profile-amy-nelsonI am a science-geek epidemiologist married to an economist-geek development guy. When our firstborn was young we lived all over the US for job reasons. We soon figured out that working in the foreign service would be much more stable, and are raising our girls wherever Uncle Sam takes us. We have been posted to Kenya for two years and are completing our fourth year in Nepal; we will be moving on to who-knows-where during summer of 2017. When we are not too busy being geeky, we enjoy outdoor activities and, of course, traveling.

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Looking out my window at pre-dawn Kathmandu. It’s toward the end of monsoon season; most nights it’s cloudy and a bit rainy. Even through the clouds, the pollution and haze is light today and a few ridges are visible in the hills surrounding the valley.


We are up and out the door at just after 7 to get our 5th grader to the bus stop, while the little one is still in her jammies. The lady who sweeps the leaves in our small compound every morning never fails to greet us, despite the massive language barrier. When I first brought home my baby over a year ago, this neighborhood caretaker put her fingers to her lips and then touched them to the baby’s arm with tears streaming down her face. We never fail to greet her, either.


The bus arrives. There are so many kids in our compound that the bus pulls right in and is nearly filled. Preschool through 12th grade load up for the hour drive to the international school, and at least as many parents look on, often crawling on the bus to get their young kids situated, or even to get a ride. Somewhere in the crowd someone is happily looking after my toddler.


Water in the driveway.  Thankfully we are greatly entertained by this activity.


While the toddler makes her morning rounds of the neighborhood chickens, goats, and rabbits with the nanny, I walk out to pick up a few things at the store. This shows the street and the entrance to our compound. The jumble of wires on the right is just a baby jumble by Kathmandu standards, but even so it’s a wonder we have Internet at all.


Even outside the old parts of town, little brick alleyways are the most efficient way to get from A to B for pedestrians and motorbikes.


This is inside BhatBhateni, the major chain grocery and department store in Nepal. Two things are universally true: BhatBhateni carries so much stock on the floor in front of their shelves that often it’s hard to walk down the aisles to get what you need; and, while stock of many items is fleeting, there are always more varieties and brands of cornflakes here than the human mind can comprehend.


(left photo) After shopping, I walk back for a while along these shops set back from the main road. It’s still before 10AM so really only the tea shops are open. I was trying to be subtle about capturing the tea shop clientele on the left and further back on the right. You will not find a female sitting outside a shop drinking tea in the morning with her friends.

(right photo) There are thousands of street dogs in Kathmandu, a fact which pulls on my oldest’s heartstrings. They are generally unaggressive, even sweet. This guy was following me, his nose to the bag of my leg until I would turn around to catch his picture, and then he’d stop and try to act nonchalant.


I feel like Nepali culture embraces whimsy, especially in the fall. The gate in front of this house is an early sign. I am already thinking about how I will miss fall in Nepal, as this the last year of our assignment here.


Back at the house, I am in my home office. The sky is now blue and at the clearest it will ever be, having been cleaned overnight by seasonal rains.

Out my office windows I look down on to the scrap yard next door. When we first moved in, I was rather off-put by the view and the noise of hammering metal and sorting glass from dawn till dusk. It’s still not my favorite, but out of this window I have watched flags go up during celebrations, LED lights flash across the corrugated metal walls during holidays, trucks full of men wearing orange (sporting teams??) stop by for a chat, and the owner of this place almost never ceasing to work. Somehow I don’t mind the view so much, and have noted that the rate of bathtub increases by about one tub per 3 months.



My home office. Normally I would now sit down and work the rest of the day, but today is a Day in the Life, so I have a perfect excuse to go out and do something instead! Being a “trailing spouse” it is often difficult to find gainful employment locally, and even harder to find telecommuting work that you can take with you to the next spot on the globe. I have been telecommuting on and off the entire time we have lived abroad. Do you want my advice? Search the job boards, make local contacts, go to events and meetings that might result in a lead, and, even though you really do need to do all these things, none of it gets you a job. Every consulting or full-time telecommuting job I have gotten has been the result of someone I worked with previously looking me up and asking if I might be interested in doing some work. It is something I never could have planned for – and believe me, in those non-employed months, I was doing my best to plan.


On my way to a favorite tourist hangout. It is a national holiday (Teej), and traffic is stunningly light. I ask my driver to pull over so I can photograph this group marching down the street with drums and woodwinds, and a clear dose of pomp. This type of thing is not that unusual a sight, and I am so happy to run across it today.


We reach Thamel, a part of town that is home of souvenir touts, backpackers, the hippie remnant, and just about anything you could ever want to buy. I get a kick out of the fact that people really use these well-adorned bicycle rickshaws for transportation. They are actually quite handy through the heavy motorbike, taxi, and pedestrian traffic in Thamel.


Nepali handmade paper lanterns.  I want to buy 10 for my girls’ room, but I never do.


After shopping for nephew’s birthday, I am tired of eating dust and dodging honking taxis. My friend and I duck into a bakery with a quiet inner courtyard, and enjoy coffee and croissants. The growing coffee culture in Kathmandu is lovely.


I get back home to gather the toddler, walk the dog, and pick up the oldest from the bus stop. Husband is away at an evening event tonight, so the girls and I sit down to burrito night without him. I perfected the recipe for these homemade tortillas in our first months of being posted abroad, and they have been a weekly staple for years. Burrito night is one thing we can take with us wherever we go.


This Global Life | Day 26: Nepal |