The Highway Kids #Nepal

highway kids of nepal. playing skipping
j. u. m. p. !!

It was one of those exploration trips around Kathmandu valley that Suraj Kunwar and I took in late 2008. Tired of our newsroom routine, we had decided to escape out of it and venture into rural Nepal that wasn’t very far from the capital city. [This is exactly the kind of traveling I miss in Delhi. There are no hills around.] On that particular day, we had left the city thinking about Kavre and its famous village Rabi Opi. A few weeks before, I had gone to a village in Kavre, on the opposite side of Rabi Opi, to cover a visit by a British minister for international development. The greenery and agricultural atmosphere had remained in my heart. Suraj, his Honda Shine and I reached Dhulikhel for a stoppage at a popular roadside coffee joint. The place served fresh coffee produced locally. From there, along with some additional cups of lassi, we looked down to survey the trail that separated from the Araniko Highway and went spiraling upward through small hills. They looked small. Near the coffee shop, we spotted a group of kids who were playing skipping game while their parents, the Tamangs of the village, were organizing a small puja ceremony to please the rain goddess if I remember it correctly. We spent an hour or so there, watching the ceremony, photographing the kids and cracking jokes with them.

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We climbed down to the valley where farmers were busy in their rice fields. Some were weeding while others were looking after their buffaloes. One woman was bathing her buffaloes. Some men and women in a nearby Kharelthok village were drinking tea. We asked for milk at the shop. Unfortunately, that was not available at that time of the day. They sell the milk to dairy production companies early in the morning. Suraj and his bike were finding it tough to negotiate their way through the slippery road that went through fields. The unpaved trail was bumpy. At some points, water flowed through it. The potholes made traveling on it particularly risky. Soon we became the victims. Suraj and his Shine lost the balance. We all fell into the watery three feet down. No one was hurt in the process. A man from afar had seen the event live. He came to our rescue.

highway kids of nepal
He is completely in charge of the affair
highway kids of nepal
He was swimming in the stream down there.

We climbed up to Rabi Opi village, stopped at tea shop and then continued climbing upward, towards Banepa. From there, as per the original plan, we should have headed back to Kathmandu. The plan got changed. Instead, we decided to go to Nepalthok, a famous town some 55 kilometers away. It was getting duskier but that didn’t stop us from traveling. Suraj had already done a trip on the BP Highway (Banepa-Bardibas) long time ago with Devendra Bhattarai and he was full of praise for the road. He fondly recalled that trip as he drove. On my part, I always wanted to travel that road as I hadn’t done that before. We reached Nepalthok at around 8:30 pm. There were no lodges there but a hotelier who primarily sold food to load carriers, bus drivers and other travelers agreed to provide us beds for the night. When we went upstairs, we saw beds neatly arranged on the floor.

[Here’s a part of what I wrote in an article for that week’s Koseli:

कोठामा छिर्नेवित्तिकै मलाई न्यूयोर्क टाइम्सको फेसनप्रधान परिशिष्ट स्टाइल म्यागेजिनको पन्ना पल्टाएजस्तो लागेको थियो ।

कोठा के, घरको पुरै दोस्रो तल्ला थियो त्यो जसको दाईने कुनामा खोस्टा थुप्रिएका थिए, देब्रेमा भकारी। बाँकी दुई कुनामा दुई डबल भुई–बिच्छ्यौना पल्टेका थिए। र, दाइनेपट्टीको ओछ्यानमा ऊ लमतन्न पल्टेको थियो अन्डरवेयरको सानदार विज्ञापन गर्दै। ढोकैमा उभिएको र हावासँग संघर्ष गरिरहेको धिपधिपे मैनको उज्यालोमा कट्टुको ब्रान्ड ठम्याउन माइनस वान प्वाईन्ट टु फाइभको चस्मा लगाउने मेरा आखालाई अप्ठेरो हुनु स्वभाविकै थियो। केही क्षणकै  लागि सही मैले विश्वास गर्न चाहे ऊ केल्भिन क्लाईनको स्तरीय उत्पादन लगाइरहेको एउटा मोडल हो जो स्टाइल या त्यस्तै कुनै उत्कृष्ट म्यागेजिनमा छापिने विज्ञापनमा प्रयोग हुने फोटो खिचाउन कुनै एउटा डिजाइनर सेटमा उत्तानो परेर सुतिरहेको छ। थप पढ्न यहाँ कि्लक गरे हुन्छ ।]

highway kids of nepal. selling guava
Any takers here? Rs. 5 per plate.

In the morning next day we went to the dovan, the confluence of two famed rivers- Roshi Khola and Sunkoshi. From there, Roshi becomes Sunkoshi. That is also the bordering point for three districts: Kavre, Sindhuli and Ramechhap. There’s a Shiva temple a little down from the dovan, on the bank of Sunkoshi. We went there navigating the maze of sand, water, rice filed and bushes. Lord Shiv had become very kind to us. There was no one except a sage making us feel the God solely belonged to us. We could see fishermen on the other side of Sunkoshi trying out their luck with the swollen river.

highway kids of nepal
All eyes are focused at the same point, perhaps?

The photographic focus of this entry are the kids we met on the roadside during our two-day journey. Their faces represent Nepal for what it truly is: a genuinely multi-ethnic and multicultural society that, at the end of the day, speaks the same language of humanity and of course Nepali. One may easily see the stamps of poverty in their eyes and cheeks but that doesn’t stop them from smiling. Some of them have already experienced a lot that only an adult is supposed to experience in some advanced societies but for them the life goes on. For them it is a beautiful blessing.

Related blogs  (from my Helambu trip with Suraj):

1. Time For Kids Go Back To School (After Dashain Holiday)

2. The Kite Runners…

3. …and Dish Cleaners

4. Tharepati Downward: Pleasant Walk [Helambu Trek Day 5 of 6]

And another exploration from around Kathmandu Valley

6. The Motorcycle Diary: Nepali Version!

7. Walking Around a Nepali Village

8. मोटरसाईकल डायरी

Here are more photos from the Kavre-Rabi Opi-Dhulikhel-Nepalthok trip!

8 thoughts on “The Highway Kids #Nepal

  1. Dinesh dai,
    Earlier I read your blog about your visit to Taj Mahal. Now after reading this one, I felt an urge to go home ASAP, from deep down inside myself. This is my favourite blog post of yours. Thank you so much for posting it.
    Finally best wishes for a very happy Holi.
    Deepti

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    1. Thank you, Deepti, for reading and writing back.

      I posted this for the same reason that only Nepal offers that kind of enjoyment. As the 1974 AD tell us जसो गर जे भन जता सुकै लैजाऊ मलाई यो मन त मेरो नेपाली हो🙂

      BTW, they were here in Delhi recently for South Asian band festival and guess what, that was the song everybody in the audience (Nepali students in Delhi) requested them to sing. The venue, Old Fort, thundered with ने-प्पा-ली हो !

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  2. Hi Dinesh Dai,
    There r so many things that I want to write to you but ………..the same excuse…….cant find time. As I had mentioned earlier, u r our voice. I dont find any other journalist around writing our words (In National Dailies). For the 1st time when I read u (Back in Nepal), I thought u must be “Narayan Wagle’s Son”. Back in schooldays, I never missed his “Coffee Guff” every saturday in Koseli. Anyways, back to the topic.
    I dont know whether u’ve observed this, but in India (though I havent been to many places, its a big country) in most of the big cities, I could find only the following books by Nepali authors in so called huge bookshops (starmarks, crossword):
    1) Tutor of History – Manjushree Thapa (I still regard his father, Bhes Bahadur Thapa, earlier ambassador to India, as one of those few well learned Diplomats in Nepal. Her language is )
    2) Paradise in the Backyard:- Karna Shakya (Frankly speaking, when I read “Soch”, I didnt quite like it. The book was much hyped by “Kantipur”. I thought being, a well established businessman, it was his one of the marketing tools. After so many years, I came across this translated version in India. ITS AWFUL. The book wont find any reader outside Nepal. The translation goes like this ” MA BHAT KHANCHHU”, “I RICE EAT”. Those who have never heard of Nepal can never relate to the book.)
    I kept searching for other titles but couldnt find any. I also visited some book fairs (last one in Kolkata) but was again greeted by the above ones.
    And I am writing u all these, because I want you to come up with something gr8. May be something like “Palpasa Cafe”. I know u can. Just go for it.
    I also want to know which Indian Dailies u go through. Just want to know if u read articles by “Vir Sanghvi, Ram Chandra Guha, Indrajit Hazra, Karan Thapar. Well there r so many. Most of them write for Hindustan Times.
    Will write to u again.

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    1. Thanks for writing. I am still waiting for you next installment of comment that you posted in this entry. As for our literary scenario, I am sure good days are ahead of us. Every other thing like economy and education needs to be in sound situation for a society to bring out great works of literature. I read some of the persons you mentioned at the end of your comment and not all of them are likable. Nevertheless I read as and when I see them on paper.

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  3. Thanks a lot for the reply Dai.

    Being in service industry, my duty hours are odd. It took me around 2 hrs to post yesterday’s comment. And all the while I might have dealt with atleast 50 customers. I am saying u this coz I find that I completely lose the point sometimes. It so happens that I write few words and then take a call or get involved with some customers. When I get back I am confused. So, if u find any sentences incomplete, ( as in yesterday’s post, I was to write something more about “Tutor of History” but completely messed up) please ignore them.
    You must have read Samrat Upadhyay (I think So though I have no idea which genre , fiction/nonfiction, u read). Let us drop the topic. Why dont u post something about ur fav. books? May be then I can post something.

    As for the last portion of my post, I missed out another famous name “The dirty old man” “Kushwant Singh”. His articles are very ordinary. I have no idea whether u have read his novels. But after reading him, I have become a fan of his. This is the only reason I try not to miss his articles in dailies. He writes for Hindustan Times (Almost Every Sunday) and for Telegraph (Every Saturday). Well these socalled literary figures (those I mentioned yesterday like “Vir Sanghvi”) in India have very little knowledge about Nepal. He had written an article after the Royal Massacre. Most of the Indians including those so called Gorkhalis from Darjeeling and Sikkim think people from Nepal are dumb. Most of the Indians dont believe that I am a Nepali when I discuss about their politics. Most of them hail us as illiterate dumb “Bahadurs”. Lets forget it.

    Back in Nepal I never missed “Pradeep Giri”. I just love that man. There are others too such as C.K Lal, Hari Roka. I was shocked when Hari Roka joined Maoists. Most of them (those mentioned) were regulars of “Himal”. I have almost completely lost them. I havent read any of them for almost a year. Havent read any issues of Himal or Nepal or Samay since long. While we were in college we had plenty of time. Then we had long discussions or kind of analysis of a single article featured in those magz. I miss those days. Sometimes I regret that I dont have much idea about new writers in Nepal. May be theres a new literary circle outthere.
    If u remember my first comment, I wanted to write in details about “Abroad Studies”. But I dropped it later.
    I was a very average student in school and also in college. When I look back, I find that none of the brighter minds are in Nepal. I could count only 13 of those from School ( from my section of about 50) and only 8 from college(again a section of 40 students) still in Nepal. The rest have left. They are spread all over Europe (From Cyprus to Hungary), North America ofcourse, some to Japan, South Korea. Most of them are in Australia. I dont know whether all of them completed their degrees. But I do know that they dont have any intention to come back.

    Even those who graduated from Pulchok or other Eng. colleges, left for US. Nepal has lost those bright minds. Brightest of Engineers, doctors, managers are gone. ALL WE CAN DO IS HOPE. Let us hope everything goes well. Let us hope normalcy returns in Nepal. Let us hope all those in power find a way out of this mess. Let us hope we celebrate HOLI one day with all those buddies u have lost contact with. Hope the day comes soon. ( I am getting emothional today for I saw from my window those youngsters celebrating holi together , in some far away Indian city)

    Its getting longer. I will get back to you some other day.

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    1. It’s actually nice to read from you. You express very well. As for how Nepalis are taken by Indians, that doesn’t really matter as long as we progress and remain in correct path towards development. Sadly, progress and development are two words that are running far from these years. Hope, it doesn’t happen in coming years and people this like man get respect in India.

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