Hey guys I am back, back with a Bang. It has been a really hectic routine for me, helping the Jap journo, the assignment deadlines and presentations. Oh god Dev Mgmt yet to submit on June 5 and Man the ESD presentation also begins with me on Monday! I wonder why life is never a middle path affair for me. One day I am relaxin at home, absolutely no work and the next it is No time to breathe! All I wish for is a mindblowin ending to this week. Ah..then I can relax. Relax! Does the word exist? Exams again.
BtW its been a rocking N adventuresome week + some days guys, meeting all big shots like Gagan Thapa, Tika Chaudhary, Rajesh K.C, Bikas Rauniyar, Mr DinWag, Meena, Swanaam Sathi (he gave me something to cherish all my Life! hahaha )…and a lot more! This has surely been one hell of a sem for me. Ooohh I never learnt so much in my entire life…. and there is so much more left to learn as well…and yesterday was in the Maoist mass meeting in Khulamanch with Yumi, a wonderful Jap Journo, not a journo exactly though…but no time to explain here…here is my experience. And Mr Wag was kind enuf 2 to put it in UWB too, but I have added a lot of personal stuff here…
and read another posting in UWB http://www.blog.com.np/united-we-blog/2006/06/03/a-nepali-girls-american-experience/#more-901..
I simply LoveD it! Its direct, bold and beautiful!
I reach the place 45 minutes ahead of the allocated time. It was about 9:20 am and I was strolling around the Khula Manch. Red ruled the place; the army men look at the activities in the Khula manch with interest. I receive a message which reads: Hey Daz do you know what sign makes the best couple with Tauras?”
I smile, laugh making a small sound obviously because I was on my own. I reply; No dear I only know that they get on well with Cancerians. Red rules Khulamanch, love rules the lives of my friends. Everyone is falling in love. And I take this opportunity to congratulate her, and the new love jodi in our class! Now that’s confusing, kasko side bata biha khana jane! Dhulha ki Dhulhai!
She calls me to come along. I am more than glad to accompany her. We get the Press pass. The “Bepatta Pairwar Samaj” office is just across the office where we get the pass. A man there speaks in English. His elder brother “Deepak Neupane” disappeared one day after he went to Prithvi Narayan Campus, Pokhara to talk of free student union. It was in 2061 B.S. Police in plain clothes arrested him as soon he stepped out of the campus premises.
It is very painful to live without any knowledge of the whereabouts of your dear ones he says. A woman behind him is asking for the picture of her younger son, she is already carrying the one of her elder son. Both of them have disappeared. Nepal has the highest number of disappearance cases he informs, we have 2000 recorded cases while an equal number are off the record.
What do you do? I ask.
Teaching is my profession. I teach and get torturtured he replies with a laugh.
Disappeared. A very easy thing to be told, a very difficult fact to accept.
I am eager to know what the Maoist Biggies have to say about it.
The Maoists prevail in the Khulamanch area. I meet a Maoist comrade. He wears a ‘Che Guevara” T-shirt and sips the black tea. He tells me he is being trained as the photojournalist of the party, taking pictures of various party functions and other activities. I find that very amusing. He points out to a man outside the restaurant window; do you know the name of that photojournalist? He asks me. I don’t.
So do you think you will be back to the forests? I question.
That depends on how flexible the Seven Party Alliance is he answers.
The number of vehicles in the Bagbazar area is slowly decreasing. It is the supposed big day for most people out on the streets. She is heading for her work; she is a housemaid cum maize seller. I help her fill up the sheet of paper. Her message is for her daughter: ‘ May you never have to work like me, maybe you be able to study a lot.’ She herself is illiterate but can write her name. The slow movement of the pen up and down, the cautious writing, I can almost feel the effort she is putting into it. She tells us that she is just back from one house after completing the household chores there; she is heading to another place to do the same. She’ll be selling maize at two in the afternoon. Simple people, simple dreams. Life goes on, she has to work. Things cannot be averted to an alternative path like the Kathmandu traffic. I explain her that the sheet of paper will be exhibited in Japan. “Good” she says and gives thumbs up sign. That makes for a fine picture!
The program begins exactly at one o’clock with a Sherpa dance. For me it’s like attending the annual function at school. Only this time I am the relaxed spectator rather than a fussing student who is to appear on the stage. Devendra Poudel is on the dais and he begins his speech by addressing everyone in Nepal: the so called intellectuals, the human rights monitors, journalists, women, the Tamangs, the disadvantaged, injured, families of the martyr, the ones who have disappeared, volunteers. It could be summed up as an inclusive address. He says the Maoist will continue leading the people until the movement results in the attainment of complete democracy. Agni Sapkota’s speech follows. A huge banner reading “Bishal Janasabha” floats in the air above the stage. I wasn’t excited about the whole affair in the first place, I am not interested in another mere babble in the so-called historic event I am a part of either. Just then a branch of a tree overloaded with people breaks. There is a commotion.
Leknath Neupane shows the signs of a typical youth leader. Energetic and Excited. His voice booms from the 14 speakers to my left and another 14 to my right. The Japanese journalist I am sitting next to closes her ears as he yells to stress on certain points.
“ If the King hadn’t made the announcement on Baisakh 11 then this Shahid Manch and the Royal Palace would have been history!” He yells. It is followed by applause. “But things took a different turn so we had to move on with a new policy” he adds.
“Now it is not going to be us training people in the villages and bringing them to the cities but training them in the cities and mobilizing in the same” he yells once again. Another round of applause. I see no reason for the crowd to get so excited. So the Maoists will be closer to our doorsteps, how happy should one feel? Who can you trust? The same applies to the SPA. The mass meetings in Khulamanch seem more of a fashion to me. I have been to all of them held after the 19-day movement. And on the stage speakers seem to lose their minds promising everything they can’t even make an attempt to think about. Big talk, always talk and petty actions. The monotony is killing me.
Prabhakar Janadhar makes quite a few strong statements. “If the Nepal army doesn’t obey your order Oh Girijaji then the People’s army is ready to take your order” he says. The crowd is pleased. “ We had two peace talks earlier but then we were accused of losing people’s support, of being tired of fighting back, lacking ammunition. We fired back( Thnx Mr twaaks) by attacking Thankot. Remember this, we are not tired. It’s not only a matter of one or two years but we are ready to fight for 100yrs if that is what the people want. But we are not here with the proposal of war but of peace. Peace, peace, peace is the need of the hour.”
It is natural for people to get swayed by emotions after being out after years of hiding! Everything is easier said than done. All we need to do is wait and watch what happens next.
Krishna Bahadur Mahara is finally on the dais. His speech is just toooo long. I scribble on my diary “Constant talking isn’t always communicating”. I take down notes just to keep myself from falling asleep! Another one of those blaming sessions. He says there are three roadmaps in front of the Nepalese people now. One is that of the King, the other of the SPA and the next of the Maoists. The latter represents the wish of the people.
People, what do you mean by the people? Sometime ago I was a participant in a program where a journalist explained the vague term, so who can we call the people. The ones on the streets, the ones staying back at home flicking channels all day long, who are they? He asked. If representation is sought then the community forest users group members which accounts for around 20 lakh people should be called the people. It is the organization with the largest number of members he said. But my confusion is not of who the people are but on the grounds do the Maoists proclaim to represent the people.
The Maoist is in control of 70% of the country while the remaining 30% is under the SPA Dinanath Sharma says. That isn’t convincing either.
A woman speaker finally, Pampha Bhusal. She advocates on how the Maoist party has helped prove that a woman is equally capable as a man. 40% of the Maoist cadres are women she informs. I look around at the women volunteers clad in red t-shirts. I can’t tell if they are the Maoists or not but they it feels pretty good to notice the air of confidence they carry around them. The way they walk, the tailored pants they wear, the way they shake hands with their male counterparts everything looked different to me. They certainly reflected more confidence than many educated women I knew.
Nothing different I conclude. After all is said and done about women’s participation in the decision making level. Look at what we Nepalese women have been provided with. Not a single woman minister in the so-called democratic government. If not for the Ministry for Women and Children Welfare no consideration for women would have been made either. And neither the SPA nor the Maoist have included one-woman member in the Peace talks Committee too. How the all so concerned and know it all men want to decide everything for us women!! Things are still the same for us. Thank God! For the recent amendments, at least that is some solace for families with only daughters like mine. At least that provides me with more points to retort back at people when they express that …Oh only two sisters to me or no son? to my parents.
Pampha receives a thundering applause after her speech. What good is it? Some 20 people are on the stage; only two of them are women. I sit amongst hundreds of journalists around me; there are only ten or twelve women. Guff..mere meaningless babble..
Enough of the crap. She is hungry. So am I. We head for Thamel.
Want to try Japanese food? She asks.
I am ready for anything to fill my tummy.
We walk There are the A.P.F (armed police force walking on the road) she reminds me of what an interviewee had told us. Most lesbian and gays are in the army and police.
There are women too, aren’t they? She asked.
Yes, I replied. I think it is the lack of chance I tell her.
Ya, I don’t understand it as well she says.
Actually we both need to be enlightened on the subject of homosexuality. I wish I had a close gay fren then maybe I could understand it better…
We walk…she asks so he is your boyfren?
I’m like “No way! Laughing and shocked at the same time.
He’s too old I add.
No, he’s only 25 isn’t he? She says.
Add some more years to it. I say.
Is it the lack of chance in your case as well? She asks.
But you sure must have had chances; you are a student after all.
Hmm…actually I know see any attainment by falling in love I tell her.
Ya..by what I have come to know of you, you seem to be the kind of girl not so easily satisfied. You seek something more, is it?
Yes. I reply. Compatible on a mental level…but love is not my thing. There are a lot of reasons.
We reach the place, some Fuki..I forgot the rest. But it means Mother’s Food or sth like the taste of mom’s food she explains.
You have a white complexion; by any chance do you have a Chinese link? You know grandfather, grandmother…anyone? She asks. I find that very very funny. And equally shocking! A Chinese Connection!
No, I don’t I explain. But a lot of people say that. When I was in South India people would ask me if I was a Thai or Singaporean many times!
But the funniest incident took place in Tokha. When a village gal came up to me to ask the Map of my place! Map?? She started talking to me in Eng and told me her name was Grace. Later I had a good laugh with my frens telling them I was sure her name was “Kripa” but she translated it For Me the Japanese!!
The food arrives….
Meso soup, tempora, dipping sauce made of egg plant..
“ For my lover, for my lover…” Tracy Chapman sings in the background….
( btw read the first comment by khulamanch3 on this article, the way the same thing is seen by different ppl really amazes me..it is damn satirical..KOOL learning for me!)
A wonderful ending to a otherwise boring? Not really but sure Damn Hungry day. I hadn’t anything other than a cup of bournvita and 3 rusks since 7 in the morn. …ya and a coffee milk shake later..oh and tea made by Nirmala another interviwee, a tea- shop? Not a shop but tea space owner…. wonderful woman.
N what I have learnt by meeting so many people is that the so-called hi-fi ppl are mostly stuck up except a few. It is so much easier to connect to simple people. They are so real, so easy to talk to and of course they aren’t like the rest who don’t give a damn to if I am in the room or not sort. I mean those meetings with the stuck up ones really left me feeling all-terrible, like a nobody from nowhere. When it is me who is doing the transcribing work, and I don’t even want to write their interviews. And know what I feel sometimes, just want to walk up to them and say u may not be even greeting me or asking me to take a seat but one day you will…you will remember me as the person who came up to ur. …Offices sat scribbling silently acting as though I was so ignorant, an assistant who understood nothing all quiet…but in fact understood more than what u ever uttered! You will remember this day Jhaljali!! Oh man…why don’t the so-called great people act great. Btw the stuck up gang isn’t mentioned above..Why should I care to mention their names in the first place!! And once again I reiterate what Asish’s uncle told him and he told me when we walked on the banks of Bishnumati last January, 2005: A person is known by the way s/he treats his subordinates..people below him/her in any way…
MAKE THIS YOUR MANTRA IF YOU WANT TO KNOW PEOPLE GUYS!
Trust me with all the experience! N never ever add up as another brick on the wall of such people!
Transcribing Time Now!! Reality Bites.