Nepali Times

Almost there

Monday, February 24th, 2014
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Two weeks after electing the Prime Minister, the country is likely to have a cabinet of ministers by the end of the day.

After late night talks on Sunday, the two largest parties, Nepali Congress and CPN-UML were able to chart the tentative shape of the new government and the portfolios the parties will head. Out of the 26 ministries, the two parties are likely to get 10 portfolios each. NC will take charge in Ministry of Defence, Finance, Communication, Cooperatives, Local Development and Education, among others. CPN-UML has laid claim on 10 ministries including Ministry of Home, Foreign Affairs, Energy, Health and General Administration. Smaller parties that have supported NC are also in line to head some ministries. The final allocation is expected to be formalised within today.

Internal talks are underway since early morning today to formalise the deal made between the two parties and pick the candidates for the ministerial positions. NC Parliamentary Party is meeting at the Prime Minister’s residence in Baluwatar to endorse the deal.

Prime Minister Sushil Koirala was finally able to convince CPN-UML to join the government after conceding the Home Ministry. The meeting of the two parties on Sunday focused on allocating ministries. The UML team, which will participate in the government, will be led by the party’s Vice Chairperson Bamdev Gautam.

Untangling the Home Ministry knot

The power sharing talks between Nepali Congress and CPN-UML have concluded on Sunday deciding that the two largest parties need to discuss the matter again on Monday.

Today’s talks focused on allocating ministries to NC and UML. The NC has already decided to assign Home Ministry, the main contention between two largest parties, to the UML.

The UML team, which will participate in the government, will be led by the party’s Vice Chairperson Bamdev Gautam.

In today’s talks, Gautam along with UML Secretary Bishnu Poudel took part in the talks on behalf of UML, while NC Secretary Krishna Prasad Situala led the NC team in the talks.

The next round of talks on Monday will start early in the morning at 7 a.m., it is learnt. It is expected that the talks will conclude soon, paving way for the swearing in ceremony of UML and NC’s new ministers in the evening, the same day.

Read also

Whose Home is it anyway?

The year of living dangerously


“Great sense of satisfaction”

Saturday, October 25th, 2014
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Heart surgeon Dr Kumud Dhital. (SBS)

Heart surgeon Dr Kumud Dhital.

Interview with SBS Nepali, Australia with Kumud Dhital who carried out the world’s first transplant of a dead heart, 25 October

SBS Nepali: How important to medical science were your transplants?

Kumud Dhital: It is quite important because DCD (Donation after Circulatory Death) transplants had not been attempted before. It involves taking the heart and other organs out immediately after the heart stops beating, putting it into a machine to provide it with the necessary nutrients, and the heart starts beating again. We monitor how well the heart is working, and only if it is working well do we prepare a recipient and transplant it. We have now done this three times. In that respect, taking the heart that had stopped beating, transporting it to another hospital in a machine and transplanting on a patient had never been tried before.

How quickly do you have to perform the transplant?

Within 30 minutes of the heart beat stopping, we should already have preserved the heart in the nutrient fluid, otherwise that heart won’t work. Only then do we put it in the machine for transportation. Till now DCDs had been tried in transplantation of kidneys and lungs, but it hadn’t been tried on hearts yet.

Is this going to make it easier to address the problem of donor shortage, or are there complications that we have to be aware of?

So far, our first patients got the transplant three months ago, the second got a heart two weeks ago and are being discharged from hospital, and the third a few days ago.  So far they are doing well.  And we think the outcome will be the same as with transplants from brain dead donors. As you say, this technique will make it possible to increase the number of potential donors from the DCD pool at a time when there is a real shortage of donors. For those wait-listed for transplants, this is going to make a big difference. Some patients die waiting for a heart.

Asians are said to have a higher incidence of cardio-vascular diseases, will it help them?

In Sydney, we do about 30 transplants a year and about 100 all over Australia. In countries like China and India there is a big problem of heart failure, yet the transplant program is very small. Also, due to cultural reasons, they find it difficult to source hearts from donors in ventilators. So the DCD path could be easier for them, and this could increase the number of transplants in those countries as well.

Are there any religious sensitivities about taking the heart of a dead person and putting into
another person?

Yes, such questions are bound to be raised. We don’t meet the donor’s family, we have no interaction with them. Only once the patient is declared dead does the patient come to our operating room. In brain dead patients, in many countries including Australia, they are considered to be legally dead but are kept on a ventilator to keep the organs alive. This allows us to carry out organ retrieval in a controlled fashion. In DCD transplants, however, it is slightly more risky. But we have been able to carry it out successfully in these three patients.

Were you personally involved in the operations? How does it feel to be the first in the world to
successfully carry them out?

I was involved in removing and transplanting the hearts. Me and my team are really happy that the operations went well. You get a great sense of satisfaction that a patient who was bed-ridden is now climbing stairs.

Audio of interview:
http://www.sbs.com.au/yourlanguage/nepali/highlight/page/id/369425/t/World-s-first–dead-
heart–transplant./


Rasuwa bus fall

Friday, October 24th, 2014
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Rasuwa bus accident

Bus owner’s family in bus. Daughter among 12 dead. Photo: Nuwakot FM

At least 12 people, two of them Israeli trekkers on their way to Langtang National Park, were killed when a bus plunged 150 m down a mountainside on the Pasang Lhamu Highway on Friday morning.

The bus was overcrowded with more than 100 passengers, many of them sitting on the roof as the driver negotiated the narrow mountain road damaged by the monsoon rains.

The death toll is expected to rise, as many passengers are still trapped inside the bus. At least 52 of the passengers are injured, seven of them foreigners. Fifty others, most of them travelling on the roof, were thrown off and survived.

Helicopters sent by the Israeli Embassy are at the site to rescue the injured.

This is the fourth serious highway disaster this holiday season. More than 35 people were killed in a bus plunge in Doti, and 12 people were killed separate crashes on the Prithvi Highway and in Makwanpur last week.


Narrow escape

Thursday, October 16th, 2014
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(l-r) Israeli survivors Linor Kajan, Yakov Megreli and Maya Ora.

(l-r) Israeli survivors Linor Kajan, Yakov Megreli and Maya Ora.

The first trekkers from Israel, Hong Kong, and Germany rescued from the Mustang side of Thorung La were brought to Kathmandu on Wednesday and are undergoing treatment for severe sunburn and frostbite at the Army Hospital in Kathmandu. After a night of heavy snowfall and high winds, some of them had decided to walk down because the sun was out.

“Our plan was to stay in the tea shop to ride out the storm, but when we saw that it was all clear and bright the next morning we decided to walk down,” said Yakov Megreli (pic, center) at a press meet. But the snow was chest-deep and they got lost on their way down. After five hours, they could finally make a call on their mobile.

“We called the travel agency and embassy, and asked them to send helicopters. They picked us up on the mountain and flew first to Muktinath before bringing us to Kathmandu,” says Maya Ora.

The Israelis credited their porter Pasang Tamang, 46, of Rasuwa for saving their lives by guiding them through the snow when the blizzard started around 10am on Tuesday. “I can’t imagine what would have happened if he wasn’t there, we all got a second lease of life,” says Linor Kajan.

But Tamang himself was not so lucky and perished as he stayed on the trail to guide arriving trekkers. Two other Israelis were also buried in an avalanche below Thorung La along with two Poles and eight Nepalis. At Phu, four Canadians, one Indian and three Nepalis were killed.

At Dhaulagiri Base Camp, two Slovak climbers and their three Sherpa guides from a 11-member expedition have still not made contact after being caught in an avalanche.

List of survivors who were brought from Mustang to Kathmandu on Wednesday.

List of survivors who were brought from Mustang to Kathmandu on Wednesday.

Thirty two people are so far confirmed dead and hundreds are stranded and unaccounted for after Tuesday’s storm in the Annapurna, Dhaulagiri and Manaslu areas. Seventy trekkers were rescued from Manang and 47 from Mustang as this paper went to press on Thursday evening.

Manang, through which hundreds of tourists attempt to cross the Thorung La (5416m) into Mustang every day, was worst hit. Eighty-five of the 345 trekkers who registered at the ACAP checkpoint on Monday en route to Yak Kharka and Thorung Phedi haven’t made it over to the other side.

Trekkers contacted Germany through a satellite phone and said there was a “large group” of them on the pass waiting for rescue. The message was relayed to the Nepal Army which had three rescue helicopters in the area on Thursday.

The Army had brought out nine bodies from either side of the pass on Wednesday and Thursday. District administration office in Manang said eight trekkers were also buried in snow in the Phu Valley near the China border.

Linor Kajan, Yakov Megreli and Maya Ora talk to journalists at the Army Hospital on Thursday after being rescued from the Mustang-side of Thorung La on Wednesday. They credited their guide and the army for saving them. 

Sunir Pandey

Read also:

After the storm Kunda Dixit

Anatomy of a Himalayan tsunami Kunda Dixit

Dangerous business Editorial

Extreme Everest Bhrikuti Rai and Matt Miller

Working in high places Ayesha Shakya

Taking chances in Chomolungma David Durkan

A dangerous place to work Jon Gangdal


Royal ex-king

Tuesday, October 14th, 2014
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Rabindra Mishra of the BBC Nepali Service, Facebook, 13 October

ftnp parasA lot of people have expressed sympathy after seeing the latest pictures of former crown prince Paras Shah being arrested on drug possession charges in Thailand. This is understandable and it is a sign of humanity.

But his parents, Gyanendra and Komal, also deserve some compassion. Gyanendra became king very young, and lost the throne. He lost his family in the palace killings, which he was blamed for. He became king again, and inherited all his brother’s wealth.

Soon after, he lost his people’s respect, he lost the throne again, he lost the monarchy, he lost all the wealth inherited from his brother. And we’ve seen what has become of his only son.

All this time, he never lost patience, he remained decent and civilised. He was smiling when he left Narayanhiti Palace. He was never crude. What surprises me is, where were all those qualities when he was king? That’s why I call him the ‘unroyal king/royal ex-king’. Like a lot of commentators, I think Paras needs help, not contempt. Those who still detest him must understand: we are all human, as are our families and relatives; who knows what crises we may have to face in the future?

Original


Pearls before swine

Tuesday, October 14th, 2014
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Prakash Dahal, son of UCPN(M) Chairman Pushpa Kamal Dahal, Facebook, 11 October

Prakash Dahal at his pig farm

Prakash Dahal at his pig farm

I only wish people did more research before commenting on my pig farm. Some friends seem to be stuck in the past. Some say Bahuns shouldn’t be farming pigs. Some say I am showing my worth. Some say black money, some say it’s because politics did me no good. I thank you all for coming up with comments that display your own abilities, but I wish to especially thank some people and say the following things to them:

  1. This is an age of equality, where you don’t look at caste, colour or gender. If you are the type that stirs up ethnic discord, you must be from another planet. And that is that.
  1. There is such a thing as dignity of work and I don’t think work makes anyone greater or smaller. Are all the world’s animals worthless? Are pigs worthless? Is it right to mock farmers like this? Apart from being the world’s most respected profession, agriculture is also the traditional line of work of most Nepalis. People who keep their backyards barren are trying to lecture me about my capacity and worth.
  1. Some say I kept 10 sows to legitimise my black money. I would like to challenge these people to look everywhere for black, red, green, yellow, or any other colour of wealth that is in our family’s name. They can take everything for themselves if they just give me Rs 100,000. With that money I would buy four more sows and expand my farm. Use your heads. I don’t know about other people in the party, but if you find any trace of my wrongdoing I will gladly kill myself. Please, my Facebook friends, find out my black money.
  1. I am not a senior leader of a party. I have been walking around the hills with our people’s militia since I left high-school 14 years ago. I am only a cadre and I will remain in the party and work for Nepal’s benefit as long as I am breathing. I have nowhere to go except politics. Is it sin for us in politics to be creative in other ways? How do you think we earn? Where does the money to study abroad come from? I am farming pigs in my free time so that I don’t have to beg from anyone. I don’t have a degree in my hands.

I also want to discourage youngsters from mortgaging their land and going for overseas labour. Instead they could use that money to invest in their own land, work four solid hours everyday and watch gold grow out of the land. Is it not more dignified to work four hours a day in Nepal than to be treated like an animal for 18 hours in the Gulf? When I see barren fields and villages empty of youth, I despair. My ambition is to show these youngsters that it is worth doing something right here in Nepal. If youngsters want to try out agriculture, we must respect their choice. Rest is up to you.

Read also: 

Prakash raising livestock


Devoted to painting

Sunday, October 5th, 2014
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Lok Chitrakar

Lok Chitrakar

Nepal’s paubha master takes Kathmandu’s traditional art to Japan

Lok Chitrakar, 54, is Nepal’s most famous painter of paubha, the devotional art form that went from Nepal to Tibet to become the thangka. Now, he is taking 32 of his paintings even further to Japan where it will be part of a larger collection on permanent display at a museum.

As an autodidact, Chitrakar came from a family of artists and started using brushes at 12.  Today, his work is renowned worldwide with some of his paintings featuring in permanent exhibitions from Pakistan to Finland.

Chitrakar has been working with the Kanzouin Museum in Tokyo for the past 12 years which already has 30 of his paintings, and soon will be adding 32 more to complete a series that will ultimately have 108 paintings from Kathmandu.

Lok Chitrakar was working on a mandala for a Japanese client in 2000, and had to learn Japanese techniques to complete it. For this he got in touch with a Japanese friend who showed his work to people in the art scene there. There was no looking back, the Japanese were hooked.

Lok Chitrakar paintings 2

Ganesh

Lok Chitrakar paintings

Paubhas were first taken from Kathmandu Valley to Tibet in the 8th century when Bhrikuti was married to king Sron Tsan Gampo. She took paubha artists with her to Tibet, and this style later evolved into the thangka, which is distinguishable by newer Chinese styles. Thangkas depict Buddhist subjects or even deities from the pre-Buddhist Bon faith, while paubhas contain Hindu and Buddhist deities, reflecting the ancient symbiosis of Hinduism and Buddhism in Kathmandu Valley.

Some of the Paubhas that will go to the Kanzouin Museum in Tokyo were on a brief farewell display at Yala Maya Kendra from 26-29 September. “I like to show my work to the Nepali public before sending them abroad,” Chitrakar says of the paintings that will be shipped out later this month.

Green Tara

Green Tara

Durga

Durga

Six pictures in the Yala Maya Kendra’s exhibition were from private collections, like the striking Green Tara and Ganesh. Artist Ashmina Ranjit, who was at the exhibition said she has always been mesmerised by Lok Chitrakar’s work. “His paintings can put us in kind of a meditative state,” she said.

Given how intricate the paintings are, Lok Chitrakar is often asked how long it takes to complete one painting. “I never count the days, otherwise I’ll be discouraged,” Chitrakar replies laconially. “I just write the date on which I finish the work at the bottom.”

Lok Chitrakar paintings 3
Paubhas are a visual representation of religious philosophy, and always feature a central deity with moral and spiritual significance. The background and the details are up to the artist, but for the deity there are strict standards: body postures, facial expressions, skin complexions and hand gestures all carry important symbolism, developed over many centuries.

The deity’s eyes are always painted last. Chitrakar makes his own paint with crushed stones and vegetable dyes such as indigo, sometimes mixing silver and gold dust.

Lok Chitrakar is now used to international acclaim at various exhibitions he has been asked to put up at Harvard University or the Historical Museum of Shiga, Japan. When asked if he is proud to represent Nepal’s original Buddhist art form to the international public, Chitrakar answers simply: “I’m just proud to be an artist.”

Stéphane Huët

Read also:

Bring back the paubhas, RC Cone

The art of the gods, Tsering Dolker Gurung 

Nepal’s biggest paubha muralSalil Subedi


Nostalgic for the future

Friday, October 3rd, 2014
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Jan Salter says her retrospective exhibition was to remind herself that she is an artist

Jan Salter

Jan Salter

Many people know Jan Salter for her selfless activism at the Kathmandu Animal Treatment Centre (KAT) to save the city’s stray dogs and pets that she founded in 2004. But few remember that she is an accomplished artist.

The public saw that other side of  Jan Salter in ‘A Retrospective Exhibition’ at the Nepal Art Council from 22 September-10 October with 206 of her paintings and sketches.

“My work rescuing animals took me away from art, and this exhibition has helped to remind myself that I am an artist,” admits the 78–year-old Briton who first came to Kathmandu in the 1960s and never left.

These artworks were done from 1968 to 2014, most of them during treks around Nepal. “These pictures have remained in corners of my flat for years,” she said at the opening of the exhibition. “It’s only when seeing them displayed at the Nepal Art Council that I realise how many I did.” Still, there could have been even more paintings, as the artist has sold many of her first drawings.

Jan Salter had been sketching portraits from her early childhood, but it was only when she came to Nepal in 1968 that she really wanted to become an artist. “I felt in love with this melting-pot of faces,” she said.

A Retrospective Exhibition by Jan Salter

A Retrospective Exhibition by Jan Salter

A Retrospective Exhibition by Jan Salter

A Retrospective Exhibition by Jan Salter

Her style was refined after meeting famous Affandi in Jakarta, the famous Indonesian artist who had a different style from Jan’s, but she had been blown away by his work. “Affandi was the first person who told me that I had a chance as a painter,” she recalls. “He gave me confidence.”

After Indonesia, Jan traveled around the world for two years. Back in Nepal, she worked as a visual anthropologist, celebrating the diverse cultures and ethnicities of Nepal with striking portraits that first appeared in the book, Faces of Nepal.

A Retrospective Exhibition by Jan Salter

A Retrospective Exhibition by Jan Salter

Many of her first drawings were sold. “I needed money to support my Nepali son,” she recalls. “But after some time, I just found I couldn’t sell them anymore.” The artist considers her pictures as her own children. “I think every artist must feel this,” she says.

Above all, it became clear to Jan Salter that her paintings were actually a part of Nepal’s heritage. The creation of the Nepal National Ethnographic Museum by the Nepal Tourism Board became an opportunity to give an exposure to Jan’s works. “They are planning to create an ethnic village in Champa Devi where 24 of my paintings will be on display,” she says.

After more than four decades painting the faces of Nepal, Jan’s main regret is that many Nepalis have lost the pride in their traditions. “I would like to think that my paintings could remind these people from where they are,” she hopes.

Jan Salter also feels a little bit nostalgic of the time that Kathmandu used to be calmer, and some of the paintings celebrate that time. Nonetheless, Jan is optimistic about Nepal’s future. “I believe the new technologies will bring people together, but I guess I won’t be there to see it,” she laughs.

Moreover, Jan is pleased to see that Kathmandu is becoming a vibrant place for arts. Her involvement in KAT doesn’t give her the time to follow the evolution of the art scene as much as she would like to. But Jan admires a some of the new young artists she has met in Kathmandu. She adds: “I think I have a lot to learn from the new generation.”

Stéphane Huët

Read also:

Faces of Nepal Jan Salter


 

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