30 November 2014


Stories write themselves over here. I just watch and talk and listen then I throw the words down and I try to put them in the right order.

To do the stories justice.

Stories are just people and places really.

They are snapshots of interactions.

Space and time.

Writing them here in Nepal is easy.




New beds.

Dead bugs.

The Holy Dude

I hammer away at my keyboard deep into the night.

I can’t stop writing.

I delivered a package from a very nice Singaporean girl named Yi Ju to a little Nepali girls named Bhuti. Yi Ju visited Nepal recently with one of the groups that my friend Jessie organizes.

Bhuti is I think about 6 years old and she comes from a village far away in the Upper Dolpo region of Northern Nepal. She has been at the Snowland school for nearly 2 years and has not seen her mother or father or brothers or sisters in all that time, She likely wont for another decade.

It is simply too far away and hard to get to.

I am a parent

I cannot comprehend the vastness of the pain of separation and the sacrifices that have been made for these kids to attend school from so far away.

To be apart from parents and family for more than a decade.

This is beyond me.

Yi Ju and Bhuti spent a couple of days playing at the Snowland School in Kathmandu and they took lots of photos together.

Bhuti was a natural.

Photographer that is.

Anyway – Yi Ju knew I was coming to Kathmandu and she asked me to give little Bhuti an album of photos they had taken and a digital camera and charger.

I was just a courier and I didn’t mind at all.

Little Bhuti was overawed and over-joyed.

Me too.

It’s the main thing we try to do with visitors.

We try and connect them with Nepal and the children.

We try and bond them with the country and the people.

We think this is needed by our visitors for them to see and experience the poverty and the opportunity that exists.

To witness first hand the potential and the bravery of the mountain children.

We want them to hear the stories from the sources.

From the kids.

Then we want them to bask in the hope and the joy of it all.

We like it when our visitors bond and connect with individual kids and they watch and they help them grow. Our visitors can and do shape the futures of Nepali children from the mountains in a multitude of ways.

Befriending them.

Helping them live to their potential.

It’s not that difficult.

One learns a lot too.

About the world.

About yourself.

It is the bees’ knees

When I left Snowland this morning – beautiful and smart Savi – the super efficient Administrator of the Snowland School - passed me a note that Bhuti had written to Yi Ju.

She had drawn a picture as well.

I have a few to take back to Singapore and some to send on to the United Kingdom as well.

The children love to write and draw.

Particularly the girls.

The boys like football and basketball.

I have seen quite a few of these letters now over the years and many of the little kids grew.

They are both very beautiful things.

Here is her letter to Ju Yi. I don’t think that either Ju Yi or Bhuti would mind me sharing it:

Dearest Sis Ju Yi


I am very happy J to get your letters and photos. And also with lots of your love. Thank you very much for sending me camera. It is very nice. I haven’t forgot your face sister. I am very happy to see your face on photos.

My study is going well and I am in good health with my school family. I am enjoying my days with my friends.

I remember you, You are in left side in photo with red and dark blue shirt. You are wearing glasses. Thanks you so much for your love towards me. I will take many photos in camera then I will show you one day. I’m small so I’m going to give it to our captain to keep it and in holidays and specials days I will get the camera.

I love you and will miss you always J

Your sister


Enough said.

Enough written

23 November 2014

Sole Separation

My good brown shoes are in need of repair.

My work shoes.

I bought them in London only last year and they were very expensive. The sole on one of my shoes has separated at the heel.

It is the left shoe.

These shoes are English.

There is a long history of soul separation with the English. I know this because I have witnessed it first hand.

More than once.

My brown shoes are very comfortable but the workmanship in the manufacture of them was obviously poor. My shoe repairman here in Singapore has confirmed this.

This afternoon I took my shoes to Mr. Santosh.

He has a small shop on Ballister Road, which is not too far from my house.

It is but a short bicycle ride away.

Mr. Santosh has repaired shoes for me before - and when he looked at the sole separation that had occurred on my left shoe he told me that he was not impressed with the stitching.

He told me that it was inferior in quality. 

Mr. Santosh was not at all impressed with the workmanship. 

Mr. Santosh works in his little shop on Ballister Road seven days a week.

The name Santosh means 'happiness' in Hindi.

I find this most appropriate, as Mr. Santosh is always very happy when I see him. He beamed when I walked into his shop today. He rushed from behind his workbench to shake my hand.

Both my hands in fact.

"Good day to you Mr. Peter. You are be getting fatter" he said.

"Good day to you Mr. Santosh". I replied.

"Yes I am indeed be getting fatter."

He refers to me as "Mr. Peter" and I always refer to him as 'Mr. Santosh'.

There is mutual respect and politeness in our relationship.

When I handed him my damaged shoe he looked at it and he tut tutted. I explained that they were English and he nodded knowingly.

Mr. Santosh has a wife who also works in their small shop.

She is a seamstress.

She has repaired clothes for me in the past. She has taken up the hems of my trousers and she has sewn new buttons on my old shirts.

Her name is Mihika.

The English translation of this name is "Dew drops". Santosh and Mihika have a daughter whose name is Venya. The name Venya means "lovable' in Hindi. I like the translation of many Hindi names. I like them a lot.

They exude meaning.

They convey love.

I have not met Venya before as she is studying in the US - at NYU. She is going to be a Human Rights lawyer. Santosh and Mihika are very proud of Venya and quite rightly so. Everything they do is for her. Everything that they have ever done is for her.

She is their Everything.

Their eyes light up when they talk about their daughter. They have shown me many photos of her and there are quite a few of her tacked to the wall above Mr. Santosh workbench.

She is always smiling in these pictures.

I asked Mr. Santosh how Venya was doing in New York - while he was inspecting my shoes.

Still tut tutting.

"Venya is being doing very well Mr. Peter sir,” he told me.

Mr. Santosh told me this with a little wobble of his head and I could see him beginning to swell with pride.

"She has been doing her final exams in June and then she will be graduating", he told me.

"And then she will be coming home?" I asked.

"We are being hoping so Mr. Peter. We are being hoping so that she will be coming home"

Mr. Santosh thinks that it is wise to re-glue and then stitch up the soles of both shoes - even though it is only the left one that is damaged. I thought this might be the case so I brought both with me.

They will be ready on Wednesday.

They will be better than new.

19 November 2014

A Random Act of Kindness

I erred today.

I often do.

In  this particular instance I blame no one but myself. 

It was a moment of madness. 

I was a bit grumpy and I slept poorly. 

I had received far too many irksome emails from the English for whom I work and who had been annoying me from their far away ivory towers. 

In London. 

I was on the train and it had been raining so I had my umbrella. 

So I was armed.

I was dangerous.

In Singapore in each train carriage there are designated seats for the elderly and for pregnant women and these are very clearly marked. There are amusing little caricatures of an old man and woman with walking sticks and a lady with a swollen belly above each of these seat - and there is text in four different languages that also asks train travelers to consider such passengers and to give up these seats.

So the designation is clear for both the literate and the illiterate.

I have on many occasions witnessed young Singaporean women leap to their feet and usher both the elderly and expecting mothers to such seats. 

Often these seats are occupied by young Singaporean men. 

I have previously cast such men an inquisitive glance. 

Sometimes I have given them a withering stare or I have nodded my head towards someone standing. 

Someone more deserving to be sitting than they. 

In the majority of cases they too have offered up their seats but they have done so a little more reluctantly.

In recent times I have noticed a cunning ploy that has been adopted by some young Singaporean men. 

Not all mind you - but a few. 

They have dived into such seats and then they have immediately feigned sleep. 

This happened this morning. 

It happened when I was grumpy and peeved

It happened when I was armed and dangerous.

After one stop an enormously pregnant but tiny little Indian lady got on the train and squeezed amongst the throng.

There was a pretending-to-be-asleep young Singaporean male sitting in the designated seat. I prodded this sleepy Singaporean with my umbrella. 

Gently mind you.

Just to rouse him. 

One bespectacled eye opened and then it immediately closed - which forced me to prod again.

Then both eyes opened. 

They opened in a nasty and shallow little squint.

I nodded my head to the pregnant lady who was standing directly in front of him and who was next to me. To my great chagrin, he then again closed both his eyes.

The third prod was less gentle.

His eyes then fully opened and he snarled, "What?

That was his first mistake. 


I replied that he must stand up. I told him that the poor lady was pregnant and she should sit down. 

The Singaporean man than called me a "Stupid British'.  

Which was his second mistake. 

This was a most unwise comment to make to any Australian - under any circumstances. 

Not the "stupid” comment - just the "British

It was like waving a red rag to an enraged bull.

Without raising my voice I suggested that he stand immediately or I would set him on fire. 

He, the pregnant lady and all other passengers within earshot looked visibly alarmed and there was a collective gasp. 

Nevertheless, stand he did.

The prospect of incineration is a powerful motivator.

The Indian lady of course refused then to sit down and I had to force her.

The Singaporean man glared at me for the next 10 minutes. 

It was a little awkward and a tad uncomfortable. He alighted the train one stop before me and as he exited he smirked at me and he took my photo with his mobile phone.

I'm not sure why but it has been concerning me all day.