Roosters crowing children growing, got big plans but dirty pants, with kids to teach life is sweet!

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A Sprouting Bean

If you follow Maggie and Blinknow, you know that Namraj is a handful. Not being a talker hasn’t stopped him from letting you know exactly what he wants by pointing, scowling, whining, screaming, and – if necessary – delivering a pint-sized dose of Kung Fu with his mini-me Bruce Lee feet and hands.

I get along well with kids in general, but babies don’t take to me very quickly. It isn’t just Namraj who avoids my company. Monica doesn’t care for me to even looking at her, baby Madan ran from me every time I saw him during my last stay, and there were a few nursery class applicants this year who preferred anyone but me interview them.
So I’m not offended by Namraj’s wiley ways.

The fact remains however that Maggie is on sabbatical, Kusum and Ubji are visiting family in India, and the rest of us are really busy! In Nepal it really does take a village to raise a child, so Libby (who just came down with a stomach bug) has been leading the effort to change the baby’s picky ways and force him to like and accept all of us – weird white people included.

Last week he spent 45 minutes pacing up and down the third floor hallway and Libby’s room screaming bloody murder because she wanted him to play on his own and practice walking (he’s not as sure-footed as he could be, because everyone wants to hold him. He truly suffers from being so cute…I digress…) You would have thought she was barbecuing his toes. He banged on Kusum’s door hoping she would rescue him. He walked to the front balcony and wailed for help. We followed close behind as he climbed the stairs to the roof where he plopped down and screamed to the heavens for mercy. Finally he wore himself out and Libby was able to take him downstairs swaddled on her back.

Caitlin and I are the last adult frontiers. I don’t know if it’s because we’re so white, or Caitlin’s so tall, maybe my nose is too big…whatever it is, he just doesn’t approve. Today Gyanu had been with him all morning and had things of her own to do. I found her in the hallway trying to give the baby to Tope. He looked so tired and worn out from driving twice in three days to the Indian border that I just grabbed the baby for a guerilla-style daycare adventure.

He wasn’t too bad. In fact, he was kind of good. Just as he was drifting off to sleep, the lunch gong rang, and he woke up. He let me carry him all the way to the school for our meal. We shared a plate of vegetables and dhaal bhat. He listened to me when I said no to him bothering the other aunties and didis while they were eating. Washed his face and nose – no major issues. Checked his diaper – no drama. Carrying him back to the house and up to the third floor – happy as a clam. He fussed a little when he realized there was no one else around, but after telling him to be quiet and sleep – he did just that.

And now he’s sleeping on my bed – like a little lima bean, storing up energy for its next growth spurt. Kudos to Libby – her sink or swim approach is turning this quasi-neurotic baby into a healthy, well-balanced toddler.

If you really study his face for a few moments you'll see the potential for mischief that lurks inside....


All’s well….

Hi guys! I’m sitting with Maya right now. She has a really brightly colored, silky kind of suit on. It’s a kind of floral print korta with electric purple jam pants. Fitting.

I’ve talked non stop about the kids and staff at Kopila to my friends and family at home. I’m sure over the past few weeks Brendan has wished there was something besides Sabita’s angelic smile or Nabin’s nonstop enthusiasm for me to talk about. But with my trip fast approaching it’s been hard not to think about all the perfect little people that live at Kopila, and what it would be like to see them again. Would they remember me? If they did, would it be fondly? It’s hard for me to imagine that they could really care much when there are 40+ other people to love on each one of them.

When I arrived the first person that I locked eyes with was Maya. I pounded on the glass and waved like a crazy person, and started opening the door before the car had stopped. And she had this huge Maya smile – a little bit crazy, a whole lot heart. You know she was the first kid I met when I came to Kopila last summer.

So now here she is telling me she wants to write on the blog. She offers to spell my name for me on the blog: “L – I – S – A yeah?” She’s been practicing but Marshall is still a hang up – it’s too much like the Nepali name Magar.

I ask her about her day…how was school, what did she do…was it fun…

Teacher nice teacher reading.

Oh? What about?

A doggy.

That’s nice. What happened?

The dog in fight.


Yeah, and there was a lot of blood. On his back.

Hmm. That’s strange. I don’t remember curating any dog fight stories for the school library….

So what else happened?

Well, the dog was dirty dirty dirty. From all the blood. But then at the end he was happy dog, and washing. Not dirty. No blood.

I’m really confused. Could there possibly be a story like this that a teacher would choose to read to kindergarten?

…But at the end the dog was happy and they had a happy birthday and they played ball.

Ok, Maya’s just telling me a story now…

She looks at me, and at the computer, and she crawls into my lap and sets her nose a half inch from mine –

“I love Maggie and Libby and Lisa and Karen and Giselle and Jake and Nina and Suzy and Anthony and Lexie. You write!”

All’s well that ends well.

Here’s to a little crazy and a whole lot of heart.


A million?

So today was a blur of trips to the market, last minute project completions, and packing (for Cristina and Kelly anyway). I have stuff on every floor of the house and haven’t even attempted to start gathering it.

So, amidst all our running around, the last of the acoutrements from the old kitchen was moved into the new kitchen. Once everything had been put in its shiny new place, it was time to clean out the old one. This included bug bombing.

We came home from market trip number ?3? to a bluish haze lingering on the front porch and the sick sweet smell of aerosol DEET or some other atomized toxic cocktail. And then, they came. The roaches. They were all over the hallway. All over the office, the living room, Frank’s old room. Luxury suites in the Hotel Cockroach Kopila were selling like hotcakes.

Now, some of you might be freaking out about roaches in a house – but give me a break. We are in a perpetual construction site in a tropical climate, in a house with screen doors that stay closed nary two seconds at a time. The only guaranteed air conditioning we have are open windows. Having grown up in the middle of nowhere in a house that was under construction, I can attest to the impossibility of keeping bugs out of a house. It’s just going to happen.

So – Kelly, Cristina, and I are in the office, printing pictures for the school or something. And Kassoum comes in. She’s such a wonderful, elegant woman. Reserved and demure, but with an open heart and a talent for relating to others. She sits down, and with a slightly perturbed face that is so classically hers, she said…”So many roaches I think.” We nod in agreement, there are a lot of roaches. Then there’s this pause. Not because we don’t want to talk, just because we’re all absorbed in what we’re doing. And Kassoum is translating her next thought:

“A million roaches are dying today I think.”

I hope to goodness that this is funny on a blog, because in the moment it was stomach hurt funny. We all cracked up. Kassoum is not one to embellish, and “million” is such a classic American “throw-away” word, that it just was plain laugh-out-loud, tear up, giggle-till-you’re-beat funny.

We got over it, and then it was time for Kelly and Cristina to make their departure. As we said goodbye to the staff in the kitchen, a lone roach ranger made his way in from the hall. Baju saw him and started flicking him with a newspaper towards the front door. But he kept flying and scurrying around. I remember thinking, man, nothing bothers Baju. She’s awesome. Then he came towards me and Gyanu. She tried to step on him but missed (I don’t fault her, she’s so tiny the damn thing was half her size). Now it was up to me….

One of the things I truly cannot stand is killing roaches. I just don’t like it. I think many people can sympathize with me, so I won’t go into any more detail. But I knew what I had to do. I was the one with the flip flops on. And how could I let down Baju? This was my moment to shine in the spotlight of helpfulness. So I grabbed my flip flop, I whacked…and I missed. But then I whacked again and I got him. And at the point of impact EVERYONE squealed. Not just me, or me and Kelly, or Cristina. EVERYONE. Superwoman Baju, scrappy Gyanu, composed Kassoum, we all squealed, cringed, and turned away.

Some things are just part of the human experience. They aren’t unique to a culture or an ethnic enclave. Things like love, music, and a good laugh are what we all have in common. That and the grossness of squashing roaches.

Me with the A-Team

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