May 3, 2017

And now for something completely different!

What's that you say? 
Bibi needs to get to a threading parlor SOON? 
Or perhaps an endocrinologist?
You're not impressed by my hipster 70's 'stache? Well, gawrsh. These silly glasses are Sun-Staches. I think I bought these at Spencer's or some cheapie mall place. They're kind of rinky-dink as far as quality goes but they're a great ice-breakers. In case you're wondering moustache is junga in Nepali and moonch in Hindi. (No, I am not advertising for Sun-Staches.) My paternal grandmother used to wear huge RayBans like this. (Un-mustachioed of course.) I'm amazed at how much I look like her.

Ganga, our neighbor lady had to try them on too. And of course the look wouldn't be complete without Bibi's garden hat. Take these with you on your next trip to South Asia and hilarity will surely ensue!

So, last week we were sweltering in the pre-monsoon sunshine at about 93F/34C and the Accuweather prediction was for more heat and a 4% chance of precipitation. Then out of nowhere gale force winds began whipping around our valley, the sky grew black, and the temp dropped to 87F/30C in an hour. According to the Kathmandu Times this is what happened:

"A low pressure system developed in the areas around Haryana of India due to the influence of the Westerly wind and a low pressure belt from Bihar to Odisha triggered rainfall in Nepal, the system that began Sunday is moving towards east and an improvement in the weather system is expected from Wednesday," meteorologist Samir Shrestha said."

I think that translates to: a hot and humid wind from the west was drawn into a low pressure belt in the north that careened into the cold air of the Himalayas and WHAM! THUNDERSTORM! I know we had a slew of derechos a week ago but this was the granddaddy of all thunderstorms. For 14 hours it sounded like we were under artillery siege and the sky was lit up like a disco. I am of the opinion that if a butterfly belches in South Asia they should issue a severe weather alert.

For about 20 minutes we were pelted with walnut sized hail. I checked the Accuweather site and the forecast had miraculously changed to a 41% chance of precipitation and thunderstorms. So much for the "accu" in Accuweather, eh? It poured after that. Five people died yesterday and last night in Nepal from lightning strikes. A local 14 year-old boy just up the mountain here was struck by lightning and died returning home from collecting fodder for cattle. A 23 year-old man in Gadhi Rural Municipality died on the spot after he was struck by a bolt of lightning at around 11 pm while sleeping. A 46 year-old woman died while cooking with her daughter-in-law when lightning struck their house in Sindhupalchok. Two teenaged boys were killed by lightning strike while taking shelter under a tree in Parbat. At least 14 other Nepalis were injured by lightning and one house caught fire. On average about 60-70 persons die yearly in Nepal from lightning strikes. Mother Nature was cranky. 

Of course that didn't stop the neighbor kids from having fun! Rain, hail, and lightning strikes be darned. That cart with bicycle wheels was deserted in the neighborhood vacant lot. You know they say the safest place during a lightning storm is in a moving rubber wheeled vehicle, maybe these kids are on to something?

Famed Swiss climber Ueli Steck (aka the "Swiss Machine") fell to his death near Mt Everest last Sunday too. The 40-year-old veteran climber died when he slipped climbing a slope on Mt Nuptse and fell into a 6,600 meter crevasse. Amazingly his body was recovered and airlifted to Lukla. The mountain gods were not happy this weekend!

On a cheerier note a 21-year-old Taiwanese man was rescued last week after disappearing for 47 days in remote northwestern Nepal. Mr Liang Sheng-yueh, who just turned 21 went missing with girlfriend Liu Chen-chun, 19, in early March while they were trekking in the remote Ganesh Himal. The trekkers lost their trail after a snowstorm. They had no local guide or porter. Liang and Liu survived on snow, water, and the salt he was carrying. Unfortunately, Ms Chen-chun died from starvation just 3 days before the rescue. Mr Sheng-yueh was found riddled with lice, 30 kgs skinnier, and suffering a maggot-infested foot. I don't know about you, but Bibi would be eating those maggots and lice before they ate her. Just sayin'.

Seeds, glorious seeds! Before the storm we had houseguests all week. Both family and friends. That was a lot of cooking and laundry. Our relatives brought me spices and foodstuffs from Kashmir. Our friends brought me seeds. SWOON. All sorts of flower and vegetable seeds. Chilis, tomatoes, eggplants, cucumbers, radish, marigolds, salvia, petunias, celosia, gomphrena, haak, and kohlrabi. I planted the eggplant seeds already. Most of the flowers will have to wait until September to be planted. 

These are kulchas from Kashmir.  My family brought these on their visit. Kulcha means 'fat one' and their shape is decidedly plump. They are simply ghee and wheat flour made into pastry which is topped with white poppy seeds and baked in a tandoori oven.

Kulchas are quite flaky and crumbly much like a well made savory pie crust. They are a little bit salty and not at all sweet. Kulchas are one of the traditional breads baked at local tandoori bakeries called a kandar or kandhur in Kashmir. These typically would be eaten fresh out of the oven with noon chai (salt tea) in the afternoon. Rice is the staple carbohydrate in Kashmir, these Persian-inspired wheat breads are generally only served for breakfast and afternoon tea time.

And lastly, this is the Sheikh's (my husband) gift to me. Eight glorious bags of cow manure. That's a lot of poop! The gardener and I have been kvetching at him for ages for fertilizer. I've made do with the chemical stuff and the compost heap won't be ready until the next 6 months. The Sheikh has really gotten to like having flowers year 'round in the garden and fresh veg too. He doesn't really participate in the gardening except to stroll about and admire though. ;)

And as I sit here typing on Tuesday evening it is pouring rain again. It started clear, sunny, and hot but with nightfall came more rain. (That ought to get those eggplant seeds sprouted.) As you can see above the kitties lounged on the patio table as usual. Tikka is the grey striped tabby using her mama the black cat (Chinger) as a mattress. The kitties look a bit green as the new patio umbrella they are sitting under is green - the old one blew away in the storm. We have been without power for 2 days and without internet for 4 days. I do have recipes ready to go though! Yippee!

Calmly currying on,


  1. Those glasses are ridiculously silly, no wonder the neighbours were enraptured by them!
    Lots going on in your part of the world.
    The thunderstorms on the subcontinent are incredible, stunning to watch but absolutely devastating for many. We were in Goa one April when a bolt of lightning struck the village cow shed, causing the death of 12 cows.
    I love the gaudiness of the seed packets and I wouldn't mind one of those kulchas with the spicy broccoli soup I'm making for lunch.
    Those cats!!! I love them. xxx

  2. Hi Vix,
    It is 3 pm as I write this. The sky is black after a beautifully sunny morning AGAIN and it is pouring buckets with heavy winds.
    I just ran around the house bolting all the windows shut because rain is blasting against the house like a firehouse alternately from the east and south. The lightning is coming fast & furious and the air reeks of ozone.
    I am a Californicator! I'm not used to extreme weather! It never rains in California like the song goes!
    I have to admit to hitting the saturate button a few too many times to see how far I could get the colors on the seed packets photo to get them to pop.

    Havin' a kulcha with my afternoon cuppa chai on yet another rainy day, wishin' you were here!

  3. As we enter our second week of "severe weather" here in the Midwest, I'm grateful that my little home is located on the high side of the river valley, aka, "high and dry". The sump pump is running continuously nonetheless; the clay soil is completely saturated and water is standing on fields and roads. And it's chilly! (I refuse to turn on the heat in May; however, I have piled the blankets back on the bed and invited the cats to join me.)

    Hot tea helps. Our expedition to The Jungle in Cincinnati was a glorious success. I scored Taylor Lapsang Soochong and Assam teas, strong enough to take milk and get me off to work and through the day. A kulcha or two would be welcome to lift my spirits and energy level...

    Lightning strikes do carry that aura of "bolts from the gods." A maternal great-grandfather died when a ball of lightning traveled down a kitchen stove pipe, knocked the oven door off the stove, rolled across the cabin floor and struck him. On the other side of the family, I've a cousin who has been struck in the head by lightning - twice. His granny, my aunt, said that explained why he belonged to the "wrong" political party. (He's mayor of a small city.)

    1. Hi Beth,
      I was talking to some friends in my native California and after decades of drought they're so saturated from rain they're worried about flooding too. Bizarro weather everywhere!

      Glad to here your Jungle safari was a success!

      Egads, killed by an oven door! I thought it was just incredible that people get struck by lightning cooking dinner or sleeping in their beds. How amazing to get struck twice by lightning. I wonder hat the wrong political party in the US is nowadays?

    2. I had a close call in the kitchen on the farm. I was in the next room when I saw a flash come through the fluorescent shop light we had hanging from metal chains above the counter. It ruined the light, but I lived to tell the tale. Danny saw it too, and it served as a good reminder that in a lightning storm you aren't always perfectly safe indoors.

    3. Goody,
      We saw lightning hit a moving 4WD auto on the road here a few years back. The interior of the vehicle caught fire and and a few minutes later (after the passengers had exited rapidly) the fuel tank caught fire & blew the whole thing up. So much for being safe like the experts recommend too.

  4. Yikes, I'll bet you're glad that's over.
    I had to laugh at the manure, while admiring the practical gift. My hubs doesn't pay much attention to the garden until he starts enjoying the benefits of fresh produce. Still can't get much help though.

    Seed packets are the best gifts. I'm in the habit of including them with Christmas cards so people have something to look forward to.

    1. Hi Goody,
      What a wonderful, thoughtful touch to give seeds!

      Last year we bought aged goat manure from a gov't sponsored co op, not sure where the goats or that co op disappeared to this year.

      It poured & thunderboomered for 6 hrs today again. It's snowing in the mountains too. At least I don't have to water the flowers!

  5. Your moonch is fantastically hilarious. It reminds me of the rip roaring bollywood comedy of 1970s "Golmaal", which depicts rather crazily the importance of moonch in a man's life. who would have thought a moonch could create such chaos.

    Dust storms are the characteristics of May. Earlier, there used to be two dust storms per week in April-May. Now, we are lucky to have even one in two months. The result is relentless heat from April onwards. Dust storms and raw mangoes falling from the trees were the most abiding memories of this month. We had three mango trees in our courtyard of our government accommodation, which were the source of our mango hunts. The fallen mangoes were distributed among the neighbors. Mango chutney and pickles with roti, fantastic to say the least.

    Come to think of it, there is indeed something fascinating about dust storms and lightning. I have read many of these blogs and most foreigners seem to be fascinated by thunder storms. Rains in the subcontinent are perhaps something of an experience in itself.

    Curiously, Kulchas mean small fluffy bread to be eaten with spicy chickpeas in delhi. They together called "Chole Kulche" and an absolute favorite of the Punjabis. I guess this too may be of mughal origin.


    1. Hi Apple,
      Where I am from (California) is actually desert with only 355mm of rain yearly. That's like nothing compared to the 3550mm we get in this little valley here in Nepal. Thunder, lightning, and rain were rarities in California. It was so dry that lightning usually caused forest and grass fires.

      The only thing I've experienced like a dust storm here is when there was an avalanche in a higher valley here. For 3 days after the avalanche the sky was tan colored and dust fell so thick you could only see for about 500 ft.

      The Punjabi kulchas are huge disks of flaky layered pastry as I recall. According to what I've read the Mughals were quite find of ghee laden pastries.

  6. That weather sounds atrocious! I'm often quite glad to be living on this relatively small island; we may get a lot of rain, but nothing really lasts for long, and it's almost never particularly extreme compared to what people everywhere else have to put up with. That hail looks like it could easily demolish a greenhouse.

    1. Hi Mim,
      Being a Californian even British weather looks wild to me! I'm used to clear skies & sunshine nearly every day.
      That hail did demolish my garden !@#$!!!!


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