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: http://kathmandupost.ekantipur.com/news/2016-11-29/a-new-trajectory.html

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 https://www.amazon.com/Sacrament-Goddess-Joe-Niemczura/dp/1632100029

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, http://www.huffingtonpost.com/entry/2017-nepal-as-traveling-destination-and-culture-shocks_us_581d782be4b044f827a78d49?ncid=engmodushpmg00000006.

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. http://wp.me/p1pDBL-AQ. 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 ( http://www.joeniemczura.wordpress.com) 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, https://tangledjourneys.com/ wrote a piece in Goats And Soda titled “I am in Nepal now”  http://www.npr.org/sections/goatsandsoda/2015/09/10/439195188/i-am-in-nepal-now-says-new-tourist-campaign-only-nepal-is-in-chaos  that examines this issue.

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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. https://www.travel3sixty.com/8-reasons-to-make-nepal-your-next-adventure/

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,  https://www.amazon.com/Sacrament-Goddess-Joe-Niemczura/dp/1632100029 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.

 

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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 http://www.amazon.com/Sacrament-Goddess-Joe-Niemczura/dp/1632100029/

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. http://www.imdb.com/title/tt1587694/ 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.

er-cast

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: https://youtu.be/83ozEDEA1QU 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: https://youtu.be/wXhUEyzCuR8

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!

 

 

 

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.

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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

http://www2.pacific.edu/sis/culture/. 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.

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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:

Title:

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.

objectives:

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.

 

 

 

 

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Backstory about the Nepal Civil War as related to the book

The Nepal Civil War
What the reader needs to know. Quick summary of basic points.

There is a long Wikipedia article on the Nepal Civil War.  It is as good a place to start, as any.

Note: not everyone will agree with everything written below. An exhaustive history of this civil war has yet to be written.

The book, “The Sacrament of the Goddess,” makes use of point of view. It is written in third person, but there is no disembodied all-knowing narrator to provide an exhaustive store of immutable facts. As such, the book does not devote much time to the backstory of the Nepal Civil War. In order to keep the story moving, the book shares only the level of information known by the main characters at the time of events. The ins and outs of Nepal politics have been so Byzantine as to be incomprehensible to a casual observer.

Nonetheless, early readers asked for a simple explanation of the civil war, which lasted from 1992 to 2006 and took the lives of 16,000 people in Nepal. This conflict was characterized by widespread hit-and-run terrorist actions and an escalation of counter-terrorist strategies by the central government. Later in the war the tactics evolved in to pitched battles between more conventional armed forces. The battle of Beni was among the largest such battles in the war.

Please note: some details of the battle of Beni are from contemporaneous accounts; others have been added to heighten the narrative of this work of fiction.

The civil war ended with the signing of the eleven-point agreement in 2006. Some speculate that the Maoists only came to the table because they ran out of money to fund their army. The King abdicated in 2007. The political chaos continues since the signing of the eleven-point agreement. Events after 2007 will serve as the backdrop for a future book.

The basic problem – wealth in Nepal is concentrated in the Kathmandu Valley. There is tremendous disparity between the Valley and the rural areas. In western Nepal there was an ongoing famine. The country is overpopulated and is a net importer of food. Health statistics are dismal, there is a land-based economy, and the role of women leaves much to be desired. In every respect, conditions were ripe for revolution.

The Government – during the period in the book, Nepal was “the last Hindu Kingdom on earth” ruled by King Birendra and then King Gyanendra. Since the 1950s, Nepal was allied with the American CIA in a covert war in Tibet against the communist Chinese. Western Nepal served as a training base for Tibetan Freedom Fighters (guerillas) sent across the Himalaya to Tibet. Not one ever returned alive.

The Gurkhas – please note that the most famous fighting force associated with Nepal is the Gurkhas, but they have no role here. They are mercenaries, employed by foreign governments such as Singapore, India and the UK. Western Nepal is the prime recruiting territory for this group.

The Military – The military is composed of the Royal Nepal Army and the Armed Police Force. The Armed Police Force was given better weapons and training as the Civil War progressed. The RNA used more conventional weapons as well as helicopters. There are also local police.

The People’s Liberation Army – was headquartered in western Nepal, a vast area with no paved roads. In the book, the name is interchangeable with the idea of “Uniformed Maoists.”  Paradoxically, many leaders of this group came from Kathmandu.

Maoists – the clandestine civilian revolutionaries ( terrorists, depending on your point of view). Not associated with or supported by the Chinese. The name comes from the strategy of enlisting peasants in a revolt, as opposed to waiting for an industrialized middle class to emerge from the proletariat (which would have been “Leninist”). The Maoist program included better health and education, redistribution and decentralization of wealth, and equal rights for women. It also included recruitment of child soldiers, use of women soldiers, extortion of money, and seizing land from owners.

The terrain – Nepal is landlocked, and consists of three major zones. The first is the Himalaya, highest mountain range on earth. The second is the hill country. The steepness of river valleys and difficulty of travel here can not be overstated. In western Nepal there is a vast area with no paved roads. Fine territory for the headquarters of an insurgent group. The third area is the Terai, a large flat valley that runs along the southern border with India.

The weather – 80% of the annual rainfall occurs in the summer monsoon, one of the truly epic weather events of this planet. Rainfall plays a factor is making roads impassable.

every book needs a back cover blurb

How does the physical appearance of a book entice the potential buyer?

In a bookstore, a patron looks at the cover, then reads the back cover, then the first few lines of the first page. or so they say. The blurb on the back needs to tease the casual browser into exploring further. It’s also used in a summary on Amazon and other places where a tease is used.

Back cover blurb #1

THE SACRAMENT OF THE GODDESS

Heart-pounding medical thriller from the majestic Himalayas

As a college student on a trek during summer break, Matt was wounded in the crossfire of a mountain ambush during the civil war in Nepal.  A team of missionary doctors heroically saved his life.  While he recuperated in a remote hospital, he tutored Kali in English.  Soon it became a courtship that transcended cultural barriers to culminate in a night of passion.

He lost contact when the CIA sent a helicopter to bring him to safety.  Unable to get her out of his mind, Matt returns to Nepal years later, determined to find Kali or her story since she seems to have disappeared without a trace.

Something happened during the battle that swept through the town, and Matt must unravel the mystery.  He is now a missionary surgeon, working alongside the doctors that saved his life, earning their trust.

As Matt searches for Kali he is challenged to the utmost level of his skill and courage.  Will the consequences of Matt and Kali’s first meeting shatter the lives of everyone on the team?

naturally, the idea is to convey what a gripping page-turner this is.

At the same time, not to reveal the ending.

Oh heart break! O unrequited love! O destiny!