What do you think of when you are inside a white-green/white-blue LPG run Tempo in Kathmandu? : Expensive ride. Comfortable journey. Or do these questions come to your mind: Why does it only have three wheels? Will it overturn if it speeds? Can it go any slower than this?
Most Tempo rides are silent. The passengers stare at men’s dull colored jackets, women’s brightly colored lipsticks or simply wonder about the most proper place to rest one’s eyes upon. Therefore, it’s always easier to sit closer to the door and stare outside. Staring outside is fun until your eyes get tired of making eye-contact with strangers; looking at them right in the eye and wondering “Must be Karma or whatever that I am looking at them!” However, not all passengers keep their thoughts to themselves when they’re headed to work/home. My Tempo ride the day before yesterday was one of those. Three men, all strangers to one another engaged in an interesting conversation while the rest (like me) listened.
A man stepped inside the already filled Tempo in Minbhawan and the three men yelled in unison “Hey!”
“Why don’t you get on the other Tempo?” they suggested.
The new Tempo entrant was taken aback. He got off the Tempo in no time.
One of the men had a receding hairline and a frustrated tone.
No sooner we crossed Baneshwor he poured out his mind :”Why don’t they do the construction work during the night? Why do they have to do during the day? It’s not like the old times where people can’t work during the nights? If you come here around 1-2 pm and you can always see this construction obstructing the traffic. “
“And these vehicles. I say we shouldn’t allow vehicles of this size (tempo) to run. The government should run large buses as they do in foreign countries.”
“I agree.” another man who was all buttoned up joined in. “Jhingako tauko jatro gadi, jhingako tauko vanda thulo gadi yesto ni huncha!” ( Here, we have vehicles the size of a fly’s head and slightly bigger than that. All sizes.) These motorbikes are the cause of traffic jams. It seems as though bike riders are always in a hurry.”
“That’s why this road expansion is not going to change anything” the frustrated man continued. “The people will be the same, the drivers will stay the same. Bigger roads are not the problem, following rules is”.
“And our (Nepali) habit of leaving for the destination late is another problem. If everyone left on time, then no one would have to hurry to reach their destinations” another elderly man added.
No sooner than the Tempo crossed Nepal Art Council, Babarmahal a blue microvan zoomed past from the left. It hit the Tempo’s front door leaving it wide open. The conversation inside came to a sudden halt just like the vehicles. A policewoman arrived. The young microvan driver who was at fault couldn’t frame a sentence without using expletives. Passengers from both the vehicles got off as the drivers continued to argue.
After the collision
Reality set in. If the ‘Jhingako tauko jatro gadi’ was unable to take us to our destinations we’d have to look for another one. They do, after all, come in all shapes and sizes!