Places and Faces

“Do you think “a driver” is a good profession?”
“Can you ride a motorcycle?”
“Have you white water rafted before?”
“Are you hungry?”
“Can I sing?”
Responding affirmative answers to the above questions, my new friend was excited and talked and talked.
He was the handy boy for our driver in the microbus driving towards Kathmandu. He sat on my left, right by the door and would open the window and yell “Kathmandu, Kathmandu,” until the vehicle was packed with passengers and he was up on the roof. Then I missed him.
He knew his roads. He pointed towards the forest fire and said it had been purposefully lit for soil fertility. He pointed towards the bus mishap location that had killed five and 40 were still missing as the wrecked bus lay on the banks of Trishuli River. He laughed and told us about the walking group of patriots clad in red daura suruwal who were supposedly on a peace march across the country. He hushedly told of the Maoists involvement regarding the burnt truck on the side of the road that was in flames when they drove by the other morning.
He said he liked his job. His family lived in the village near Daman and his parents wanted him to get married but he thought otherwise. He left home and searched his own path. Wanted to be self-sufficient before having to take care of somebody else’s daughter (that’s exactly how he put it).
At one point, he was even weaving carpets in Kathmandu. It was his “training” period and all he got was food and accommodation though he had to wake up early morning at 3:00am and go to bed around 11:00pm. He said it hurt his fingers. He’s glad he changed gears.
He also seemed to be enjoying his job and doing well at it. Accommodating twenty-one people in an eighteen-passenger van was sheer knack in the business. Addressing the army security as “sirs” was to bolster their ego, he said.
He knew his contacts too. From Dumre to Munglin, he provided live entertainment to passengers on 7587 as he hauled a gaine with a sarangi. He even knew the songs and sang alongside our entertainer. It rocked.
He gave me a business card. It was of Sagun Yatayat, his employer and said that our driver’s name was Pashupati. But he didn’t tell me his name. (Nor did I ask for it).
Nevertheless, he has become my friend.
He reminded me of my driver friend from NJP to Gangtok. We didn’t exchange names but we chatted a whole lot about life in the hills and our peoples’ mindset. He had been driving for almost eight years and was only a year older than me. He told me that he never forgets faces and people come and go but if he were to see me after five years or so, he would remember me.
I feel the same today.
Next time I see my new friend, I am sure we’ll have plenty to chitchat about the road, the weather, the army, the Maoists and life happenings en route.

…to die

“We either die by the Americans, the insurgents in the name of jihad, the security companies, which kill you and leave you laying in the street, the Iraqi police or…the death squads.
Three years after the American invasion of Iraq, I have only one wish.
I do not want democracy, food, electricity and water.
I just do not want to die.”

– Laith Muhammad, an Iraqi student.
(Source: Sojourners)

Living History

“Living History” by Hillary Rodham Clinton had my full interest when I heard faint chants nearing my attention… I went up to the terrace and looked towards the road. Red banners and flags were followed by a group of demonstrators.
There was a protest rally.
My cousin and I rushed to the area with a very humble camera. It was my aunt’s Olympus Zoom 35-70mm point and shoot that I didn’t realize had a zoom till we got back.
The camera didn’t matter, we got the pictures. (But it has to wait till the remaining film is over and it gets developed in due time.)
They were yelling anti-monarch slogans…
We stood behind the army security vehicle. (which was probably not the best place because the rebels usually target these trucks).
But we drew attention from the soldiers who decided to give studly poses for the photo shoot. Almost all nine of them from the back of a pick up had looked at us when they got radioed and two of them got off the vehicle with their sticks.
They had been summoned for lathi charge.
They ran towards the crowd and followed the protestors while waiting orders for time to strike?
That was yesterday.
Today, we got news that the Maoists have called off the blockade after six days of restlessness.

Between two cities

On the way to Kathmandu airport, we got stuck in traffic.
Sidewalks were active,
Streets were congested,
Roads were busy,
Vehicles in abundance.

On the way out of Pokhara airport, there was no traffic.
Sidewalks were non-existent,
Streets were empty,
Roads were calm,
Vehicles were scarce.

Kathmandu stays unmoved and least bothered,
Pokhara remains watchful and anxious.

It is the fourth day of the 21-day nation wide blockade called by the Maoists.

Road transports in all major highways cease to exist. Every city, every town in Nepal is their own working entity. The country is concerned and nervous.

Except Kathmandu….
What? I didn’t know there was a blockade.
When? I thought that was last month.
Where? We have access to public transport.


…let it rain!

“The best thing one can do when it’s raining is to let it rain.”
-Henry Wadsworth Longfellow

It finally rained in Kathmandu and many of us hope that it pours down in buckets?

The reality is the fact that Kathmandu haven’t had any rain since October 2005. The dry spell had drained the water reservoirs and the capital residents’ have been suffering from a 5-hour load shedding on a daily basis. It was even reported in Thursday’s TKP that two more hours were to be added in the daily power cut.

This is the second rainy day for 2006…

“The way I see it, if you want the rainbow, you gotta put up with the rain.”
Dolly Parton

Travelin’ Thru

Well I can’t tell you where I’m going, I’m not sure of where I’ve been
But I know I must keep travelin’ till my road comes to an end
I’m out here on my journey, trying to make the most of it
I’m a puzzle, I must figure out where all my pieces fit

Like a poor wayfaring stranger that they speak about in song
I’m just a weary pilgrim trying to find what feels like home
Where that is no one can tell me, am I doomed to ever roam
I’m just travelin’, travelin’, travelin’, I’m just travelin’ on

Questions I have many, answers but a few
But we’re here to learn, the spirit burns, to know the greater truth
We’ve all been crucified and they nailed Jesus to the tree
And when I’m born again, you’re gonna see a change in me

God made me for a reason and nothing is in vain
Redemption comes in many shapes with many kinds of pain
Oh sweet Jesus if you’re listening, keep me ever close to you
As I’m stumblin’, tumblin’, wonderin’, as I’m travelin’ thru

I’m just travelin’, travelin’, travelin’, I’m just travelin’ thru
I’m just travelin’, travelin’, travelin’, I’m just travelin’ thru

Oh sometimes the road is rugged, and it’s hard to travel on
But holdin’ to each other, we don’t have to walk alone
When everything is broken, we can mend it if we try
We can make a world of difference, if we want to we can fly

Goodbye little children, goodnight you handsome men
Farewell to all you ladies and to all who knew me when
And I hope I’ll see you down the road, you meant more than I knew
As I was travelin’, travelin’, travelin’, travelin’, travelin’ thru

I’m just travelin’, travelin’, travelin’, I’m just travelin’
Drifting like a floating boat and roaming like the wind
Oh give me some direction lord, let me lean on you
As I’m travelin’, travelin’, travelin’, thru

I’m just travelin’, travelin’, travelin’, I’m just travelin’ thru
I’m just travelin’, travelin’, travelin’, I’m just travelin’ thru

Like the poor wayfaring stranger that they speak about in song
I’m just a weary pilgrim trying to find my own way home
Oh sweet Jesus if you’re out there, keep me ever close to you
As I’m travelin’, travelin’, travelin’, as I’m travelin’ thru

-Dolly Parton

For Solvin…

“A hundredth of a second here, a hundredth of a second there — even if you put them end to end, they still only add up to one, two, perhaps three seconds, snatched from eternity”
-Robert Doisneau
See you there…