One recent afternoon I spotted a few beautifully decorated trucks not very far from the China border north of Kathmandu. They were stuck there. Mudslides had blocked a long stretch of the narrow road, or what we in Nepal unashamedly call a highway.
I asked a driver why his truck along with others had images of envelopes and the Nepal Airlines planes painted on their bodies. Some lorries had the flag of Nepal in various forms painted on them. “It’s just one of those paint templates available in the workshop in Kathmandu,” he said. “I like this one.” His truck had a stretched flag of Nepal and the national flag carrier’s corporate emblem portraying the sky god Aakash Bhairav.
The Kathmandu-Kerung highway has become busier lately. The Araniko highway remains out of order since the April 2015 earthquakes. It means that business has shifted to Kerung, which brought along a large number of lorries on this road. As if that was not enough, the Indian blockade happened last year forcing even more trucks to run on this fragile, winding and difficult road. This is being expanded and improved. But that’s another story.
A truck driver waiting for the green signal.
I saw this lorry on Prithvi highway, near Kathmandu:
This one came from India.
Bhanu Bhakta in the middle. Ghansi on the right.
Despite traveling on the Prithvi Highway that links Pokhara with Kathmandu several times I had never stopped at the Ghansi Kuwa to see the famed well built by the grass cutter who inspired Bhanu Bhakta Acharya to write poems and translate the Ramayana into Nepali. When I reached there a little girl was taking out water from the grass cutter’s well. In a nearby makeshift shop a lady sold bottled mineral water to drink. It was evident that today’s travelers didn’t need the water of the Ghansi Kuwa. That explained why the kuwa wasn’t in a good shape. There was a small park in need of good care nearby that had two separate statues of Bhanu Bhakta and the anonymous ghansi.
For those who don’t know the story behind the grass cutter’s well, here’s a brief background: Bhanubhakta was a young boy from a wealthy family and was leading a luxurious life. He met a poor grass cutter who inspite of his poverty wanted to build a well (kuwa in Nepali) to help the travelers to quench their thirst and be remembered even after death. This made Bhanu Bhakta realize that despite being a wealthy and educated person, despite being “Bhanu Bhakta” he wan’t doing anything good for the public. This encounter is said to have inspired Bhanubhakta to do something remarkable in life.
भर् जन्म घाँसतिर मन दिइ धन् कमायो
नाम क्यै रहोस् पछि भनेर कुवा खनायो
घाँसी दरिद्रि घरको तर बुद्धि कस्तो
मो भानुभक्त धनि भै कन आज यस्तो ! Continue reading
This trip happened during Dasain festival last October therefore the sights of pings (swings) of different types- linge, rote and jaanto. It was my second trip to Bandipur village that is located just above the highway that connects Pokhara with Kathmandu. Many find it beautiful but I have no such conclusive opinion about Bandipur. I thought new concrete buildings had damaged the authenticity of the village that still had some nice-looking traditional houses. A Bhaktapur Darbar Square-style ban on traffic on the main thoroughfare felt like a sensible thing to do. On a clear day the village offered a beautiful view of the Himalayas.
Linge ping: ‘Leaving Earth’ as they say and do during Dashain.
The pleasure wheel is a rare sight these days
It took us four hours to reach Mahat village from Thabang village. It was mostly a pleasant walk on flat land (just a couple of small uphill and downhill) that followed the Thabang river.
A working mom
A bridge over Sani Bheri
A day after Maghi there were no signs of colors in Rukumkot village. Instead, I was pleasantly surprised to see young boys and girls in Rukumkot hitting each other below the knees by stinging nettle. Dozens of boys and girls had gathered around the Village Development Committee building in the afternoon. Most of them held bunches of sisnu wrapped by pieces of paper or plastic to save their hands from sting.
Elderly people, mostly women, watched the teenagers play the game of sisnu. It was, like the game of colors in holi among youngsters, primarily a game between girls and boys– girls trying to attack boys and vice versa. The rule was that you couldn’t hit above the knees. I learned from the elders that the sisnu festival was a tradition in the village. Actually some women were surprised that I didn’t know about it. One of the girls hit me and an elderly woman, showing much sympathy, suggested me to massage my calves with ghee in the evening.
I saw that people in some villages of Rukum and Rolpa celebrated the Maghi festival like the way many in other parts of Nepal celebrate the Holi festival- by smearing their faces in colored powders. (See here how people of Thabang village celebrated.) A day after Maghi, after my return from Thabang, at Khabang Bagar a girl put abir (dye) on my forehead and jamara (barley sprouts) on my ear.
A girl tried to blow up a balloon in Khabang Bagar, Rukum where we stayed overnight before heading to Thabang, Rolpa.
Part of Holi-like ritual to celebrate Maghi festival
Women in Khabang Bagar
A man and women in Khabang Bagar shared a laugh after the man got his face smeared in colored powder by a girl (not seen in the photo)
Rukumkot; Kamal Pond behind bamboos
Two kids smiled at passengers of a car. Mt Sisne stood at the background.
Where Rukum is separated from Salyan
Embracing the “Ramri” (=beautiful; 4 KM). This in Salyan district.