Money can't buy me love,
but love won't pay the bills,
or the other way around

BY John Biweekly

My favorite word? Budget. The source of control, planning and context. Am I the top shelf, or am I the cheap stuff. On the other hand, isn’t that context where the limitations emerge from?

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Three months in Nepal back in 2009 was a revolution in the local scale of my world. I found myself in another universe perceived by Westerners as a third class country. A place hardly ever powered with electricity, water, devoid of constant presence in the internet.

Kathmandu, the capital, didn't really provide with much infrastructure to “do culture” if we defined it in a modern Western fashion. The adaptation came surprisingly quickly though. It started off with organising a silly Speed Dating Night in Thamel's Tom&Jerry's bar. As Elle, one of the orginisers, put it: “it took only three of us and a bottle of vodka.” The bottle was the courage factor of course. We didn't really strive to arrange future marriages, but give the travellers a chance to meet up and then maybe go for a trek to Himalayas together. We didn't have neither much money, nor tools to promote the event, so we had to flex and use what we could.

Promotion tools, photo A. SlodownikThe horizon opened and I noticed thin, but decent paper, cheap crayons, pencils, school water colours, scissors and recalled face-to-face contacts as a way to spread news. Using hands to make leaflets and posters was a real self-treat. Each and every piece differed from others. No pattern repeated. We switched the text intro just as well. The evening was a success. Tom and Jerry, the owners, wanted to make it a regular night, but we moved on to something more sophisticted: Quiz Nights at Sal's to promote a pizzeria run by street kids in a different, non-tourist district of Kathmandu. Speed Dating Night in Kathmandu, photo A. SlodownikFor prizes I made things with my hands from whatever I had or bought children toys, which adult contestants enjoyed very much. We used the same cheap ways to promote the Sunday night games, and by the time I was leaving Nepal, the games didn't really need much promotion anymore. Quiz Nights didn't need electricity either. Candlelight and good company was just enough.

My friend called me the other day to complain that he has to change all the tyres in the used car he just bought. The charges will do some damage in his already weak budget. He sights, I sympathise. And I think how lucky it is not to own too much sometimes. The financial obstacles can trigger so much creativity!

Biweekly#5. Editor: Agnieszka Słodownik. Cover by The Pigs. Issued 3 July 2010 at 15:15.