That's right April through June is Summer in South Asia! There are actually 5 seasons on the Indian Subcontinent: Fall, Winter, Spring, Summer and the Monsoon. What is called Spring and Summer here is really alternating bouts of pre-monsoon heat and pre-monsoon rains until the Monsoon starts in late June or early July. It took me like 2 years to figure that out. Above you see our kitties relaxing on the patio table during a bout of pre-monsoon heat last week. It was gleefully DRY after 3 weeks of continuous thunderstorms.
Caterpillars cavorting in the winter vegetables are a sure sign that Summer is here. This was the last of the Kashmiri haak or collards. The entire winter garden is now on the compost heap now. Corn, chilis okra, and tomatoes are the only veg I'm growing this Summer. Corn and okra will survive the Monsoon, the chilis and tomatoes will probably turn to mush about mid August.
The neighbors had a Buddhist house blessing for the new year. They do this every year and it is quite intensive. The lamas bless each room and area of the house. In the above photo they are on the roof finishing the blessing. Each room is purified and blessed with chanting, drums, horns, and incense. Lamas go door to door at the beginning of year signing up patrons for house blessings. They usually have a plastic laminated list of fees, photos, and copious documents verifying their authority from a tulku. The ceremony started at sunrise and continued 'til sunset. They used rose scented incense, I would have preferred nag champa but whatev's.
Our local vacant lot was host to some sort of district wide volleyball tournament. This went on for about a week and required micromanaging by no less than four men with LOUD bullhorns. No women's teams played. What's up with that?
The cha-cha convention started up at the local secondary school bus stop again. Some of the old uncles observed the volleyball tournament and some chose to watch the new momo stand being built behind the bus stop. The cha-chas will not take their coats and scarves off until it is at least 32C/90F. The topis (traditional pastel colored ikat Nepali caps) never come off out of doors.
Love was definitely in the air as this reptilian Romeo wooed a lady lizard on the garden wall. Romeo didn't seem to be having much luck as his potential paramour fell off the wall trying to evade his advances. True romance, eh? HIM the Baacha Khan (our tomcat) caught the unfortunate damsel when she fell.
I immediately rescued Ms Lizard from HIM the Baacha Khan. I am holding her by the tail because she will bite. It can be quite a nasty bite too. One of the neighbor kids developed a golf ball sized abscess full of vicious anaerobes after being bitten by one of these things. They are about a foot long with that whip-like tail. The orangey-red coloring on her head is brightest during mating season. The males sport a similar coloring, are slightly larger, and have a spiny lion-like ruff on their necks. These things are like mini Monitor lizards. Ms Lizard was safely released in the corn field. HIM the Baacha Khan was miffed.
Here's the neighborhood police kiosk with our local boys in blue. Nepal will be having it's first nationwide elections in 20 years next month. There are all sorts of rallies, speeches, and marches going on around town in preparation for the election. Everybody I've talked to seems really excited about implementing the new constitution of this fledgling democracy. Unfortunately some Madhesi groups along the southern border of Nepal are already refusing to participate and making threats. For this reason security is on high alert! Well, at least they're awake. (That isn't always the case.)
In other news, Kashmir is on the boil again. The photo you see above is a young Kashmiri man tied to the front of a military jeep by the Indian army as a "human shield" against protesters throwing stones. It is from a video that was allegedly taken on April 9th, the same day as an election for a Srinagar parliament seat. The vehicle the Kashmiri is tied to supposedly contains poll officials who faced a mob of angry stone-throwers. The army states the man was a protestor, the young man says he was simply returning home after voting. Attorney General Mukul Rohatgi, the Indian government's chief legal advisor stated:
"The recent report about a stone pelter tied to an Army vehicle, it helped contain stone pelters and saved the poll officials. Why so much noise? Everyday people are dying. It's a surcharged atmosphere. The Army is dealing with terrorists not with protestors, so they will have to be dealt with...everyone should look at the Army with pride, they are doing a great job."
That about sums up the situation in Kashmir. Both mobile internet and fixed line broadband connectivity have been suspended in Kashmir but authorities refused to confirm the block on record. Am I afraid for my Kashmiri family? Yes.
I love this baby's expression. Baby is like "Yikes!" or "WTH!?! Seems a truly fitting meme for the 21st century. Mom is carrying her baby and hair clip with a shawl tied around her shoulders in typical Nepali fashion while shopping.
Lastly, here's the grand and glorious Mt Machapuchare aglow in the Sunday sunset. The sky was absolutely black and it poured and thunderboomered all day and then !!POOF!! at 5pm sharp the clouds parted. Out peeped the gorgeous Annapurna mountain range for a spectacular grand finale. I took this photo from the northeastern corner of our backyard. You can see our scraggly banana patch in the lower left. Mt Machapuchare is also nicknamed the "Matterhorn of Nepal" based on this view. The mountain's name means fishtail. (Macha means fish and puchare means tail or butt if you were wondering.) As you go around the peak you can see the double summit at the top which does indeed resemble a forked fish's tail. It stands at 6,993 m (22,943 ft) and is about 25 km/16 miles north of our house. The mountain is revered by the local population as sacred to the god Shiva, and hence is off limits to climbing.
So, that's all that's going on around here this Summer, what's going on 'round your neck of the woods?
Are the fish jumpin' and the cotton high?
Is your mama rich and your daddy good lookin'?
Oh hush little baby, don't you cry,