Archive for May 2011

Linguistic Repression in Nepal

This is Chittadhar Tuladhar, who wrote under the pen name Hridaya, a famous Nepali poet who lived from 1906 to 1982.

The man knows how to wear a beard. (picture from wikipedia)

In 1940 he was imprisoned for ten years by the Rana regime for publishing this collection of poems, Padya Nikunjya, secretly abroad in India. 

Padya Nikunjya (picture from

The most controversial poem was entitled "Mother," and was written ostensibly in honor of his recently deceased mother. What was so inflammatory about these poems? They were published in the Newari language, at the time an illegal act. The government also suspected that "Mother" was actually about the mother tongue of the Newari people, which the Rana prime ministers were actively suppressing. In the same year, the poet Siddhicharan Shrestha was imprisoned for life for publishing the poem 'Barsa' in the Newari language, and Fatte Bahadur Singh was imprisoned for life for publishing the book 'Nepal Bihar.'

Unlike most of the languages of Nepal, the Newari language has an ancient and distinguished literary tradition. The language is usually referred to as 'Nepal Bhasha,' which can be confusing to outsiders because it means 'Nepal language.' This is a completely distinct language from the national language of Nepal, Nepali. In fact, Nepal Bhasha is a Sino-Tibetan language, genetically more akin to Sherpa and Mandarin than it is to Nepali (although it has been significantly influenced by Nepali and other Indo-European languages). It was the language of Kathmandu Valley, of the ancient Newari kingdoms of Kathmandu and Patan and Bhaktapur, of the Newari traders and craftsmen who managed the trade routes from Tibet to India. Before the unification, Kathmandu Valley was known as Nepal, and the language of the hill kingdom of Gorkha (the kingdom that was destined to conquer the Valley and unify the many kingdoms of Nepal) was known as 'Khas Bhasha' or 'Gorkha Bhasha.' Today, 'Khas Bhasha' is 'Nepali' and 'Nepal Bhasha' is 'Newari.'

The Rana Regime (and, I think to a lesser extent, the following Panchayat era) promoted a policy of one nation, one religion, one culture, one language. The ideal of a Hindu Nation created a unified identity for the country but gave justification to the dominance of Sanskritic culture and the caste system. Cultural, linguistic, and religious suppression went hand in hand. Linguistically, that policy was a double-edged sword; Nepali emerged as a practical lingua franca throughout the country, but at the expense of many languages that have disappeared or will disappear within the next century.

At the time, language activists worked underground, secretly publishing materials in their native languages. For me this is a fascinating time in Nepali history, but I have had difficulty finding information about it in English. I recently spoke with Amrit Yonjan-Tamang, a current activist for the Tamang language who secretly published works in Tamang during the Panchayat era. He told me about Bir Nembang and other Limbu activists who were arrested for illegally developing teaching materials for the Limbu language. The National Education Planning Commission of 1956 stated:

"The study of the local languages in Nepal other than the Nepali will hinder the effective development of the latter, given that the use by the student of languages other than Nepali in the house and society will cause Nepali to become an alien language. If the students are taught Nepali from the primary level other languages will gradually become unimportant, and it will help in national integration."

Today Amrit Yonjan-Tamang writes for legal Tamang language publications and is involved with many indigenous language groups that practice openly. Since the Revolution of 1990 the constitution of the government of Nepal has protected the rights of native language speakers, although the government has been haphazard in putting this into practice. Language rights are tied up with the rights of ethnic minorities in Nepal, and are often spoken about in the many protests and parades that one sees along the streets of Kathmandu. There are also government provisions for mother tongue primary education in Nepal.

Yet today many of these languages continue to decline. There is less overt oppression of the languages today, but there is enormous pressure to conform to the languages that represent economic security and modernity: Nepali and English. There are provisions in place for schools to teach in mother languages, and yet the overwhelming popular belief is that a quality education can only come from English immersion. I spent last Wednesday visiting all of the schools that are being considered for the Fulbright ETAs next year, and a school was considered more desirable (by the teachers with whom we spoke, and on the forms we had to fill out) the more grade levels that were nominally English medium. All but one school had embarked on a long-term program to become an English Medium government school, starting with 1st grade and moving upwards a grade a year.

We could say that the quote above from the Education survey is just as commonly believed today as it was in 1956, but you would have to replace the word 'Nepali' with the word 'English.'

For this blog post, I am indebted to Amrit Yonjan-Tamang. The names of authors and the quote from the education survey came from Process of Democratization and Linguistic (Human) Rights in Nepal  by Govinda Bahadur Tumbahang.

Night becomes day........

Early morning Kakadu - yellow river -  just caught the moon and the last star before the sun rise.  Hmm should have moved the lens a little bit to the left - as a photographer I make a good drawer.

Dirty Hands

Spent the day at Andrew Antoniou drawing workshop - have come home with a clearer direction.
Thanks to the Alisons @jervisbayartworkshops

Digital Art 2011


A little Taste......

Back in the studio with a head full of Kakadu.  This is just a little snippet of the big picture.  Excited about where this will lead me to.


doesn't this make you wonder who was Frances McCourt and how was she related to the Greggs?
see what other signs may leave you with more questions ... or sighs ... or laughs

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Fabric He'Art' - Markie's Pants

Title: Markie's Pants
Size: ACEO/ATC, 3-1/2" x 2-1/2"

Notes: My nephew Markie not only grew out of his jeans, but wore them to shreds!
I decided, instead of throwing them out, to make a piece of art!
Someday when he is older, I will give Markie this reminder of when he was a little guy.

To meet amazing artists from around the world ... to share YOUR art ... and to encourage fellow artists - be sure to visit "Beth's Artworx" - and join us for FATuesday Artists Spotlight!


Like I said, speaking another language makes you less intelligent. I sit in the teacher's lounge straining to understand the discussions around me. When I speak, my words are simple parodies of my thoughts, and when people start to get passionate and excited they talk too quickly for me to understand.

My school is in Bistagaon, a traditionally high-caste Chhettri village. The majority of the teachers are high-caste, but the majority of the students are traditionally low-caste Tamangs who trudge all the way up from the valley to get to the school. Students from Bistagaon generally do not go to the Bistagaon school. Their parents send them away to Chapagaon because they do not like our school. In my limited grasp of the situation it seemed like there might be some class tension stuff going on. Maybe just school politics; it's hard for me to get a feeling for these things. I was asking why there are mostly Tamang students, and one of the teachers told me something that sounded like,

"Ganesha mudukum kwapa kadati"

and everyone laughed but would not tell me what this means. Then just this week I was asking about education reform and I posed a sort of tongue-in-cheek hypothetical question: "Would it be good for education if every private school was forcibly closed and only public schools existed in Nepal, so that the rich would be forced to improve the public education system?" The same teacher yelled out "Thik chhaina!" ('No good!') and when I asked why he said the same thing:

"Ganesha mudukum kwapa kadati"

And everyone laughed. "I can never understand your Nepali," I said. They laughed again; they told me he was actually speaking Sanskrit. It was a Sanskrit expression. Sanskrit in South Asia is a lot like Latin in Europe and the United States: it is the ancestor of many of the languages, it is used for technical and scientific terms, and it is the language of the dominant religion.

The elephant-headed god Ganesh is fond of eating laddoo, the ball-shaped sweet that I was told is known as mudukum in Sanskrit. Kwapa is the only Nepali word in the expression, an adverb of Sanskrit kadati (to eat), which they told me means 'with both hands,' so:

"Ganesha gobbles up ladoo"

In this depiction, it is his mouse/ride that is gobbling up the ladoo.

Okay, so I've got the literal meaning, but nobody will help me out with the figurative one. What does Ganesha represent? The school? "No, Ganesh lives at the school!" So what is the ladoo? The fees? The public school students? Can anybody help me out here?

Off to England

No no unfortunately not me - this painting is though. A nice thought that an Australian landscape can warm a London living room.

Maybe I can visit it in a year or two?

Built-In Office Data Connections (ODC) files in Microsoft Excel 2007

     One of the many Data Tools in Microsoft Excel is the Office Data Connection (ODC) designed to facilitate the re-use of external data connections.   Using this tool one can easily create financial reports that can be updated/refreshed with the click of a few buttons.  Excel has three built-in ODC files.  All three are web queries: 1) MSN Currency Rates, 2) MSN Major Indices, and 3) MSN Stock quotes.   To set-up these built-in ODC files in Excel 2007 open a blank workbook and simply click Data, Get External Data,
 Existing Connections then pick from the menu the built-in ODC file you want to create.  The report will be created automatically except for MSN Stock Quotes which requires that one enters the ticker symbols for the stocks you wish to track.

     So now that you've created and saved your ODC file the biggest benefit is being able to update it.  To refresh the file open the ODC file you created and click the following commands; Data, Refresh All then Refresh.  This series of commands will update your workbook to the most current quotes contained on the web for the stocks, indices or currency rates.  I found this to be a handy tool for tracking, at a glance, my personal stock portfolio and what's happening in the stock market.   The currency report I can see as being useful for someone interested in foreign currency trading or someone who needs daily currency rates for purpose of accounting for FX valuations.

     The ability to connect to external data in Excel saves time because one does not have to recreate a new workbook each time the information needs to be reported.  In my next blog I will cover the subject of ODBC and MS Query.   Excel has the ability to extract data directly from ODBC compliant databases.   Following the process similar to the steps above one can create reports in Excel from information extracted from one's accounting software like Quickbooks, Great Plains Dynamics, SAP, etc. that can be refreshed much the same way the built-in ODC reports covered here.  Look for this information soon.

Best regards,

Andrew Jordan, CPA

Clean slate

Should I start a new clean palette? This one has been with me for years and I just can't bring myself to say goodbye.

Trying to work things out

Going thru all my scribbles and stuff from Darwin and working out what comes next? And then trying to work out how to blog from phone -where are teenagers when you need them.

Language Bears

"Men imagine that their minds have the command of language, but it often happens that language bears rule over their minds." 

---- Francis Bacon

The Mighty Language Bear, Ruler of Our Minds

(from here. pictures from here and here.)

beware of danger

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Nourlangie Rock Art

For months I had been dreaming about visiting Ubirr in Kakadu, I wanted to sit on top of the rock and view the Nadab floodplain at sunset and visit the rock art sites - due to the wet season the road was closed.  For me this was like visiting Italy and finding out the Sistine Chapel wont be open - but you cant change nature so I had to get over it.  We drove on to Nourlangie, climbed the mountain and was silenced by the amazing ancient rock art and the sheer beauty and spirit of the place.  

Rato Machhendranath Rath Jatra

Every time I have passed Pulchowk on the way from Patan to Kathmandu, I saw long beams of wood being carved and painted and slowly fashioned along the side of the road:

A few days before the festivities, the chariot has taken its rough shape

This is the chariot of Rato Machhendranath, the centerpiece of a festival that occurs before the monsoon season. Machhendranath is a rain god, an incarnation of a boddhisatva, an important deity for the Newars of Kathmandu Valley. The ancient kingdoms of Kathmandu and Patan each have their own festival and their own idol of Machhendranath. A few weeks ago Kathmandu had a similar festival with Seto (White) Machhendranath, but last Saturday I saw the festival for Patan's own Rato (Red) Machhendranath. I was following around a fellow Fulbrighter and scholar of Newari culture, who told me everything that was going on and kept me from getting lost in the crowd.

Here is the chariot a few days later, covered in pine branches and containing the image of Rato Machhendranath

The front of the chariot.

The base of the chariot
The idol Rato Machhendranath in the cabin of the chariot

It is said that this ceremony brings the monsoon rains, but it almost never rains while the chariot is being pulled.  It has been raining a lot lately, but the skies kept quiet during this day

The massive chariot towers above the street. The priests slowly dress in traditional costume as they take their places in the cabin of the chariot. People throw rice and coins at the idol of Machhendranath within the chariot. A massive crowd gathers as the main street from Patan to Kathmandu is shut down. Vendors sell cotton candy and balloons. All the electrical wires along the road have been cut down temporarily as the dozens of volunteers take up a rope and are lead by volunteers in white t-shirts with Newari lettering. 

A man riding the chariot directs the volunteers to pull simultaneously

The volunteers pull on the rope but the chariot doesn't budge. They pull again and again, and for thirty minutes the chariot hardly moves and inch. Then, very slowly and in bursts, it begins to move down the street. It has to turn first so that it can move along the road, and at every twist of the chariot the massive tower leans crazily as if it might collapse. The crowd is thick around, and a collapse of the chariot would be disastrous. Just such a disaster happened in Kathmandu a few years ago, and several people died. Since then the chariots, in a rejection of ancient tradition, have been reinforced with steel wire. It still looks pretty precarious.

The chariot towers above buildings as people line the rooftops to see it pass

The chariot is pulled down the street and then down a side street into the ancient Gabahal, a neighborhood of the Old City that has the honor of keeping the chariot on its first night during its circuit through the Royal Palace and around the city. Several times we are caught in stampedes as people cheer and run away from the giant crushing chariot wheels.

The ceremonial regiment of Patan, dressed in 18th century costume

The lesser chariot of Minath in the distance
The massive chariot is being pulled inexorably toward the smaller chariot of Minath, a deity who according to my Newari co-teachers was a devotee of student of Machhendranath. This smaller chariot is pulled by children.

On the left, the Minath chariot gets stuck against some power lines and must be pulled back into the street. On the right, the chariot of Machhendranath edges closer, now tilting at a crazy angle and threatening to brush against buildings on the narrow street
As we wait for the two chariots to meet, people throw water out the windows onto the crowd below. People play drums, blow long ceremonial horns, crash cymbals. Young men are thrown into the air. The parasol of the Malla King of Patan is carried alongside the chariot, but no king has been seen underneath the parasol since Patan was overrun by the Gorkha King Prithvi Narayan Shah when all of Nepal was unified in the 1760s.  

Nearby is the house of the Patan Kumari. My previous post on the Kumari tradition referred only to the Royal Kumari, the Kumari of Kathmandu. She is most famous and most secretive of the kumari, the one who gave tika to the King of Nepal, but there are other kumaris from other areas of the Valley. The Patan Kumari is chosen amongst the neighborhoods of the Patan bahals, but unlike the Royal Kumari she lives with her parents and remains in her neighborhood. On this day she sits outside as the chariot approaches and accepts offerings from devotees.

My friend was acquainted with her and her family, and showed me around the courtyard of her house

I nervously gave an offering to the living goddess.
Then there is applause as the two chariots came to a halt. At twilight candles are lit underneath the chariots and the massive crowd disperses. The first day of the Rato Machhendranath Rath Jatra has come to an end.

Here is a video I made of the proceedings!

Graffiti He'Art' 0565

Title: Falling Stars
Size: ACEO/ATC - 2-1/2" x 3-1/2"

Notes: Made with REAL graffiti (see sidebar).

More Notes: To see scanned images of all kinds, visit Al's "Sunday Scans" - and show us YOUR old stuff!


 Blatz x Alee x Stereoflow x Kimo28
Alee x Stereoflow

Howdy! हाउडे!

I started class the other day by introducing my students to the Texan version of Namaste.

Their textbooks had already taught them that the Australians say 'G'day!' An Australian educator had a hand in designing the textbooks, so a lot of the passages are suspiciously australiocentric ("Okay kids, in Chapter 10 Prabhu and Shyam are going to start talking about Ayer's Rock again for some reason!"). So I presented this as a simple example of World Englishes: the Australians say 'G'day,' the British say 'Hello' (or, as I intoned in my best imitation of Queen Elizabeth, 'Hellooooooo'; like all Americans I possess a flawless British accent) and my fellow Texans say 'Howdy.' I thought I was being quite instructive, but all the students burst out laughing.

My counterpart told me that the Nepali word 'haude' means 'a person who speaks nonsense.' Well, I guess that fits me. The students certainly thought so.

Anyway, it wasn't the first lesson in which I mentioned the unique English dialect of my homeland. During the pen pal project I helped my students read the letters sent from Austin, Texas. Most of the difficult vocabulary were words like 'transition,' 'obsess,' and 'communicate.' But I had to explain several simple words that they had never encountered before, and several unfamiliar objects and names. For example:





native ancestry



I just thought that was sort of interesting. Imagine how you would explain each of these words to a seventh grader. My style of teaching usually involves drawing cartoons on the board and elaborate pantomime that sort of degenerates into me flailing my arms until I fall off the wooden platform. Hence, haude. 

Graffiti He'Art' 0680

Title: "Above the Sands of Time"
Size: ACEO/ATC - 3-1/2" x 2-1/2"

Notes: Made with REAL graffiti (see sidebar!)


Relax, sit a spell and browse through the selection of signs from around the world. 
You might want a coffee (this restaurant is not licensed) as our participants keeps growing!
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Nintendo 3DS "3D" Camera Demo & Quality Test

Nintendo 3DS "3D" Camera Demo & Quality Test

Nintendo 3DS

Illustration & Drawing Tips : How To Draw Graffiti Letters

Illustration & Drawing Tips : How to Draw Graffiti Letters

Illustration & Drawing Tips : How to Draw Graffiti Letters


what's on your plate?!

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Graffiti 3d Speed Drawing

graffiti 3d speed drawing

graffiti 3d speed drawingheres another one.

Graffiti He'Art'

Title: "Twilight at the Edge of the World"
Size: 2-1/2" x 3-1/2"

Notes: Made with Real Graffiti (see sidebar)

To meet amazing artists from around the world ... to share YOUR art ... and to encourage fellow artists - be sure to visit "Beth's Artworx" - and join us for FATuesday Artists Spotlight!

Good Charlotte

Charlotte has all the good stuff.  Iphone so we can take pictures, mac bookpro so we can do the business.  I however do have the lead pencils - so does she - you get the picture.
Frogs Hollow Fig Tree - today.

Bargaining Experiment

I have always assumed that the language medium plays a big role in the price you get for things. If you start out asking in Nepali, storekeepers will often tell you that they're going to give you the "Nepali price." I always assumed that this was actually a mid-level price, a bit discounted from the exorbitant tourist price but above the asking price quoted for Nepalis themselves. But I've never really had any proof that the language you speak (as opposed to say, nationality) has any effect on bargaining effectiveness. I wanted to test that in a quasi-scientific sort of way, so I headed to the strange tourist netherworld of Thamel, where tourists stroll around the stands of Buddha figurines and khukuri knives, the only rickshaw drivers in the city wait around every corner, and touts and knick-knack sellers call out to every Westerner they see about their travel prices, their sarangis, their hashish (in a lower voice), street children huff paint out in the open and ask tourists for a few rupees for dictionaries or shampoo, and above the shoe shiners and beggars with physical disabilities and cute children selling postcards and women asking for milk for their babies there are Western-style coffee shops and guest houses and restaurants.

I was looking for something ubiquitous, something sold at every stand and of about the same price everywhere, and my first inclination was to ask people the price for Tibetan singing bowls. I quickly discovered that the problem here was that slight differences in quantity and quality change the price of these bowls quite a bit. Generally at a single stand there would be three or four different prices quoted for different bowls, and the asking prices ranged from 500 to 2000 rupees. 

One thing I noticed was the difference in the tone of conversation between English in Nepali. If I said "How much is this?" a shopkeeper would generally try to show me how to play the bowl, would smile and ask me where I was from, and then tell me a price. If I said "Tyasko kati parchha?" a shopkeeper would show me the range of bowls, tell me which were more expensive and which were cheaper, tell me which were machine-made and which were handmade, and show me differences in sound quality.

At one stand I was given an asking price of 1600 rupees in English, and then I sent my buddy down to ask for the price again, but this time in Nepali. The asking price was 1200 rupees. Still, this was not quite vaguely quasi-scientific enough for my tastes, so I decided to try this again with dhakka topis, the traditional Nepali hats that are worn by older men and often given to visitors as parting gifts.  

Bottom right. Creepy heads cost extra.
I went to six different stands and asked either "How much for this hat?" or "yo topiko kati parchha?" I looked for the cheapest version I could find (usually there was a cheaper quality hat and a more expensive quality hat) and then I memorized the asking price. Of course, it is assumed that there will be some bargaining, and to some extent the asking price is a way for salesmen to see what they can get away with. But I was working under the assumption that the language would affect the asking price.

If I was going to buy one of these hats, I would expect to eventually pay around 100 rupees (a bit less than $1.50). In English the asking price ranged from 300-500 rupees with an average of about 350, and in Nepali the asking price ranged from 150-300 rupees with an average of about 230.

Again, the more obvious difference was the tone of the conversation. In English the salesperson would ask how many I wanted (I always said "one" in either language), how I enjoyed Nepal, would show me a mirror in back and give me instructions on wearing the hat properly, and when I tried to leave would insistently call me back and lower the prices as I walked away. In Nepali the salesperson would ask how many I wanted, would show me the different designs and describe the difference in quality, and would not pester me if I decided to walk away.

So my hypothesis was more or less confirmed. Speaking the English language, people think you are a tourist. Speaking in Nepali (for someone like me who is obviously not a native Nepali), people know you must be something else, a volunteer or an expat or a foreign government employee maybe, and so it is assumed that you have a little bit of knowledge about what you are buying. The next step would be to somehow convince some of my Nepali friends to go down into Thamel and do the same thing and see if there is an even lower "Nepali price."  

Not everyone's cup of tea

I know I know this isnt everyones cup of tea, but walking around the shoreline of Darwin today I found some amazing bits and pieces.