This Entry Is a Bootleg Copy
and Must Be Reported
Mark's students will be taking their (national) exams within the next two weeks. The tenth graders who hope to go further in school must pass these exams. Usually, those who go on past tenth grade are from wealthier families. In the hills, the number of girls in school drops drastically after the sixth or seventh grade; that's when they are promised (engaged) by their families, who then see no need for any more schooling.
Mark's previous roommate, Kraig, recently finished his term in the Peace Corps. Kraig travelled during March; now he is going to Japan before returning home. Mark says he wants to travel to the Middle East -- Turkey, Egypt, Jerusalem, and Greece -- when his term is over, followed by a visit to Europe. Another friend of his in Nepal wants to go to China, Mongolia, Iran and Cuba.
Mark is going to continue to work at the Women's Development Center over the summer. He and Virginia and two women from the Center have just attended the conference in Kathmandu on micro-enterprising. Mark's goal is to do a cost analysis (on Excel spreadsheets) by the end of August for all 200 items that the women at the center make, with the hope that they can begin to make a profit. They are actually losing money on some of the items they sell.
Besides his work at the center, Mark will go to a Teacher Training Seminar for a few weeks this summer.
The temperature is already in the 90's (Fahrenheit) in Janakpur, with the hottest weather still to come -- May and September are the hottest months. The houses are made of concrete, exacerbating the heat problem. At night, people drench their sheets with water and turn on their fans. Mark has a ceiling fan and a table fan. In the evenings, when everyone returns home and electricity use goes up, the power (from India) goes off or the wattage goes down, causing the lights to dim and the fans to slow down.
Last summer, the highest temperature was 118° F (48° C). When it gets up to around 110° F (43° C), the Volunteers are permitted to go to Kathmandu for some relief. Mark is paying 300 rupees per month as his share of the rent of an apartment ("darah") in Kathmandu, along with nine others. There are six beds there and this assures him of having a place to stay -- and do some cooking -- when he is in Kathmandu. A "clean hotel" in Kathmandu costs fifty rupees for one night.
Mark just saw "Rules of Engagement" at a Kathmandu restaurant, preceded by the message "This is a bootleg copy and must be reported." The cost, $1.00, also included a Pepsi and french fries.
Mark said the phone call we were having would cost him about one day's salary: 300 rupees, which is equivalent to roughly five dollars.