Friday, December 28, 2012

Alice in Photos

My camera broke in India in 2011, so I have had to rely on others for photos and artwork of Alice. Here are a slew.

Tuesday, September 25, 2012

Refugee Dogs: Rescuing Afghan War Pups

"Fred Armitage went to Afghanistan to protect people. What he didn't expect to protect was abused, homeless dogs left for dead in a war zone."  enRoute Magazine

This is a very moving story about a Canadian soldier and the street pups he has rescued and taken from Kabul to Canada.

This is their Facebook page, Get us Outta here! (Afghan War Pups).

Chapter Thirteen: A Crash Course in Nepali History

When Gyanendra was born in 1947, a court astrologer reportedly told his father, then the crown prince Mahendra, not to look upon Gyanendra because it would bring bad luck. The cursed baby was sent far away from his family and the palace to be raised by a grandmother.


Chapter Twelve: Murphy's Law

We had a workable plan…

…Until I got an urgent email from Sally, rescinding her offer.

“Do you know about the bandhs [strikes] that have been happening? Basically there are constant bandhs in that part of the Terai right now, and there will be until at least May 27, which is when the Constitution is set to be put into effect officially. We can't take the car out during a bandh (too dangerous), and you wouldn't want to get stuck in one.”

She added, “Boy, you sure lucked into a difficult time to try to travel!”

I’d been so consumed with looking after Alice and making our arrangements, I hadn’t been following the news. Now I got caught up. The west part of the country, which we would have to travel through, was closed.

Wednesday, September 12, 2012

Chapter Eleven: First Family

On a street full of motorcycle garages, Alice stopped and pulled me towards a tiny lane. I shook her chain to pull her back, but she was adamant. When I tried to pick her up, she nipped at my face, which she had never done before, squirming until I had to put her down. Whatever she wanted to show me was more important than smelling motorcycle tires and so deserved to be taken seriously. I gave up and followed her to a stretch of shops made of wood and corrugated tin, into a place that sold three disparate things--cellphone credit, bootleg DVDs from China, and homemade food, which sat on the wood counter in translucent buckets colored bright red and dull yellow by the curries inside. It was a humble place manned by one young Tibetan guy.

Chapter Ten: Alice

Dechen was learning English at school and she spoke it well enough to ask questions about Canada and understand the answers, as long as we spoke slowly (or haltingly) and supplemented with lots of pantomime. I’d already broken this kid’s heart once by giving Pup to Sushma’s family, so I was careful now to include her in our future plans so she wouldn’t be as heartbroken when Alice left her for a second time. 

“Canada has lakes and forests and mountains like Nepal. It is much colder in winter than Kathmandu. Like an ice cream freezer. Some years there is snow on the ground for six months. Alice will have to wear a warm coat and boots in winter."

Dechen loved this. What kind of coat? What color of boots? Wouldn’t her tail and nose be cold? She figured the boots should be red and the coat white and the coat should cover her from nose to tail.


Chapter Nine: A Friend of a Friend of a Friend

Several of her female students, young teens, had disappeared. Shirley was frantic. Her investigation revealed that for weeks the girls had been secretly groomed by a young European woman they had met by the stupa.


Thursday, August 23, 2012

The Artists

If you wish to purchase original artwork, prints or note cards by the artists contributing to the story,  please contact them:  

Kathrine Piper
 (A personal favorite of mine is this one. Kath can also be found on Etsy.)

Georgia Griffin
 (Find her on Facebook and Fine Art America)

Alma Ayon
(Alma gives a discount to anyone following the link from this page.)

Quinn Comendant
(This is Quinn's Flickr account. He is also one of the guys behind Strangecode.)

Nadja Dee Witherbee

For Patricia B. Smith, please contact me. Patti sometimes does note cards of her work and sells them to raise money for a children's charity but she could be talked into selling original artwork too.

Chapter Eight: Two Broke Girls

Past quixotic failures haunted me. I couldn’t count how many times I’d followed my heart off a cliff, for men, for causes, for friendship, for colleagues, for stray animals. Human rights projects I’d worked on had broken down in petty personal politics and bureaucratic red tape, or led to everyone on the project being severely hacked.  Smaller efforts were no more successful. I’d tried to bottle-feed abandoned kittens, and once a premature puppy, only to see them die.  I was no good at doing good....

Friday, August 17, 2012

Chapter Seven: A Home at the Top of the World

I could not have invented a better home for Pup. Sushma had grown up with dogs and the whole family were animal lovers. Her father was an agricultural officer for the Nepali government and worked with animals, and her son, six, was now old enough to have a pet. While the parents were at work and the kids at school, the dog would have the grandparents to keep her company. And best of all, she’d have two boys to play with. As Mr. Peabody once said of Sherman in the old Rocky & Bullwinkle cartoons, every dog should have a boy. Pup had hit the jackpot....

Chapter Six: Poop, Glorious Poop

A cold-eyed neighbor lady, whom I came to know as the Tibetan Buddhist Bitch and in whom I saw not a single drop of kindness the whole time I was there, couldn’t let us pass without a sneer or a comment or both.

“'You will never teach that dog to walk on a rope. She is a wild dog," she said, as translated by another neighbor. 

Pup proved her wrong, which of course made the Buddhist bitch like her even less.  Some of her comments were apparently too nasty to translate, because the other neighbor blanched and instead of explaining, looked away, embarrassed.  The Tibetan Buddhist Bitch was not a poor lady. She owned a big house and all her kids were in college or careers and had nice clothes and motorcycles.  For someone so privileged to be offended by a street dog’s lucky break?  That takes a particular smallness of character....

Thursday, August 9, 2012

Chapter Five: Not Sick, Zen

To Do List:
Buy Milk 
Call Shirley 
Make Pup love other people....

Chapter Four: Loving Puppy Free to a Good Home

"Look. No. Bonding," I said. I said it mostly for me, of course, but I thought maybe she’d understand the tone of voice--firm, friendly, but not too friendly. "I’m not your mother or your best friend. I’m just a middleman between the streets and your permanent home...."

Thursday, July 26, 2012

Chapter Three: Too Many Dogs

Chapter Three is now available to subscribers. Read Chapter One here. Donate at least $10 to Alice's travel fund and get every episode delivered to your mailbox.

Whose dog is this?" I asked a nearby tobacco seller, squatting in the stone alcove that was his store.

“Nobody dog,” he said. “Bastard dog."

“'Street dog,'" said a pilgrim. 

I picked her up and the pilgrims kindly made way for me. I carried her to the Saturday cafĂ©, a popular veg restaurant that had a donation box with a phone number for an animal shelter. We were in luck: a veterinary nurse was working nearby and agreed to meet me by a big brass bell near the stupa. And I exhaled. Surely the shelter would welcome this poor puppy, she’d be taken care of, and my job would over. I could go back to thinking obsessively about that plot problem and enumerating my mid-life regrets.

Wednesday, July 25, 2012

Chapter Two: Nepal, the Practical Option

Kathmandu  is best known in the west as the last stop on the fabled “Hippie Trail” of the 1960s and 70s, which saw thousands of  young people hop the Magic Bus to Asia. Imagine a world where you could jump on a bus in London or Amsterdam and get off a  few weeks later in Nepal,  crossing Europe, Iran, Afghanistan, Pakistan and India on the way.  

Now, imagine that meeting of cultures, when those hordes of young round-eyed palefaces in floral tunics and granny glasses showed up in Nepal, at that time an isolated and backward country which had been closed to foreigners until 1951.  The hippies came in search of exoticism, spiritual adventure and cannabis, three things Kathmandu had in excess.  Nepalis supplied eastern wisdom and their acclaimed hashish, then quite legal in Nepal, and the hippies supplied foreign currency and recipes for brownies and fettucine alfredo, planting the seeds for what is now one of Asia’s best tourism industries.  Until recently, Kathmandu was the only place in Southwest Asia where you could find a truly good baguette or a proper strudel...

From Chapter Two of Alice of Nepal.  Read Chapter One here. Donate at least $10 to Alice's travel fund and get every episode delivered to your mailbox.

Saturday, July 21, 2012

The Blind Leading the Blind

Copyright 2012 Kathrine Piper

Read Part One Here.
If you wish to read more, please donate at least $10 to get the remaining episodes. Make sure you include your email address. The proceeds will go towards Alice's crate, India animal export permit and airfare to Canada.