I have a history with Nepal Yatayat!
Sounds a little out of the ordinary but couldn’t think of anything closer to the truth than this. It all began some four years ago, freshly out of school (10 yrs of bordered life) after S.L.C which was around the same time NY began its services. NY was my first acquaintance with public transportation services in the valley. So I have gone through all the stages of development of this popular NY Services: the supersonic NY (which resulted in a nasty experience of me falling into a puddle of dirty water as I got off the bus, the fateful day I got my Citizenship), the snail paced bus everyone complained about and as of some days ago the most efficient transportation in Kathmandu. And my experience as a regular commuter of the bus for the last two years and a frequent one before that portrays NY as a world of its own.
Once it was travelling with a stranger, who offered me hints about studying Science in +2 who even paid my fare stating he knew the financial woes of a student. In yet another event, a man with glasses giving that serious and cultured look, a fine wrist watch (status symbol in my book of fashion) gave me the shock of my life grabbing my waist!! Thank God! Was clad in the uniform blazer, though unfortunately was too appalled at 17 to do anything other than constantly shove his hands off me. My first harassment experience. Recently I gave a “Tapain Ko problem chahin ke ho”dialogue (though in between laughs) to a guy mocking me in NY last seat passing comments on my watch! Mission Vengeance Accomplished. Grew up with the experiences in NY, you could say that again.
Out of +2, was time for university, I chose a college located in a place best expressed by the term “ Ajakalto” to which no direct transportation was available other than NY. That meant being totally dependent on NY (but it never crossed my mind until the services were ceased until yesterday). I took it for granted. So did many of my friends residing in Koteshwor, Minbhawan, Shantinagar, Anamnagar, Putalisadak. Get on the bus and though initially it might have been the conductor yelling “Seat cha” (meaning everyone else is seated on it other than you) we were sure to get one before reaching college. I t was plain luxury, a public bus stopping right in front of the college gates. Even being on the bus at 6:40 when college gates closed at 7 calmed our nerves with the fact of being dropped right on the spot. But now 125 of the NY buses have gone into hiding, along with 75 of the Kantipur Yatayat ones. The street almost looks empty without the light brown machines on wheels. 200, does the number look funny to you? It transported a hundred thousand passengers everyday i.e. FIVE ZEROES after a one. Ring a bell? Comrades.
What do those 1, 00000 do now? Is anyone even concerned about them? We have to change two buses, as if our lives weren’t already hectic enough. My friend Emma has to make it from Thimi to Baluwatar by 6:45 every morning. Earlier leaving home at 5:45 was fine. A bus till Koteshwor and then NY Jindabad. Now she needs to get on the Shahidgate bus, 2 buses, the case is the same but the uncertainty of reaching college in time has her hurrying to college earlier. And even the No. 27 microbus from RNAC only goes till Bhatbhateni. Baluwatar is close by but she has already developed the habit of getting off right in front of the college gate, Remember? She isn’t the only one. Rosina ( Balkumari), Kabita ( Gwarko), Kamlesh ( even Baneshwore), Manisha ( Anamnagar) all have their share of woes.
It’s early in the morning in front of RNAC, very few people in the otherwise human crammed pavement. One can see the orange sun slowly rising through the open fields of Tudikhel but my friend doesn’t want to observe it. She tells me, “This is awful. If it was only one problem whether it be load shedding, Maoist insurgency, hike in prices or the blockades some consideration could be made. But its everything and no Nepal Yatayat to add to it. What kind of place do we live in?” I’m half listening, half engrossed in enjoying the serene vehicle free environment around me. She brings me back to senses and I feel ashamed for being half-attentive. I hate this extra positive mindedness in me. I’m thinking “Its alright. Now because of travelling in a different vehicle I’m getting to know what another part of Kathmandu looks like in the early morning. Less pollution, less horns to irritate my senses.” But keeping cranks like me aside, it is absolutely no fun to walk in the midday scorching heat from Baluwatar to Anamnagar. The NY bus stop was right in front of my office but I see no use in travelling all the way to Ratnapark to come back to Anamnagar. It is waste of money. You could argue it is waste of time. Obviously! It is bounded rationality way of decision making in practice, the need to save money is vital here. When you have boasted your folks at home to fulfil all your personal needs with whatever little you earn including the ever so expensive dentist fees walking is the only choice. Your reputation is in question!
Students, we always suffer the most. On one hand it is the pressing need to be financially independent making you ill at ease with the mere thought of begging alms for every petty expense you make while with the constant price hikes, there is never enough money. Problems are on the rise in every sector and being a youth in Nepal is a problem in itself. In the villages you are the perfect choice for the so called People’s army (where the person is never given the choice). In cities, the exposure results in making you over ambitious, you dream too big everyone remarks. When the reality is even an MA doesn’t fetch you a job. I recently read an article where a MBA graduate was planning to try his hands in poetry (his mom still the breadwinner). That makes it obvious why every one in two youth here aspires to go abroad. Whether it is a tile making factory in Dubai or dishwashing in Japan it just doesn’t matter.
And every time I tune into the news: the increase in hours of load shedding, price hikes in petroleum products, 80% rise in prices of vegetables, the flooding of roads with fresh milk makes me wonder if is it the last straw? Nothing seems to be the last straw for us. We eventually get used to everything. Thanks to our Comrade well-wishers who have increased our tolerance limits. I try to reason it out from their perspective. How can the government increase petroleum prices? How dare NY and KY run vehicles in a Nepal Banda called by us? An ambulance on the road during a blockade, how dare people fall sick during a blockade! It must be shot. Monarchy in Nepal sucks but still I draw my inspiration from the great PN Shah. His blockade tactics to conquer the capital should work.
Ah…Comrades it is the 21st century. You need the people’s support to rule. The “cut the noses of the soldiers who didn’t take off shoes” style gets you nowhere. It only shows that you don’t even exercise control over your own aggressive senses. You seem to be over concerned about us Nepalese. You so well understand us; we love Nepal Bandas so why the hell run buses during one. I think you even expect a pat on the back for your style of cutting the head itself because the mouth spoke something foul. Will that ever stop all the other heads from talking? You can’t take of peace by gagging us all. Mind you, even the hushed silence talks of a passive revolution slowly gaining momentum.It is just not the way things are done. We need change in your ways and not merely hyped interviews with headlines “We want no bloodshed, we are all for what people want”.
The issue raised by your own so called “unnecessary by products of revolution” hasn’t missed the mark either. You talk big; keep your children aloof from all the hazards in a nation you intend to bring to ruins. But what about the millions of children of an average Nepali citizen like us? We can’t escape to some Harvard or Cambridge by mere choice. And many of us have opted to be here anyways, opted to find that bright future our friends are seeking abroad. We are here as we want to be a part of this historical moment , we want to make sure that people like you live up to your words of changing the system for good this time, starting by you changing your ways first.
Politics is what a layman understands, what s/he experiences day in and day out. It is not big talk, but little actions that influences our lives. It is the price of tomato, the closure of school, the death of a pregnant woman due to the banda and every little thing a person can comprehend on the grounds of being a citizen of this country. And sometimes I feel as though politics is everything else but what our government, the parties, Maoists and the monarch ever care to think about.