Laying bricks

Posted: April 15, 2017 in Nepal
Tags: , , ,

Tuesday and Wednesday we spent most of our time putting 3 layers of bricks on top of the concrete layer. We’re using oil barrels to soak the bricks in water before we hand them up to the masons, but the water is running low. Not only in our oil barrels, the village water tank is also drying up.

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Usually the tank is filled from a spring up here in the hills, but as it’s the dry season there’s not much water to fill the tank with. At the construction site we’re using more than our share of water to mix the concrete, soak the bricks and the existing concrete. Due to the low water level in the tank some of the houses in the village don’t have running water at their houses anymore, which means people are having to fill buckets with water at the tank to bring back to their kitchens. Because water for cooking and drinking (the villagers drink the tap water here) also comes from the tank, there’s some tension among the villagers about the lack of remaining water and our excess consumption. Luckily, the pressure comes back up and the buffer is replenished a little while later. Once the rainy season starts this problem will be solved, though hopefully the house will be finished by then.

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Andre resting on the water tank.

In between mixing the cement and supplying the masons, we spend our time wheeling the remainder of the flint aggregate for the concrete from the place the truck dumped it to the building site itself. As it is very hot again, we take turns walking with the wheelbarrow while the other two hide in the shade.

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Madan, the father of the family that we’re building the house with shows us pictures of his workplace in Nepal: the soap factory in Kathmandu, where he is a chemist. He presents us with cakes of hand-made Neem soap and a bottle of massage oil especially made to combat stiff joints and muscles of his own making. Especially the latter is very welcome, the combination of hard work in the daytime and hard mats to sleep on at night is starting to make itself felt.

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Because of the earthquake destroying his house he’s had to quit working in the soap factory and work abroad. His family’s new house is going to cost approximately 12.000 dollars to build, and despite a lot of foreign aid money going to Nepal a lot of Nepali people are having to pay their own way while rebuilding their houses. Because of the Nepali wages being so low (according to the CIA country fact sheets the GDP per capita in Nepal was 2.500 dollars a year. Peanuts compared to The Netherlands ($ 50.800) or the USA ($ 57.300), all estimated for 2016) it’s almost impossible to raise the funds while working in Nepal. Madan has spent the past two years working in a tire factory in Malaysia to save up for this house. Knowing the way foreign labor is treated there, he definitely must have had a very tough time.

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When we get back to the house after work on Tuesday, we find out that one of the wooden poles holding up the power lines has decided to fall over, and the nearly-touching wires send a shower of sparks and the sound of popcorn popping through the area. Our house being right under the wires and being made of metal, we seek refuge at the only public establishment we’ve spotted in Tinpiple: a tiny hotel bar with a view of Kathmandu valley. (Well, of the smog cloud that covers Kathmandu valley to be more accurate).

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Apparently, some stuff actually gets fixed quickly around here, because when we make it back up the hill after a couple of beers the problem has been solved and the risk of electrocution has been lifted.

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Comments
  1. Mam says:

    Thank you for the fascinating background and beautiful photos
    Bless you all
    Xxxx

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