Posts Tagged ‘interview’

Kathmandu International Christian Congregation

Friday, January 30th, 2009

Jan 25
As of today, I am officially a youth worker in KICC, Kathmandu’s interdenominational church for expats. The Pastor went on a two month sabbatical last Sunday, and I am living in his house. It is a rather big house, at least for one person. There’s a hall, a big kitchen and living room on the ground floor, my bedroom, a terrace and the pastor and wife’s private quarters on the first floor, and two roof top terraces on the second floor. I have solar heated water, so hot showers are available in the afternoon. The battery backup for electricity is broken, so my daily schedule depends largely on the load shedding schedule. According to the church board members, the house has internet, but I have of yet not found out how to connect. I suspect the router is in the pastor’s locked off study. Some board members have said they’ll email the pastor to find out if there’s a way for me to get online at home and one of the other Norwegians in the congregation has offered to try and fix the electricity backup.

On Tuesday, I met with three of the board members for a job interview, and they seemed impressed. I apparently have quite a lot more education and experience in youth work than they expected. On Wednesday I moved into the pastor’s house, on Thursday I had breakfast with a Norwegian family, before familiarizing myself a little witht the area, getting a visa extension, and doing some necessary shopping. Friday I spent proof reading a field report for the couchsurfer I stayed with last week, in return for which he gave me a ticket for a “mountain flight”, which is a very popular way of seeing the Himalayas from a different angle; from a small airplane! Yesterday I went with some other Norwegians here to do some fabric shopping (I got a good price on linen for two pairs of trousers for warmer weather, which I’ll take to a local tailor)and an English language movie at a café. (Vicky Christina Barcelona, a quintessencial Woody Allen) After the movie, we went to a restaurant, and then over for tea at another Norwegian expat’s flat late in the evening. After church this morning I met some friends of my sister Anne Malene, from the school that’s sent her to Brazil (en hilsen fra Hald-studentene til deg, Anne Malene!) and then I spoke to some of the teenagers about organizing a brainstorm on what they think will be  a good idea for the first step in furthering the youth work, and then there was a pot luck lunch with the church board, where I told them about myself, and what I think I can do to further the youth work in the congregation. The result was that I got the final go ahead, and money back for the 60 day visa extension I bought on Thursday.

I’m quickly getting used to bottling water from the electric filter and refilling the rooftop watertank with the electric pump for a few minutes when there is power, soaking all fruit and vegetables I’m planning to eat raw in iodine-water, wearing a mask to filter away most of the dust when I’m out walking (or from today, bicycling, as I’m now borrowing a mountainbike from the Dutch bursar on the church board) and all the other little peculiarities of Kathmandu life. There are some things, however, that I’m not sure I’ll get used to. Yesterday, as I was standing on the street waiting for the people I was going to see the movie with, a goat was slaughtered right there on the pavement across the street. It was tethered to the little shack that serves as the local meat market, and had it’s head chopped off in one mighty blow with a Khukri, the famous large, curved knife of the Gurkha warriors. Then it was held down by two people, and the blood coming out of the neck was gathered in a bucket. I was picked up before I got to witness the rest of the process, but judging from the carcass that was lying on a sheet next to it, the next parts of the process would be burning off the fur, and cutting off the hoofs. (feet? trotters?)

Incidentally, I walk past the headquarters of the Gurkhas whenever I’m going to the nearest supermarket… The Gurkha warriors are a fierce special force, handpicked from a throng of applicants that go through what are some of the world’s most extreme and rigorous tests. The soldiers are Nepali, but they are part of the British armed forces(!) Popular legend says that the best applicants will finish a footrace even if they break a leg on the way, because a Gurkha is not supposed to be hampered by such minor inconveniences.

Trekking in Panchase

Tuesday, January 20th, 2009

So. For the first time on my journey, I have backtracked, and am now back at the hotel rooftop in Kathmandu. My plan was, as you probably know, to be in Royal Chitwan National Park just about now, and head for the border on the 23rd, when my visa runs out. I am back in Kathmandu now, though, because I have a job interview here tomorrow. Kathmandu International Christian Congregation has offered me a two month job as a youth worker. The pastor is out of town for a couple of months, so if I accept, I’ll be living in his appartment. They will also pay for my visa, and give me 20 000 Nepali Rupees (1767 NOK) per month towards insurance and food. My travel insurance costs around 900 NOK per month, and if I eat cheaply the remaining 800 should almost cover food, so I’ll come out losing very little travel time.

Yesterday and the day before, I went trekking in the mountains. I took a bus up to the trailhead, about 1500 meters above sea level, and we then hiked about 11 kilometers up to ca 2300, and back down to 2200, where we stayed the night in a tiny village named Bhanjyang (or something similar.) Up there we got a beautiful sunset, lighting up the mountains in the Himalayan Annapurna range, after a rather hazy day. Yesterday I got up before sunrise, and got some more fantastic views of the majestic giants, coloured bright red by the rising sun. As the sun warmed up the valley, the fog from Fewa Lake down by Pokhara, together with mist from the trees and thatch roofs on the hills, rose up past the mountains, and we got a much clearer descent. Much of the path going there was “paved” in big slabs of stone, making for smooth walking on the few flat stretches, and some mean stairs on the steep hillsides. Much of the paving is paid for by communal guest houses where tourists leave their money, but it is not mainly put there for the tourists’ sake, but for the locals. In the monsoon season, the torrential rains wash away the path where there are no big rocks holding it together, and it becomes almost impassable. This is a big problem for the locals, who have to walk at least half an hour from their homes to find firewood every day, and then haul their heavy loads back. There are plenty of trees, but to avoid deforestation, it is not legal to use healty trees for firewood. I asked why they don’t do like the Tibetans, and gather up dung for the fires, since there are holy cows walking around and dropping it everywhere, but the thought was clearly too disgusting to contemplate… 😉

The trek was a welcome break from the noisy cities I’ve been to, with clean, warm air and the sounds and smells of hight altitude tropical forests surrounding us. My guide Harry, (“Jerry and Harry will have chicken curry, don’t worry” was his first words when we introduced each other) had however brought his Nokia N95 with over 500 western and hindi songs, and a battery powered loudspeaker, so it wasn’t quiet ALL the time… When coming back down, the rocks were wet from the night’s light drizzle, and the steps were treacherously slippery. On the most precarious parts, where the path just hung on for dear life to the green mountainside going straight up on our right and straight down directly to our left, I admit to making doubly and triply sure I had good footing before shifting my weight to that foot… I would’ve loved to take a longer trek, but my legs are glad they’re not moving much today. The ascent was hard on my thighs, but the descent was ten times as rough on my poor knees and calves. I was very happy to find that there was a clear mountain stream at the bottom, where I could cool down my aching feet and legs!

Today I allowed myself the luxury of taking the tourist bus back to Kathmandu, instead of the local bus. The main differences were that the seats were just far enough apart that I could fit my legs between them, there was no stereo blaring Bollywood love songs at 110% volume, we didn’t transport any goats, chickens or other livestock and the trip took about 8 hours instead of 9, as we didn’t stop at every one-horse-town on the way to drop off or try and squeeze in a few more passengers. The price difference, you ask? Up from 300 to 400 Rupees (from 26,50 to 35,40 NOK)

The past week

Tuesday, November 18th, 2008

St.Petersburg, November 12 2008 – Idea for a video piece

Today I went to the Kazan cathedral again, to try to locate a priest or something who speaks English. I figured I’d try to get an interview about the youth work in the orthodox church in Piter, for my little video project, and maybe also get permission to film inside the cathedral. (Which is strictly forbidden, but I thought maybe, since it’s for a church…) My host gave me a note in Russian, which explained what I wanted, and I took it to the cathedral. After a while, they found a priest who spoke a little French, but seeing as my active French vocabulary can fit on two lines, it didn’t do me much good. We managed as much, however, as establishing that an English speaking priest would be there in about two hours.

So I walked up Nevsky Prospekt, spent a couple of hours in the Hermitage (looking at art and old stuff, I might say something about that later), and returned to the Kazan cathedral. One block up the street I found a Lutheran church, that had a gathering later that night, so a plan started forming in my mind, making a little piece that could maybe compare the little lutheran church and it’s work with the big orthodox cathedral across the street.

When I got back to the cathedral, it had been about two and a half hours, but there was a mass at the time, so I waited till it was done, and then presented my little note again. It turned out that the guy who spoke English had NOT been taking part in the mass, and had left ten minutes earlier, while I’d been sitting in on the mass. I got contact with one of the priests, however, he might have been about my age. His wife spoke English, so he called her, I explained to her what I needed, and she in turn told him, who answered her, and she told me that there was an English speaking deacon, Father Georgy, who was the one who’d just been there. The priest got my number, and would ask Father Georgy to call me, so we could set up a meeting.

With that promise, I went across the street to the St.Petri lutheran church, and found the meeting they were having. There were a handful of people in the youth room upstairs in the church, and they were having Taizé prayer in both Russian and German. I joined in, and with my rather limited German managed to follow the program. After the prayer, they had tea and cookies, and they were very curious who this stranger was. The youth pastor there, Tatiana, told me about the congregation and their work there, and she and her colleague Elena agreed to tell me a bit about it on tape. Tatiana was also interested in getting in touch with my congregation back home,  and explore possibilities of further contact! She struck me as a genuinely enthusiastic person, with a burning desire to do new things to keep building the congregation, in other words a wonderful youth pastor! I will certainly pass on the contact info and wishes!

Unfortunately Father Georgy never called, so I’m not entirely sure what to do with the takes from St.Petri in St.Petersburg, but I will keep them, and see if I can find another way of using it.

St.Petersburg, November 13 – Guided by  my host

When I got home last night, I was home alone, because my host was in Uzbekistan. (She’s a flight attendant) She got back early in the morning, and went straight to bed. When I got up, I took a good long time, because my feet have become a little sore from all the walking, so I didn’t want to get right back out. In any case, I was waiting for a phonecall from Father Georgy.

Since Natalia’d had night shift, she had the day off, and we spent it together. She helped me get to a medical office so I could get my second dose of Hep B vaccine, and we went to look for the office of Privjet in St.Petersburg, in case they could register my visa. (It was the office of a partner of Privjet, and they couldn’t)
We had dinner at a restaurant, went home and brought some beers, and watched the movie Mongol.

Novgorod, November 14 2008 – Novgorod, founded by vikings

Today was YET ANOTHER late morning. It shouldn’t be that hard to adjust to a two hour time difference, should it? Anyway, I went to the bus station, bought a ticket for Novgorod, had to wait an hour for the next bus, and now I’m here.
My host Aleksej picked me up at the bus station, and took me home to where he lives with his family. They seem really nice, and they want to do everything for me, and Aleksej tries to make them relax… 🙂

Once again I’ve forgotten that it’s later than it feels, and I’m putting down my computer a little before 3 am…