13 July- An impromptu trip to Seto Gumba, a Buddhist monastery that sits atop a hill behind Swyambhunath, on a Saturday. That’s the only day of the week Gumba opens its gates to general visitors and tourists- a reason, perhaps, why the place is crowded mostly by teenagers and couples. Some hike up to the Gumba, others reach there in bikes and cars. A bus driver’s effort to make some profit by operating a shuttle service (Rs. 40 per passenger from Ringroad to the Gumba) turned futile in the narrow and steep road because of the continuous flow of taxis and motorbikes. The place offers a good view of the Valley- much better than the one from Swyambhunath Stupa. This, and the walk to reach there, seemed to be the reason why people go there. Not so much for the teachings of Buddha, I am afraid.
Sibling conflict and cooperation: These kids were carrying gallons of drinking water in the dokos from a tap some 400 meters below their home in a village in Makwanpur. The younger one (at the front) was crying when we saw them. His brother was trying to put him inside the basket instead of water gallons! Some sort of fighting between the brothers had ensued. The kid stopped crying as soon as we reached and started smiled as realized we were taking his photos.
The arrival was peaceful, the stay wonderful (minus the #MaoistStrike) and the time has come to go back to the sweltering heat of Delhi. What I’ll miss the most apart from the obvious is the ‘air-conditioned’ climate of Kathmandu. Despite all the problems on the streets and the corridors of powers Kathmandu is undoubtedly the place where I feel at ease to be. Kathmandu (and Nepal in general) presents dilemma to its residents. As Bigyan aptly tweets: “can’t live with it, can’t live without it… #Nepal.” [My Reweet.]
Selfish interests groups and badly manged politics have collectively ruined the economy and state of affairs of the city and the country. Such is the situation that sometime even a staunchly hopeful person like me gets swayed away and thinks we are here to be doomed, that we will never go ahead and catch up with time that is moving so fast ahead of us. BUT that is not the feeling that rules me (and I assume many of us). Just a small opportunity, a moment of peace and the country will surely move ahead. Just a few roads and drinking water projects in villages and the faces of those hills will change for better. Just a little bit of investment, an environment for investors to play with their wealth and the economy will see a turnaround. There is a lot in this country to be hopeful about.
Some of the best moments of my more than two week long stay in Kathmandu were when I ventured out of the valley. Just behind the Chandragiri hills, above Thankot, is a wonderful village called Chitlang. A very old settlement. Suraj Kunwar and I biked through the village one cloudy (and drizzling) noon enjoying the view of farmers busy in their fields, thick forests atop hills, kids smiling and playing with each other and barren lands filled with colorful flowers. It was heavenly- except that on the other side of the hill- below- urban terror was ruling the city in the name of people’s uprising. The so called revolution failed but not before giving the country a bad jolt. Continue reading