Tuesday, September 7, 2010

Kutumba and Other Miscellany

I started volunteering at OGN (the pre-school/day care center/orphanage) yesterday, but I'm going to wait to post about it until I've gone a few more times. Today I'm home instead of at OGN because the OGN school yard has flooded. Their school yard sits next to a rice paddy. There was lots of rain last night and the rice paddy apparently overflowed. Where possible, the kids have been sent home for the day and I was told to stay home as well. This is ok, because it gives me a chance to post about my weekend. More on that below the jump...

The big event this weekend was going to see the Nepalese folk band Kutumba. They had a concert to celebrate the release of their upcoming album and performed on their own as well as with a number of other local musicians. Yanik (my program coordinator) used to be a radio DJ at Hits FM 91.2 here in Kathmandu. He's friends with the guys in Kutumba from back then and they invited him to perform some hip hop at the concert while they served as the backing band.

So Saturday afternoon, Yanik, Micky (former passage student now here on a Fulbright) and myself headed over to the Gurukul theater to see the show (or perform in it in Yanik's case.) The whole thing was terrific and I was especially impressed by Kutumba themselves. These guys are really talented musicians on their respective instruments, but their level of coordination and the way they mix their sound together is awesome. They also clearly just enjoy playing together and are a lot of fun to watch as a result. Really, the only part of the concert that was not so good was my photography. My camera battery died half way through and, in any case, I need to figure out how to take better low light shots... The photo below is really the only picture I took that was salvageable. The guitarist up front is not a member Kutumba and I'm not sure about his name, but he was one of my favorite guest performers. The guy played a sort of dirty blues sound and he really knew how to rock out.

Also, here's a video of Kutumba perfoming live, which I found on youtube. Should give some idea what they sound like...

So after the show we went to a Jazz bar for dinner and then back home for some much needed sleep. Crucial sleep, as Sunday was laundry day. Since there's no washing machine in the house, I knew I'd be hand washing my clothing. But I was unprepared for how much energy and how long this would take. The whole process is pretty labor intensive. I'm also guessing that it's not particularly efficient when it comes to water use either as you have to rinse every piece of clothing individually, instead of all together as it would work in a machine. I took a few pictures of the tools involved. Nothing major, but it gives you an idea of what the situation is like...

Washing Machine.
So that, and some Nepali language review was my Sunday. I promise I'll stop plugging Anki as you're probably bored of hearing about it at this point. But as one final comment on it, I've spent roughly 6.5 hours over the last 5 days reviewing Nepali flashcards with Anki. In that time, I've memorized 503 words and phrases in Nepali. So that's less than a minute per word or phrase memorized and I'm retaining (so far) almost all of those words/phrases. That's probably the best statement I can give of how time efficient and what an effective memorization tool Anki has been for me.

So that was Sunday. Except, now that I think about it, I also spent part of Sunday writing up the previous post on cooking fried momos. Check it out if you haven't already...

As already mentioned, the big thing on Monday was starting at OGN, something that I'll post about later. However, around lunch on Monday, I heard a whole bunch of screaming coming from Kebs Academy, the school next door to my home stay. Turns out there was a basketball game going on in the school yard, and the whole school came out to watch it and cheer on their team. I ran up to the roof with my camera and took a couple shots...

Click to enlarge...
That photo doesn't look like much, but enlarge it and you'll see there's actually a lot going on. I just find the whole set up very interesting. The score board is a white board behind each basket. The stands are the school's balconies. The makeshift water cooler on the left of the court. The whole thing was a creative use of the school yard's space.

Watching the game...
Also the sheer noise level of the crowd was so much greater and more consistently maintained over the entire course of the game than anything I've encountered at high school sports games in the States. One of the teacher's at OGN who I met yesterday commented that children here are happier than in the States. Now she's never been overseas so I don't think she's really in a position to make that judgment (really, who is?) and I don't want to trade in those sorts of generalizations. But where I think she's on to something is that there's less for these kids to take for granted. A basketball game at Kebs Academy might really be the most exciting form of entertainment the students can expect all week...


  1. The Kutumba music was enchanting. I'm not at all familiar with traditional Himalayan Folk music.

    I'm sure you will forward to laundry day with great anticipation. Another incentive to be a very neat eater.

    Sounds like a great day.

  2. So interesting, Nick, and I really liked the photo of the musicians.

    What was it like meeting the children for the first time? Did they have a lot of questions? Were you able to understand them?

    We're really enjoying your posts!

    Here's a joke:
    Question: What do you say when your language lessons are going really well?

    Answer: Everything's "anki"-dory. (Get it?)