The plane that just brought me here in Doha from Kathmandu was, as one would normally expect, full of Nepali migrant workers headed to various destinations in the Gulf.
One guy, who said it he was headed to Saudi Arabia to fulfill his dreams, tried to impress a woman by singing a song that he said he heard in one of the singing talent shows on Nepal Television. “Do you know this song?” he asked the girl (alikati legro halera gayepachhi). The girl, apparently headed towards a western destination, was clueless. Not that I could recognize the song but it was not that difficult to understand and feel the singing passion of this man who was forced to leave his homeland to feed his family.
Ani, post-Sita Rai, I didn’t notice any improvement in rough behavior of immigration officials at the TIA. In fact, I was disheartened to see a man intimidating and humiliating a Tokyo-bound semi-literate woman who was traveling via TIA for the first time to meet her husband in Japan.
Apart from migrant workers, there were many other Nepali passengers who were using Doha as a transit to go to other destinations like, for example, Boston. I saw boarding pass of an elderly couple who were headed to that American city via London. The man was decorated in daura, suruwal and dhaka topi while the woman, clad in sari, cholo and majetro, was wearing a body full of jewelleries including, if I am not terribly mistaken, a big bulaki as well. Beautiful.
Oh yeah, and one of the air-hostesses was so very curious as to why the man seated next to me was having coluored rice spread all over his head. It took a few minutes to explain to her that the thing, mixture of uncooked rice, curd and vermilion powder, was called tika. “Nothing dangerous,” the man tried to assure her. “It’s just rice, coloured.”
“I know, I know,” she said. “But I had never seen such thing. I had seen red thing put on forehead but rice on head?”