Category Archives: Wagle Street Journal

Mules carrying diesel in Humla Karnali Nepal

Humla Karnali: तीरैतीर

Caravans of mules walk for days – three to four- from the nearest road carrying essential supplies including jerry cans full of diesel that will be used by India-assembled four-by-fours that were either helicoptered-in or brought via Tibet to ply on the 8-km long road between the River Karnali and Simkot, the largest settlement and the headquarters of Humla district. Incredible to realise that people in Humla, the last of the 77 Nepali districts that is yet to be connected to the national road network, walk for days to reach the district headquarters for such little things as getting their documents signed by government officials.

हुम्ला जिल्लाको सदरमुकाम र सबैभन्दा ठुलो जस्तो देखिने बस्ती सिमकोटदेखि त्यो अडिएको अक्करे भीर हुँदै तल कर्णाली नदीसम्म ८ किलोमीटर लामो सडक बनेको छ। यो सडक खण्डमा गुड्ने भारतमा एसेम्बल गरिएका केही फोर व्हिल ड्राइभ गाडी यहाँ कि हेलिकप्टरबाट झारिएका हुन् कि काठमान्डूबाट (ट्रकमा राखेर) तिब्बत हुँदै ल्याइएका हुन् । यी गाडीलाई चाहिने डिजेल खच्चरहरूले ल्याउँछन्, भरिएका जर्किनलाई ढाडमा राखेर । अग्ला पहाडहरूबीचको खोँचबाट बग्ने कर्णालीको तिरैतिरको बाटो काट्न उनीहरूलाई तीन–चार दिन लाग्छ। राष्ट्रिय सडक सञ्जालमा जोडिन बाँकी अन्तिम जिल्लाको पदवीका लागि डोल्पासँग प्रतिस्पर्धारत् हुम्लाको सदरमुकामलाई नेपालतिरको सडकले छुन कर्णाली तीरका भयानक पहराहरूले अझै एकाध वर्ष नदेलान् जस्तो देखिन्छ। अचम्मै लाग्छ, सन् २०१९ को अन्त्यमा पनि थुप्रै हुम्लीहरूले आफ्ना कागजातहरूमा सरकारी अधिकारीहरूको हस्ताक्षर गराउने जस्तो जाबो कामकालागि समेत तीन दिनसम्म हिड्नु पर्छ । जीवनको महत्वपूर्ण समय बेफ्वाँकमा हिंडेरै बित्ने ।

A Westminster Reception. एउटा वेस्टमिन्स्टर जमघट

As we shook hands, Hon Richard Graham MP interrupted me with a big “Aayo Gorkhali” and then went on to recall his backpacking trip to the Annapurna region years ago. I met this British MP for Gloucester who chairs the Westminster Foundation For Democracy (WFD) at WFD’s annual reception held at the Speaker’s House at the House of Commons last evening.

म परिचय दिँदै थिएँ, मेरो हत्केलो झन् कस्दै माननीय रिचर्ड ग्राहम चिच्याइहाले – “आयो गोर्खाली !” अनि बताउन थाले, थुप्रै वर्षअघि अन्नपूर्ण क्षेत्रमा गरेको पदयात्राबारे।

यी ब्रिटिश सांसद वेस्टमिन्स्टर फाउन्डेसनका अध्यक्ष हुन्। गए साँझ बेलायती संसद भवनको माथिल्लो तल्लामा रहेको सभामुखको निवासमा आयोजित फाउन्डेसनको वार्षिक जमघटमा उनीसँग भेट भयो। त्यहाँ नेपाल पुगेका ग्राहम मात्रै थिएनन्। रोरी स्टेवार्ट पनि थिए। सत्तारुढ कन्सरभेटिभ पार्टीको नेता र प्रधानमन्त्री बन्ने स्पर्धामा सहभागि भएर हालै बेलायती राजनीति तताएका मन्त्री स्टेवार्टले त थुप्रै वर्ष अघि अफगानिस्तान, पाकिस्तान हुँदै नेपालका थुप्रै गाउँ डुलेका थिए जो उनले आफ्नो पुस्तक ‘द प्लेसेस् इन् विटविन’मा पनि उल्लेख गरेका छन्।

यसअघि मैले लन्डनदेखि एडिनब्रासम्मका केही भट्टी (पव)हरूमा बिल्कुलै अपरचितहरूसँग गफ गर्ने क्रममा त्यस्ता थुप्रैलाई भेटेको छु जसले कुनै न कुनै विन्दुमा नेपालसँगको सम्बन्ध, चाहे त्यो त्यान्द्रो नै किन नहोस, साँचेर राखेका थिए। यसपाली संसदका हलमा पनि ती फेलापरे। हुन त वर्षेनी ५०/६० हजार ब्रिटिश नेपाल जाने भएकोले ती मध्ये केहीलाई भेट्नु खासै नौलो नहोला। तै पनि रमाइलो लाग्दो रहेछ।

But Richard Graham was not the only one there with Himalayan backpacking connection. International Development Secretary Rory Stewart, who also spoke at the event, has written about his epic walk from Iran to Nepal in his book The Places in Between.


फाउन्डेसनको जमघटमा अर्का एकजना व्यक्ति पनि भेटिए, श्रीलंकाली मन्त्री तथा सत्तारुढ दलका उपसचेतक अजिथ पेरेरा। उनीसँगचाहिँ बेलाबेला दुई ठुला छिमेकी मुलुकहरूको चेपुवामा पर्ने श्रीलंका र नेपालका साझा समस्याबारे छलफल भयो । भारत र चीनसँगको श्रीलंकाली सम्बन्धबारे केही चर्चा गर्दै पेरेराले ‘नेपाललेचाहिँ यसो यसो गर्दा हुन्छ है’ भन्दै केही बुदाँ सल्लाह दिन पनि भ्याइहाले । उनका केही सुझाव मन परे, अरूसँग सहमत हुन सकिएन ।

It was also nice to have a quick chat with Sri Lanka’s Digital Infrastructure and IT Minister Ajith Perera. We talked not about backpacking but Chindia: how do you deal with these huge neighbouring powerhouses. Glad that he didn’t hesitate in sharing some quick tips for Nepal’s relationship with China, particularly with respect to the much-talked about railway project.
bhetinchha
हालैको एक दिन म धुँइपत्ता खोज्दै थिएँ एउटा कार्यथलो (अफिस स्पेस) ।

त्यस्तैमा म पुगेँ एउटा घर जहाँ फेलापार्न हामीलाई सघाउँने उद्देश्यले खोलिएको भेटिन्छ.कम आफैँ बिलाउँदो अवस्थामा भेटियो ।

‘केही गरौँ न’ भन्ने उत्साही तन्नेरीहरू जम्मा भएर आफ्नै लगानीमा थालिएको व्यवसायिक प्रयास (स्टार्ट अप) शुरुमा त सफलोन्मुख भएछ । तर के भन्नु र खै, त्यै सुरुवाती सफलता नै उदाउँदो कम्पनीको शत्रु बनेछ। केही महिनामै प्रबर्द्धकहरूमा लोभीपापी असमझदारी सिर्जना भएपछि हुर्कँदो र फैलँदो सँस्था उथलपुथल भएछ, विघटनको सँघारमा पुगेछ । साह्रै चित्त दुख्यो ।
On a recent afternoon while desperately looking for an office space, I happened to find myself at a house from where the startup bhetincha.com operated.

After enjoying success in the first few months of operation, the start-up (literally ‘It Will Be Found’) was in the process of dismantling itself as a sad result of the greed that had infested some of its promoters.

रिङ्ग रोडको रिँगटा

अघिल्लो महिना चिनियाँ अखबार ग्लोबल टाइम्स मा तिब्बत राजमार्गको शिगात्से विमानस्थलदेखि शिगात्से मध्य शहरसम्मको बहुलेन सडकखण्ड सर्वसाधारणकालागि अौपचारिकरूपमा खुला भएको जानकारी दिने एउटा विवरणिका अायो । राष्ट्रिय राजमार्गलाई नेपालको सीमासम्म जोड्ने भएकाले त्यो छोटो सडक भागले आर्थिक र रक्षाका हिसाबले पनि दक्षिण एसियासम्म पुग्ने बाटो खुलाउन चीनलाई सजिलो हुने विशेषज्ञहरूको भनाई रहेको रिपोर्टले जनायो । चिनियाँ राष्ट्रवादी धारणाको प्रतिनिधित्व गर्ने भनि परिचित पत्रिकामा “तिब्बतमा राजमार्गले चीनकालागि दक्षिण एसिया[को ढोका] खोल्यो” शीर्षकको त्यो समाचार पढेका एकजना नामी भारतीय रणनीतिक विश्लेषकले “[अब] भारतले नेपालसँगको सीमा खुलै राख्ला?” भन्दै ट्विटे

ब्रह्मा चेल्लानीको त्यो ट्विट देखेपछि मैले भारतीय पत्रिका ईपीडब्लू मा ४७ वर्षअगि छापिएको एउटा टिप्पणी सम्झिएँ :

“काठमान्डू, पाटन र भक्तपुर जोड्ने चक्रपथ बनाउन आफुहरुलाई दिन चिनियाँहरुले नेपाल सरकारलाई मनाएको भन्ने हल्ला अचेल [नेपाली राजधानी] मा व्याप्त छ । केही वर्षयता दुवै सरकारले यो योजना छलफल गरिरहेका थिए । चक्रपथ बनिसकेपछि सङ्कटको अवस्थामा चिनियाँ सेना कोदारी मार्ग हुँदै उपत्यकामा उत्रिन सक्षम हुनेछ र त्यसपछि तत्क्षणै काठमान्डू घेर्नेछ।”
-भारतीय पत्रिका इकनमिक एण्ड पोलिटिकल विक्ली, ५ (२१), पृ. ८३४। २३ मे १९७०।

img_2209-1

मनमनै सोधें, भारतीय माध्यमहरू र विश्लेषकहरूले नेपाल-चीन सम्बन्धलाई अतिरञ्जन र त्रासन ढंगमा प्रस्तुत गर् ले छाड्लान्?

थुप्रै वर्षअगि कान्तिपुर कालागि दिल्लीमा बस्दा मैले त्यस्ता थुप्रै गन्यमान्य भारतीय भेटेको थिएँ जो प्रश्नहरूको लस्करबाट गफ शुरू गर्थे- “अरे यार, मैले सुनें, चिनियाँहरूले ठमेलमा फेरि अर्को होटल बनाए ? यो के भएको हँ? नेपाल त पुरै चीनतिर ढल्किरहेको छ । भारतकालागि यो ठूलो सुरक्षा चुनौती हो । चिनियाँहरूले भारत घेर्न अाटेका त हैनन्?” छुट्टिनुअगि म उनीहरूलाई नेपाल र भारत कसरी अतुलनीयढंगमा निकट छन् भन्ने वर्णन गर्दै “१९६२ को त्रास”बाट उत्रिन सुझाउँथें ।

तर अतिरञ्जनात्मक टिप्पणीहरूको लहर रोकिएको छैन । १९५० मा उनीहरू त्यसै गर्थे, १९७० त्यस्तै, २०१० मा म दिल्लीमा हुँदा त्यसै गर्थे र २०१७ मा उनीहरू त्यसै गर्छन् । मित्रहरूलाई सम्झाएर नसकिने भैयो ।

रोचक त मलाई यी दुई कुरा लाग्छन्- आजका दिनमा चिनियाँहरूले नै त्यही चक्रपथ फराक र झन् सुदृढ बनाईरहेका छन् । कोदारी बन्द छ तर नेपाल र चीन इतिहासमै सबभन्दा धेरै सडकहरूमार्फत जोडिएका छन् । ट्याङ्क त त्यस्तै हो त्यो ट्रेन चाहिँ ढिलोचाँडो काठमान्डू नआउला भन्न म सक्दिन। आए पहिलो टिकट काटेर बेइजिङ्ग छोप्ने रहर छ । ♦

तपाईँको इमेलमै मेरो ब्लग/लेख

JNU Flowers DW

तपाईँलाई इमेलमै पछिल्लो ब्लग, लेख र तस्बिर पठाउन पाउनु मेरोलागि खुशीको कुरा हुनेछ । बाकसमा आफ्नो इमेल ठेगाना हाल्नु होला । धन्यवाद 🙂 

Enter your email address to follow this blog and receive notifications of new posts by email.

The #NepalEarthquake Day

Severe cracks on Kaushaltar-Lokanthali section of the Japanese-built highway. The quake not only inflicted damage on the sturdy road but sunk the residential area the size of about 10-15 football fields by about 1.5 feet. A few concrete houses in the area have suffered serious damage.

Severe cracks on Kaushaltar-Lokanthali section of the Japanese-built highway. The quake not only inflicted damage on the sturdy road but sunk the residential area the size of about 10-15 football fields by about 1.5 feet. A few concrete houses in the area have suffered serious damage.

Like everyone else, I knew it was coming. But I didn’t know when. I had no idea about its magnitude. It’s devastating impact. That’s because, like a generation before me, I had not experienced a strong earthquake. Like most Nepalis, I wasn’t prepared for it. Also, no one can predict an earthquake. So why think about it when you never know when it will strike.

My go-bag (given to me) was gathering dust somewhere in a corner of my house. I wasn’t sure that I would find time to grab the bag before running out in the event of a quake. Would I be even at home? As it turned out, I was several kilometers away from my house when the earth shook violently on 25th April (12 Baishak 2072). Instead of a go-bag, I had in my hands a bundle of investigative newspaper articles that were to be judged for a competition. I was in a teashop that was fortunately only a meter away from an empty road.

Within hours, most of open spaces in Kathmandu had been occupied. Even the VIP area at the Tundikhel military parade ground which is normally restricted for the public was opened. I had never stepped into that part of the parade ground before.

Within hours, most of the open spaces in Kathmandu had been occupied. Even the VIP area at the Tundikhel military parade ground which is normally restricted for the public was opened. I had never stepped into that part of the parade ground before.

The restricted area of Tundikhel's Military Area provided safe heaven to people terrified by the earthquake.

The restricted area of Tundikhel’s Military Area provided safe heaven to people terrified by the earthquake.

What I remember of those 40 seconds is a strange noise. The sound of structures colliding or something to that effect. I was struggling to stand upright in the middle of a blacktopped road. It was as if I had suddenly found myself in a small boat in rough seas. A woman nearby started to cry. Her husband held her. She continued to scream. A group of people gathered on the road. A few of us tried to console her. By the time the earth had stopped shaking, the people around me had been thoroughly shaken.

One of the first things that came to my mind during the first few seconds into the quake was to be aware of the buildings around me. The building that housed the teashop looked particularly threatening. At one point I thought it would collapse. But it didn’t, like many concrete buildings in Kathmandu. A pleasant surprise. There are many explanations floating around for this. The epicenter was too far. The earthquake wasn’t shallow enough. Houses were built strongly. My own observation is that we were just too lucky this time around.

Immediately after the quake I rode across the city. Except for some old houses with load bearing walls and heritage buildings I saw that most residential concrete houses had survived. The perimeter walls of several landmark buildings had crumbled over hundreds of motorcycles that had been parked by the walls. The collapse of the compound walls of the Nepal Police headquarters, the Prime Minister’s official residence and the Narayanhitti Palace Museum looked particularly astounding. But, by and large, Kathmandu had remained intact at the first glance. Later in the day, reports of substantial damage to recently built high-rise apartment buildings started to come in. As people regained composure, they also noticed cracks, small and big, in their still standing concrete houses. Continue reading

A woman walks past a Maoist mural at the entrance of Thabang village, Rolpa: 1st line: Workers of the world, unite. 2nd line: No election campaign zone!

Thabang: The village that didn’t vote; once hosted Maoist guerrillas

A man in Thabang, Rolpa, face smeared with colored powder, celebrated Maghi festival. On the background is an anti-election slogan-

A man in Thabang, Rolpa, face smeared with colored powder, celebrated Maghi festival. On the background is an anti-election slogan- “the one who asks for vote will get chot (hurt).”

(यो लेखलाई नेपालीमा पढ्न यहाँ क्लिक गर्नुस्)

On November 19, 2013 Nepal held national elections for the second Constituent Assembly. The country witnessed a record turnout. I was among the 9.4 million Nepalis who voted that day. But one entire village in remote mid-west Nepal abstained. Thabang boycotted the elections.

One more reason to go to Thabang, I thought.

My desire to go there predated the village’s post-election “fame”. In 2011, I was just five-hours hike away from Thabang. There was a hill between me and the village. That, after walking for three days. But an unexpected and severe knee pain had forced me to abandon my plan.

Thabang is where, it is said, the Maoist “People’s War” began in 1996. That’s where some of the top leaders of the insurgency found shelter as they planned more attacks against the Nepali state. “The local people would compete among themselves to host party Chairman Prachanda (Pushpa Kamal Dahal),” Durgalal KC writes in the Kathmandu Post.

The Maoists decided to end their 10-year-long janayuddha in late 2005. The conflict actually ended in 2006 following the spectacular success of the peaceful multiparty mass demonstrations in April that year.

During the insurgency, the Maoists had tried to develop Thabang as “a model Maoist village”. After the end of the conflict, the elected Maoist-led government recognized it as one of a few dozen model villages in the country. This ensured more attention and state funding to the village. To cut the long story short, Thabang is not just another sleepy Nepali village (at least in description). It knows how to take risk and grab national attention at the same time.

Smash the ballot box- Boycott the election. Thabang, Rolpa.

Smash the ballot box- Boycott the election. Thabang, Rolpa.

No Election

No Election

In a recent sunny afternoon the people of Thabang, Rolpa gathered to chat under a Maoist anti-election graffiti. 1st line: Don't divide Thabang; 2nd line: Middlemen leaders are not needed.

In a recent sunny afternoon the people of Thabang, Rolpa gathered to chat under a Maoist anti-election graffiti. 1st line: Don’t divide Thabang; 2nd line: Middlemen leaders are not needed.

Former Maoist guerrilla Jeet Bahadur Gharti and his mules pass through a landslide in Rukum

Former Maoist guerrilla Jeet Bahadur Gharti and his mules pass through a landslide in Rukum

On that October day in 2011, I stared at the hill that the locals said I would have to climb to reach Thabang. It looked like a tough climb. My knee was not up for it. So I limped with a mule caravan to reach Rukumkot to catch a jeep. (Limping all day long with a mule caravan to reach Rukumkot).

My wish to see the guerrilla village remained unfulfilled.

But I knew that I would be back. Continue reading

भोट नहाल्ने गाउँ थबाङ पुग्दा

A woman walks past a Maoist mural at the entrance of Thabang village, Rolpa: 1st line: Workers of the world, unite. 2nd line: No election campaign zone!

A woman walked past a Maoist mural at the entrance of Thabang village, Rolpa:
1st line: Workers of the world, unite.
2nd line: No election campaign zone!

[Click here to read this article in English and see more photos.]

नेपालमा २०७० मंसिर ४ गते दोस्रो संविधान सभाका लागि राष्ट्रिय चुनाव भयो । जनताले सर्वाधिक संख्यामा मतदान गरे । त्यो दिन भोट हाल्ने ९४ लाख नेपालीहरू मध्ये म पनि एक थिएँ । तर मध्यपश्चिम नेपालको एउटा पुरै गाउँ मतदान केन्द्रमा अनुपस्थित भयो । रोल्पाको थबाङले चुनाव बहिस्कार गर्यो ।

थवाङ जाने एउटा अर्को बहाना, मैले सोचेँ ।

Continue reading

At Rohtang Pass, Himachal Pradesh, India

This week in 2010. Snow at the pass.

Wagle Street Journal

Previous post:A trip to Manali, India.

Not many options were available to us at the taxi stand. Manali is a small town, every taxi driver appeared to have known the other fairly well. So the bargaining ended pretty quickly. The journey started with an unexpected warning from our driver. The road ahead, he said in a calm voice, is not so smooth.

Five kilometers passed in a jiffy. Songs from Hindi movies were blaring from the taxi’s CD player. The driver spoke again. It would be very cold up there, he said. Our clothes were not enough to keep us warm there, he explained. “There’s a shop a few kilometers ahead,” he said. “They rent jackets, trousers and boots.” Was he telling this because he had some sort of understanding with the renter for commission or was he genuinely interested in making us warm at the pass. Either way…

View original post 378 more words

एसएलसी फेल, बिहे पास

Amrit Gurung posted a link to a YouTube video on his Facebook page today that showed a group of men from a Gurung family singing one of the first songs of the band Nepathya. I found that very very interesting. Very nicely done– over a dining table. I was so impressed that I watched it twice and showed the video to a cousin who was visiting me at my home. That video prompted me to look for more Nepathya songs on YouTube. I like many songs of the band.

As I typed the word “nepathya”, the video sharing site suggested several possible combinations that the site thought I could be interested in. I chose “nepathya songs collection“. Seventh video in the list had a familiar cover photo. The one I took near the Rara lake in Mugu district. Padam Bahadur Rawal is smiling at my camera as he tended his sheep.

As I played the video (the song “Binti chha hai“) I saw many more photos that I had taken during my trips to Karnali region used in the slide show. Those photos made me nostalgic. My trips to Karnali region, first in 2007, were great in the sense that they taught me a lot about Nepali society and what it means to be a Nepali in the remotest and neglected corners of Nepal. Last time I checked, Rara wasn’t in the Lonely Planet guide book on Nepal. I have recommended this place to many foreigner friends who aske me where they should go in Nepal. I recommend it to everyone. If you prefer reading this story in English, here it is: A Different Alchemist: Himalayan Yarns of Nepali Shepherds (Also, don’t forget to watch the Gurung family video).

ब्लगमान्डू

लाई लैजाउ मेल्टरी जुत्ता
माथि लेक हिउ छ
नफाल्नु दियाको चिठ्ठी
त्यसमा मेरो जिउ छ

दिनेश वाग्ले

एसएलसी पासहुने आस मारेका १८ बर्षो पदमबहादुर रावलले पाउलो कोहेल्लोको अल्काईमिस्टको भेडा गोठालोले भन्दा फरक अबको जिन्दगी तिनै जनावरका पछाडी लगाउने सोचेका छन् ।

रारा (मुगु)- सिमसिमे पानीले खुम्चिएका चार सय भेडा मुख चलाउदै सुस्ताइरहदा पदमबहादुर रावल नजिकैको गोठभित्र धुवाको मुस्लोसँग संघर्ष गरिरहेका थिए । झ्यारी गाउ मस्तिर रारा ताल नजिकैको त्यो गोठ बर्षा छल्न पसेका केही ग्वाला पानी रोकिनासाथ जंगल पस्ने सुरमा छन् । अगेनोको फलामे भाडोमा उम्लिरहेको सीमी बाहा (साँझ) को खान्की हो ।

दाईने पाखुरामा केरमेटसँगै अंग्रेजी क्यापिटल अक्षरमा ‘मेक द टेम्पल’ र दाईने पिडुलामा कोरिएको ‘ह्याप्पी’को अर्थ आउने भए पदम किन तीनपटक एसएलसी फेल हुन्थ्ये ? ‘कितावको साटो भेडा पढ्ने,’ टोप्ला गाउको कर्णाली सेकेन्डरी स्कुलका पूर्व विद्यार्थीले भने- ‘कहाँको पास हुनु ?’ बाहिर उग्राइरहेका मध्ये पाच दर्जनजति भेडा उनका हुन् र पासहुने आस मारेका १८ बर्षोले पाउलो कोहेल्लोको अल्काईमिस्टको…

View original post 1,398 more words