Thursday, November 29, 2012

Sinking into red

The layout in the magazine. I think they did a marvelous job! 

I look a little out of the map and I sound a little too much like a broken record [when I speak Nepali]. The tongues I can converse in are far too foreign for the ears of yours. I spent 18 years holding onto my green Nepali passport, most of the times forgetting my roots and ignoring the fact that I was not of the same nationality as my best friends. Now, it would be impossible to tell I had once thought  my father was the craziest man for bringing me to this place which is clearly falling apart. Cracks by cracks, bricks by bricks and stones by stones, it is falling. We are nothing but a pile of dust when stepped on, when walked over, when blown over, we cause such unsettlement and we seem to mean business and then, we just settle back down, right back to where we were, like nothing ever happened. That is how it is here in Nepal. The bandhs that don't make sense half the time; our bandhs are like dust and so are our politicians, as are the citizens and the roads we tread on. We are a country of dust -- literally and figuratively. 

We are a country of great magnitude. We have the Mount Everest. We have Prabal Gurung and we have the Chaudhary group, referred to by Forbes as the richest non-Royals in Nepal with net worth crossing a billion US dollars. We have Lord Buddha's birthplace marked here. We have amazing trekking routes and equally amazing people. We have momos, chhyang and sel rotis. We have streets full of stray dogs and dangerously hanging wires out in the open with tall, old buses and trucks threatening to rip them apart as the vehicles better fitted to be retired make their way through, almost blindly. We have a funny rule of breaking up what is already broken - the demolition of roads for expansion is baffling enough for me because truth be told, it's just causing more jams than ever.

We practically have no system at all. The only systems we have are that the taxi drivers will almost always be  pain especially when in rush and caught in the pouring rain. The traffic is always a killer. We spit everywhere on the roads. The vegetable and biscuit prices differing more than Rs. 10 from one shop to another, is such a mind-playing and a time-consuming effort to remember where to get a cheaper deal. We never get all the good Hollywood movies, just the mainstreams. Now, with the new ban on Hollywood and Bollywood movies in our cinema halls, we have nothing but just Nepali movies. We have micros, inhumanely packed with humans, breathing in each others' musky evaporating sweat. We don't shower until we have to, once winter is here. We don't even shower during the blistering summer heat. We are the second richest in terms of water resources but load shedding has been haunting us forever, forget water for a shower. We are one of the poorest countries in the world, but we also have one of the richest cultures and heritage. The holy Bagmati River doesn't smell as holy but we are such religious bunches and in bhatti pasals, that is where we spend our days lazing around drinking tea, talking about everything, especially politics.

We party hard every Friday night, even on Wednesdays, just because we are sliding into the weekends. Can you believe the month-long Teej festivity, the ladies singing dhori in screechy voices and dancing in circles again and again? I am up for the joy but I find it all too ridiculous at the entire merriment. And even before Dashain was here, the slaughtering of khasis had begun and so had the gambling and extra drinking, just because we got out Dashain bonus and because we can think of every excuse to party. Let's not even go into weddings. We are a loud bunch. We love to wear gold and speak of our wealth and our failing health because we eat too  much khasi ko masu and we don't really have a good control over our alcohol consumption once we begin with a sip. We have everything - the beautiful sky, the polluted streets, reckless drivers and impossible people. We have worms, nails and algae in our coke bottles. We have Tito Sattya and we have a very successful French language school when we can't even speak and write our native language fluently. We love delicacies from foreign countries so much that we forget our very own finger-licking good Thakali food and instead we crave for finger-licking chicken from KFC. We disregard our local designers and their talents because we are obsessed with anything from America, anything out of Nepal for that matter. We are uniquely made, a diversity of squinty eyes, wide doe eyes and medium-sized eyes, sharp noses, flat noses and wide noses with no nose bridges, all of which tell stories of our ancestors and us. 

I am sinking into red blue, white and the shape of our distinctive flag. I am falling in love with my motherland and the color of the sky, every bit of our sloppiness, our relaxed nature, our wounded country demanding attention from everyone to improve the current state we are in, our pot-holed roads, our talented musicians and artists. I am in love with Patan, the smelly gallis of New Road, and the ritzy Durbar Marg and Nanglo restaurant. I am in love with the out-of-shape metal bowls of beggars and the extravagance of the rich, the cheap spa packages and Rs. 45 momos. I am in love with falling sick every time. I am in love with the men and the women, the children and the cows sleeping in the middle of the road. I am in love with dhal-bhat-tarkari and how we eat with our hands with blackened finger nails. I am in love with cursing the electricity people switching off the power before the scheduled time. I am in love with waking up with the sun on my face and the smell of Nepal in the morning and night. I am in love with romancing the wind of Nepal, the polluted wind. I am in love with our country, in all its shambling beauty. What makes Nepal the pinnacle of beauty is what's killing her. 

Note: As published in the November issue of +977, a Sydney based magazine for Nepalis and those who appreciates the finest of Nepal. +977 hopes to unite all Nepalis in a foreign land, providing a platform to uphold our culture and values, and to remind us where we came from. 


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