The following maps represent our walking, driving and flying routes in Nepal from the two trip in March 2016 and November 2017.


Pokhara – November 2017 trip

November Nepal Kathmandu trip

Kathmandu – November 2017 trip

November Kathmandu Pokhara

Kathmandu and Pokhara – November 2017 trip

Nepal Kathmandu March 2016

Kathmandu – March 2016 trip


Friday, March 25, 2016

Today is our last day in Kathmandu.


We started the day by interviewing Leela Mani Poudel who had been the Minister of Cultural Affairs in Kathmandu for many years. He was instrumental in starting the Saturday morning river cleanups, which have become a weekly event. These river cleanups have been very successful and have included over 150,000 residents working on 11 different sites on the river. They regularly collect several tons of garbage that are then deposited in a landfill. Tomorrow will be the 150th Saturday and many celebratory events are planned. He also provided important information about upcoming plans for building sewage treatment plants and putting in sewage lines. Apparently the pipes are planned to be in place in five years.

After his interview, we went back to Barbar Mahal Revisited to meet with William Holton from the US Embassy. Although our meeting was short, it was extremely productive.  He offered many opportunities for partnering together in the next few months.
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After our discussion, Jason and I had lunch and then at 2 o’clock we went to talk to Sangeeta’s 89 year-old father. He shared stories of growing up on the banks of the Bagmati and playing in its water throughout his childhood. He mentioned that one of the saddest moments in his life was when his father passed away, and he could not bathe in the badly polluted waters of the sacred river as is Hindu custom. It was clear that this had bothered him for several decades.
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After the interview we headed back to the hotel to pack and shower. The family who owns the Shakya House gave us some going away presents and hugs!

We are now at the airport. It is 7:35 pm, as we await our 8: 55pm flight. I can start to feel myself shutting down after our two busy weeks. It was very productive, and there are many unexpected opportunities available for our project.

The blog will continue with periodic updates.

Thank you for following along in our adventure!

Thursday, March 24, 2016

It’s 9:30 pm and the dogs that have been sleeping all day are now having a full-blown concert. When I mentioned this to the residents here, they mention that they have gotten used to it over the years. I have found that earplugs are a necessity in the evenings in the city.
It was going to be a busy day, but it turned out to be pretty chopped up with not as much getting done as we had planned. We have been pretty fortunate up to today with getting a lot accomplished every day.
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We started our day strong with Erina Tamraker’s and Asha Dangol’s studio visit. We had met Erina at a painting event on the banks of the Bagmati last week, and she was nice enough to invite us to come to her studio to look at her work. This husband and wife team, who work independently most of the time, worked in a studio complex that housed seven artists who have been sharing a studio complex for 20 years.

IMG_2940 ashha eartquake 100 Each small studio was filled with stacks of paintings that they’ve been accumulating over the years. Each artist’s work was very different from the others, but we saw many paintings dealing with the Bagmati River and other issues relating to Kathmandu and Nepal.

IMG_2921 erina bagmati 100We looked at several paintings before heading out to our next meeting back at Barbar Mahal Revisited. We met with Sangeeta Thapa and discussed the show a bit more. I took some drawings of the gallery space where my exhibition and video screening is going to be presented next fall.

IMG_2933 kathmandu pollution 100We had two hours to kill before our 4 o’clock appointment, so we ran to Kathmandu Durbar Square, where we got a tour of the many temples including the Kama Sutra Temple. It was sad to see so many temples damaged by the earthquake including the “The Hip
pie Temple”, where 80 people died during the earthquake when a blood donation drive was occurring.

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We walked briskly back to the gallery for another meeting but found out that it had been postponed until the next day.

We decided to go back to the hotel, put away our camera equipment, take a shower, pack and go the Fire and Ice Restaurant where we met Sangeeta again to discuss exhibition opening dates, exhibition plans, a bit about her life, her family and Nepali culture and politics.

Tomorrow we fly out but first we have three meetings.
IMG_2996 close up temple face

We have been very busy and sometimes we get so overwhelmed with everything around us and with our schedule that we forget where we are. I periodically catch myself and say, “Oh yeah, I am half way around the world in Kathmandu….that’s pretty cool”… and then I get sucked up again.

It’ll hit me when I home thinking back on these two weeks. Next November I hope to take it a bit easier.

Wednesday, March 23, 2016

IMG_2893 jasonWe had another busy day, which started with our usual walk to the studio at the Kathmandu Contemporary but this morning we met with the director of the Patan Museum. He showed us a print from the collection depicting the river as it flowed by the holiest Hindu temple located in Kathmandu. We photographed the work created in 1800s for use in our publication. He also showed us parts of an earthquake-damaged sculptural tower that was going to be restored later in the summer by a team from the US. Since there was no electricity again in the city and the museum was dark, he provided a tour of the impressive sacred courtyards on the grounds. He explained the roles of the many Hindu deities represented in the sculptures and carvings. It is a complicated topic and one that will take a good deal more studying to fully understand.

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I had some time before our next appointment, so I spent an hour drawing part of Durbar Square outside the Museum.

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At 2 pm, we interviewed Dr. Bandana Pradhan who is a public health expert on the effects of the Bagmati River on its residents. Her interview was very informative, and we discussed her toxicity mapping of the river.

At 3pm, as a favor to the musical duo we had recorded earlier in the week, we were scheduled to record more songs, so they could produce a CD of their work. Unfortunately, they cancelled due to a family emergency.

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Our next interview arrived early, and we were able to document Sujan Chitrakar, the director of the School of Art and Design at Kathmandu University. His interview was short but very compassionate. Afterwards, we discussed how we could work together with the students to design and publish a brochure and poster that would be used to disseminate public health information about the Bagmati. He was very interested in the project and will be sharing it with his seniors next week. We also talked about working with his fine arts students to create work about the Bagmati to include in the exhibition in November and the touring exhibition back in the States.

We ended the day, having dinner with Dr. Bibhuti Jha, an aquatic biologist from KU, who agreed to provide us images of the snow trout found in the protected area at the headwaters of the Bagmati. The dinner was very enjoyable as was his company. We tried a few more new dishes. Specifically, a potato roll which was a spiraled out potato, layered in spices and fried.

Tuesday, March 22, 2016

2016-03-22 18.21.54 kilroy's mural

As I write this, it’s 9:30pm and I can hear drums, horns and singing in the streets mixed with dogs barking and a plane taking off in the far distance.

Today is a Hindu holiday, Happy Holi. The festival celebrates the victory of good over the devil, the arrival of spring, the arrival of the upcoming rains, the celebration of old and new friendships and embracing joy. Doesn’t that sound wonderful?!

Since most residents do not work today, everything was closed and no one was interested in meeting with us. We accepted an invitation from our young hotel owner, Saajan, and his brother, Swodesh, to go celebrate the festival with them.

P1030554morning colors

The morning started by Saajan’s and Swodesh’s mother coming to my room and joyfully putting colored pigment on my face. A couple hours later, we were walking to a location where most of the holiday celebrators were congregating. Along the way we had more pigments applied to our faces by happy strangers and periodically got soaked by water balloons being tossed by young snipers in apartment buildings.

We could hear the music of the venue from blocks away. When we arrived, there were hundreds of residents dancing to the music coming from huge speakers. The crowd was outside what looked like a hotel and inside the hotel was a large pool filled with gray water. The color was probably a result of the polluted tap water and a mixture of pigments being washed off the people in the pool. I have never seen so many happy people celebrating without the influence of alcohol. That’s not to say that a few might have been under the influence, but there was no one staggering around, out-of-control or acting in an angry manner. There was just clear-minded joy and celebration. This was a part of Kathmandu that I had not seen. Amongst the hardship and losses from the earthquake, the people remain in touch with their ability to embrace the good and joy in their lives, in their family, in their friends and in their culture.

P1030582 jason and me 100

We left our guests at the celebration and started the long walk home to get cleaned up to meet Dr. David Gillette at Kilroy’s in Thamel. I’m not sure if I have mentioned that David grew up in Fredonia where Jason and I live now. We spent our dinner enjoying each other’s company and discussing how our lives brought us to academia and our love for teaching and research.

Monday, March 21, 2016


This morning was spent at the Kathmandu Contemporary Art Center as I was being interviewed by Abhaya Joshi from OnlineKhabar and Smriti Basnet from the Nepali Times. Abhaya had some very good questions and I am looking forward to reading his interpretation of our project. Amriti has come to the lecture earlier in the week and was asking some more questions as she laid the groundwork for her article in the fall. In November, we will be returning to present the project in Siddhartha Gallery and participate in some outreach activities. Any free time Jason and I had between interviews was spent scheduling additional interviews and research for the last few days. I was also able to create a quick drawing in the museum courtyard.

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Yesterday was the worst day of The Kathmandu Cough that was caused by the pollution but today was much better. I drank a lot of hot water, lemon juice and honey. It’s a remedy that seems to be on every menu in the area. My wife, Janeil, makes a similar version with a shot of rum which nicely complements the concoction.

mr shah

The afternoon was spent on documenting two interviews for the documentary and book. The first was Dr. Deep Narayan Shah who is a water quality specialist on the Bagmati River. He is a professor at Kathmandu University and is one of the directors of the Bagmati River Expedition 2015. The Expedition recently completed a comprehensive report on the Bagmati which is the scientific core of our project. The second interview was with Dr. Ram Devi Tachamo Shah. Her specialty is the climate change effects on the Himalayas and their effects on the Bagmati and the Kathmandu Valley. She is also a professor at KU and worked on the Expedition.

mrs shah

Both professionals gave up teaching positions in Europe to return to Nepal  to create positive change in their homeland. They made a difficult decision that has created professional and personal fulfillment while endangering the quality of their own health and that of their child.

After the interviews, we all went out to dinner to further discuss the best ways to disseminate the Expedition’s data through our project so that we could reach the underserved populations who live along the river.

Sunday, March 20, 2016

At breakfast this morning, we read in the paper that Kathmandu is the third most polluted city in the world. My brother-in-law heard the news and mentioned that I do pick the strangest places to vacation.

P1030552studio drawing 100

After breakfast, we went to the museum, which was preparing for a visit by Prince Harry . There was a swat team inside the Kathmandu Contemporary Arts Center (KCAC) and the square was empty of all pedestrians. We had no problems, however, getting the new musicians who were going to record into the museum. We had commissioned two traditional musicians  to write and perform a song about the Bagmati River to include in the project’s documentary. When they heard the playback on the recorder, they smiled and excitedly shared the headphones. They had never heard their voices recorded. They asked if they could play another song, and we have scheduled to record their entire group on Wednesday. We will be giving them digital files. Jason will  design the CD cover, and they will have something that they can use to archive and promote their traditional music in the area.

After the recording session, we went across Kathmandu to Guheswori to photograph the middle school and high school art students depicting their dreams for the Bagmati River. We hope to document a cross-section of artists as they reflect Nepali culture and their depiction of the environment.

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After meeting the judges and photographing the work, we headed back to the KCAC to meet with Sangeeta Thapa, the director of the Siddhartha Art Gallery where we will be presenting the project in November. We discussed the exhibition and then headed back across the city to her gallery. We looked at the three floors and started creating a preliminary plan for the exhibition. We also discussed how to ship the works back to the United States after the exhibition came down, and discussed which works by local artists to include in the show. The Burchfield Penny Art Center is interested in touring the exhibition. After our meeting Jason and I walked around the Baber Mahal Revisited before we went back close to Patan and stopped at a grocery store to pick up some cough drops and honey to alleviate my cough, which I have a had since I arrived.

We ended the evening at Thai Ghar, which has become one of our favorite local restaurants.