After reaching in Shora Khutte in a cab from Tinkune, we boarded a packed micro bus from Sohra Khutte. Pawan Neupane of the Kathmandu Post, Nabaraj Wagle, part time photographer of Kantipur Publications, Santosh Acharya of Nepal Magazine and myself (Dinesh Wagle of Kantipur daily) were in the initial group. We met a few other reporters, including Subrat Acharya of Saptahik who was coordinating the arrival of journalists, there in Shora Khutte and left for Chitwan at about 3 PM.
Keshav Pande, as Sharada of Radio Sagarmatha would declare later, was indeed “the Man of the Series.” He sang countless folk and duet songs and danced in bus and dinner tables.
Soon guys started singing duets and antaksharis and it took me no time to conclude that Keshav Pande, the man responsible for taking the group of journalists to Chitwan, was a folk master. Someone must have done a unforgivable crime by making Kehsav Pande a hotel entrepreneur. He is born to be a lok gayak. He possessed this capacity of turning anything into a song. Elephants screamed from his cell phone as he had set the sound of the animal as the ring tone. Huarrrrrrrr… Sorry, forget the exact sound. Anyway, I tried reading the Chekhov book (The Story Of A Nobody) but it was difficult to concentrate in front of Keshav Pande’s continuous entertainment. His folk songs using English words were hilarious. I liked his spirit and frankness though I later I sensed that he was singing more and doing his duty of providing us information about the event less. I reluctantly took part in antakshari and clapping and suggested a few songs to my group. (In antakshari, you sing songs starting from the last letter of the sentence of the song sang by your opponents.)
A gaine, traditional Nepali singer, trying to earn his living by entertaining customers of a fish shop in Malekhu
We stopped for machha in Malekhu, the town famous for fish, and enjoyed the music of a gandarva while chewing fish and potato chops. Jokes cracked by Narayan Bhandari of HBC FM made us burst into laughter. “Aru kehi palna sakiyena, yeti ta palnai paryo ni,” was his reply when someone asked about his beards. [I could raise nothing so putting these beards.] That’s my favorite dialogue in the whole trip. I am sporting thick beards these days and I will fire the same line to anyone who talks about my beards. Later, when he saw me he said, “Good to meet you who have beards.” He was one of the most interesting characters I encountered in the trip though he didn’t spend time with us as he was staying in different hotel with separate group.
The musical tour ended as we reached Sauraha and stayed in Unique Wild Resort. Keshav Pande is the sales director of the resort, if I remember correctly what was printed in his visiting card, and he almost demonstrated his salesmanship by offering one room to four reporters! There were two beds (one double and one single) and he said that he would manage another bed on the floor for the fourth member. “You guys want to enjoy the trip, don’t you?” was his argument! Pissed off by his idea I instantly clarified that we were not there to share bed and sleep on the floor. Pawan and I shared the room as Nabaraj and Santosh shared another.