My first Christmas in Nepal was almost like a Christmas is ment to be.
The most people in Nepal don't celebrate Christmas but they celebrate anyway because they like to have a lot of festivals. In the supermarket they were playing Christmas carols and outside the store there was a Christmas tree. Many stores here are selling Christmas decorations and Santa Claus figures and clothes.

We had a wonderful Christmas eve with a lot of food and the menu almost looked like a swedish Christmas menu. One difference was the pickled herring. In Nepal you can't get herring so instead we used aubergine (egg plant), a vegetarien recipe. It tasted just like herring and was very good!

We also made "glögg", red sweet wine with sugar and spices. Very good and warm!

Our good friend Suresh, his whife Muna and their son Supreme, was here for dinner and tasted a lot of new food.

Leyas best friend Eva was also here for Christmas.

After dinner we saw Kalle Ankas Jul (Donald Duck) and then it was time to share Christmas presents, many, many parcels. We saw some traditional swedish Christmas moovies and after that everybody was tired after a long exciting day and went to bed.

We whish you all a very HAPPY NEW YEAR!



Merry Christmas from Nepal!

Leya, Eva and sweet little Supreme.
Lizzie, the spoiled adopted street dog.



Something huge has happened here in Kathmandu! Since two months back we have full power.
We haven't really believed it would last, and honestly we still don't. Hopefully I will not jinx it by writing about it here.
Some background information is needed.
Since we moved here 5 years ago we have lived our lives around the load shedding.
During the summers we only had four hours scheduled power cuts, two hours in the morning and two in the evening, but during the cold, dark winter we had up to 16 hours and it was really, really horrible.
It was so horrible for us, spoiled Swedes, that we invested in a car battery and an inverter so we at least could recharge the phones and computers and have some light.
We asked our friends why there wasn't full power and they had many theories.

Let me explain the three most credible ones:
1. The Nepalese government sold most of the power to India, that has huge problems with the power in some districts, and we got the leftovers.
Thanks to the Himalayas and the rivers Nepal has a lot of fast running fresh water.
2. During the civil war between the government and the Maoists, 1996 - 2006, the Maoists bombed hydro power stations, so there was simply not enough to cover the need of electricity.
We heard about different projects carried out by foreign countries, for example Norway, that wanted to build new hydro power plants, but everything was stalled due to political decisions.
Many countries want to help Nepal, since Nepal is considered to be one of the poorest countries in the world.
3. Corrupt politicians got bribes from the battery companies.

Guess which one was the biggest issue?
The corrupt politicians, to no surprise really.
One day the new Minister of Energy declared, just like that, that from now on it would be power day and night, at least in Kathmandu.
There was enough power after all. They even had a full functioning power plant just standing there in case of emergency.
What amazes me the most is that the corrupt politicians don't seem to get any punishment and the Nepalese people just carry on like nothing has happened.
In Sweden we have an expression that you "tighten your fist in the pocket". That means that you don't show your anger or frustration. You keep it inside.
I'm not clear about the Nepalese people's reaction in this case. Are they angry inside or just happy and forgiving? Maybe a confusing combination of all available feelings?
I can tell you that I'm both happy and angry and I'd like to see the gangsters who did this behind bars for a long time.
The load shedding has created so much problems for people, especially for companies that had to think more about keeping the generators running than planning to grow and employ more people.
People who had to leave their families for years to go to the middle East to work like slaves.
Kali Gandaki hydro power plant.


To go to the tailor in Nepal!

Last week I went to the tailor to make a pair of jeans shorts. It is very cheap here in Nepal. 1000 rupies (70 sek) fabric included.
After 10 days I could pick it up. I went to the tailor after 10 days and he said 3 more days. After 3 days there was 2 days, 1 day and then 2 hours. So after 16 days and 2 hours I finally got my jeans shorts. Very nice and fit really good.

Thats how the life is here and you get use to it. And it has it's charm!


Ani and Britt in Nepal

After seven years living in Asia, this blog needs some fresh insights and reflections and my mother-in-law will help me make this happen.
Please enjoy!



Teeth are something you take for granted. Til they start making trouble, that is.
I've had the best teeth. For the last 20 years I haven't made a single filling, but now the good times belongs to the past.
It started with a root canal a few months ago when I lost the only filling I had and now I have to make 5 (!?) other root canals.
Why haven't the teeth followed the rest of the body's evolution?
We are getting older and healthier, but the teeth don't seem to adapt to modern food intake.
Strange in my opinion and not so good for the wallet.
When I grew up we were thought that the tooth trolls Karius and Baktus were chased off with brushing your teeth morning and evening.
And in school we had the flour lady who popped by once in a while making us gargle liquid flour for two minutes without laughing.
Well, you can be happy with false teeth too!


Back in Nepal!

We had a fab time in Sweden, but now we are back in our new home in Kathmandu and it was great to meet Nicholas and the dogs again.
We celebrated my birthday with my favorite food and dessert.
Smorgas and strawberry cake, not in combo though.
The weather was mostly really, really bad, but Leya got the chance to swim in the lake Vättern a few times.
We had icecream in Askersund's harbor with cousin Alfwin.
We also recorded the music video for Leya's new song Piaro Ram.


Prime minister K.P. Oli

For the first time since we moved here we have heard good things about the Nepalese government.
Is it thanks to this man, the Prime minister Khadga Prasad Oli?
Read more about him here.
He made the historical decision to send an aircraft to bring home the remains from the suicide bombing in Afghanistan last week when 12 Nepalese security guards where killed and 7 where injured.
The plane also brought home a number of people who wanted to go back home to Nepal.
Read an newspaper article about it here. He is also taking actions about so many things that the previous leaders have discussed about for years with no result.
Like the lack of insufficient power stations, the supply of petrol and cooking gas and other important things we need to develop Nepal.
I even heard from a friend that he made a surprise visit to the airport since he believes the airport is the first door to Nepal and it must work smoothly and give a good impression.
I found an article about the visit that you can read here.
Apparently he checked everything from the security to how clean the toilets were.
When our young friends see a glimpse of hope for the future here in Nepal I feel so happy.


Swedish Midsummer

This weekend we celebrated Swedish Midsummer.
Nicholas stayed home and made food while I went to town and worked.
On the way home I picked up a big surprise for Leya. Watch it here.
In Sweden the nature is full of flowers this time of year, so we use to make flower wreaths to put on the kids' heads, but here I made them of waste saris instead.
Of course we invited our little neighbor girl Kuchan to celebrate with us.
Swedish people love buffets and Midsummer is a great opportunity to eat a lot.
Here you can watch Leya presenting the food.


Recording a Nepalese song

Yesterday Leya recorded her first Nepalese song.
Very exciting!


Happy Mother's day gifts

Instead of sending gifts to our mothers in Sweden at Happy Mother's day we give something to someone here who is in need of something specific.
This year I bought school books, for grade 5 and necessary stationary to the cow-boy I've written about in an earlier post.
If you put together all Christmas happiness for a lifetime, you will get close to what emotions went through this boy when he stood there and held his new books.
He was really hungry, so I bought him a plate of momos.
One of his sisters is apparently at the hospital with a burn injury, so every rupee they earn from the cow milk they have to pay to the hospital.
I have no clue when he ate before this meal, so I also bought a few kilos of rice, eggs and noodles he could bring back to his family.
It is impossible to fully understand what it's like to grow up this poor, to not even have food for the day.
I hope this smart boy will take the chance and study hard with his new books.
If he is determent I know he has a bright future.

My sister Tess in Sweden made a donation to LoveNepal, as a Mother's day gift to our mother.
LoveNepal is a Swedish organization doing whatever they can to rescue children and young women from brothels, that are more like prisons, where they are raped many times every day. They get beaten and some even gets killed.
They run seven orphanages and a school here in Nepal.
They are especially focusing on the Badi people that are untouchable in Nepal. Read more about the Badi people here. Their website is in Swedish, but please take a look here.
I was just going to publish a heartbreaking photo of a dirty little girl, sitting all by herself, but I decided to publish a photo of something positive from the work of LoveNepal instead.



What amazes me here in Nepal is the cinema.
They show Hollywood movies just days after the world premiere, sometimes even before India and definitely before they are shown in Sweden.
Yesterday we went to see Alice through the looking glass, an adventure in 3D and it's nothing like sitting down in the hyper modern cinema with a bucket of popcorn.
It feels like you can be anywhere in the world.


The boy who would love to go to school

Yesterday I sat at my usual shop when the dogs sniffed around a big field.
In the field there were six cows eating grass and there was this little boy guarding them.

After a while he sat down and I bought him some juice and cookies since I realized that he probably didn't get any of that at home.
We started talking and it turned out he spoke English really well.
I asked if he went to school and he told me that his mother couldn't afford that since he had three sisters and three brothers.
I was curious to know how he learnt to speak such good English and he said he learnt it from reading.
After a while he told me he only owns one book, so I went home and gathered some of Leya's old school books and gave him.
I will also buy some stationary, like pencils and copies.
Even though the government schools are almost free they have to pay for books, uniforms, shoes and a small monthly fee and because of that this bright 12 year old can't go to school.
It's a real shame since the cost per year would only be like 150 USD, 1200 skr.
Not a lot for most people, but a fortune for someone who can't afford it.


James, a Buddhist in Essex, UK

One of our sweet customers in UK is James and he has been practicing meditation and reiki for many, many years and in -98, after a 10 hours open heart surgery he met a Buddhist master from a Chinese lineage.
Now they have five temples set up around Essex and a few months back he built his own heaven.
A cottage in the garden is their own sacred place for ceremonies and meditation.


Khumjung village

One thing I love about living here is when you go to one of the local shops, I'd say there are about 10 of them in our neighborhood, you can sit down and talk to other customers.
Today I spoke with a man who was in Kathmandu to visit his son, he lives in the village Khumjung far up the Himalayas.
Read more about Khumjung here.
It's always interesting to start Googling on different subjects since you end up leaning a bunch of new things and today I learnt that in the Khumjung monestary they have a yeti scalp. Or an alleged scalp of a yeti, that is.
How to get to Khumjung:
Step 1: Take the plane to Lukla airport, one of the most dangerous airports in the world.
Watch a landing here and a take-off here, and you'll understand why I said to the man that I thought he was really brave.
Step 2: Walk 8 hours up the mountains. I've made an illustration how it might look like.
As you can see the village is not that far away from Mount Everest.
But on the bright side they have lots of fresh air, always electricity and clean water.



This time of year it's a huge lack of water here in Kathmandu.
Yesterday Nicholas spoke to someone who is only relying on the government supply and they turn on the water every 10:th day for four hours, so they can refill their tank.
I know it's not like living in the desert, but it's hard to understand when you come from a privileged country and used to fresh water just pouring out from the tap every time you turn it on.
We are lucky since our house has a well under the parking spot, so the landlord is busy at night refilling the tanks on the roof with a pump, whenever there is electricity.
This is a short term problem though. Thanks to the warm weather the snow and ice on the mountains will melt and it seems as the monsoon has sneak started, or how you say it in English, a month early and that helps a lot.
This is the dry river bed at the famous Pashupatinath temple where the Hindus cremate their dead loved ones.
There a something we have wondered ever since we moved to India.
Why are there no water towers? I mean, it's a natural way to elevate the water instead of using pumps and put a strain on the already fragile power systems in these countries.
Read more about water towers here.
I'm especially aware of the phenomenon since I grew up near the town Örebro, that has an extraordinary water tower that is called Svampen, the Mushroom, that is a landmark every Swede knows about.
Svampen is not a particularly pretty building, but it is functional and you can go up with the elevator to the top so see the whole town and have a meal in the restaurant.


Wedding surprise dance show

Our landlord's son's best friend got married a few days ago and for weeks they had been practicing a surprise dance show for him and his bride.
Leya was asked to participate and since she loves to dance there was no question about it.
The whole family has been under the weather the last week because of a stubborn fever, but Leya went all in, as the brave girl she is.
Here are Nicholas and I with the happily married couple at the Military Club in Kathmandu.
It was a party we'll all remember for it's excellent food.
Leya wasn't well, but she was determent to perform.
Leya and friends.
Here you can watch the whole show.


Noel's Bartabanda

The second most important event in a Hindu man's life, after the marriage, is the Bartabanda.
The boy goes through lots of rituals and it all ends up with a huge party.
He shaves his head and leaves a small tuft of hair on the top-back of his head.
After this celebration the boy is allowed to get married. That's what it's basically about.
Adorable girls! Leya is wearing a traditional Sherpa dress.
Here is Noel, the man of the hour.
They even had face painting for the kids.
The food was amazing! First we eat snacks for three hours and then we had the actually dinner. We were so full we rolled home (in a taxi).
We brought our new friend Cata from Costa Rica to experience a real Nepalese party with 700 guests.



We have just discovered Foodmandu and we just love it!
You can choose any restaurant from their list, order and they will deliver the food to your doorstep within an hour.
Tonight we will have Afghani chicken, butter chicken, rice and garlic naan. Yummy!
Here you can see the website and order. If you live in Kathmandu, that is.


Happy Easter!

As usual we did some Swedish traditional things to keep Leya connected to her Swedish heritage.
This year we were happy to invite our darling Kochan from downstairs.
My mother is born in the district Småland, directly translated to Small land, even though it is a pretty big district, and when she grew up the crane came with candy.
Of course they never actually saw the crane.
It's like the tooth fairy leaving money under the pillow at night when you lost a tooth.
As a kid you believe they exists to a certain age or til your elder sibling tell you that it's all a lie and your whole world falls apart.
I think the crane bringing candy is a local tradition, for example has Nicholas never heard about it.
I believe the Easter bunny is more common, but I like to hold on to these old traditions that makes the kids happy.
Watch the candy and gift hunt here.

We have a lot of cranes in Sweden and it's a special time at spring every year for bird watchers and other bird interested people to go to Hornborgasjön, directly translated to Horn castle (the medieval kind of castle) lake, when the cranes arrive from warmer regions.
The record is more than 26 000 cranes.
My parents has a couple, they live in couples, that comes every year.
You can recognize the male crane since one of his legs is dipping when he is flying. His is named Tom and we have been able to follow him every year from when he was single, got married and had a kid.
One year he was insane coming to my parents' house pecking on the windows and cars really early in the morning.
They filmed it and my dad was on the local news.
Not everyone can be proud to have an annoying crane waking you up every morning.

Painting eggs is another tradition and I must say it's much easier in Sweden since almost all eggs are white, so you can see what you have painted more clearly.
Apparently the Christians were fasting for 40 days, maybe some are still doing that and when they were allowed to eat again, at Easter, they had a lot of eggs saved.
Here the girls are painting eggs.