Sunday, September 23, 2007

Weekend in India

When living only 4 km. from the border I guess you have to go for a visit to the world’s biggest democracy. Luckily, I have a good friend, Laura, who lives in Delhi and we had arranged a weekend trip to Lucknow, a city situated about 200 km. from Nepalgunj.

The trip to Lucknow takes 5 hours in a taxi but before that you have to get past the Indian immigration officer. Those of you who have been to India can probably share a story or two about the Indian bureaucracy and the main character would most likely be a guy like the immigration officer at the Nepalgunj border. Once all my personal data has been recorded in different books and on forms, everything from age, family relations, politics and festival needs to be discussed over a cup of the. Until this often hour long ritual has been seen through you can forget about a stamp in your passport.

My theory is that since only about 500 foreigners cross this border each year, this poor immigration officer gets very lonely and therefore desperately tries to hold on to his “customers” as long as possible!

Still, I made it to Lucknow and met with my good friend. Laura and I lived and worked together in Guatemala in 2001 and have only met once since then, so there was a lot of catching up to do. However, we did also find time to do some sight seeing in Lucknow, which is a beautiful city with plenty of old buildings to visit. And except from the fact that the neighbour room in our hotel went up in flames threatening to take us with it (read more about this on Laura´s blog:, it was a wonderful weekend and great to see my good friend again.

Wednesday, September 19, 2007

Teej – women´s festival

Every September the womens festival Teej is celebrated. Basically it is about women getting to dress up in their beautiful red sari (traditional custome) and dance and sing more or less non-stop in several days. However, women also have to fasten for the health of their husband and I have to admit I find it hard to understand the festival part in having your husband get drunk while you are not allowed to eat or drink anything (but of course you still have to cook for the family), and have to stay awake all night to dance in 30 degrees on empty stomach!

No matter what it is a big festival for women here and as adviser to two women organisations there is no way around it. So I fought my way through 4 days of programmes consisting of song- and dance competitions, visits to colleagues and lots of comments on why I had chosen not to wear a red Sari!!!
To start of Teej I had asked a dance instructor to come to my house and teach me and some colleagues from MS. I must admit that I will probably never learn Nepali dance, but it never hurts to try... and us girls were lucky enough to have Jakob on stand-by to make sure that there was plenty of cold beer to get us through the dance lesson.