23 July 2008

Getting Caught in a Petrol Strike/Riot

So awhile back I had written about our experience getting caught in a petrol stike/riot on our way to Pokhara in Nepal http://mostlyslow.blogspot.com/2008/06/another-quick-update-lin-and-i-got-to.html

The story - there has been a petroluem strike on for the last couple of days. The strikers/paid protesters (500 rupees a day to promote civil unrest for teenage thugs) have been stopping/harassing motorists on the highways and city streets. But they've been letting tourists travel around. Unfortunately for us, yesterday at noon they increased the strike level and bands of youths took over all of the highways while the police more or less left (returning sporadically). Our bus was stopped and three of the youths came on, looked to see we were all foriegners and then left us alone, same for all the other Indian and foreign motorists. The Nepalis on the road weren't so lucky. No serious injuries that I could see, but some cars got smashed pretty throughly.

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Interstingly the protesters were very polite and friendly to us, saying Namaste and some of us were even offered weed "for friendship". Anyway after about 9 hours we were finally let go (10PM) but up until 1/2 hour beforehand we though we might be held through the next day - pretty insane! Thankfully we got to Pokhara without further incident, checked into our hotel, got dinner, and went to sleep. Will let you know what we do here, once we've done it ;-)"
That particular stike was regarding a pay hike the transporation workers wanted (the govt. was offering 25% and they wanted 35%) - lots of agitators were taking advantage of the lack of real clarity on whom the govt. actually was, particularly the executive power vaccuum (since the kinghad been deposed and the president had yet to be appointed, and the legislative body recently elected was the equivalent of a constitutional convention, not a parliment).

I've attached short video of the view from the back of our bus. You'll notice two youths actively smashing a car (one quickly gets pulled off) while most of the protestors, military, and victims mull around in a confused and disorganized fashion. My impression was the general confusion of all parties was due to the fact that everyone was in conflict but no one wanted to push things too far (except for the kid on top of the van with the stick - he seemed seriously imbalanced and the other thugs spent a lot of time trying to keep him in line)

Things are pretty bad in India as regards fuel as well, only this morning there were lines and a traffic jam at the gas station outside our apartment. There have also been strikes, but the rule of law is a bit stronger here and India is a much richer country, so thus far nothing near the magnitude of the Nepali problems.

Very interesting and thankfully not terribly scary (for the most part ;-).

22 July 2008

More Pictures

So Kochi was utterly fantastic, but I'll save the stories until our pictures are ready for viewing (and Linda has returned - she is still there having a blast ;-)

But here are some more new pictures from you of our older adventures. You may recall the story of our getting caught in the petrol strike, well now you can see it at
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likely, I'll send some video as well at a later date

thankfully we arrived at Pokhara safe and sound and had a wonderful time with many friends met on the trip / beforehand at the monkey temple. Our first adventure was to Devi Falls (Linda missed this as she was feeling a bit under the weather)
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17 July 2008

heading to Kochi

This weekend we will be in Kochi! For those of you who don't know, Kochi is the site of the longest continous Jewish habitation in India, and one of the oldest in the world (Rome, another Italian city, and parts of Greece, are the only sites I'm sure have been longer) starting in 72CE when refugees landed on the eastern coast of India. Only about 43 are left and the community is now dying out (an ironic result of the establishment of Israel). I'm sure we will have stories to tell on our return.

But until then enjoy some more belated pictures from Kathmadu of out time visiting the Monkey Temple and hanging out with Tevel B'Tzedek and Israeli run service organization.

For those of you who just joined, you can read/see previous posts in reverse chronological order by reading below.
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16 July 2008

Pictures!

So we've been tardy with pictures, but we've finally got around to beginning the process of organizing them and will be sending you belated pictorial updates of our trip thus far (for those of you just joining, you can read about our adventures in reverse-chronological order below). The updates will come slowly b/c it takes over an hour to upload just a couple of photos - and so you won't be overwhelmed.

The first batch is our journey to Nepal (Jet Air rocks - fantastic strictly veg meals) followed by our first days in Kathmandu.

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04 July 2008

Dancing in Kathmandu

So we've finally made it to Bangalore! We are both completely wiped out - it's taken a little while to get things in order here, but thankfully things are falling into place. I've got an extended weekend to rest up and get ready for work.

I'm completely wiped so I'm not going to tell you more about our adventures now but you may recall that a while back I mentioned the world music festival we attended where my dancing attracted a spontaneous circle of Nepali spectators/participants. So it turns out one of our friends clandestinely captured the end on video, albeit without sound, which I have attached for your amusement.


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