Saturday, February 16, 2008

Thanguan 3

We spent our days in the temple drawing. After dark there was often no electricity, which came to the village only 5 years ago, so we spent our evenings watching the stars for as long as we could stand the wind that would start to blow at dusk. Otherwise we'd spend the night chatting, huddled under our blankets, the wind whistling around the walls of our small stone and clay building just next to the temple. The structure was a simple rectangular box divided in two, the back half used for sleeping, the front as a kitchen. A small toilet was attached to the outside, and all were covered with logs, thatch, and on top a tin sheet to keep the rain off.

Our home for 5 nights (from the rear of the temple, pictured right)

the artists' suite

Except for electricity, which is in short supply all across Nepal, resources were scarce in Thanguan. There is no natural water source, requiring water to be directed from a neighboring mountain. The morning seems to start with someone from each home brining water containers to the village hose, where one person directs a slow trickle into the buckets. On at least one day, there was no water at all.

On that occasion, grandma, the temple caretaker, slung a bucket in her straw basket and headed off down the mountain to find a spring. At 73 years old, its amazing she can walk up and down the mountain (and in nothing but some flimsy sandals), let alone carry 15 liters of water on her back. But she did. She also did all our cooking and cleaning up, preparing two meals a day (at around noon and again just after dark) as well as morning and afternoon tea. She was a sweet old lady who like most of the villagers spoke only Nepali and Tamang, but who had actually traveled a bit, to India and Bhutan.

granny and the guys

As there are no roads into the village, everything has to be carried up the mountain, which is the most likely explanation for why the villagers don't use LPG for cooking. Instead it seems most homes use wood stoves, like the one you can see in the photo here, taken on the occasion of the New Year's dinner we prepared ourselves. It seems my classmates have lungs of steel. I had to flee the room and otherwise stood outside and fanned the smoke.



  1. Jeff-dai,

    Truly great work! I have little knowledge on art, but I think it requires a lot of talents and efforts to draw. Your buddhas are really beautiful.

    By the way, did you see any Japanese in the village? I have my Nepalese mother in Thamang. She lives in the village 60km away from Kathmandu, which seems exactly the same you stayed at.

    Good luck abd bless you!

    ps lung of steel.... I like this phrase:)

  2. Didn't see anyone who looked or spoke Japanese, but maybe they were hanging out at the onsen. ;-)

    Do you know the name of the village where your mom lives?


  3. I should have explained that my Nepalese mom, Chikako Thamang, is Japanese married to a Thamang guy. She has lived in Nepal more than I guess 30 years. Unfortunatelly I forgot the name of the village....


  4. Oh, well, in that case it should be much easier to find her. Just as for the Japanese woman. I'll see what I can turn up.

    Thanks,too, for the fine compliment my wall scratchings. It really is =greatly= appreciated.


  5. Wow !!! It looks like still being very cold at the moment ! Here in Kolkata the climate gets really warmer so I got rid of my warm clothes already. I'm joining you today, and I hope I won't die freezed...