Manandhar’s methodology is what sets apart the research. He describes how paying or bartering for knowledge will never work
in Nepal, because the exchange affects the accuracy of the findings by obliging the paid informant to provide a long list of plants that
is often inaccurate or fabricated: “My methodology puts a premium on building a firm rapport with villagers and information. Only after trust and rapport is built do I engage in information collection.”
19He describes how this “rapport” takes multiple visits and very long timelines: “The information presented in this book came from 2–7 visits. In the first visit, I collected only 10–20 percent of the required information. In the second visit, I asked about new plants and verified the information from my first visit.”
Manandhar, Plants and People of
Manandhar, Plants and People of
Hours were spent with villagers and healers. Manandhar points out that he consulted only with healers over sixty years of age since only they possessed the knowledge that was necessary to survive in the era prior to modern medicine. In his description of the method, he claims to only accept the medicinal value of a plant if at least five adult informants or three native healers corroborated similar uses of plants on separate occasions.
The Trek to Langtang
All treks to Langtang National Park begin in Syabru Besi. The town sits along a commercial strip where last minute shops sell flip flops and instant noodles, and hotels with curbside restaurants thrive during the trekking season. It is a link in the rise of road infrastructure, a trade depot in the movement of goods to and from China. The border post is not far up the road. But at Syabru Besi the road also stops because walking begins. Our small team stayed overnight at the Garden Hotel, where we charged our devices, exchanged emergency contacts, and feasted on doughy momo; a lumpy dumpling soaked in clear soup. The long dusty drive to Syabru Besi was already a day-long adventure through the mid-hills, as magical views and terrifying switchbacks took us out of Kathmandu along heavily trafficked roads. Road building is an extraordinary infrastructure that typifies the intensive geopolitics, magnifying erosion and landslide risk in standard details of road-construction, and engraving a pattern of unvarying terraces and retaining walls that induce landslides. The road at Syabru Besi is also notable for its contribution to the humanitarian cause, as it was transformed post-earthquake into a hub of foreign aid distribution, pushing, pulling, and injecting asphalt as a form of aid. Necessary questions surrounding road-building practices raise concerns over the ability of communities to derive true benefit from major road projects, particularly as they are subjected not only to increased erosion and landslide risk, but disturbed hydrology, decimated forests, and dust-related health concerns.
Policy remains curiously aspatial even though an implemented set of procedures or plans are subsequently used as a basis for altering the landscape. The inability of the public to assess the physical ramifications of international decision-making is found in the fact that policy-based assessments are written, indexed, and notarized. Rarely are the words exposed for their spatial, physical, and lived ramifications. Policy remains curiously aspatial even though an implemented set of procedures or plans are subsequently used as a basis for altering the landscape. Social impact is not an isolated issue; rather roadbuilding in Nepal is linked to displacement, poverty, and food security. Speaking as a designer, it is time to link the social and spatial consequences, because reconstruction and engineering prognostics not only shape the environment, but
the lives of those who depend upon it.
The local medicine man or healer, outside the home he
shares with his family. Although he showed us many dried leaves and roots we had trouble familiarizing with all the textures in front of us—some parts seemed almost unplantlike.