For the edification of those who haven’t had to endure one, Bandhs are strikes in Nepal where the country is shut down by any group wanting to be heard – no stores are open, no public transportation is running, no one is working. Before the Constitutional deadline of May 27th, we were all alone at Ama Ghar with six days of Bandh. Just knowing you can’t go out and having no transportation in the Valley always puts Uma and I on edge. We always seem to have medical issues on days we can’t get to a doctor or a hospital. Of course, all schools are closed.
This year we have eight children in Class 11 taking their Government Board Exams at various exam centers in the city.…the exam is being given during this Bandh and so the children have had to walk to their exams. Leaving Ama Ghar at 4:00 a.m., they get to their exams by 7:00 a.m.…a 2 ½ hour walk downhill and a 3 hour walk home. Laxmi was weak and faint on her walk home and luckily had her sister Ganga with her. They couldn’t buy water or biscuits as the shops were closed. They walked and rested, walked and rested and made it home okay.
To keep the children busy we have been having morning reading hours to assist them in phonics and trying to get them to slow down and give their stories some emotion. Also our two young tutors live nearby so they are able to get here for their sessions. The children have been cleaning their library and study room as well – see photo above left.
We’ve been gardening, too – all the kids and staff have been going out for an hour in the morning and an hour in the afternoon to keep up with our never ending weeding and drain cleaning and rock landscaping to get us ready for the monsoon. We have had a few more thunder showers this May so all is green and growing. We also just started a small worm farm to eat our garbage and generate good soil for our plants. A group sits and talks while tearing newspapers into strips for the worms’ bedding.
The rest of the time, we cook extra special snacks and try to think of a new zucchini recipes as we have a lot of zucchini in the garden and no vegetable deliveries. Many of the kids read in a quiet corners of the house or yard, play Caroms, Scrabble or music. The younger ones get more Sesame Street time, which they love and it is helping their language noticeably. The older ones now have internet privileges so they have been spending more time on Facebook as I am sure most of the country is doing during this time at home. The girls braid each other’s hair for hours…..they are starting to look Ethopian! Uma stays busy with her pile of mending, and now has help from Bindu Auntie who is very talented.
Actually I love the quiet time at home without distractions, we all have more relaxed time with the children as we don’t need to maintain our normal schedule of homework and activities. (Note: since Bonnie wrote this blog entry, the constitution failed to pass and a general election has been scheduled for November 22 – which probably means more Bandhs are in our future.)