“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 https://youtu.be/6gWR010kn_A

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.

img_20161230_073310

“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. https://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Maya_Sita

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 https://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Sati_(practice)

IMG_20141126_130136

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  http://www.atlasobscura.com/places/sati-handprints

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

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

From:

http://gitaghatimagar.blogspot.com/2015/02/dowry-system-in-nepal.html

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 NEPAL

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.

Chaupadi

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.

9781632100085-SOTG-Nepalt.indd

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 https://goo.gl/PGTW30

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The Art of Criticism and the Greatest Book Review Ever Written

http://abroad62talkative.channelseven.org/

The following five-star review was bestowed on the English-language novel of Nepal, The Sacrament of the Goddess.

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/

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/

I believe this is a positive review, more or less….. you read it for yourself and decide…….

Book Summary:

I dont generally read hospital you do so. On the goddess took me they are all beings with nepalese maoist. Want everyone on earth at one issues seems to read relationship I helped his medical. All invited to good medical background and a love eastern side. Low income country known as a nurse volunteering. That I must unravel the top of both familiar and accurate. Boy loses girl suspense right, at hand knowledge of star crossed lovers kidnapping unfamiliar. This particular plotline could be war history perhaps the compromised procedures. Want to capture images of the way. The nepals recent maoist battles star crossed lovers I have accumulated about doctors. If anything interests me a nurse volunteering at registered. Unable to portray a love of, them out of nepal all. This book itself out it will please readers who wants to keep about nepal. Any nurse journalist nyc in usa.

To need to day at a summer coaching nursing in addition. That I learned in nepal civil war between fiction. All the plotline could almost be, bigger and affection how. However unlike his life and another level up the culture unfamiliar religious practices. I helped his love war which, is where am a clinic without being. When the sacrament of entertainment and sushila been in a scripted happily share. I must thank the book revolves around. In nepals recent maoist battles and of his many life the sacrament. Joe conveys with niemczura’s style individualistic culture and volunteers.

The end when you are beautifully, written a trek during the book moments. The jail is a pre release, manuscript down to upload images of his pipe and friend.

If anything interests me I will tell me. Note the country’s civil war shreds group trumps eyes. On the infinite in nepal these days for plot of river and novels. He puts his medical scenes are likely centuries old mr. And its one issues into a small city in nepal this novel bring their. I have a low income country the sacrament of armed police force. It is made of the manuscript down for goddess not only wants. I was a small thing picture. There is so it in beni very same tin the west and anesthetized near. Boy loses girl these things I detest romantic erotic writing but that saved! Less sacrement of complexity the, goddess the individual I encourage anyone. Low water this way beyond the, hospital brings even though they do they. Less you are multiple layers as well a kindness and fruits so precisely. Writer novel to acceptable I met him with clean sheets.

Any Questions?

This review appeared in a foreign site that downloads e-books. The author was channeling James Joyce.

As you might imagine, The Sacrament of the Goddess has yet to be translated into any language other than the one in which it was written. Yet, because it is set in Nepal, there are many Nepalis who are interested by it – intrigued, you might say.

For these persons, enjoyment of the book is partly determined by their ability to read a foreign language. To write a review? even more of a challenge!

The site it appeared on is one that pirates e-books overseas. Yes, they got my novel; and yes, they wrote a review.

For a more coherent review, click here.

 

Petrol Tankers Blocked by Snow? The end of fantasy in Nepal-China oil deal Guest Post from SIngapore Petrochemical Expert

Note from Blog owner: as readers of this blog will know, I recently posted an analysis of the plan to obtain oil for Nepal via the Friendship Highway that goes through Tibet. Then I wrote a second part. Mr. Wilson Chin responded. He is a businessman based in Singapore, and he supplied pertinent information about the “Big Picture” of the Chinese petrochemical endeavor. Prior to his input I had no particular knowledge of where the Chinese oil came from. (turns out that they do not get it from the Persian Gulf. China is piping in oil & gas from Kazakhstan and Turkmenistan. They are however still buying a very large amount of oil from the Middle East. One of the difference is that oil from Middle East is delivered by Tanker vessels to the Chinese East Coast.). I invited him to write a guest post on the Nepal plan to get oil from China. Here it is. Click here to see the location of the original post. Please note that the captions below each photo are mine.

*********************************************

Breaking News! “Read all about it”. For those who had not, then, hear ye, hear ye! China is sending free petrol to Nepal up to 1,000 tons, in 25 oil tankers, the first to arrive next week. Collect your number, queue up.

Those who insist that China would come to the rescue is vindicated. Shame on you, southern neighbor, shame on you that you did not do more to alleviate Nepal’s thirst for petrol.

India and China have a history of rivalry. Ongoing border disputes occur at Jammu, Kashmir, Ladakh and Arunachal Pradesh. Some believe that Nepal’s 1,700 km buffer separating India and China’s province of Tibet prevented the dispute-philiac pair from having more disputed areas. After the Central Tibetan Administration went into exile in Dharamsala, India, the 14th Dalai Lama has been an excruciatingly painful thorn in China’s side. The issue of Nepal’s new constitution laid bare their rivalry. One could picture China rubbing its hands with glee . When the Constitution was signed, India, openly irked, “noted its significance”. At the same time China “noted its significance with delight”, praising the Nepali Government. When India was denounced for blockading fuel from entering Nepal (India officially denied that), China agreed to send 1,000 tons of petrol FREE OF CHARGE. India was almost silent over China’s generous gift. India was stunned but not defeated

Kathmandu, a month ago when petrol was being rationed. The weather was warmer at that time.

Kathmandu, a month ago when petrol was being rationed. The weather was warmer at that time.

Since 2013, when China mooted the New Silk Road, it did not expect to fast track a route that some believed was too ambitious. Emergency relief to Nepal’s earthquake in April 2015 showed cracks in logistical support from across Nepal’s border. How could that be possible from a giant, the second richest country in the world and in its own backyard? Six months on, the Friendship Bridge linking both countries is still un-passable. China and Nepal remain friends electronically when physical, feely touchy friendship proved difficult.

The road to Rasuwa travels through steep terrain on the Nepal side and landslides are common.

The road to Rasuwa travels through steep terrain on the Nepal side and landslides are common.

Tibet is one of China’s poorest provinces. At a GDP of $4,000/- per capita, it is only one fourth that of Beijing. In Tibet, all trains lead to Lhasa, the capital of Tibet, all trains to Lhasa come from Xining – the nearest City 2,000 km away, all trains run on the only railway line, the Qinghai-Tibet Railway, except for a new line joining Lhasa to Xigatse . China needs to develop Tibet – desperately. There are only two restive regions in China, Tibet is one of them. Tibet is Nepal’s northern neighbor. Tibet is Nepal’s hope. To reach Nepal, Chinese supply must first pass through Tibet

The Himalaya as seen from the North. It does not look so tall because the Tibetan Plateau starts at 12,000 feet elevation.

The Himalaya as seen from the North. It does not look so tall because the Tibetan Plateau starts at 12,000 feet elevation.

Tibet is Rich in tradition, rich in culture, rich in water, rich in sand, but hydrocarbon poor. As a result, a gas pipeline is planned to channel fuel to Lhasa over 1,400 km from Qinghai to make up for its hydrocarbon deficiency Nationalists, secessionists have been criticizing China Central Government for not developing Tibet, the same people are also complaining of over-development, accusing the Government of planning to populate the region with Chinese immigrants and diluting the Tibetan race. Still, development must proceed, even if such developments do not make economic sense like the loss making Qinghai – Lhasa railway.

The New Silk Road as many suspected is more than a “road”. It is the Chinese safety valve out of its growth stagnation, it is Chinese quantitative easing, it is a means to spend its way out of deflation. Cities are saturated with new ghost towns; there is only one way left to build, horizontally. Railways are the next poster boys, roads the next poster girls and pipelines the next supermodels. Money is no problem, finance least of its worries; China has billions of dollars in its New Silk Road Fund. When Nepal asked China to build a railway linking China to Nepal, China with no hesitation, went straight to the drawing board, and came up with an audacious plan to tunnel under Mount Everest – as if to say ” Match me if you can”. China is ready. With the merger of its Railway Companies into a mega – CRRC Corp, the second largest industrial company in the world, tunneling under Mount Everest could be its Expo to showcase its technical abilities; India’s troubles with Nepal was the opportunity China needed. With a broad stroke, Tibet is primed for a makeover. It stands to benefit from all the possible spillover economic activities made possible after India’s diplomacy with Nepal blinked. Solving Tibet’s secession tendency once and for all looks like a Fait Accompli.

China’s overcapacity needs more than Tibet, a vast province with a population of just 3 million. China’s New Silk Road initiative needs more than Nepal, another small nation by China’s standard. Roads, railways, pipelines would end up as white elephants if they all end in Tibet or Nepal. It would be a monumental economical coup if they all continue on to India and Pakistan. That card is however held by India and it is a wild card.

High Speed trains in a Chinese railyard.

High Speed trains in a Chinese railyard.

China National Highway 318 is perhaps Nepal’s best chance to reach the sea from the northern border. At 5,500 km, it is the longest highway in China. Starting at the Tibetan city of Zhangmu, the highway traverses 8 Chinese provinces and ends in Shanghai. Highway 318 is also dubbed one of the most dangerous highways in the world. Yes, it is a difficult journey, it would take a long time, it is for the brave, for the adventurous. Only the survivors will arrive at the Pacific Ocean

Switchbacks on the Friendship Highway leading into Zhangmu, the town on the Chine side of border.

Switchbacks on the Friendship Highway leading into Zhangmu, the town on the Chine side of border.

Underestimate India at your own peril. Silence is the nature of the Bengal Tiger, watching at a distance, with all access roads covered. The Tiger holds all the aces, Kolkata its ace of spades. The tiger is not giving Friendship Bridge even a second glance, the Tiger is not interested in any entry point into Nepal, knowing very well that all entry points are obstacle courses. They are peaks, troughs, valleys, rivers, snow, ice, cliffs and then sand, more sand and yet more sand. They are earthquake prone, with excellent terrain good for training special forces, training rescue missions, training helicopter pilots and mountain climbing. They are tailor made by nature for endurance testing of trucks, cars, tires and endurance driving. They are part of the highest mountain range in the world, the formidable Himalayas, restricting unwanted riffraffs at the same time restricting the flow of provisions and necessities. Mother Earth does not take sides. The tiger sits pretty and watches; it knows that it does not need to watch its northern flank – the great wall of Himalayas takes care of that.

Chinese workers surveying a landslide site.

Chinese workers surveying a landslide site.

ACE OF SPADES

a port in coastal China. This blog focuses on the land route to Europe but the Chinese are also developing the

Kolkutta port in Bangladesh. This blog focuses on the land route to Europe but the Chinese are also developing the “sea route”.

Never underestimate the tiger as William Blake immortalized it in The Tiger -“Tiger, tiger, burning bright….”

From Mr. Chin's LinkedIn profile.

From Mr. Chin’s LinkedIn profile.

Wilson Chin is a businessman and a consultant in energy. Wilson is totally neutral in climate change, with a passionate leaning towards environmental protection against pollution; similarly he is neutral in Nepal’s politics. He has done a lot of business in India and also in China and understandsthe geo-politics of the region. Wilson is most fascinated by the immense potential of Nepal’s Hydropower potential. His profile is listed in Linkedin.

part two of “What Every Nepali needs to know about petrol from China”

Buckle your seatbelt.

Yesterday’s blog entry about Petrol from China got 16,500 views and lots of comments. It was loaded with maps and statistics. I got lots of feedback.

There were still people who said I was a pessimist.

But it will be fine because -it needs to be fine!

that seemed to be the attitude.

Wishing will not make it so. Throwing a tantrum like a two-year-old, and calling names at anybody who disagrees, will not make it so either.

The Kathmandu Post described the plan to start an actual petrol shipment this week. Click here to read it. It’s possible that some of the oil will get from China to Nepal this week. The question is, whether that can happen every day, in quantities large enough. One kilo-liter of fuel may seem like a lot – but in normal times, it would only fuel the city for two or three days.

Here is the same road I described, with photos and videos.

Artists rendering from Kathmandu Post, showing shiny N.O.C. trucks at Rasuwa border crossing. This week there is a convoy of one million liters of petrol being shipped from China - and Nepal is sending 25 of their smaller petrol transports to bring it to Kathmandu.

Artists rendering from Kathmandu Post, showing shiny N.O.C. trucks at Rasuwa border crossing. This week there is a convoy of one million liters of petrol being shipped from China – and Nepal is sending 25 of their smaller petrol transports to bring it to Kathmandu.

the route is called the Arniko Highway. When gets to Rasuwa, the name changes to Friendship Highway.

Dec 19th update: click here for an article about the effects of the landslide on the two towns.

Friendship Highway first

Click here for an excellent Photo essay.

Here’s one about five minutes long.

There is a site called “World’s Top Ten Most Dangerous Roads” and the Friendship Highway was #2.

#2 Measuring 5,476 km and running from Shanghai to Zhangmu along the Nepal border, Sichuan-Tibet highway is not only China’s longest road but it is also one of the world’s most dangerous roads. The road has a record of more than a whopping 7,500 deaths for every 100,000 motorists who use it every year. The road will take you through vast landscapes with peaks vaulting skyward. Climate here is quiet unpredictable and it could change right in front of you. It is suicidal to driving fast on this road.

The Tibetan Plateau is generally about 14,000 feet or more in elevation above sea level. It is difficult to maintain blacktop in the cold conditions there.

The Tibetan Plateau is generally about 14,000 feet or more in elevation above sea level. It is difficult to maintain blacktop in the cold conditions there.

La Lungma pass is about the same elevation as Thorung La pass, the highest point on the Annapurna Circuit. Snow can fall at any time.

La Lungma pass is abot the same elevation as Thorung La pass, the highest point on the Annapurna Circuit. Snow can fall at any time.

This is on the Chinese side a few Km north of Rasuwa. It gets muddy. The risk of landslide does not end just because you are out of Nepal.

This is on the Chinese side a few Km north of Rasuwa. It gets muddy. The risk of landslide does not end just because you are out of Nepal.

Landslides are one thing. falling rocks are another.

Landslides are one thing. falling rocks are another.

The Border Crossing

The actual bridge from Nepal to China. This town was damaged by nearby landslides.

The actual bridge from Nepal to China. This town was damaged by nearby landslides.

This is a “Tank Farm” – something they do not have at Rasuwa. The policy is to offload the oil from a Chinese Truck to a Nepali truck. Each nation’s trucks stay within their own country or at least close. Without a tank farm the process of transferring is slower. Make you rown guess as to how long it will take to build this in Rasuwa.

Arniko Highway.

Click here for an excellent narrative of the conditions of the Arniko Highway. This was written for a Tour Company, to entice Western tourists to go to Lhasa !

When you find these videos and pictures, you have to be careful to see the year. Here is one from 2012. The road is “better” since then – sort of.

Much of the road follows a deep river gorge. The Nepal portion drops nearly 10,000 feet in 90 miles. Picture a truck loaded with fuel going downhill. Actually, convoys of trucks. The first convoy will be 25 trucks. Kathmandu was getting hundreds of trucks a day from Birgunj.

Much of the road follows a deep river gorge. The Nepal portion drops nearly 10,000 feet in 90 miles. Picture a truck loaded with fuel going downhill. Actually, convoys of trucks. The first convoy will be 25 trucks. Kathmandu was getting hundreds of trucks a day from Birgunj.

Switchbacks on the Chinese side, going down to Zhangmu. You can do your own websearch using “Zhangmu” or any of these terms.

The Kodari Landslide

This was on the Nepal side. crews worked around the clock to fix this road.

The April 2015 earthquake caused landslides that blocked every crossing in to China. The one at Kodari blocked the Arniko highway. it is presently one lane.

The April 2015 earthquake caused landslides that blocked every crossing in to China. The one at Kodari blocked the Arniko highway. it is presently one lane. surprisingly, this photo is from 2006! this is a recurring problem and could happen again. http://www.mountainsoftravelphotos.com/Tibet/Kathmandu%20To%20Nyalam/slides/03%20Landslide%20On%20Arniko%20Highway%20Just%20Before%20Kodari.html

The Potala Palace

Potala Palace, legendary seat of power of the Dalai Lamas. Many refugees from the Chinese takeover of Tibet resettled in Kathmandu. Kathmandu is now a center of Tibetan Buddhist study.

Potala Palace, legendary seat of power of the Dalai Lamas. Many refugees from the Chinese takeover of Tibet resettled in Kathmandu. Kathmandu is now a center of Tibetan Buddhist study.

As I wrote yesterday, the challenges of using the Arniko Highway are formidable. Just from a standpoint of the road conditions I do not think it is possible.

What Every Nepali needs to know about getting petrol or LP gas from China during the petrol crisis

follow me on twitter @CCNEPal2013

Jan 28th  2016update is at the bottom!

Dec 5th update here is video from Nepali Times. https://youtu.be/x7DEvmIGBqs

Nov 27th update. here is a fine photo essay by Sam Cowan, a retired general from UK. It shows the Rasuwa crossing point.

Update Nov 9th a news article in Republica relayed the news that the Rasuwa road is too narrow for large petrol tankers or gas bullets.

KATHMANDU, Nov 9: Rasuwagadhi is Nepal’s only operational trade point with China. But road to this bordering town is too narrow for big trucks, tankers and bullets. The single-lane road passes through a 15-kilometer stretch which sees recurring landslides throughout the year.

Poor infrastructure in Nepali side is the bottleneck in Nepal-China trade. The Tatopani trade route, which has remained shut since the earthquake of April, is yet to come into operation. – See more at: http://myrepublica.com/feature-article/story/30902/rasuwagadhi-road-too-narrow-for-big-trucks-tankers.html#sthash.xzRFoZbJ.dpuf

Update Oct 31st

From Pahilo Post, the convoy of intrepid petrol tankers on their way to rendezvous with their Chinese counterparts, Oct 30th. go to http://www.dailykos.com/story/2015/10/31/1442901/--Wagon-Train-through-the-Himalaya-in-search-of-Chinese-Petrol-Oct-31st-Day-37-of-petrol-blockade

From Pahilo Post, the convoy of intrepid petrol tankers on their way to rendezvous with their Chinese counterparts, Oct 30th. go to http://www.dailykos.com/story/2015/10/31/1442901/–Wagon-Train-through-the-Himalaya-in-search-of-Chinese-Petrol-Oct-31st-Day-37-of-petrol-blockade

October 26th update:

This blog entry got 18,000 hits and caused the mainstream Nepal media to change their coverage of China oil. I’ve been blogging almost daily since Aug 24th on a USA blog. Click here to find the list of entries in the USA blog.

Annaupurna. Every Nepali knows that the mountains are there. I was once told that when a Nepali child asks their mother “what’s on the other side?” the answer is “Nothing. those mountains are the end of the world.” on the other side is Tibet.

It’s not going to happen.

गर्जने बादल वर्षदैन!

For a month now, since the Terai Andolan decided to block petrol supplies to Kathmandu, I’ve been reading short news articles or tweets or FaceBook posts saying China had already lined up hundreds of gas bullets or petrol trucks, and they were waiting at the border. Or maybe that NOC was now going to negotiate with China. Or something like that.

Click here for one from The Kathmandu Post, just yesterday. The link was sent to me by a USA expat who said “See! There will be petrol here! Soon!”

Ummmm, no.

Talking about it does not mean that it is now happening. When an actual shipment arrives, there is no doubt in my mind that there will be live coverage on Kathmandu TV, politicians will be on hand, and puja will be offered.

Each of these newspaper reports is a fantasy, and each of these is suggested to a gullible journalist to give the illusion that the end of the petrol crisis is just around the corner. पहिले गरेर देखाउनु अनि भन्नु! China will rescue Nepal!

If you want to read another fiction, a more exciting one than that, click here for a review of my novel in Nepali Bhasa.

Caravans of magic yaks will travel over the pass, bringing LP gas cylinders.

Caravans of magic yaks will travel over the pass, bringing LP gas cylinders.

Here is an English-language word you need to know:

“Logistics”

Logistics is the word for how to arrange the delivery of supplies to a distant location so they will get there in time.

The Oxford English Dictionary defines logistics as “the branch of military science relating to procuring, maintaining and transporting material, personnel and facilities.” However, the New Oxford American Dictionary defines logistics as “the detailed coordination of a complex operation involving many people, facilities, or supplies,” and the Oxford Dictionary on-line defines it as “the detailed organization and implementation of a complex operation.”[2] As such, logistics is commonly seen as a branch of engineering that creates “people systems” rather than “machine systems.”

According to the Council of Supply Chain Management Professionals (previously the Council of Logistics Management [3]) logistics is the process of planning, implementing and controlling procedures for the efficient and effective transportation and storage of goods including services and related information from the point of origin to the point of consumption for the purpose of conforming to customer requirements and includes inbound, outbound, internal and external movements.

Usually the people suggesting that China become the new supplier of petrol, have no idea that logistics exists, let alone how it applies.

Geography first

Start with a picture of the road between Kathmandu and Tibet at Kodari:

Taken about a month ago. Kodari, where the where was blocked by landslide since April 24th earthquake. As of last week, the road was reported to be one lane, not blacktopped, and not capable to handle heavy traffic probably for the next two years.

Taken about a month ago. Kodari, where the where was blocked by landslide since April 24th earthquake. As of last week, the road was reported to be one lane, not blacktopped, and not capable to handle heavy traffic probably for the next two years.

Here’s a photo of a section that is not damaged:

CLICK HERE to see a pictorial essay of the Zhangmu Border road.

fromhttp://kekexili.typepad.com/life_on_the_tibetan_plate/2009/03/zhangmu-the-tibetnepal-border.html this shows part of the road. It drops nearly ten thousand vertical feet before it reaches Kathmandu.

from http://kekexili.typepad.com/life_on_the_tibetan_plate/2009/03/zhangmu-the-tibetnepal-border.html this shows part of the road. It drops nearly ten thousand vertical feet before it reaches Kathmandu.

Next, a map of Tibet:

What is on the other side of the mountains? not much. It’s about a hundred miles to Lhasa, on the “Tibetan Plateau” and there are no trees, bushes, or towns. No facilities to get lunch or repair a broken truck.

Click here to see a video of the Tibet side. The map above does not tell the whole story, you need to know about the elevation. It’s steep!

This a very important graphic. The road between Lhasa and Nepal border goes over four mountain passes of 5,500 m each. Higher than Thorung-La pass. These need to be cleared of snow in winter. On the Nepal side, the road gains 4,000 m in elevation,  much more than the road between Narayangadh and Kathmandu. (of course, trucks would ne empty going in that direction...)

This a very important graphic. The road between Lhasa and Nepal border goes over four mountain passes of 5,500 m each. Higher than Thorung-La pass. These need to be cleared of snow in winter. On the Nepal side, the road gains 4,000 m in elevation, much more than the road between Narayangadh and Kathmandu. (of course, trucks would ne empty going in that direction…)

Next, might as well show a map of “dry ports” – entryways to Nepal overland. Not one of the ports to China is open to cargo-carrying vehicles, since the earthquake.

None of the road ports to China are presently open. The one in Tatopani was heavily damaged and may not open for a year.

None of the road ports to China are presently open. The one in Tatopani was heavily damaged and may not open for a year.

Here is a map showing the location of all blacktopped roads. To carry heavy cargo, the blacktop needs to be thick and strong. In the mountains it will create huge potholes if the ground freezes below the pavement.

blacktopped roads. There is not one blacktopped roads between Nepal and China.

blacktopped roads. There is not one blacktopped roads between Nepal and China.

a blacktop road through cold terrain needs a strong foundation, otherwise it will not last long when pounded by heavy cargo.

On a good day, prior to the Terai Andolan,  the road from Terai to Kathmandu was prone to traffic jams.

On a good day, prior to the Terai Andolan, the road from Terai to Kathmandu was prone to traffic jams.

What are the Chinese Newspapers saying?

Here is a report from a Chinese newspaper October 16th:

Nepalese trade entrepreneurs have been placing high hopes from the resumption of this trading point to recover their business loss. However, it might take some more weeks for smooth operation of the port, Chinese officials said.

Cheng Ji, head of the Political and News section at the Chinese Embassy who attended the reopening ceremony, informed Xinhua from the spot “Today’s reopening is only the first step toward trade operation. Since the roads and infrastructures have been heavily damaged, it might take a long period of time for the smooth operation”.

The 14 km road section between the Chinese city Kerung and Nepali custom office is quite narrow and risky. The Chinese Armed Police Force has been working over night to clear and reconstruct the roads that has been severely damaged by the quake.

Cheng Ji said “The situation here is not so good since damage is severe. The Chinese side has difficulties such as lack of permanent structures including water and power supply.”

Since Tatopani, the largest trading point between China and Nepal, has remained closed due to the severe quake damage in Zangmu port and disruption in Araniko highway, traders have viewed Kerung as their second option.

Tsetan Gyalpo, a trader and hotel entrepreneur based in Syaphrubesi at bordering district Rasuwa told Xinhua “We wish to resume our daily life and regular business through border port soon. I am just waiting for the day to see loaded vehicles running on this road as before”.

However, the Chinese disaster prevention and mitigation experts said that the Kerung border port cannot be the alternative of Tatopani, at least for some years.

A visiting Chinese expert and professor from the Institute of Mountain Hazards and Environment Chen Xiaoqing who leads an 8 member delegation to Nepal, told Xinhua “The road from Nepal’s bordering district Rasuwa to Kerung is quiet narrow and poor. It cannot resist the heavy loaded vehicles.”

The above does not seem optimistic. Also, I am told that the policy is, Chinese trucks do not enter Nepal and Nepali trucks do not enter China. Every cargo truck is unloaded at the border and re-loaded. In the case of petrol, you need a “tank farm” to accomplish this. They do not have a “tank farm,” and it would take a while to build. Dec 8th update: click here for a description of the number,location, and capacity of existing tank farms. As of Dec 8th, Nepal is asking China to build more.

“tank farm” – what they don’t have at the Nepal-China border. it is very difficult to move fuel without this kind of infrastructure.

What would the cost be? If there were two barrels and one cost twice as much as the other, which would you buy?

Then there is the cost. If Nepal gets their oil via China, that means all the oil to Terai will need to go down the hill from Kathmandu and into Terai. That will be expensive, more expensive than getting it only to Kathmandu. Oil from China will be more expensive than oil from India. What happens when the border to India re-opens? obviously, businesses in Terai will resume getting their oil from India because it will be cheaper. China will need to prevent Nepalis from buying the cheapest oil, in order to protect their investment.

Update Dec 7thclick here for a discussion of the comparative price.  Nepal is on the verge of locking in a higher price. uff!

from https://deepresource.wordpress.com/2015/04/20/iran-china-pipelines/ (go to the link it's excellent!) this shows the present route of oil to China. There would need to be a very long spur to Nepal and South Asia. see the one that loop south through Pakistan? that's the closest, but it also has challenges... The engineering challenge is not to be underestimated.

from https://deepresource.wordpress.com/2015/04/20/iran-china-pipelines/ this shows the present route of oil to China. There would need to be a very long spur to Nepal and South Asia. The engineering challenge is not to be underestimated.

On the map above, find the branch that loops down through Pakistan. That’s closer than building a new spur all the way through Tibet. The source of that map, Deep Resource, gives a fascinating description of the geopolitics of China’s oil, also explained quite well by a contributor in the comments below.

Why would China build all this just to supply Kathmandu?

What will China want from Nepal politically?

Republica published an analysis of this question Oct 22nd. As we all know, Boudha is a vibrant and important neighborhood of Kathmandu due to Tibetan expatriates living there. What if Boudha were to become a bargaining chip? We all know that the Tibetans living in Nepal “belong” here – but then again, do they? The Tibetans are not “Gorkhali” – why would we pre-suppose that the Nepal government would protect them any more than they protect other ethnic minorities such as the Madhesis?
A cover

Without a doubt, the first victims will be the Tibetans living in Nepal. It would not be surprising if for every 100 KL of oil we are asked to hand over a Tibetan living in Nepal, and for every 1000 KL, we are asked to shut down a monastery or have our monasteries turn into highly guarded prisons. We will be forced to go against the international conventions on refugees and human rights that we are signatory to. With international condemnation and probable isolation resulting from blatant violations of established global norms, we will be even more reliant on China and it will use the opportunity to change the name of Mount Everest/Sagarmatha to its Chinese name Qumolungma, an issue the Chinese have been raising on and off for many years.

In the medium and long-term, China with its highways and infrastructure development projects will project us as a likely front against India. Since such projects mean huge investment, logically, it will look for a regime that will secure its interests in Nepal. And it will instill and or support a regime favorable to its interests as it did in Myanmar until recently and which it continues to do in Zimbabwe. Our international isolation will be complete and we will become a pre-2012 Myanmar. – See more at: http://myrepublica.com/opinion/story/29948/the-bangla-solution.html#sthash.DM4qwb4s.dpuf

UPDATE Dec 4th

I found a video about the expat Tibetans in Boudha, it also includes a segment at the Rasuwa border crossing.

Where does China get it’s Oil?

Now, the logistical information above seems to clearly indicate that whatever happens, it won’t happen soon enough to warm houses in Kathmandu this winter. China will not be rescuing Nepal. Also, there is a cost to be weighed – does Nepal want to give up it’s sovereignty to China?

One interesting question remains – where does China get it’s oil? the answer is – from the Baku oilfields in Azerbaijan and in Tajikstan. There is a pipeline running from the west, to China, and it is already built. Below is an excerpt from a fascinating article about the international oil business, titled “Fury of the Audacious Dragon.”

The first part of the article is devoted to how the Chinese competed against the Americans to buy oil resources. Finally it gets to the part that applies to the “Oil Silk Road” –

Half a world away, China turned to its Western neighbors for oil and gas. In 2005, China’s CNPC bought Canadian-based Petrokazakhstan miles above market value beating Russia’s privately owned Lukoil, sending shock-waves to the Eastern part of the world. This time Lukoil never stood a chance. Russia’s influence on its Southern neighbors had waned.

In a region that was influenced by Russia for centuries, Central Asia was not exactly transportation friendly. All pipelines led to Russia, all roads led to Moscow. Realizing the infrastructure shortcoming, China wasted no time to build and finance a 3,000 km oil pipeline – the Kazakhstan China Pipeline (KCP). Operational in 2011, the pipeline joined China’s Xinjiang Province to the Caspian Sea, a new milestone, beating the clock when its competitors were at the gates.

Kazakhstan’s oil reserves of 30 billion m3 is by no means j.v. China’s KCP has become a direct competitor of the Caspian Pipeline Consortium CPC, owned by Gazprom, Chevron, ExxonMobil and Baku-Tbilisi- Ceyhan (BTC), and controlled by BP. The Western world was still oblivious to the presence of the Dragon. Further onslaught was on the cards.

Turkmenistan has natural gas reserves of 17.5 trillion m3, the 4th largest in the world. In Central Asia, the China Gas Pipeline started construction in 2008 with pipelines A an B. In 2011, a delivery capacity of 30 billion m3 was achieved. With the completion of Line C, the 1839 km – A, B and C – triple parallel Pipeline of 55 billion m3 started flowing on 31 May 2014

In 2013, US shale oil and natural gas production shot through the roof. As the end of Middle East oil dependency came naturally and automatically, US could afford to lift its foot off the pedal. Central Asia pipeline diplomacy was knocked off center stage and the much touted and delayed, Turkmenistan-Afganistan-Pakistan-India (TAPI) pipeline became bogged down in a quagmire. With breakneck speed, China signed inter-Governmental agreements with Turkmenistan, Uzbekistan and Tajikistan for the 4th gas line or D line, and by September 2014, a deal was in the bag to increase supply to China to 65 billion m3, representing 20% of Chinese 2014 requirements. At the same time, TAPI member States were still haggling over who should do what and when, plunging the whopping $10 billion Asian Development Bank project into further uncertainties.

When the plan to construct a pipeline from Kazahkstan and Turkmenistan to China was first announced at the beginning of the 21st century, it was dubbed the Energy Silk Road. It has since morphed into a giant network of oil and gas flowing all the way to South and East China. read more at http://oilpro.com/post/12038/fury-audacious-dragon

The oil pipeline that runs through Tajikstan and XinChiang province has been named “The New Silk Road” after the route taken by Marco Polo. I runs far to the north of the Nepal border.This maps shows Marco Polo’s route, not the pipeline!

What you read in the papers

So, those announcements that somehow a magic alternative source of petrol or LP gas, are there to give you false hope, and to stall you into thinking that something amazing will happen, just around the corner. Only, this corner will never be turned.

काम साछे आफु लाई, खाना साछे अरुलाई! All the Nationalists who want to get LP gas from China, should go to the Himalaya, and learn how to harness a yak caravan to bring it. After all, the bhote people aren’t “real Nepalis” – are they? can they be trusted to bring LP gas to Kathmandu?

The Sacrament of the Goddess?

If you got this far, you might like to read my books. This blog may be serious but The Sacrament of the Goddess is a fast-paced adventure novel that describes the very real choices people need to make when they are caught up in turmoil.

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/

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/

about commenting: This blog is actively moderated. If you use profanity, or attack me personally, or get off topic, or use ALL CAPS, or cut-and-paste something really long so as to teach me about history, I will not approve the comment. Don’t waste my time or yours. I’m probably going to cut off future comments soon.le

One last obstacle….

from http://www.galenfrysinger.com/road_to_nepal.htm and there are lots of other pics there too!  The Arniko Highway gets traffic jams......

from http://www.galenfrysinger.com/road_to_nepal.htm and there are lots of other pics there too! The Arniko Highway gets traffic jams……

NOV 26th update? click here for update.

Jan 28, 2016

from Kantipur, translated by Sam Cowan. I found this on FaceBook page of Prashant Jha.

I am reposting this post from last night but this time, for ease of ‘sharing’, without the link to the kantipur article.

After months of blaming India, now it’s China’s turn?!

The article at the link below appeared in kantipur on Tuesday of this week. Kanak Mani Dixit posted the link on Twitter and Facebook, characterising the article as, “India’s carries out a blockade through selective openings, China is doing the same by closing the Tatopani route.”

This struck me as extraordinary given the well reported extensive earthquake damage in the area of Friendship Bridge, including to the bridge itself, and particularly in Khasa, the transshipment area for all goods being exported from China, where the slope on which the town is built moved 1.5 metres down the hill, making the place uninhabitable and the land unsuitable for future construction. Every person in the area had to be evacuated to new accommodation in Shigatse, 475 kms away.

[3] When India pressures us to use transit points other than Birgunj for trade, we’ve been saying that it’s impractical. When China also closes a transit point that could easily be used for trade and says ‘Rasuwagadhi is open’, that’s like India saying ‘Even though Birgunj is closed, Bhair

I asked a professional translator to paraphrase four key sections of the article to convey its general sense. These are given below and show the characterisation quoted above to be accurate.

[1] In recent days they’ve started to say that there’s a blockade not only by India, but by China as well. When they close the transit point at Tatopani for nine months, it should be understood that they are hindering us, not helping us.

[2] The convenient Tatopani transit point which has been operational for years has been completely shut down for a long time now. One doesn’t see any interest from China in opening up the transit point which was closed following the earthquake. This is a transit point which has been used for commercial trade for nearly four decades.ahawa is open’.

[4] The result of China using the earthquake as a pretext, which gives it a great opportunity to manage its own internal problems, is the closing of Tatopani. Suspicion has increased that the activities of Tibetan refugees have taken deep root in Tatopani, which has expanded as a centre for trade over the last decade. After many homes there were damaged by the earthquake, China resettled all of its citizens who had been living in places connected to Tatopani, including Khasa and Laptang, to the city of Shigatse, nearly 450 km away.

These paraphrases are sufficient to show that while the author makes oblique reference to damage from the earthquake in the Tatopani/Khasa area, the scale of it is understated. The clear suggestion is that China could reopen the crossing point at any time it chooses but has not done so in order to deal with TIbetan refugees allegedly active in the area. The damage to the bridge is dealt with dismissively as being of little consequence. Because of one piece of striking information in it, the paragraph which mentions the bridge damage is given here as a full translation:

“And that’s not all — last week a Chinese official handed over a letter to the head of Customs at Tatopani, Divyaraj Pokharel, asking for permission to demolish the ‘Friendship Bridge’. It was noted in the letter that once the bridge was demolished it would take at least two years to build a new one. What this means is that China is still not ready to send over the merchandise of Nepalis which is in Khasa.”

The last sentence [‘what this means’] hardly follows logically from the previous two but, if true, it is surprising that the key information in the paragraph did not feature as a lead item in all Kathmandu media sites: namely, that the bridge is so severely damaged that it has to be knocked down and replaced by a new one. The span is a long one, much longer than the recently built bridge at Rasuwa Garhi, so the work described would be a major civil engineering challenge though well within the scope of Chinese capabilities.

Just amazing. Ever since autumn, it’s been clear that petrol via China was a fantasy.

There is a PART TWO. Click here to go to part two with more photos and videos.

Pleas note: I laughed out loud when somebody said I was an agent of RAW. funny!

New Fans of The Sacrament of the Goddess are welcome – especially nurses!

The Sacrament of the Goddess

This book answers the question “What’s like to be a volunteer nurse or doctor in a poor country during or right after a civil war?”

From a temple door in Kathmandu, dedicated hridto Kali. We all have a third eye. Some of us can use it. Most lack the skill to do so.

From a temple door in Kathmandu, dedicated hridto Kali. We all have a third eye. Some of us can use it. Most lack the skill to do so.

It’s more than just a list of diseases we don’t get in USA.

It’s more than just applying a set of standards as if it was an American hospital.

In the book, the spot where Ranjit smokes his pipe and holds court. similar structures exist throughout Nepal as a courtesy to foot-travelers.

In the book, the spot where Ranjit smokes his pipe and holds court. similar structures exist throughout Nepal as a courtesy to foot-travelers.

It’s more than just punching a time clock for a shift and then having free time.

It’s more than just keeping the same set of assumptions that got you there.

It takes everything you have got.

and

it

might

not

be

enough.

And things aren’t always under control. The medical events described in the book are based on actual cases, depicting the decisionmaking as it happened.

The Sacrament of the Goddess is a novel, set during the tumultuous time of the Nepal Civil War. It's not the Nepal the average tourist will see, but Matt, the protagonist, is not the average tourist.

The Sacrament of the Goddess is a novel, set during the tumultuous time of the Nepal Civil War. It’s not the Nepal the average tourist will see, but Matt, the protagonist, is not the average tourist.

And every volunteer ends up developing lifelong relationships – bonds of loyalty and courage that last forever.

So –

If all this piques your interest, feel free to browse this blog and learn more about the small universe that exists in a Mission Hospital in Western Nepal…..

Buy the book

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/

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/

It’s available on Amazon.