‘So what is it that you will remember about this place once you go back’. This happened to be the question I had posed to my American guest en route to airport on board a Toyota Hiace van as he was about to bid farewell to this city. He incidentally did not happen to be a ‘tourist’ for this was his official visit. He was my boss.
A man, as he would confess all the time ‘Hitesh I am a hardcore American and the furthest I have been in my 52 yrs of existence is to Mexico City.‘ who has never been to this part of the world, I knew he had gone through an experience of lifetime. It was quite hard to digest that an American Executive has never been out of the country, but on second thoughts, may be he never needed to. I am sure they do not a culture of putting a separate column marked ‘Countries visited’ in their resumes, back home. By the way what its got to do with your abilities, countries visited!!
‘Obviously the traffic’ and that did not catch me by any surprise either. ‘That’s a common one, isn’t there something; I mean something about the people. After all you have travelled to this other end of the world for the first time in your life’, I knew there had to be something and hence the asking. ‘Oh yes, the spring in peoples lives, the hustle and bustle of every day.’ He went on admiring how people move around in hordes, in complete madness going about their everyday business. I am sure he must have managed to go through some of the dailies in his hotel lobby and got some sense of this politically active nation of ours. ‘Hitesh, in next ten years china and India would be so huge, European Union for one will have definitely taken a back seat, that every other business in the world would be either in those two places. And I am sure people who would be most actively sought after would be the experts in international relations. Not trying to ‘irritate’ either of their allies, the business big-wigs would surely be looking for a neutral playing ground and hence is destined to be in Nepal. And then there you would have your new Nepal.’ I just smiled.
By the way, the building is in process. I remember reading an article of Bimal Niva and his conversations with junk dealer and his optimistic future ahead- every thing would be new and whatever that exists will have to be junked. That statues are knocked down as if we have managed to, succeeded to kick our past behind. We are done with our past and no more shall the issues that haunted us for so long will haunt us again, that is the underlying statement that we all seem to be making and yet when you look back it’s all the same. We shook hands and waived him goodbye.
The last two decade or so seems to have the ones which has gone through tremendous change. First the end of Panchayat and, next , the seemingly impending end of the man/family/system behind autocratic regime. Well no doubt there are way too many changes we have been through and one does not need any kind of reminding. And yet, look at the issues that ‘nags’ this nation today. Teachers continue to strike ( like true revolutionaries they deem it fit not just to close down their own schools but others’ businesses as well ), dharnas and protests continue to take place. NOC still has not been able to pay to IOC (I don’t think it ever will and we are at the mercy the Indian ambassador waiting for him to say ‘it’s been waived!’) and Bhutanese refugees still continue to reside in the camps. By the way the campers are celebrating seventeen years of their arrival to this nation. And in that period while Bhutan’s per capita income seems to have leap-frogged and ours, the lesser said the better. And, interestingly in my high school I remember writing a paper , as a part of mandatory research work, on Arun III Hydro project and today I see my nephew Aakash writing a document for Melamchi, the similarity still remains. It was save Arun then, its same with Melamchi now. This one’s even more interesting, if I may call so, seven prime ministers have laid a foundation bridge over a Mechi river over the last twenty years or so, I doubt it’s the same stone they are reusing again and again, and yet there’s no bridge till date!
Eight parties, eight superheroes. Now if there was one good question that the presenter asked in one of the TV programs, it had to be this. ‘If you have ‘mandate’ to decide on administrative constitution, why could not that decide everything and put things to peace. Get into a room, decide a president and announce. Why does anybody even need a CA for this? No jams, no flaring up of violence, simple. And if you don’t, how come it’s justified, all of the things you are doing today.
Expectedly the heroes try to take some salvage with the use of word ‘aam Junta’. That word ‘aam Junta’, probably the most dreaded word in the Nepalese vocabulary. I don’t know how they take it in Yangoon though. This is what a Junta wants, this is what Junta does not, you hear them shouting all over places. While, you sitting at the other end, in comfort of your home end up asking yourself what is it that you want? You realize that its not what you want and therefore you have no choice but ask yourself again where do you fall in the social strata or could it be that you are too educated to be qualified as a Junta? Or just because you pay your hard earned money in taxes so that they get their salaries in time in spite of stalling the proceedings of a house for entire month, you don’t need a representative to voice out your concerns? Or is it that you ought not to have any concerns at all?
Nonetheless, it’s not all doom and gloom for future seems all so bright for loktantra is here. It’s just that future is happening sometime in future, no timeframes, sorry no one has any idea when. And I am sure there aren’t much who believe things will take a U turn even after the elections.
And there’s the Nepalese mentality and its liking for destruction. It somehow just shows that chaos and destruction is something we just can’t do without, live without. There is so much angst and hatred, doesn’t take any incident to incite people. Everyone readily gets so. The Maoists, amid their success in taking revolution to the stage they wanted to, have left a legacy behind. You don’t like something; rage it down and don’t like someone just shoot him down. The bandits have suddenly sprung up in the fertiles of Terai.And you fail to find an answer, well if all the killings can bring you power, why blame anyone who’s killing today. Who knows, before you realize, the same people could be seen right on your television giving sermons as to what must be done to change the fate of this nation.
Coming back to my boss, once we were on top a hill near Godawari where we were hiking, he could never understand the fact that a person could work in a broad day light, heat pounding his roughed skin and not get paid even a dollar. Damn!!
I am instantly reminded of a motorbike advertisement on a television where a man donned in black suit says to a rider ‘The next mission’s not going to be an easy one’ and the hero answers back, trying too be at his coolest best, ‘Life never is!’
(The Sunday edition of kathmandu post, Sunday June 24, 2007).