Fifteen out-of-the-ordinary gifts from Nepal Dec 21st 2016

are you the kind of traveler who hates the idea of a t-shirt that says “My parents visited Nepal and all I got was this lousy t-shirt?” or perhaps “Hard Rock Café Kathmandu”?

Got a singing bowl? how about a Thangka? a little golden figurine of Buddha? these are two items that seem to show up when everyone unpacks after their trip.


Here is a short break taking you to a Himalayan Trek in Solu Khumbu, which by the way, I have never visited myself.

“Tokens of Love”

I happen to have those items and more, not because I bought them, but because people have gifted them to me. At the end of each class session we invariably have a ceremony in which I am given a “token of love.” Now, at this point I own about a dozen small Buddhas.


The hospitality of Nepali people is legendary, and they are respectful of teachers due to Buddhist influence. So I get these “tokens of Love – after awhile they add up. I love this particular one – the class at GBCHH was memorable and fun.

I am  difficult to please in the Nepali scale of gift-giving. Actually, I’ve always been difficult to buy for – I don’t like clothes for example unless I pick them out myself. Frankly, I am the kind of person who enjoys books as a gift.

In the travel industry, people have made studies of the type of handicraft or souvenir that goes with different archetypes of travelers. For example, there is a specific sub-type of tourist who does in fact enjoy getting a Harley-Davidson logo item that might include the name of an “exotic” dealership – (“Harley-Davidson Waikiki” for example. Or a t-shirt from Super Bowl XVIII.  The Nepal equivalent would be a football shirt that says “Fly Emirates” I guess.

There is always a specific group of travelers who buy specific handicrafts. The handicrafts on display do not arrive there by accident.

First, India

When you take the Grand Tour of Rajasthan, the tourist people have it arranged so that when you hire a guide, the guide steers you to a specific shop that is making whichever handicraft is associated with that city or region. For example, in Aggra you are brought to a place where they do stone inlay work such as that found on the actual Taj Mahal.


you’ll see this inlaid work on items in Thamel, but it’s from India. It is truly beautiful.

In Jaisalmer you get a class on those bedspreads made of eclectic quilted materials.


In South Asia, the basic idea is, every handicraft is associated with a particular region or ethnic group. Here is an example of the kind of quilt they make in rural Rajasthan…..

In Jodhpur you get those moghul miniature paintings of the Kama Sutra. You get a class on the technique then an offer to buy items on a discount. When you get the backstory you end up learning how to appreciate the item you bought and you can practice what you will say when you show it to your friends back in USA.

Umm, those people with the Harley-Davidson logo? They are probably not visiting Nepal. Nepal has a high percentage of adventure tourists and vagabonds.

the top ten physical things people bring home?

  1. singing bowl
  2. thangka
  3. anything made with Pashmina.
  4. Buddha statues
  5. embroidered t-shirts (“Langtang trek”)
  6. diarrhea ( I suppose…)
  7. maybe a saree.
  8. a khukuri knife as made famous by the Gurkhas.
  9. little wooden picture frames carved in Newari style.
  10. prayer flags
  11. malla beads

as you see, these are ones I think of off the top of my head. I am not disputing the quality of pashmina or the singing bowls, I’m just saying these are what “everyone” gets.

Anyway, I tend to look for the less commercialized gift, or at least the one where the accompanying story needs to be as good as the item. Oh, and it needs to be inexpensive!

My turn to be “snooty”

I’m not better than others just because I like different stuff.


I try very hard to de-clutter my life in USA, but I do like to have unusual items. I usually return home with

  1. those green beaded necklaces, called “potey” that you can find in the Indra Chowk bead bazaar. to find the bead bajaar, use these directions:
  2. more puja posters to add to my collection. these are devotional items you can get for about 25 cents apiece, and they are often striking pieces of visual art


    This is sample of a poster used for a home altar in Hinduism. Very colorful and intriguing. ah one illustrates some aspect of the Gods.

  3. various “paranda” – the hair tassels worn by many women, braided in as an extension ( see separate blog entry for this)
  4. I have sometimes ordered “cholo” – those double-breasted blouses made of palpali dakka cloth worn by many of the locals. for that matter – anything made of Dakka! If you don’t know what Dakka is, is a sort of plaid. Usually hand-made on looms in Palpa district of west-central Nepal. Many patterns.


    bolts of Dhaka cloth on display in a shop in Tansen, Nepal. To understand decorative arts in South Asia you must learn about textiles! a trip to Tansen is not complete without seeing the Dhaka factory there.

  5. haku patasi – the black-and-red saree worn by Newari women. These are made of Nepali-grown cotton. ( see separate blog entry )
  6. there are a few shops that specialize in Hindu or Buddhist puja supplies esp those used by young girls at the time of  “Bel Wedding” or for kids having their rice-feeding ceremony.


    This shop is located on the road from Ason Tole to Ratna park in Old Kathmandu. It specializes in Hindu religious items. If you are looking for an off-the-beaten path gift that will have a story to go with it, this is the place.

  7. In these places, each  item is a sort of cheap imitation version of adult jewelry. There is a beautiful traditional hair clip known as a “chandrama” and at some of the puja shops  you can get a fake one ( i.e., not solid gold) for 300 rupees. (in the picture at the top, the lady is wearing a chandrama in her hair). img_20160811_124436_hdr
  8. I bought a momo maker for a friend – about 800 rupees. I am partial to those teapots made of aluminum, and I plan to get one for myself next time. It brings back happy memories.


    used to make momo. widely available.

  9. those saffron and orange cotton shawls used by the shiva devotees.
  10. I have bought several thangkas while there, but for these I choose the subject carefully to make sure the story is aligned with something in my life. for example, I have one depicting vajarayogini, because she is the patron deity of the heroine for my novel. I have one showing the Wheel of Life. And the biggest one, four foot by six foot, once hung in the lobby of a hotel and shows the mandala made up of all the significant religious locations of Nepal.
  11. I got some costume jewelry in the “Kandan” style for some friends. This is actually not Nepali but was popularized by Bollywood actress Aishwarya Rai in a movie and it’s a big hit. You can get these at Indra Chowk on the street that goes toward Basantapur.


    okay, so it’s based on a Rajasthani design, not Nepali. But -it’s fun.

  12. at Boudha they play “Om Mane Padme Hum” on a continuous loop, pounding it into your brain. The CD is available for 500 rupees.
  13. I was given a “madhubani” style painting while in Janakpur. This is a particular style associated with the Maithili ethnic group. It’s distinctive and wonderful. said to have inspired Picasso!


    Madhubani painting on silk. This one depicts a wedding

  14. I own a conch shell, they kind used by sadhus or in front of funeral processions.
  15. in Terai there is a particular kind of shawl the men wear, hand-embroidered cotton.


    you wouldn’t even notice this unless you already knew what it was. For many Hindu etivals, the kids act out the legend of one God or another. This crown would be worn by somebody impersonating Krshna. It cost $3 US.

  16. diarrhea (not limited to the unsophisticated traveler; discriminating travelers also acquire it, and just like with a tangible object, the story to accompany is often entertaining).

    closeup of one of the manikins outside the Lagankhel shop. The “real” jewelry would be solid gold and $$$. this is an inexpensive alternative….

    As you can see, I gravitate to the offbeat. because I am given many “tokens of love” at the end of any given teaching session, I try to make sure people are told not to give me any item that contains glass or that can’t be crushed when it is shipped back to USA. That’s why textile items are so handy – they don’t break when you drop them!

    Most of the above items can be found in “Old Kathmandu” – the neighborhood of Ason Tole or Indra Chowk south of Thamel but north of Kathmandu Durbar Square.

    and of course a copy of the Nepal edition of my novel. Here is the back cover:


    The back cover of the USA edition was a short synopsis. By the time we printed the Nepal edition, there were some reviews to quote and they were more colorful. In a bookstore, people make decisions to buy based on the first page and back cover, or so they say.

    I will edit this in future, hopefully to add pictures and also locations of some of these things ( I already posted blog entries about the Bead bajaar and where to get Haku Patasi).

    If you got this far, please feel free to add suggestions as to what exotic items you would bring back…… there are so many!

Buy “The Sacrament of the Goddess” as a Christmas present for the #globalhealth aficionado in your life.


The back cover of the USA edition was a short synopsis. By the time we printed the Nepal edition, there were some reviews to quote and they were more colorful. In a bookstore, people make decisions to buy based on the first page and back cover, or so they say.

If there is a person in your life interested in #global health, this is the perfect Christmas present for them.

An aficionado?

Is a person who has aficion for something. Hemingway used the term in The Sun Also Rises to describe that feeling when a fan of bullfighting finds another fan whose passion runs deep.

Yes, it’s a novel. But the stories are based on true-life medical situations encountered in a rural hospital of Nepal, the Himalayan country.

There was a civil war in Nepal for eleven years and it is part of this book. Nepal is considered to be a spiritual country, and many visitors view it only through that lens. It is an unfortunate truth of global health that you get to see behind the curtain to experience life in a new way.

It’s set in the foothills, not the actual Himalaya. Very few people live in the actual Himalaya.

I tried to capture some more sophisticated cultural issues of the average Nepali person. There are no western rock jocks in this book.

You are at the wordpress blog that goes with the book. Take a look at the page titled, “Glossary of terms to Accompany the book, annotated” for just a hint of the mystery that awaits.

In USA you can find it on Amazon.


Why America’s insatiable appetite for stories about Everest may actually discourage Nepal tourism Nov 29th 2016

In The Kathmandu Post of November 29th, a  tourism consultant gave his ideas for resetting Nepal tourism. here is the link:

Note: My novel of Nepal makes a fine Christmas present especially for a nurse or doctor thinking of global health or medical missionary work. Buy it on Amazon

The consultant seemed to advocate restricting flights so as to get rid of low-cost airlines; and clearly stated that “hippies” are not wanted.  These were astounding assertions.

You can’t tell how much money a tourist has to spend, by looking at their clothes. Frankly, any tourist who comes to Nepal wearing a business suit (an outward indicator of the type of wealthy tourist he wants to attract) will get right back on the plane the moment they realize there is no toilet paper and few western-style toilets. (see below).

Huffington Post

This very same day, a Nepali guy wrote on Huffington Post,

If this is your first time in Asia this might be interesting for you. Nepal does have some western style toilets but in most of the homes you will find only a regular Nepali style toilet. You can practice using this toilet by doing yoga positions and maintaining your balance to drop your stuff into the hole. Nepali people are experts in it but I have heard out of 10, one foreigner says they would rather hold it for a year than use the squat toilet. The next thing you’ll notice is that there is no toilet paper. Most of the people use their hand and water to wash their stuff after poo. It is taught from childhood to wash their hands with soap after use of a toilet but you never know for sure if you can get soap in every toilet.

The Kathmandu Post article appeared in Nepal; the Huffington Post article appeared in an online publication read by hundreds of thousands of people in USA. The guy who wrote for Huffington Post was giving them an unsweetened view of Nepal travel – read it your self and ask if it entices you to visit Nepal….

For me? My opinion?

I wrote my opinion in summer 2015 after the quakes, and I think it still holds true. Marketing decisions by the tourism industry need to focus on the five main target groups as I reviewed them in my 2015 piece.

The plain truth:

Nepal is an amazing, mystical and fantastical place, and holds a special place in the mythology of humankind.

You can quote me on the above. Much of my CCNEPal blog ( is used to share information with a highly specialized group of possible visitors to Nepal – nurses and doctors thinking of sharing their skills with their Nepali colleagues. I travel to places no western Tourist ever visits – and I am treated like royalty. So can you be!

Tourism to Nepal took a huge hit when the twin earthquakes struck in April 25th and May 6th 2015.

Okay, so Nepal always promoted themselves as a place to go for adventure tourism. Nepal is 800 miles from the nearest ocean – nobody would take the kids for a sun and sand vacation as if it were Cancun or Cape Cod or Maui. You don’t see any Nepalis winning swimming medals at the Olympics, do you? there is a good reason….

Nepal has tried various strategies to re-introduce them selves to tourists, mostly along the lines of “it’s safe to come back now” but not really making an impression.

the above is more or less “It doesn’t suck as badly as you may think.” Hardly a ringing endorsement.

My friend Donatella Lorch, the enigmatic journalist, wrote a piece in Goats And Soda titled “I am in Nepal now”  that examines this issue.


Nepal deserves this designation, it really does. My trips there have changed my life.

Here is a seven minute video montage:

Read this piece titled 8 Reasons to visit Nepal.

About the movie Everest

probably the biggest  recent event to promote Nepal in the public consciousness of USA was the movie “Everest.” Here is the trailer;

Here is the problem with all the above. The promo pieces are either too shallow or too deep and they don’t really appeal to the audience of travelers who might actually visit the country.

A shameless plug for my own book to be made into a movie

Nepal is a terrific place for trekking and hiking. The problem with the movie Everest is, when that’s what people see, they think all trekking and hiking in Nepal is death-defying, and while the story is suspenseful, the person in the audience is saying to themselves “those guys are truly crazy and they are risking death for no good reason.”

America’s Insatiable appetite for stories about Everest may actually be scaring people away from Nepal tourism

The key is, the movie Everest represents a mythological extreme. Trekking in Nepal is not death-defying, and it’s not a man-against-high-altitude-elements experience. It’s really really fun,  and part of the fun is to learn about the wonderful hospitality and culture of the people of Nepal along the trekking routes.  You can go on hikes in areas with green forest cover and distant snow-covered vistas, without needing to be in world-class mountaineering conditioning, or risking death.

What the Nepal Tourism Board needs

Nepal needs somebody in USA to make a Hollywood movie that will show the scenery but also the nature of it’s people.  Or maybe a TV show. Having a TV series set in Nepal would echo a very successful strategy employed by the state of Hawaii in USA. In Hawaii, they try to always have a TV show set in the islands – Hawaii Five-O; Magnum P.I., etc.  Why can’t Nepal find a way to do the same?

That’s where my book, The Sacrament of the Goddess, comes in. the Nepal Tourism Board needs to find somebody who will make it into a movie. This book is set in the western hills, along an area later designated as “the Guerilla Trek” after the civil war was over. The Maoist combatants travelled over beautiful scenery in their quest to overthrow the Royal Government. Nowadays is peaceful and beautiful with a rich cultural history.



Written in 2014 to explore the aspects of Nepali culture that go beyond the temples and trinkets. The day-to-day life in Nepal is not easy. You can get this book at Vajra Books on Jyatha in Thamel, or Tibet Books. Or Amazon

Some of the readers of my book have told me that the fast pace reminded them of a screen play and they found themselves picturing who they would cast in each role when it became a movie.

The Sacrament of the Goddess could be Nepal’s version of “Slumdog Millionaire” – after all, the novel includes a love story, an exotic location and a compelling plot. with a suspenseful ending.

The Sacrament of the Goddess could also be a medical show on TV. Not too long ago there was a series named “Off the Map” which purported to show a health  outpost in a low income country. That one didn’t last long. Jenna Bans, the creator and producer, should have consulted me. I could have provided better technical advice than she received.

ER the TV series

In my opinion, the best-ever sequence showing USA doctors using their skills in global health was the sub-plot of ER a few years back.


the best medical TV show of all time. ER ran for years. One season there was a global health subplot in which some docs served in Africa with a group like Medecins San Frontieres. No amount of marketing money will compete with the exposure TV show gives to a place in the world or an issue.

Somebody posted a tribute and link is here: Having said the above, I do need to tell you that most global health experiences as nowhere near as intense as the ER clip depicts. All the same, I think that subplot of ER iout nspired a generation of nurses and doctors to get involved in global health.

and of course, ER included this short scene that was and is incredibly powerful for anybody who has ever really and truly prayed:

So – if anybody from the Nepal Tourist Board reads this, or if there is any movie producer sympathetic to Nepal looking for a screenplay that would entice Americans to fire up their curiosity about this exotic (and yet peaceful) place – let me know. The movie rights are for sale!




Haku Patasi is the name for the black-and-red sari of Newari women


I already own a singing bowl, all the Thangkas a man could ask for, and every small gift item you can think of. When I teach, the students give me these “tokens of love.” When I want to bring a present to my daughters, they expect something unusual. I can’t just send a postcard and call it good.

If you have visited Bhaktapur, surely you must have seen women wearing this outfit, even when they are just doing chores of daily life.

Or, perhaps just enjoy this video:

I wanted one. Not for myself. I wanted a special gift for people in my life. I’m very particular about things I bring back to USA. They can’t be run-of-the-mill souvenirs. Need to have some sort of provenance.

Here is another video. For this one the tune is a classic folk song; the visual component shows the weaving process for the Haku Patasi cloth. Simply wonderful!


The Newari-language name is “Haku Patasi.”

I never saw these for sale, so I asked around among my Nepali friends. They sent me to Ason, in the heart of Old Kathmandu south of Thamel. ( well, specifically, Indra Chowk).

Here is yet another video, the tune is titled Haku Patasi” – so – it’s nakkali!

What’s not to like? first, the woman shows classic Newari beauty. Next, the guy has a wonderful singing voice; finally, the scenes of Newari women’s culture are stunning.

I needed to ask around, but ultimately a guy brought me to this shop:


The shop is on the second floor, the sign is below the one for Star Tailors

Typical of such shops, you can have a seat while they show you many samples from which to choose.


The selection in this shop focuses on hand-woven items made of  Nepali-grown cotton. The fabric has a wonderful feel to it.

IMG_20160810_153417Note: the blue-and-white checkered cloth is for a lungi a man would wear. .The fruit-sellers with the bicycles full of bananas usually wear this. I always wondered where they got this – now I know! (600 rupees if you have to ask).


And above, are some typical waistband cloths. If you are observant when you go out in the morning to buy vegetables, you will notice many of the women wear these.


I also got the red and  white shawl to accompany the Haku Patasi, he showed me how they wrap it. here is first step.


Turns out that Haku Patasi is just one of many Nepali textiles still in daily use in Nepal. You can get them all in the shop pictured above.

Here is video showing the above.

The Tour

I need to do a separate blog on the subject of Palpali Dhaka. Many shops at street level sell Dhaka, focus on Haku Patasi for now!

Below, is a ten-minute tour of items in the shop:

and the business card for this particular shop:


He waved good bye from the window when I left.


I recommend this place if you are looking for something that is closely tied to Newar culture. It’s common for young girls to have the child-sized version of the same outfit, and they sell these too, readymade. I did not photograph one, though I should have. They can help you order a “cholo,” the double-breasted jacket, in the traditional pattern.

Summer reading for #Globalsurgery

The Sacrament of the Goddess is a great “beach read” for persons who want to be transported to an exotic time ( in the recent past) and place (on the far side of the planet from Boston).

It’s a way to learn the boots-on-the-ground of #Globalhealth and #globalsurgery without wading through a textbook. The story of working in a remote hospital in the Himalaya is told through the eyes of an international crew of medical volunteers working with a team of Nepali and Indian doctors.

Doing surgery is hard enough and it is not the usual experience to be around sick people every day. Taking your skills and offering them to people of another country during a civil war will take the challenge to a new level. Soon you are thinking about commitment, courage and sacrifice in a different way.

This book is available on Amazon.



Pre Reading for DHMC Nursing Grand Rounds Feb 19th

UPDATE April 4th, 2016

CCNEPAL will be at #CUGH 2016 in California. If you are in interested in global health in Nepal, find us there! Here are some links to look at before hand….

Pleased to announce that I will be the guest speaker for Nursing Grand Rounds at Dartmouth-Hitchcock Medical Center. The talk will be held at 12 noon in Auditorium F for an hour, Friday February 19th, 2016. DHMC is in Lebanon, NH.

I made a FaceBook event page for this. Tell your friends!

Here is some reading that will enhance the meeting, along with some random photos.


I got on another bus the next day. we drove past the first one.

I will bring a powerpoint of my favorite pictures from Nepal.

what do nurses want to know……

Nurses want the unvarnished truth, without sentimentality and without the glossy glamor.  Nurses may be picturing themselves there, doing patient care, interacting with the people, living the life, sharing their knowledge with newfound friends. Facing life’s issues – birth, death, sickness, tragedy- in a foreign culture.

blue tarp on hospital floor

This is in Kailali. It is not customary for any hospital to lay out the blue tarp. If tear gas is used, there is a noxious powdery residue. I presume this is the reason.

The main thing is, I do not present the “Fantasy Nepal.” The Nepal I live in when I am there is the one where we work to heal sick people and address human suffering. There are many dimensions.

Here are some things from the Internet to look at before we meet:

Learning about Culture Shock and Re-Entry Shock this is a critical resource for personal adjustment pre- and post-deployment on any global health experience, as well as for any disaster response.

My blog entry on How to prepare for global nursing. These are practical tips for how to lead your life as a cosmopolitan citizen of planet earth even if you never do a global health adventure.

Risk Reduction strategies

This is important if you are a newbie. The single most important risk reduction strategy is to eliminate alcohol use.  Click here for a more comprehensive analysis

Nepal-specific information

Subina Shrestha’s video on childbirth in rural Nepal. She has a terrific vimeo channel. She archives all her work for Al Jazeera English, there.


This book is a resource for every critical care unit in Kathmandu, and every nurse or nursing student. a Major reference book!

My blog entry on burn care, with all the links.

My blog entry on the differences between USA and Nepal hospitals. I used to use those pics when I did these talks, but I have more interesting stuff to cover these days!


marigolds 3

The FaceBook page for CCNEPal. There is also one for each of my two books. Look at the links to the right.

the Web Page for The Center for Medical Simulation. This is Nepal’s only American Heart Association International Training Center. If you are an ACLS or PALS Instructor, they would love to talk with you!

The twenty-minute video that shows what I do when I am in Nepal.

The Event February 19th

Here are the specific goals and format:


Nursing Grand Rounds in Culture and Global Health

short summary: a quick review of factors in Nepal that impact the
decision to volunteer in a global health nursing role.


examine aspects of personal readiness to volunteer in a Low Income Country.

Identify “culture shock” and “re-entry shock”

identify common myths about global health nursing.

create a personal plan to prepare for future role as a Globally Aware Nurse.

format; a slide show of about 40 pictures with minimal text. A
reading/viewing list related to Nepal health system will be available
online for study by attendees. About thirty minutes of the time will
be devoted to Q & A. During the presentation, participants will be
encouraged to text their questions to the presenter.






“Bride Burning” in Nepal and burn injuries

From Sushma Koirala Memorial Hospital web page. The subject of burn care in Nepal has many facets.

From Sushma Koirala Memorial Hospital web page. The subject of burn care in Nepal has many facets.

On my DailyKOS blog, I relayed the  news of a motorcycle driver set on fire trying to sneak past protesters with petrol in his tank destined for black market sale. As an aside, I reminded the readers that “Bride Burning” is still an issue in South Asia. Including Nepal. A couple of readers expressed their horror at this. I thought about a DailyKOS blog entry, but I’m sure I will need to update such a blog after writing, and I also want to see the analytics. so – this is a better home for it.

Update, Here is a paragraph for links to news stories, starting Jan 20th 2016

I think I will use this paragraph to update as news stories are published. So you think it never happens? click here. Or, for a Jan 21st account of how a child got burned intetionally, click here.

Update, August 9th

I’m teaching my course at Kirtipur Hospital, and I found this video about burn care at that location. highly worthwhile

Before we go any further,

view this video. Why? because it presents burn injuries, and the dedication required to treat them, with compassion and dignity. It shows Sushma Koirala Memorial Hospital in Sangkhu, which is especially dedicated to burn care and plastic surgery.

Also this, and this other from the International Nepal Fellowship.  The first is about a young girl with burn injury care, and the second is an intro to INF. It’s quite tastefully done. The second one shows scenes of Mugu, a place in Nepal where tourists are not often seen.

I had not really worked with burn injury victims until I came to Nepal. About a third of my first book is devoted to my experiences on the burn ward in 2007; and a  significant episode in my second book also addresses the reaction of the main characters as they care for a victim of “bride burning”.  Part of my motivation  for writing the first book was to exorcise the PTSD of doing this work.

Executive Summary

Watch this piece by Subina Shrestha about Dowry violence and bride burning.


“Agni Pariksha” of Sita ( or of Maya Sita if you prefer metaphor)

Above – from a puja poster depicting scenes from the Ramayana – the “Agni Pariksha” of Sita. A test of chastity and truthfulness.

Bride-Burning is also descended from “Suttee,” a practice in South Asia for centuries.

The practice was initially legalized by the colonial British officials specifying conditions when sati was allowed;[2] then the practice was outlawed in 1829 in their territories in India (the collected statistics from their own regions suggesting an estimated 500–600 instances of sati per year), followed up by laws in the same directions by the authorities in the princely states of India in the ensuing decades, with a general ban for the whole of India issued by Queen Victoria in 1861. In Nepal, sati was banned in 1920 B.S.(1863 AD) The Indian Sati Prevention Act from 1988 further criminalised any type of aiding, abetting, and glorifying of sati. from Wikipedia


At the inner gate of the palace in Jodhpur, India commemorating the suttee of the Maharaja’s wives after his death. I got the audio tour for this fort, and the account of this was riveting and heart-wrenching. Before they left the palace for the final time, each wife dipped her hand in ochre and left a print. Note: I am well aware that this is a reference to Indian culture, as opposed to Nepali.

To learn more about the above, go to

A suttee event forms one of the climactic scenes of the book, The Far Pavilions, a best-selling novel in USA in 1978.


Bride-burning is still a “thing” in South Asia. It’s related to the dowry system. At the time of marriage, the parents of the bride give gifts to the groom and his family. If the groom is dissatisfied with the woman or with the size of the gift, he may return and demand more. If at that time the bride’s family is not able to give an additional gift, the bride is punished. The ultimate form of punishment is brideburning. It is an extreme form of domestic abuse.

nov 28 dowry system


Up to 2,500 women a year are affected throughout South Asia.

Clearly this is a crime deserving of the highest punishment for the perpetrator. It is a bitter truth that it often goes unpunished.

Click here for a three-minute video.  (disclosure: it includes still photos of women who survived burning, with disfigurement).


WOREC is an NGO that promotes women’s rights and empowerment. This includes anti-trafficking, but also ending the dowry system. Here is their page specific to Violence Against Women in Nepal.

Mass weddings

Here is another description of  a way to combat the dowry phenomenon in Nepal.

Teen Marriage

This is part of the puzzle. Here is a place to read more.


Here is a link to issues related to menstruation.

Treatment of Burn injuries in Nepal

In November 2015, a description of rehabilitation after burn injury.

Picture 190

the baby was a burn victim, and an indelible memory of my first trip to teach nursing in Nepal. I had not given burn care much thought before that. Risk reduction efforts are needed nationwide in Nepal.

Burn Violence Survivors Nepal

There is an NGO that deals specifically with this issue. It’s Burn Violence Survivors Nepal. They have a YouTube Channel, of course. I viewed some of their short clips; I recommend “Gudiya” and also “Mina” – this latter one described a person who attempted suicide by self-immolation but survived. As you might imagine, a person who chooses suicide by this method has generally internalized severe self-hatred and desperation.

Treatment of burn injuries

There is a FaceBook group for the Nepal Burn Society.  After I joined that group, I learned about a workshop in Nepal led by an international NGO that brings reconstructive surgery to Low Income Countries named ReSurge International.  They have one video titled “About Us” that gives a summary of their work worldwide.  “ReThink Burns: A Solvable Global Health Crisis” is another good summary of their specific work. (The video shows some persons with burn scars that may be – unsettling). Also, I recommend the thirty-minute video titled “A Story of Healing” – it describes the rewards of doing the work from the perspective of the surgeons and nurses. I just don’t think any nurse or doctor would be capable of watching this without tearing up.

Epidemiology of Pediatric Burns in Low Income Countries worldwide

The Consortium of Universities for Global Health  includes a module on epidemiology of pediatric burns on the resources section of their webpage.

The psychological challenge for those who deliver burn care

Burn Unit: Saving Lives after the Flames is a book about nurses at Massachusetts General Hospital. I haven’t read it, myself.  Sounds like a good place to start. I wrote about victims in each of my books about Nepal health care.


The back cover of the USA edition was a short synopsis. By the time we printed the Nepal edition, there were some reviews to quote and they were more colorful. In a bookstore, people make decisions to buy based on the first page and back cover, or so they say.

The book is about medical care in the hill country. you can get it on Amazon