5th of November
...and I'm en route from Colorado Springs to Seattle.
I've been in the Springs for two months working on my Colorado
contacts and finishing up my undergraduate studies.
December 14, 1999:
Okay, things have been crazy. It's the 14th and
I leave on the 23rd. Do you think it's strange that I don't have
my backpack yet? Nah. Me neither. In fact, the only real worry
I have is getting this Web site up within the next few days.
I can pull out my "Things to Pack" list and cross off:
toothpaste, shampoo, batteries, floss, sunscreen, wool socks,
walking stick, dictionary, kitchen sink, and underwear. My new
motto is "Go light or don't go." and since I have over
(as of yesterday afternoon) 19lbs of computer stuff joining me
on the trip I might as well lose any other comfort I planned
on dragging along.
December 16, 1999:
Al right, it's my birthday
so I'm allowed to be a little obnoxious. As everyone can see
the new site is up. It's a bit on the rough-side, I know, but
I am known for my lack of patience. Please, anyone, feel free
to email me with problems. Please limit the problems to site-related
topics though. And hey, who's good with math? I have a week left
before I leave. How many seconds do i have left in-country as
of right now, 9:26am, Thursday, to 12:50pm, next Thursday when
I leave? If you have enough time to do this and email me your
answer, you have too much free time. Call me; I'll put you to
December 18, 1999:
Do you all realize that it's the 18th
of December? Only 7 days till Christmas...13 till the next millennium.
I've been so caught up punching buttons and fixing spelling errors
that I didn't realize how close the end of the world as we know
it is. In the past 24 hours I've been asked the question a total
of four times, phrased a bit differently each time, of course,
"How do you hope to change the way the world's cultures
think of one another?" It's a funny question. I do not think
I'll be able to change how the world, how each culture, looks
upon the many cultures of the earth. Nor do I believe that I
can't make some kind of impact. There's an Emily Dickinson poem,
the name or exact contents I can't remember at the moment, that
sums up my motivation for this project. The poem iterates, if
you wish to help the world, in whatever way you think right,
and you pour this desire into everyday life -- in the poem, helping
a fainting robin back into it's nest -- then you will not "live
in vane." This is around-a-bout way of describing my
intention. For if I can help ease the pain that comes from misunderstanding
for one small child, man, or woman, then I too, will not live
in vane. This may sound a little idealistic to some, and maybe
it's the excessive Christmas music that's infected my head, but
truly, this is what drove me to create therewewere.
December 25, 1999:
Merry Christmas everyone. I say this in more
of a good tidings and happy living way than in a secular sense.
It's T-minus-two-days for me; my flight leaves on Monday the
27th, at 11:25am out of the Honolulu International Airport. Oh,
I did forget to mention that I am now in Hawaii. My family --
me, mother, father, and brother -- spent a great morning un-stuffing
stockings and chomping on corn cakes, a Bargren family favorite.
Santa brought me many useful things: iodine tablets, pocket knife,
golden seal root, and US dollars. I, of course, gave the family
therewewere t-shirts and paraphernalia, with a big promise
to bring more exotic gifts next Christmas. It will be exactly
one year from today when I return and see my family again. The
best way to describe how I feel about this is to tell a short
story. It's tradition in my family to harass, poke, and prod
the other members of the family until you either a)laugh it off,
b)scream, throw your hands up in the air, and leave, or c) twist
the situation so you are no longer the hunted but the hunter.
Last evening, during a lovely Christmas eve dinner, this event
took place: Looking up from my cup of ice cream I could feel
it. There's a certain itch left over from our hunter-gatherer
days that brings the hair on the nape of the neck to stand at
attention. This was also heightened by the fact that I had recently
cut most of my hair off, leaving me feeling doubly vulnerable.
I leaned back to see my father's grin bouncing off my brother's.
I was sandwiched between them. They started in at the same time,
only pausing to catch their breaths. "What are you doing?"
Followed by a, "You're not thinking are you?" Then
a, "Enjoying your ice cream?" A "Want some ice
to crunch?" "How about a grape?" "Like the
salad?" Pause. Reload. "Like sitting in a chair?"
"Enjoy the fish?" All wrapped up with a, in unison,
"Have to go to the bathroom?" Now, I'm not going to
pretend I understand my family, those of you who know me know
that it's the general idea not the exact words that count most
in my philosophy. In this manner I get the gist of the challenge;
they wanted me to be afraid. The only thing I could do was say,
"Boy, it's hard to imagine, but I am going to miss this."
Touche. Caught in a moment of weakness they ceded, declared me
the winner, all in the form of a nod. Families are different,
all of them. But I'm sure I'll find, if not all the comforts
of home, the feeling of that nod in the places I'm heading.
Wow. It's day two since my landing in Nepal and all I can
say is "Wow." There was no easing into this country,
especially when my friends picked me up at the airport (after
a 2 and 1/2 hour wait to get a visa) and stuck me on the back
of their motor bike. It was the King's birthday, His Majesty
Shree Panch Birendra Birbikram Shadev was 55, so more people
than usual filled the streets in celebration or boredom, I couldn't
tell. We whipped into town to our hotel near the Dubar Chowk,
unloaded my bags, and proceeded to head to a local cafe. The
sites were amazing. Nothing I can say would describe Kathmandu.
And, after several cool beers, some chai, or tea, and
a walk about town I was ready to slip into my sleeping bag. I
woke up this morning to the wonderful sound of rooster, I've
heard that they're omnipresent throughout the valley, and quickly
went back to bed. Around 7:00 I stirred again and after having
some more chai, and a "warm" shower, the three
of us headed for the ancient Newar village of Bhaktapur. The
bike ride took a good hour but the village was worth every particle
of dirt I snuffed up my nose. Tomorrow we're heading to another
Newar village just outside Kathmandu to a visit and celebrate
the western New Year with the family of a Nepalese friend named
I can't say that culture shock has hit me but I'm finding
the lack of toilet paper easier to get used to as time ticks
past. You know what they say, "When in Rome..." Although
the water purifiers are a necessity