sundrawoti was in a relatively good situation.

Now I’m worried all over again. I woke up this morning to discover Nepal was struck by another aftershock earthquake, this one registering 7.3. Whereas the first earthquake was centered west of Kathmandu, this one struck east of the capital, near Nepal’s border with Tibet. One aid worker — still in the field after the first earthquake — told the New York Times, “The mountains before my eyes started tumbling down in massive landslides. There are continuous landslides in this area.”

So that’s not good.

Here’s a map, with a pin through the epicenter. It’s a bit off-center so I could include Everest, because many news reports (see, e.g. BBC) describe the location as being “near Everest”:

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Reopening my Eye, for a brief time

They aren’t much, but my heart, thoughts, and prayers go out to all the people of Nepal.

I had always imagined I might re-open this blog when I finally managed a return visit to Nepal. I’ve certainly tried to make my way back several times over the past few years, but none of those efforts panned out, and so Eye of the Treiger has remained dormant.

Unfortunately, I find myself with a few brief thoughts to share about Nepal anyway. I’m obviously not on the ground, so I won’t be sharing personal experiences from the scene of the tragedy. But I do hope to share a few of my reactions to the earthquake, as well as some basic factual updates about how areas I worked in and visited, and maybe even people I worked with, have been affected.

The forthcoming series of posts will not be long, and hopefully things in Nepal get back to normal soon and give me no further reason to share anything. But until then, consider this notice that Eye of the Treiger has reopened, hopefully for only a brief time.

Of course, I have been blogging elsewhere in the years since I stopped writing here. But I think it makes a lot more sense to keep my posts about Nepal all in one place.

Welcome to the jungle (of blog posts)

I’m home. I’ve been home for a while. And as you may have noticed, that means I don’t have much to write about Nepal. And so this post comes to put a cap on things. It is intended as a blog-in-review, a selection of the most interesting and eventful things that took place during my time there, and a brief guide to first-time visitors who have no inclination to dig through 21 pages in search of a few highlights. And so, without further ado, here are a few of my favorite posts (in no particular order):

On July 25th, I wrote

And so, after exactly 200 posts about Nepal (plus 2 about Israel and one about Zvi), I bring all regularly scheduled programming to a close

Since that time, I have added an additional five posts, and with this final entry, bring my total to an even 206. Represent.

Update, April 2015: Blog reopened on account of the earthquake.

Bayit Ne’eman B’Nepal

I know this makes two in a weekend, and I promise not to make a habit out of this, but I wanted to wish a hearty Mazel Tov to my friend Bikash, who found himself a nice Nepali keti:

Feel free to treat the comments section like OnlySimchas

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Quest for the Holy Gourd

You may recall – but probably don’t, so here’s a link – that I left Nepal with a slightly bitter taste in my mouth because I failed to get my hands on a karela, appropriately translated for the sake of this sentence’s irony, as ‘bitter gourd’.

I googled ‘karela’, ‘bitter gourd’, ‘bitter melon’ – pretty much every variant of the name I could think of, trying to find somewhere selling it in the Greater Seattle Metropolitan area. When those searches proved fruitless (or, I suppose, vegetableless), I gave up on the idea of actually locating one for sale near my home; Google’s about as sophisticated as I get these days. Karela would have to wait for my next trip to Nepal.

Then one night, the TV was turned on during dinner – unusual, because we typically only leave it on for Mariners games, Republican debates, and other spectator sports – as a report aired about diversity-themed walking tours on offer in Columbia City. You see, 98118 – my zip code – is officially the most diverse in America, and some local organization was offering to escort people around the ‘hood for $120. I suppose if you can afford to pay $120 for a few-hour guided tour of your own city, the escort service – sorry, tour guide – is probably a good idea.

In the course of the Televised Report, the crew interviewed the proprietor of a grocery store at the heart of this hotbed of diversity, and took some shots inside the typically diverse vegetable bins. I was only half paying attention, but snapped to it when I spotted an entire bin of karela. Too late, I’d already missed the name of the store. And the tour is only offered on Saturday.

So I found my mission once again at a dead end. Until, that is, I stopped at Safeway to pick up a butternut squash for my mother. The store was out of butternut – which is both surprising, and not, given that it was erev Thanksgiving – so I settled for a 2.5-pound buttercup squash, on sale for $.99/lb.

I brought it to the cash register, and the cashier had clearly never seen one before. To be fair, I don’t know if I had either. It certainly looks nothing like a butternut:

She consulted with another cashier, then with her produce book, and was about to go ask the produce manager when I realized the hang-up. I volunteered the name, she thanked me, and rang it up: $11.88. That couldn’t have been right: I did some quick math, and weighed the buttercup in my hand. The squash was definitely not 12 pounds. So I looked closely at the screen over her shoulder, and pointed out that she had accidentally input the code for ‘Bitter Melon’. They’re both green, I guess.

So now I know that the Safeway near my house, at some point in time, carried or plans to carry karela. That would be one less reason to go back to Nepal. Fortunately, I’ll still have plenty of others.

If you happen to find yourself in a situation in which karela is available, I’ve included a recipe, courtesy of Upama Miss and Facebook mobile, after the jump:

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A new post under the sun

Last week’s reading of Ecclesiastes (קהלת) reminded me of something that happened in Nepal so I thought it would be OK to share:

Israelis take their competition seriously. So when the folks over at Mahadev Besi held a Biblical Quiz (חידון תנך) on the occasion of – if I recall correctly* – Israeli Independence Day (יום העצמאות), I got to hear all about it on the way to Bandipur.

One of those who had helped put the quiz together was very proud of a question that asked participants to list instances in which the Bible mentions water. I immediately cast one out there I didn’t think anyone else had named:

שלח לחמך על-פני המים, כי ברב הימים תמצאנו

Cast thy bread upon the waters: for thou shalt find it after many days. (Ecclesiastes, 11:1)

When she confirmed that my entry had, indeed, not surfaced, I returned to my familiar watering hole:

כל הנחלים הולכים אל הים והים איננו מלא

All the rivers go to the sea; yet the sea is not full (Ecclesiastes, 1:7)

This entry was controversial. Not because I was wrong – no one else had cited this verse – or even because it does not directly include the word ‘water’ – but because of my word choice. Or, to be more accurate, Kohelet’s.

מים לא הולכים, Water doesn’t ‘go’,” she protested. “מים זורמים, Water ‘flows‘.”

She’s right, of course, in Modern Hebrew. She is also wrong. I tried explaining this to her, but it was like we were speaking two different languages.

My favorite part about this post is that when I used to google the exact translation… well, take a look for yourself:**

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Rajkumari Missss

To the person trying really hard to find the picture of Rajkumari Miss playing Memory at Kalika:

I hope you found it, but in case you’re still having trouble, here ya go