Tag Archives: nepal

Bajrabarahi and Chitlang Valleys [बज्रवाराही र चित्लाङ]

 

हालै मैले काठमान्डू उपत्यकाभन्दा पश्चिमको क्षेत्रका केही भागको यात्रा गरेँ । सहर छाडेर म ककनीबाट बाहिर निस्केको थिएँ, नुवाकोटको बट्टारमा रात विताउन । त्यसपछि म टिस्टुङ देउराली हुँदै मकवानपुर जिल्लाको नबिथोलिएको र विमल बज्रवाराही उपत्यका पुगेँ । चन्द्रागिरि र दामन डाँडाहरूको बीचमा फैलिएको यो बस्तीमा जान मलाई धेरै अघिदेखि मन थियो । बज्रवाराहीबाट एउटा सानो थुम्को चढेर चित्लाङ पुगेको म बडादसैँको विहान लालबहादुर श्रेष्ठको घरमा बिउँझिएँ । चन्द्रागिरिको पश्चिमी काखमा रहेको यो सानो र शान्त अावादीमा म यसपाली तेस्रोपटक पुगेको थिएँ । I recently travelled to the region west of Kathmandu Valley. I exited the city via Kakani to overnight in Battar of Nuwakot jilla. Next, I went to the pristine valley of Bajrabarahi via Tistung Deurali in Makwanpur district. I had always wanted to visit this area tucked between Chandragiri and Daman hills. From Bajrabarahi, I crossed over to Chitlang village to wake up in the morning of Dashain Day in the house of Lal Bahadur Shrestha. This was my third trip to the beautiful hamlet nestled at the western base of Chandagiri.

 

Surya Bahadur Gopali on his way back home in the Gahate neighbourhood of Bajrabarahi valley after making a leisurely trip to the bazaar.

Surya Bahadur Gopali was on his way back home in the Gahate neighbourhood of Bajrabarahi valley after making a leisurely trip to the bazaar.
बज्रबाराही उपत्यकाको गहते बस्तीका सूर्यबहादर गोपाली खुट्टा तन्काउन बजारसम्म पुगेर घर फर्किदै थिए ।

 

Gopali people live in the Kunchhal neighbourhood of Bajrabarahi valley. Fields and houses.

Gopali people live in the Kunchhal neighbourhood of Bajrabarahi valley. A recent Nepal magazine report by Sitaram Baral noted it’s the largest Gopali settlement in Nepal. I was struck by the varieties of colours seen in this image.

बज्रबाराहीको कुन्छाल टोलमा गोपालीहरू बस्छन् । नेपाल खबरपत्रिकामा सिताराम बरालको हालैको एउटा रूचिपूर्ण रिपोर्ट अनुसार यो नेपालमै सबैभन्दा धेरै गोपालीहरू बस्ने गाउँ हो । यो तस्बिरमा देखिएका रङहरूले मलाई मोहित तुल्याए ।

 

Harimaya Gopali of Bajrabarahi said her house suffered a minor damage in the April 2015 earthquakes.

Harimaya Gopali of Bajrabarahi said her house suffered a minor damage in the April 2015 earthquakes. Her relative’s house across the road partially collapsed. She said she makes a monthly trip to Kathmandu to sell things that are produced in the village. Those corns are kept that way because there’s not enough space inside the house to store them.

अप्रिल २०१५ का भैचालाहरूले अाफ्नो घरलाई सामान्य क्षति पुगेको बज्रबाराहीकी हरिमाया गोपालीले बताइन् । सामुन्ने सडकको अर्कोपट्टी रहेको उनका अाफन्तको घर अांशिक भत्कियो । गाउँमा उत्पादित सामानहरू बेच्न महिनामा एकचोटी जस्तो काठमान्डू जानेगरेको उनले बताइन् । घरभित्र भन्डार गरेर राख्ने पर्याप्त ठाउँ नभएकैले मकै त्यसरी झुन्ड्याएर राखिएको हो । अहँ, पानीले भिज्दैन ।

 

यो फोटो निबन्ध तल निरन्तर छ । तपाईँलाई इमेलमै पछिल्लो ब्लग, लेख र तस्बिर पठाउँदा म खुसी हुनेछु । बाकसमा आफ्नो इमेल ठेगाना हाल्नु होला । अनि अाफ्नो इमेल इन्बक्समा अाएको लिंक थिचेर कन्फर्म गर्नु होला । यो लेख इमेल इन्बक्समै पढिरहुन भएको छ भने केही गर्न पर्दैन । धन्यवाद :

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Man flies kite in Narayanhitti, Chitlang village

A man flew kite in the Narayanhitti neighbourhood of Chitlang village. Chandragiri hill separates Chitlang with Kathmandu.

म बज्रबाराहीबाट चित्लाङ् छिर्दा नारायणहिटी टोलमा यी व्यक्तिलाई चंगा उडाइरहेको अवस्थामा भेट्टाएँ । चित्लाङलाई चन्द्रागिरीले काठमान्डूबाट छुट्याउँछ ।

 

Fying kite in Chitlang

Flying kite in Chitlang

पढ्नेक्रम जारी राख्नुहोस्

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Buddha’s truck with trilateral aspirations

A truck with flags of Nepal China and India

A truckload of aspirations: I was traveling along the curvy Tribhuvan rajpath, heading towards Tistung Deurali, last week when I saw this truck parked precariously on the edge of the road above a house. I stopped for a few minutes to take stock of the situation including the geopolitical one. Would I live in the house under the existing circumstance? No way.

From left: Narendra Modi, Sita Dahal, Pushpa Kamal Dahal and Xi Jinping yesterday in Goa. Pic by Prakash Dahal

From left: Narendra Modi, Sita Dahal, Pushpa Kamal Dahal and Xi Jinping yesterday in Goa. Pic by Prakash Dahal

The sight of the truck that had tasked itself with the vital responsibility of promoting and maintaining the trilateral relations struck me. The vehicle also aspired to connect the two most populous countries on earth with Nepal, the birthplace of Buddha and the zone of peace, as a transit hub. I admit I didn’t know at the time of taking this photo the leaders of three countries would actually listen to the Truck and meet in Goa as they did yesterday.

एउटा गहन जिम्मेदारी: अघिल्लो हप्ता टिस्टुङ देउरालीलाई लक्ष बनाएर त्रिभुवन राजपथमा हुँइकिरहेको बेला मैले यो ट्रक देखेको थिएँ । एउटा घरभन्दा एक कान्लोमाथिको सडक किनारमा अप्ठेरोगरी पार्क गरिएको अवस्थामा यो बाहन देख्दा अवस्थाको अाँकलन गर्न र सम्भवत: भूराजनीति’bout पनि केही गम्न म रोकिएको थिएँ । यही हालतमा के म त्यो घरमा बसुँला ? अहँ ।

ट्रकले त्रिपक्षीय सम्बन्धको प्रबर्द्धन गर्ने र त्यसलाई कायम राख्ने गहन जिम्मेवारी अाफ्नो काँधमा लिएको देख्दा म गम्भीर बनेको थिएँ । त्यतिमात्रै हैन ट्रकले भगवान बुद्धको जन्मस्थल, शान्तिक्षेत्र नेपाललाई पारवहन केन्द्र बनाएर पृ्थ्वीका दुई सबैभन्दा बढी जनसंख्या भएका मुलुकहरूलाई जोड्ने अाकांक्षा पनि लिएको थियो । फोटो खिच्दाको यो क्षण तीन देशका नेताहरूले यो ट्रकलाई सुन्ने छन् र हिजो गोवामा भेटेझैं भेट्नेछन् भन्ने मलाई के थाहा ।

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म साँझको पाहुना

House in the morning

बिहान

“त्यै सरको अोछ्यानमा सुत्नेभए पाइन्छ,” उनले भनिन् ।

त्यो सुन्दा म साह्रै ढुक्क भएको थिएँ । त्यसअघि थुप्रैबाट मैले निराशाजनक जवाफ पाएको थिएँ । तैपनि झिनो अाशा राखेर मैले उनलाई सोधेको थिएँ, “वास पाइन्छ तपाईकहाँ ?”

हालैको एक सप्ताहन्त म जापानले बनाइदिएको बन्दिलो साँघुरी राजमार्गमा केही समय दौडिएर दिन ढल्किनै लाग्दा मास्तिर उक्लिएको थिएँ । दिन घमाइलो र सुख्खा थियो । म बहकिएको थिएँ । रात यतै कतै डाँडामै बिताउने मेरो योजना थियो । बिहानै उठेर सूर्योदय हेर्ने अनि मानिसले कसरी दिन थाल्छन् त्यो अवलोकन गर्ने मेरो रहर थियो, योजना थियो । यो डाँडो चढ्नुअघि मैले अर्को पाखो उक्लिन खोजेको थिएँ तर त्यताजान तर्नुपर्ने रोसी खोलामा पक्की पुल थिएन । म खोला किनारमा उभीएर गम खादै थिए, बाबुछोरा जस्ता लाग्ने दुईजना एउटा अल्छे राँगो घिच्याउँदै जघाँर तरे । त्यो दृश्यलाई मैले भिडियोमा खिचेँ तर होन्डामाथि बसेर आफै खोलो तर्ने हिम्मत गरिन ।

डाँडामा होटल पक्कै छैनन्, वास पो पाइएला नपाइएला । घुमाउरो उकालो चढ्दा बाटोमा भेटिएका केहीसँग मैले त्यो संशय बाँडेको थिएँ । सबैले मलाई अाश्वस्त पारेका थिए, पाइनेमा । भनेका थिए, यहाँभन्दा माथि झन् ठूलो गाउँ छ । वास व्यवस्था सजिलै हुनेछ । एउटा बस्तीमा महिला र केटीहरू मकैबारीमा काम गरिरहेका थिए । उनीहरू अघिल्लो रात ढलेका मकैका बोटबाट घोगा निकाल्दै थिए । मैले विनाकाम र घुम्न अाएको भन्दा उनीहरूले पत्याएनन् । बरु एउटीले म आफन्तकहाँ या ससुराली आएको हुनसक्ने अड्कल काटिन् । उनीहरूले मलाई अल्लिमाथि हाइस्कुल भएको अावादीमा जान सल्लाह दिए ।

त्यही सुझावमान्दै म यो माथिल्लो बस्तीमा उक्लेको थिएँ । वास पाइने जवाफ दिँदा ती महिला दोस्रो अन्तिम थाल माझ्दै थिइन् । काम निप्ट्याउँदै गर्दा उनले मलाई त्यो भेगका अरू थुप्रैले जस्तै खै गरेकी थिइन् । त्यतिन्जेलसम्ममा मैले ती सबै चासो स्वाभाविक हुन् भन्ने निष्कर्ष निकालिसकेको थिएँ ।

कहाँबाट अाउनुभएको ? एक्लै ? के कामले ?

पहिला दुई प्रश्नमा मेरा जवाफले कुनै प्रतिप्रश्न जन्माएनन् । सुन्नेहरू सन्तुष्ट भइहाल्थे । तर अन्तिम प्रश्नले मलाई अाच्छुअाच्छु पारेको थियो ।

“हेर्नु यो गाउँमा छिरेयता मैले चार जनालाई भनिसकेको छु,” मैले हल्का भूमिका बाँधेर थाल पखाल्दैगरेकी महिलालाई भने, “तपाईलाई पनि त्यही भन्छु । म कुनै काम विशेषले अाएको हैन । न म यो वा नजिकैको कुनै गाउँमा अाफन्तकहाँ नै अाएको हुँ । सिर्फ घुम्न अाएको हुँ ।”

“यहाँ यो घरमा चाँहि कसरी अाइपुग्नु भयो ?” उनले सोधिन् ।

“त्याँ पर पसलछेउ भेटिएका दुई जना केटाहरूले यो घरमा [छेवैको स्कुलमा पढाउने] एकजना सर बस्नुहुन्छ भने,” मैले बेलिविस्तार लगाएँ, “मास्टर बस्ने घरमा कसो वास नपाइएला भनेर अाएको ।”

कच्ची सडक छेवैको त्यो पसल सामुन्नेबाट मकैबारी छिरेको गोरेटोमा ढोड सम्याउँदै म यहाँ यो घरमा आइपुगेको थिएँ । यो घरसँगै अर्को घर जोडिएको थियो जो नयाँ र बन्दै थियो । एकजना अधबैंशे पुरूष झ्यालको खापामा ठोकठाक गर्दै थिए । उनले र मैले मुस्कान साट्यौं ।

मैले उनलाई त्यसरी बेलिविस्तार लाउनुको कारण थियो । केही मिनेटअघि मात्र एउटी महिला मसँग झर्केकी थिईन् । ‘किन आएको?’ भन्ने उनको प्रश्नमा मैले ‘घुम्न’ भनेको थिएँ । यो मान्छेले मलाई विश्वास गरेन या ढाँट्यो भन्ने उनमा परेको मैले ठानें । अर्कीले ‘आफन्तकहाँ आउनु भएको होला, तेस्स्स्सै घुम्न त पक्कै आउनुभएन’ भन्दै मलाई अविश्वास गरेर बाटो लागेकी थिईन् । भोलिपल्ट बिहान म आधा घण्टा जति उकालो चढेर फेरि तल फर्किदै थिएँ। बाटोमा एकजना अधबैँसे पुरुष भेटिए । उनले मुसुमुसाउदै, मसँग आँखा जुधाँउँदै, नरम स्वरमा शिष्ट ढंगले सोधेका थिए, “नाप्न आउनु भएको?”

मैले पनि मुसुमुसु हाँस्दै उनकै आँखामा हेरेर भनेको थिएँ, “हैन हैन। नाप्नु पर्ने के छ र?”

“ए, मैले त बाटो नाप्न आउनु भएको होला भन्ने ठानेँ,” उनले भने । फेरि सोधे, “टावरका लागि आउनु भएको?”

“हैन हैन।” मैले फेरि भने, “कुन टावरको कुरा गर्नु भएको?”

मलाई थाहा थियो, उनी कुन टावरको कुरा गर्दै थिए तर पत्रकारितामा मैले सिकेको थिएँ उत्तर थाहा भए पनि प्रश्न गर्न नछोड्नु किनकि जवाफ सर्वथा अनपेक्षित आउन पनि सक्छ ।

“त्यै मोबाइल टावर,” स्कुलसँगैको दूरसञ्चार टावर इङ्गितगर्दै उनले भनेका थिए । त्यो टावर नेपाल टेलिकमले हालसालै ठड्याएको तर पूर्ण संचालनमा आइसकेको रहेनछ । त्यसैले ती गाउँलेले बाहिरियाको अपेक्षा गरेका थिए ।

“हैन हैन,” मैले भनेँ, “म यहाँ घुम्न आएको। कुनै काम छैन ।”

उनले मलाई हेरे। उनले आफ्ना आँखा मिलिक्क मेरा जुत्तामा पुर्याए र फेरि मुस्काए । मैले उनको अनुहार पढेँ । उनले मलाई पत्याएनन् ।

त, म वासको अपेक्षामा ती महिलाको जवाफ कुरिरहेको थिएँ । साँझ झमक्कै हुन अब २० मिनेटजति बाँकी हुँदो हो । उनले सबै भाँडा पखालिन् । आँगनको डिलमुनि एउटा भैँसी र दुइटा पाडापाडी थिए । एउटा अर्को बस्तु अटाउने ठाउँ थियो त्याँ । एकछिनको मौनतापछि मैले सोधेँ , “पाइन्छ वास?”

उनले फेरि मलाई मेरो कपालदेखि जुत्तासम्म नियालिन् र भनिन्, “त्यै सरको अोछ्यानमा सुत्नेभए पाइन्छ । आज हुनुहुन्न उहाँ । आफ्नै घर जानुभएको छ।”

मैले लामो सास तानेँ । आँगनछेउ उभिएर अस्ताउँदो सूर्यका किरण ठोक्किएका पूर्वतिरका रङ्गीन बादलतिर मेरो ध्यान केन्द्रित गरेँ । आँगन खासै साँघुरो वा उति फराकिलो थिएन । त्यसको किनारको डेढ हातजति ठाउँ डिलमुनि बाँधिएका बस्तुलाई घाँस हाल्न छुट्याइएको थियो। एउटा ठुलो मोटो बङ्गुर मुलढोकामा टाउको घुसारेर केही खाँदै थियो, घरकी अर्की महिलाको हातबाट । उनी घरमुली रहिछन्, बेलुका थाहा पाएँ ।

हेर्दा हेर्दै अध्यारोले छोपिहाल्यो । एकजना पुरुष आएर दलानमा टुसुक्क बसे । उनको जँघेलोको एउटा खुट्टो घुँडासम्म बेरिएको थियो । सुरूवालको अर्को खुट्टो हिलो र माटोले लतपतिएको थियो। उनी थाकेका देखिन्थे । उनी घरमुली पुरुष रहेछन् । उनी बारी जोतेर अाएका रहेछन् । मैले वास पाएकोमा उनीसँग कृतज्ञता प्रकट गरेँ । गफ गर्दागर्दै साढे १७ सय मिटर उचाईको त्यो डाँडोमा हल्का चिसो सिरेटो लाग्यो ।

भित्र घरकी कान्छी छोरी खाना पकाउने सुरसारमा थिइन्। पाहुना आएकोले के पकाउने भन्ने निर्क्यौल भैसकेको थिएन जसको चाल मैले पाइहालेँ।

“तपाईंहरू जे खानुहुन्छ म त्यै खान्छु,” मैले भने ।

“हामी त ढिंडो खान्छौं,” घरमुली महिलाले भनिन् । ” मकैको।”

“मलाई साह्रै मिठो लाग्छ,” मैले भनेँ ।

यो लेख फोटोहरूपछि निरन्तर छ । तपाईँलाई इमेलमै पछिल्लो ब्लग, लेख र तस्बिर पठाउँदा म खुसी हुनेछु । बाकसमा आफ्नो इमेल ठेगाना हाल्नु होला । यो लेख इमेल इन्बक्समै पढिरहुन भएको छ भने केही गर्न पर्दैन । धन्यवाद 🙂

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खाना पकाउँदै

खाना पकाउँदै

पढ्नेक्रम जारी राख्नुहोस्

काठमान्डूको साँखुबाट देखिएको सूर्यास्त

उबरमान्डू

धेरैपछि फेरी एक पटक दिल्लीको गर्मीमा अाफैसँग सिकसिको लाग्नेगरी पसिनाले फतक्कै भिजेको डेढ दिन के भएको थियो मलाई काठमान्डूका कतिपय कुराहरू खड्किन थालेका थिए ।

१४ सय मिटरमा अवस्थित उपत्यकाको प्रशंसा गरेर नथाकिने मुख्य कुरा यहाँको मौसम हो जस्तो लाग्छ मलाई । सजिलै पुगिने र चढ्न सकिने वरिपरीका हरिया डाँडाहरूलाई पनि म यो ठाउँको सवल पक्ष मान्छु । काठमान्डू खाल्डो घेर्ने पहाडहरूको महत्व मेरालागि अाफू कहाँ छु भनि ठम्याउने कुरासँग पनि जोडिएको छ । पहाडमा पलाएका अनि हुर्केकाहरू सबैलाई यस्तै हुन्छ कि मैलाई मात्र हो मैले खुट्याइसकेको छैन । दक्षिण बग्ने लिखु खोलाको दाईने किनारबाट उम्रिएर पश्चिमतर अडेस लागेको रामेछापेली पाखोमा जन्मे-हुर्केको मेरालागि म कुन उचाईंमा या ठ्याक्कै कहाँ छु भन्ने ठम्याउन सबैभन्दा महत्वपूर्ण सन्दर्भ विन्दु हुन्थ्यो, लिखुको द्रेब्रेकिनारबाट अग्लिएर पूर्वतिर लमतन्न फैलिएको अोखलढुङ्गे पाखोको टुप्पो । पूर्वतिर फर्केको घरको अाँगनमा उभिएर त्यो अोखलढुङ्गे भिरालोमा अाँखा सार्दै टुप्पैसम्म पुर्याएर त्यो पानीढलो पछ्याउदै उत्तर बढ्दा पुगिने हिमालमै पुगेर ठोक्किएपछि मात्रै म निश्चित हुन्थे अाफ्नो अवस्थितिप्रति । काठमान्डूमा पनि पहाडी टुप्पाहरूले मलाई “ए, म यहाँनिर छु है” भनि खुट्याउन साह्रै सघाउँछन् ।

पहाडहरूसँगको सामीप्य त्यस्तो बानी परिसकेको छ ।

जब म पहाड नदेखिने ठाउँमा पुग्छु मलाई अाफू ठ्याक्कै कहाँनिर छु भनि पत्तालगाउन कठिन हुन्छ । त्यस्तो बेला अाकाश अलि धुम्म परेको छ भने त उकुसमुकुस हुन बेरलाग्दैन । कुनैबेला म दिल्लीको अस्थायी बासिन्दा हुँदा पनि मलाई पहाडहरूको अभाव खड्केको थियो । घरैमात्र देखिन्छन् जहीं पनि । त्यो पनि सम्झनलायक अाकार, व्यक्तित्व र उचाई भएका त झन् पटक्कै हैनन् ।

Likhu Mist Nepal

लिखु खोला माथि कुहिरो

सैलुङ डाँडाबाट देखिएका झन् अग्ला डाँडाहरू ।

सैलुङ डाँडाबाट देखिएका झन् अग्ला डाँडाहरू ।

हो, फोन खोलेर गुगल नक्सामा अमेरिकाले संसारलाई सित्तैमा उपलब्ध गराईरहेको पृथ्वीमा अाफ्नो भौगोलिक/शारीरिक स्थान पहिल्याउने प्रणाली (ग्लोवल पोजिसनिङ् सिस्टम/जीपीएस) मार्फत अाफू कहाँ उभिएको ठम्याउन नसकिने हैन । केही महिना अघि काठमान्डूबाट नेपालका केही ठाउँहरूमा हेलिकप्टरबाट दौडादौड गर्दा मैले फोनकै जीपीएस अनि गुगल नक्साको संयोजनले अाफू अहिले ठ्याक्कै कुन पहाड माथि छु भनि ठम्याउँदा एकखाले रोमाञ्च महशुस नभएको हैन । तैपनि नाङ्गा अाँखाले पहाडको टुप्पो हेरेर अाफूलाई पहिल्याउन बानी परेको र रमाउने मनलाई जीपीएसले पूर्ण सन्तुष्टि नदिंदो रैछ । प्रविधीका कयौं पक्षहरूसँग जीवनले पूर्णरूपेण सहजता महशुस गर्न समय लाग्दो रहेछ । पढ्नेक्रम जारी राख्नुहोस्

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Ghangaru berries are a familiar sight in the Nepali hills. The ugly, unfriendly and thorny bush transforms itself into something incredibly attractive and appealing as its berries ripe. I love eating them. Popular Ghangaruko lauros (the Ghangaru sticks) are made out of its sturdy twigs. I could be wrong but it looks to me that, like Lapsi, Ghangaru is one of those plants that is found primarily in the Himalayan region (and the Nepali hills). Of the many species of firethorn, the one found in Nepal is called the Nepali Firethorn.

नेपाली विकिपिडियाबाट: घँगारु पहाडमा पाईने एक जंगली फल हो। नेपालका अधिकांश प्रहरीहरूले यसैको लौरो प्रयोग गरेको देखिन्छ। पश्चिम नेपालतिर “आरु र घँगारु कालको भाई, साउनको पाप्रो रैबार लगाई” भन्ने उखान नै रहेको छ।

Ghangaru berries, the Nepali Firethorn

Ghangaru berries

Men play Sahanai

Panche baaja पञ्चे बाजा

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Two men blowing Narsinghas

Men blow Narsinghas in Dhampus village, Nepal. According to this page (http://bit.ly/2ak5iWj), the name Narsingha means “buffalo horn,” but the instrument is much larger than the horn of a buffalo. The same page states: The Narsingha is a long curved natural horn with a conical bore, which varies widely in size, shape and usage in ensembles throughout Nepal.

A wedding ceremony? An auspicious occasion? Someone very important, a thulo manchhe, coming in the village? Play the panche baja (the five -musical- instruments). That’s still the case in many Nepali villages. These photos are from Dhampus village, north of Pokhara that offers beautiful views of the Annapurna range. When I was there last year around this time, the mountains were hidden in the clouds. Mesmerizing dhoon of panche baja played to welcome some thulo manchhes I was traveling with compensated the lack of great mountain views. I again saw panche baja played in a village in Lamjung earlier this year when to welcome a thulo manchhe.

Men play damaha drums

Men play Damaha drums

पढ्नेक्रम जारी राख्नुहोस्

A mare breast feeding a foala

A mare breastfeeding a foal in Chandanbari, Nepal.

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

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A lorry headed to China. An Airtruck or a roadplane?

An ‘AirTruck’. Headed to China.

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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 light.

A truck driver waiting for the green signal.

I saw this lorry on Prithvi highway, near Kathmandu:

A lorry in Prithvi haighway

This one came from India.

Basantapur's Trailokya Mohan Temple

Kathmandu Darbar Square- A Day After the #NepalEarthquake

A day after the #NepalEarthquake, Basantapur was crowded by people who wanted to escape the aftershocks.

A day after the #NepalEarthquake, Basantapur was crowded by people who wanted to escape the aftershocks.

A day after the #NepalEarthQuake, I went to Kathmandu’s Darbar Square. The scale of devastation was massive. Many of its attractive buildings, former palaces and temples, had either completely collapsed or were heavily damaged. The landmark Kastamandap building had been reduced to rubble. Two other beautiful temples nearby were not where they once stood. The “nau talle” darbar [the Basantapur tower, above] was still standing but it had lost its gajur. Several heritage buildings had their walls cracked. For a regular visitor of the Darbar Square, it was difficult to comprehend the sudden change brought about by the quake. A crowd had gathered at the Basantapur chowk. Most of them were lying on the ground, some facing the sky; others chatting with each other. They looked tired. Somewhat scared too. But they were generally calm. There was uncertainty on their faces. These people were very different from the ones that Basantapur used to see in normal times. Like many open spaces in Kathmandu, Basantapur too was crowded with people who wanted to escape the aftershocks.

Souvenir shops crowd Basantapur in normal times.

In a normal day, souvenir and curio shops occupy the open space at Basantapur side of the Kathmandu Darbar Square.

Basantapur's Trailokya Mohan Temple

Basantapur’s Trailokya Mohan Temple

Cultural hub

A top tourist destination in town, Kathmandu Darbar Square in normal times is a bustling place. People from all over Nepal and and the rest of the world can be spotted here on a typical day. Here, vendors annoyingly follow tourists to sale souvenirs and curios. Dope dealers loiter around looking for customers. Tea sellers serve thousands of cups of tea. Singers come to perform. Artists stage street dramas. Politicians and activists gather to lecture and shout. Temples and palaces fight with each-other for a visitor’s attention. Rickshaw pullers jostle with taxi drivers to get passengers.

Once a place for kings and queens, Kathmandu Durbar Square today houses Gods and criminals, in close proximity and with no discrimination. Perhaps a slight one. Convicted and suspected ones live in police custody in the notorious Hanumandhoka lockup, of course, while the Gods and Goddesses, both living and those immortalized in statues, live free. Not only inside the temples and houses but also out in the open. This is the place where rituals and ancient traditions of many kinds are performed with great enthusiasm and participation of both public and the state. This is a place of utter paradox. An oasis of calm in most days, this place also witnesses some of the most violent cultural activities. That includes slaughtering of thousands of goats and buffaloes on certain days of the year. All in all, this is the cultural heart of Kathmandu. To be precise, this is the most prominent and visible cultural centre of one among many Kathmandus that exist in Kathmandu. But today, a day after the 25th April earthquake, this world heritage site is deeply shaken. पढ्नेक्रम जारी राख्नुहोस्

Perhaps the most famous landmark of Kathmandu, the Dharahara tower is no more.

What Did Dharahara Mean to You? (#NepalEarthquake)

Collapse of the Dharahara tower symbolized all quake-related devastations. But did the Bhimsen Stambha embody our pride and morale?

Soldiers and volunteers launched rescue efforts at the fallen Dharahara tower

Soldiers and volunteers launched rescue efforts at the fallen Dharahara tower

The #NepalEarthquake claimed thousands of lives. A million houses have been destroyed, most of them in rural villages. If there was a symbol of this destruction, it was the fall of the Dharahara tower. The tower’s collapse resulted in the death of more than one hundred fifty people. A few survived. This included some who were at the eighth floor circular balcony, enjoying the view of the city, when the quake hit.

Perhaps the most famous landmark of Kathmandu, the Dharahara tower is no more.

Perhaps the most famous landmark of Kathmandu, the Dharahara tower is no more. A pro-democracy rally in 2005.

Judging by the way people have reacted to the destruction of the eleven-story minaret with Shiva’s statue at the top, I feel that its collapse symbolized all quake-related devastations. It was as if Dharahara was somehow indestructible (though quakes had damaged it in the past too). “Even the Dharahara fell, can you imagine?,” was a typical reaction.

A man from Sikkim who had come to quake-hit Sindhupalchok with relief materials told journalist Kiran Bhandari, “We heard in the news that even the Dharahara had collapsed. We could only imagine what might have happened to Kathmandu. We were shocked.”

In most post-quake writings and social media comments, the Dharahara has been implicitly or explicitly portrayed as the pride and morale of the Nepali people. Images of the destroyed tower along with the words “we will rise” have been circulated widely. This show of affection to Dharahara greatly surprised me because the monument had largely been ignored.

After much reflection, I have reached the conclusion that the Dharahara did not represent the pride and morale of the Nepali people. Certainly not mine. My pride and morale didn’t fall along with the tower to the extent of saying ‘we will rise’ on the social media along with the image of the undamaged Dharahara.

It was made for and by the rulers. The commoners had no say in the way it was built and in the way it was used. The tower was not built for the general public to use it though it was opened to the commoners for climbing in 2005.

Having said that, the monument was the postcard representative of the city of Kathmandu. Indeed, in the hills where I was born and raised, Dharahara symbolized the city of Kathmandu.

“So what will you see in Kathmandu?” That was the question grown-ups asked kids who were about to leave for the capital.
“Dharahara!”, excited kids would scream back.
“So what did you see in Kathmandu?” Adults would ask kids who had just returned from the Valley.
“Dharahara!”, the kids would reply. पढ्नेक्रम जारी राख्नुहोस्