Being blessed with communities of friends and family on two sides of the world, it seems a good time to organize my photographs and all the bits and pieces of writing into one place. Another book has not yet gelled. After asking various writers, it seems that a blog is the best way to start taking some steps forward.
This is a blog for connection and reflection to connect these two worlds on opposite sides of the earth.
So, on a sunny monsoon morning in Kathmandu, here goes.
Some posts will be of old photographs, some journal musings at the time,and re-musings after time and reflection.Other posts might be very immediate after a field visit or encounter.
I might bring in passages from my book, Gaiety of Spirit, and embellish them with some of the thoughts that were deleted in the process of cutting down the manuscript from 700 pages.
It has been almost thirty-three years since I first came to Nepal. Not all of that time has been spent here, so I am still strongly connected to my roots in Canada, all along the Bow River from its source in the mountains to its gorge through the southern Alberta ranchlands.
The posts might often reflect my dual existence and all that I keep on learning in these years in Nepal. As I wrote in Gaiety:
Living in another culture forced me to think about how it works, to confront the ironies and inconsistencies of a different way of being. Soon, I realized that one layer of meaning reveals more queries within. The more one starts to understand, the more one realizes all there is to question and explore.
Looking at other cultures as different from our own, we split the whole into parts. We analyze what we see happening and ask why. For people of the other culture, it is their way of life. We examine the oddity of different traditions and customs rather than the inner purposes that might bring us into an understanding of the culture. We end up looking at how the “other” culture is different from our culture rather than at our commonness in the wholeness of humankind.
Living in Nepal and doing documentation work for development projects in more recent years has offered opportunities to talk with so many people in difficult circumstances — former bonded labourers, so-called “untouchables”, Hindu widows, and farmers without enough fields to feed their families. I came to realize how the systems of hierarchy went beyond discrimination to actually keep some people poor.
Just as working with the Sherpas opened my eyes to another way of perceiving the world, the conversations with these people helped me to understand the more difficult side of Nepal. They helped me to see both the sacred and the profane and start to understand and question world events in this era of intense politics and crisis.
Ultimately, we can build bridges of understanding between cultures in the world if we are not afraid just because they are different.
I hope that this blog for connection and reflection can help to serve as a small bridge.
Be well, frances