7.3 on the Richter Scale- A story by Nimrod Eisenberg
Today I felt the earthquake. Wowwwww what a simultaneously disturbing and pleasant experience. Actually, if an aftershock catches me in an open field, I’m not in danger. The real danger is from human buildings (I’m not mentioning avalanches because I’m not a goat) – what I’m trying to say, is that the main danger in an earthquake is from people. It’s us humans again. Wonderful.
This afternoon were were in the Swoyambhu neighborhood in Kathmandu, in the Tevel b’Tzedek house. Check them out, they’re really great.
Just when we finished our medical clowning workshop for volunteer Nepalese and Israelis, everything around us began to shake and shudder.
We had already experienced aftershocks in previous days (the locals always feel them before we do), but it was mostly at isolated points, like a little jump – by just about everything.
This time it took us a second to understand that this was a quake, then two more seconds to realize that it was a big one and went on and on.
Then in one split second I began to really feel fear.
We rushed into the street, where the trembling lasted more than half a minute and the entire street moved.
Fences, antennas, billboards were wavering all around us, then we heard the huge noise of a falling building in the neighborhood, and it all turned from a strange and amusing incident to frightening and very real.
One team left with a first aid kit.
Without much thought I rushed after them between the houses.
That neighborhood has 2-3 story houses. Residents left their homes about two weeks ago and now are eating and sleeping in improvised tents, afraid of what exactly happened: additional quakes.
Kusturica couldn’t have directed it better himself.
Actually he already did, and composed the music for it, too.
OK, that’s not very important.
We arrived at a house that had already collapsed on April 25 and now more of it was falling down.
We walked around asking if anyone was wounded, if they needed bandages, water, or anything else.
The Nepalese were so calm, looking at us with absolute Namaste. There were no wounded in the area, so we calmed down, too, and I remembered what I was there to do.
I put on my Red Nose over my own nose
put a whistle in my mouth
and began to act out –
to shake, to tremble, to laugh, to dance
while helicopters flew overhead, on emergency missions in the city.
I noticed that the children – like all children everywhere – were drawn to the helicopters and to the “action”
so I did what clowns sometimes do,
miming what’s going on.
I organized a group of kids and together we made a sound of
tchaktchaktchaktchakatchak like the helicopter
waving our arms like the propellers
running among the tents filled with people as we “landed” from the helicopter
offering assistance near each tent…
Ten minutes after the quake everyone was laughing and playing with the groups of “flying” kids with the far out Israeli joker.
How about this scene, Kusturica?
Earlier this week-
The Hand of Fate by Yaron Sancho Goshen
One of the simplest ways to connect with a Nepali is to place one’s palms together on the chest, bow slightly, and greet them with “Namaste” – the Buddhist Nepalese version of the Israeli palm slap “hi.” The moment one person says Namaste, the other must respond in the same way. Clown that I am, it’s an excellent way to create the initial contact as I enter the room.
He was a badly wounded 19-year-old who was brought in among the first patients. We met him on our first morning in Nepal, that same morning the staff was attempting to cajole him into getting out of bed and walking around a bit. They told me he is a dancer, found buried under the ruins. His right arm was amputated up to the shoulder.
As I entered the hospital tent on my second day I went from bed to bed, greeting everyone with “Namaste.” At the far end of the tent, the dancer was lying down, but when I reached his cot, I realized – one second too late – that I was making an embarrassing mistake: he couldn’t greet me with the full Namaste blessing of “peace be with you” because he wasn’t able to make the gesture any more. I became a bit confused but he didn’t let me stay in my embarrassment too long. With his remaining hand, he gestured towards my little bag and asked to see what was inside. I opened my “bag of tricks” and drew out a ball, bounced it on my hand several times, and passed it over to him. He began to play with it, bouncing it and catching it with his one hand. I could see he was totally into the game, so we gave ourselves over to playing. I held my hat out like a basket so he could aim at it. Dream Doctor Dush the Medical Clown joined us, with his billowing trousers, and the teenage patient was very amused as he attempted to throw the ball into his trousers. He was very lively, concentrated on the “basketball” game and the interaction with us, without the slightest bit of self-pity or any reference to his missing limb.
Next day as I entered the hospital tent, I went by each cot greeting everyone with my “Namaste.” When I reached the teen, he was a split second ahead of me, as if to spare me the embarrassment: he placed his healthy hand on the stump at his shoulder, and inclined his head towards me as he said, “Namaste.” The movement reflected the tremendous force of acceptance. He did not place his hand in the usual, natural placement in the center of the chest, which would have emphasized what was lacking. He brought his hand to his shoulder in a gesture as if to say, “From now on, this is going to be my Namaste. What you see is what you get, bring it on, now throw me the ball…”
The young man quickly recovered. We didn’t hear a single complaint from him during the entire week. No doubt the pain relief medication had a great deal to do with it, but – something within him, something I saw again and again in my encounters with the Nepalese, how they accepted the painful situation with a sober observation of the healthy side and focused on the healthy side. After all, that’s the essence of medical clowning in a nutshell!
In the picture- Max with the 19 year old
Yesterday morning Shemesh and Fruma have left Kathmandu and by nightfall have landed safely back in Israel. Sancho and Max are staying till the end of the week and are working with the Israeli Embassy on special missions.
Later in the day yesterday Nepal experienced another major earthquake. Sancho and Max were just finishing a workshop with help teams (volunteers) who assist the damaged villages.
Max and Sancho are safe and sound as you can see in the video they sent!
Dream Doctor Yaron “Sancho” Goshen’s Nepal Diary continued
It’s a new week.
We said goodbye to the IDF mission, bid farewell to the field hospital which closed and folded up its tents (Let’s have a big hand for them!) and set out on a visit to two villages in the mountains outside of Kathmandu.
The villages were very badly hurt.
But when I say “village,” here it means several houses sitting along a hiking path on the mountain.
After a very long and shaky ride on paths at the edge of deep chasms, we arrived at the village, left the vehicle and began to play with the people who gathered round us. The music and silliness even “infected” some of the villagers whose fooling around made the others laugh a lot and “infected” them, too.
The spirit of silliness is wafting through the village!
A light rain begins, driving us and the audience under tin shelters on both sides of the road. Each clown has another group, but both groups play, imitating various animals, blowing soap bubbles, a bit of juggling, songs…but suddenly, a short but strong “boom” rings out. In a split second, everyone dives into the center of the street. It takes us another second and a half to catch on and join them. It’s a short tremor but long enough to give us a fright. Indeed, the emotions are visible. When I turn around I see one of the women who was dancing with us at first, now she’s all curled up safely hidden in Shemesh the Medical Clown’s embrace. Shemesh explains to me that she was terrified and points to her chest. Her heart was pounding, Shemesh says. I take out a 10 shekel castanet from my pocket (which I bought in Israel) and began to click it near her heart with the idea that the heartbeat would lead to a song rhythm. After several seconds with me clicking, the woman rolled up her pants leg and showed me a small wound on her leg. I bent down and made a few clicks with the castanet near her foot. When I stood up, another young woman was already standing beside me, miming to me that her heart was also pounding. So I clicked near her heart in utter seriousness.
Within a few seconds, adults were standing in line, showing me where it hurts, and there I was with my bargain basement castanets clicking away the pain…
One found it hard to breathe, another person had a pain in the knee, while a third had pressure in her chest, and someone else had a shoulder which was aching for the past six months. Each person asked for a moment with the “Dream Doctor” – and received it, in our “clinic” in the middle of the road. I was very surprised by the situation but decided to “go with the flow” of their strange requests, trying to release my internal resistance asking myself what am I actually doing here? If the God of Clowns brought me to this wounded, neglected village high in the mountains to click my castanets on someone’s body, who am I to argue about it…
I attempt to show them how to breathe deeply into the painful area, and feel as if they are finding it hard to draw a deep breath. When things become too serious, we begin making noises and fluttering our lips. Laughter is also breathing…
One of the elderly men crouching at the side signaled me to come over. I touched him with my castanet, and saw that his eyes teared up. He also felt pressure in his chest. I tried to explain to him to inhale through the nose and exhale through the mouth.
All this took place within a few minutes, as we were actually already on our way to the next village. The innocence and trust with which they faced this weird red-nosed creature with his castanets was so moving.
I thought to myself that the standard of living in these villages – from the material aspect – is very poor, even during normal times. The small houses will be repaired and rebuilt, and things will look beautiful soon enough. They don’t need a lot, and seem happier and more full o flife than many people I know.
Western cynicism may make it hard to understand this, but what’s needed here is something different. Everyone who has learned Eastern healing, such as healing, Reiki, shiatsu, massage and other methods, can give a big gift to the wounded person’s frequency. It is unusual how they can give themselves over to the vibrations, and the person who truly knows how to give healing can give and receive endlessly. Those are just the thoughts going through my head…
Kathmandu, Nepal, May 2015
Diary, Entry #2 The Circus of Life
Dush has left Nepal yesterday, these are some parting words
This is it!
Here (somewhere in Nepal)
we began packing things up.
The backdrops went into the boxes,
the accessories are well-wrapped and placed in boxes, til the next time
The sound gradually dies down, becomes silent and disappears,
The lighting will give out its last rays in a sec
As for the actors?
Each one leaves the convoluted plot at his or her own pace
Some left some sort of souvenir, memory, feeling or simply a tear,
and only that one, that clown, that tired being so full of emotion and satisfaction,
with his sadness and wonderful happiness
He alone stands there in the corner of the tent, letting out one last breath on the empty stage,
a stage that was burning and stormy, night and day, full of incredible acrobatics, split-second performances of sound and movement, astounding virtuoso improvisations
Yes, he knows that what was here was a wonderful creation of life in which he was only a guest tramp in an amazing play, with super-talented writers and extraordinary directing!
This tent, with nothing behind the scenes, is only one of many other tents,
which since arising on the green lawns, hosted the tensest, most cruel, emotional, heart-rending, uncompromising circus – against all odds
an enchanting and wondrous circus
The Circus of Life was here!
So many children… So much to do
Sancho’s Nepal stories, #2- see the video of this conversation at the end of the post
One of today’s surprises was meeting a Nepalese volunteer who speaks Hebrew. She worked in Binyamina for 4 years and in Zichron Yaakov for one – we were neighbors for 5 years, but we didn’t meet until right now in the IDF Field Hospital Emergency Room.
At the entrance to the ER many Nepalese sit and wait quietly and patiently. Only about 30% of the cases directly resulted from the earthquake, but taking the pressure off local hospitals is part of the mission’s brief, as one of the physicians explained to me.
The audience, facing a long wait, sitting in an orderly manner on benches, forms an easy target for the medical clown.
I do what a clown should do, and so time passes in a more “smiley” way. Four Nepalese soldiers come in with a stretcher from the nearby hospital, carrying an impressive older guy. His leg is all bandaged up after complicated surgery, with rods and screws decorating it from the knee down. He arrived at the IDF tent for continuation of his treatment, but it’s not easy to look at.
I bend down towards him, touch his hand, and he responds with a grasp. Obviously in pain. I try to learn some details from him but he has no English. I call over the Nepalese interpreter, who worked on a kibbutz in Israel, and an emotional conversation develops.
Once again, as I have sensed over the past few days, the ability of the wounded to regain their powers of clear and joyful communication is a wonderful thing to behold. Despite his pain, he is happy to talk with me, and we joke around together. I give him a red clown nose, which he enjoys putting on. I’m aware that the entire “audience” surrounding us is following our talk with curiosity, after our initial contact, they feel that the show is continuing with a change of location.
I learn how to say “My big brother” in Nepalese – and from this moment on, we are brothers.
He repeated (through the interpreter) how grateful he is to Israel for what Israel is doing. She explains to me that he is somewhat involved in politics, and he wants to sell something to use the money to tell the world how Israel has provided assistance.
A few minutes later they take him to the Orthopedics Department tent (I think the only difference between this hospital and the usual hospital is that there are no elevators here…) and so we say goodbye to each other.
These encounters have me under a spell.
I can’t seem to wrap my mind around their calm acceptance of the situation.
I also remind myself that whoever is hospitalized in the IDF tent is in a relatively much better state than elsewhere. I have a feeling they are aware of this as well.
Let us also be aware how much we owe to the thousands of Nepalese who have been handling and still are dealing with matters in Israel where we find things difficult.
Dream Doctor Yaron “Sancho” Goshen
Three more Dream Doctor medical clowns joined us today.
They arrived in the morning, and after the excitement of our meeting and organizing things, we left the cracked and wounded hotel (the lintel in my room broke off entirely from the wall after our several comings and goings, and so we have to change rooms).
Back to the hospital
More and more stories.
Let me tell you one:
Yesterday a boy came in.
His non-stop crying drew me out of a “commander’s drill” which I held by chance for a group of Nepalese Army officers who came to inspect the camp.
I followed the crying into the hospital room. A boy of about 9 years old was lying down in the corner at the entrance.
A nurse was by his side and an interpreter and doctors coming in from time to time.
Everyone has a positive attitude, they all want to help. Everyone’s a professional, each with one’s own point of view.
And I’m there trying to understand what’s going on.
I gather fragments of information.
I’m weaving a story which even if it’s not THE “truth,” it’s surely made up of thousands of stories happening all around the tent.
This is what I understand:
The boy arrived alone and on foot.
He has a wounded hand and a wounded foot.
He just got out of surgery.
I don’t know what he went through.
His mom is missing.
The boy is agitated.
He keeps crying “Mama.”
The helplessness and immeasurable pain slice through me cutting me to bits.
I don’t know where to begin.
What could possibly distract him from the terror of his situation?
Suddenly I realize he’s hungry.
The interpreter realizes it, too.
The doctor who enters the space explains that he can’t yet eat post-surgery because he’s agitated.
“But he’s hungry!”
We attempt to look beyond the usual pediatric post-op protocol and try this:
“We don’t know since when he had nothing to eat. If he eats something, maybe he’ll calm down?”
The doctor ponders the situation, and agrees. At this stage I feel I have nothing more to contribute because people are taking care of the situation and I don’t feel that I’ve had any success in making contact with the kid.
I left, but not before blowing some soap bubbles into the clinic, and on the way out appear in someone else’s film, providing him with a great opportunity to send home some cool souvenir photos home showing him with a clown.
No more than half an hour – an enchanted 30 minutes in another tent – goes by and suddenly the interpreter bursts in and asks me to come back. The kid feels better and wants me to blow him some soap bubbles (Huh??!!!!).
I’m kind of in shock, so I finish what I was doing and get back to the clinic.
The boy is sitting in a wheelchair.
He looks perked up and looks at me expectantly.
I begin with some soap bubbles, and the kid responds with joy…
While being informed that they gave him some Ensure to drink for energy,
I don’t see in him even a bit remaining of the frightened child who was here before.
He’s still hungry, and it’s not clear if he can eat any more, so I take some paper toweling, hold it like a bag of munching nuts and seeds, take out some imaginary food from the bag and swallow the “food.” The kid looks at me with astonishment as I offer a taste of the nuts to everyone in the vicinity.
Everyone around joins in, “taking” a bit of food, putting it in one’s mouth.
Last but not least I offer some to the patient and to my surprise, with a mischievous look and monkey-like agility, he also “takes” some and puts it in his mouth. This becomes our new “routine” and is repeated a few times while the interpreter tries to obtain approval for more concentrated nutritional drink – looking for an “ishur for Ensure” which also gives us a few laughs.
The approval was given, he drank a bit more, and the games continues apace.
Not one complaint about his just-operated-on hand.
I can neither understand or explain this, but his ability to heal and rehabilitate himself was something unbelievable to me.
This morning he was already practicing how to drive his wheelchair. At one point, when I was a bit tired, I sat in the chair and asked him for a ride.
An amusing parade twisted along the paths of the improvised IDF field hospital: there was a medical clown sitting in a wheelchair playing his guitar and singing “What a wonderful world,” being pushed by a Nepalese boy with a broken hand, both amused and amusing everyone standing around or passing by from place to place.
In his film, totally engrossed by his task and concentrated on his job, traffic stops for a moment and everyone observes one boy and one medical clown.
Connection by Nimrod Eisenberg
This sweet preterm baby is one of 7 babies born in the IDF field hospital as of yesterday. All other hospitals in Kathmandu are full so our IDF teams are taking whatever procedures they can perform. The baby’s mom is hospitalized, so the grandmother stays with her, but keeps away from the incubator. I played the harmonica gently to the baby, and created soothing sounds and suddenly she started to move and blink! The grandma was surprised and happy, so I got her closer to the incubator, in which her granddaughter was floating after being born to a natural disaster, I encouraged the grandma to stay close and connect with the baby.
So moving, so real…
This gallery contains 4 photos.