Internet is patchy at best here. I just moved from a residence that had wifi and water to a hotel that has neither, despite promising water just yesterday. I am now in a cafe barely 1km away that has wifi but there are so many people here loading the router that it’s very slow.
The capacity of the Nepali govt. to address the most basic needs here seems to be nearly zero. The Prime Minister has publicly said so. Decades of institutionalized corruption and self-interest have met their maker. If this doesn’t bring them to their senses, nothing will. Maybe I’m really not the one to talk, being such a newcomer. But when planes must circle for hours before being permitted to land and when Punjabis in India are supplying 100K nutritious MREs per day and no one seems to know who’s getting them, we have to wonder who’s minding the store. If anyone.
I can imagine even Oxfam and Mercy Corps being prepared to deliver, but being stymied by bureaucracy. I hope I’m wrong.
Sanitary conditions, water and food are fast approaching crisis point, I suspect, in some areas. As if this is not already a crisis. But innovation and spontaneous altruism can only do so much. Whole villages outside the valley are leveled. The orphanage about 50km away supported by my hostess family have lost their roof. My host’s driver lost his home.
I also heard today of a 7-story apartment building in Kopan, a neighborhood maybe 2 km from where I was staying, that just collapsed. A church in Kopan fully occupied by a score of foreigners also collapsed. Nagi Gompa, a buddhist nunnery way up a hill that I visited just last week was damaged. Tsoknyi Gechak Ling, where I have been volunteering to deliver some environmental education, has sustained structural damage to the brand new retreat center that was not opened yet, as well as to the original gompa there. The damage is seemingly random, taking her and giving there. I suppose it depends on construction and the nature of the ground.
The 10-story apartment building directly across the street from where I have been staying for a month is deserted, of course. There is some visible structural damage, but it’s difficult to say how serious it is. But the thing is, that building is illegal in the first place, according to my host, who tells me that a river, which is the property of the government, was diverted in order to build the place originally. One can only imagine what how the foundation was reinforced on a former riverbed. Or not.
Which brings me to the editorial in the paper today about Nepal needing to enforce its building codes. Talk about the barn door. There were other editorials in an international publication called Republica, which I think is a product of the New York Times, about this event signaling a transition for Nepal. I didn’t even get a chance to read it, but the point was that while the most profound pain of this entire episode may well be the losses sustained by the iconic historical locations, Nepal now has to look forward in a new way and address all the shortcomings revealed by this event. There is another editorial in this issue by Donatella Lorch, also a journalist who has been very active in Nepal for quite a long time on environmental issues. I’m sorry I cannot track down all the links for this material. I am not even sure the network will post this when I’m finished.
CCL Nepal has swung into action collecting food donations for families who have members in the hospitals. Today they are in Bhaktapur doing the same thing. If I had not had some urgent issues to take care of today to prepare for travel on Thursday, I would have joined them. I hope to do so tomorrow. But whether I will even be able to communicate details of that or anything else depends on connectivity. And even with it, the time it takes to upload pics on a slow network is prohibitive.
I have heard the road to Pokhara is open. If so, I will be traveling Thursday morning, intending to follow through on the plan to visit Muktinath. But the planes have to fly to Jomson and the roads to Kagbeni and to Muktinath have to be intact. Many variables. I may spend the entire time in Pokhara, which has reportedly been spared the kind of damage we’ve seen here in KTM. But when I return on or before May 6, I will be in a much better position to immerse myself in the flow of response to this devastation.
I think almost all the people who matter most to me are already subscribers to the blog. At least I hope so.
Oh, and by the way, the US State Department has issued a couple of advisories that were better than the first–which can only have come from a rookie.
The standard international relief agencies are a good bet. The Himalayan english daily newspaper has established a fund.
If you know of a buddhist teacher who is based in Kathmandu, go to their personal website or FB pages to find out how to give. Tsoknyi Rinpoche, Dolpo Tulku, Sechen Gompa. Kapan Gompa, Tergar Oselling, Tergar community website, Mingyur Rinpoche website. These places will likely be managing relief efforts very local to their facilities.
I’m sure this is just a drop in the bucket of institutions that will be active here. And I am woefully under informed about what is really happening on the ground. But it’s a start.
I wake, but what day is this?
I remember sleeping, but this is the dream.
I am talking. I hear myself but I don’t know what I am saying.
There is traffic, but where are they going?
I could leave, but where would I go?
The high-rise ghosts have all gone.
We are neither dead nor alive.
The big dog barks. And barks.
Will there be a meal tonight?
We will eat with our fingers.
I wear the same clothes as yesterday.
I will wear them tomorrow.
The sky threatens rain.
The light comes and goes.
People appear and disappear.
After the anxiety comes the depression.
After the panic comes the wandering.
After the dying comes the remorse of the living.
After the undoing comes the doing.
Nothing is the same as before.
I can’t even remember before.
When we slept.