I’m riding pillion on David’s motor bike. I can’t find the hand grip behind me so I’m wondering whether to hold on to his slightly over sized waste or try to grip harder with my legs. I chose the second option and almost straight away regret my decision as we bounce over an earthquake road “repair”. (The contents of a destroyed house randomly dragged out over the broken Road). We’re on our way to fix my laptop that got damaged on the way here. Two hours and 500 rupees later we’re on our way home but the traffic is bad. I put on my dust mask and fix my sunglasses to keep the dust and fumes from doing their worst. The traffic gets heavy and the road is blocked. Protesters surrounded by police with battens have spilled out onto the street outside the Indian embassy. They carry signs telling foreigners to stop meddling in Nepalese politics. The atmosphere is tense but not violent. The bike manages to negotiate a way between the traffic and the police and we get to the children’s home safely.
That was a week ago and since then the political stand off between Nepal and India over Nepal’s new constitution has resulted in the border being closed. Nepal is land locked with India to the east south and west and China to the north. Access to China requires crossing the Himalayas consequently India is the main source of all imported goods and as Nepal has no manufacturing sector India can hold it to ransom. Petrol is the immediate problem. Fuel is only being sold to busses and essential services so everyday life has become hard and prices of food have started to rise. The plus side of this is pollution, noise and dust levels have decreased a lot 🙂
For us this has meant that we can’t start building the house. We need cement and that has to be transported both from the factory to the retailer and from the retailer to us. The normal price of cement is 700 rupees today we can’t buy it for less than 900 rupees and it’s hard to find a truck with fuel to bring it here. Try to imagine a world without petrol. . . . so now you’re thinking electric cars. That’s fine for us in the West but here even if electric cars were available where would the electricity come from? There are power cuts for around 8 hours a day in Kathmandu and outside of the cities everything is run from generators that run on petrol. This is another world!
Anyway we will be taking a break from Kathmandu for 5 days to see what help we can be out in a village. Hopefully when we come back (if there are busses running to get us back) the petrol / political issues will be resolved and we will be able to get on. So please pray for the situation here to normalise and also that prices will come down quickly.