Last week I was flipping through my photo collection while working on another project, when I stumbled upon my pictures from Nepal…and there I sat for a good hour recalling all the stories, mishaps, and blessings from the summer of 2003, when Steve and I spent a few months volunteering in there. Neither of us had ever been out of country before (aside from Canada and the Bahamas, which don’t really count). While there we did a lot of travelling throughout the country, but our home base was with a local family living in Lalitpur, on the outskirts of Kathmandu. I taught English in several orphanages, while Steve taught basic computer skills to members of the community. Our adventures there are far too many to recount here, but I’ll give you a little background to help you out with the captionizing.
This picture was taken towards the tail end of our journey, on a weekend side trip to Pokhara. Pokhara is a beautiful lake town that is famous for being the gateway to the section of the Himalaya Mountains known as Annapurna. We made friends with the only snake charmers in Pokhara, who had left their families in India to peddle their trade in Nepal, where there is not as much competition for business. Steve and I might be a little weird in the sense that we actually like snakes, so the snake charmers enjoyed making examples of us to draw a bigger crowd. The snakes in the basket are spectacle cobras – yes they are real, and yes they are very poisonous, however we found out that almost all snakes used in this industry have had either their fangs removed or their mouths sewn almost completely shut. This obviously is not in the best interest of the snake’s health, since mouth infections and malnutrition usually cut the snake’s life pretty short. The flip side, however, is that many snake charmers are culturally valued as “pest control”, since they are most often acquiring their snakes from bustling, urban areas where encounters with people often can prove deadly for all parties involved. By no means do I in anyway condone the unethical treatment of animals, but after meeting these men and seeing the life they live in order to provide for their family, I realized that its not as black and white of an issue that it seems to be over here on this side of the pond. I know what PETA’s stance on the issue would be, but I’m curious as to other folks’ opinions, so feel free to comment below.
As for the picture, I like it because my expression captures a lot of the eye-opening experiences I had during my time in Nepal, and I’d also forgotten how much fun dread locks can be. So take your best shot at the caption – this time there’s a small prize involved! (I’ll give you a hint – its small, round, and sticks to your car windshield…)