When Quora Users Gathered in Kathmandu

On July 22, 2017, Quora users of Nepal met for the first time at Taragaon Museum. John Shrestha (Yaatri) and Swapna Bizness had organized the programme on a very short prior notice via Quora and Facebook.

Participants of the 1st Quora Meetup

Until I reached Taragaon Museum that day and met Mahesh and John, I was dubious there was any programme. During the introduction session that day, John said how he conceived the idea for a Meetup in Nepal.

One day, he stumbled upon an answer in Quora which described a Meetup in a city of India. John was baffled. “Can we organize such a programme in Nepal?” He thought and found out how he could gather people.

“We had not expected more than eight participants,” he said. “But the overwhelming number of people interested in the event stumped me.” The number of interested people had reached over 200 within the few hours. It was unexpected because the number of active Quora users was very few. Probably, the phrase “first ever” had attracted people.

“I had thought of calling some people to a public park like Ratna Park but for 200 people, it would not work. The 1st Quora Meetup had to be exciting.” 

He sought for sponsors, found Swapna Bizness. He looked for an interesting place and found Taragaon Museum. It is an art museum ran by Taragaon Hotel (Hyatt Regency). Despite that many interested people, only 39 gathered. John was relieved.

That day, all of them were strangers to me but strangely, everyone seemed familiar. We immediately bonded. That was the first time I had such an experience.

I was waiting for another Meetup to occur soon and the date had been decided but was cancelled because Quora announced the first ever official Quora World Meetup. 

So, on November 11, 2017, the first Quora World Meetup was held in King’s College, Kathmandu. The original location was the Taragaon Museum but unfortunately it had been booked.

It took me no time to find King’s College. I could see it in front of my eyes, but the road I took never ended. I was walking along the left bank of Dhobi Khola. I had to return back, cross the bridge at Bijulibazaar and take the road on the right bank. I nearly missed the introduction session.

The second session was the Question/Answer session that was in spirit of Quora. Some of the questions were:

1. Who was the most influential teacher in your school?

2. What incident in life has affected you the most?

3. Do you think we dream what we desire? (The discussion for this went for almost an hour. There were many different perspectives and knowledge. I learnt for the first time that dream interpretations were subjective.)

After a short break, the programme recommenced. During the break, I saw that Quorans have mutual respect for each other and yeah, Sulav Karki, who answers a lot of questions about Nepal is largely popular. 

The final session included debates on two subjects:

1. Should Kathmandu still remain the capital of Nepal?

2. Should Diversity Visa (DV) be stopped for Nepal?

Two groups were divided. We had a fewer number of people in our group but luck favoured us on both occasions as we won the toss and got to choose. We chose to support Kathmandu being the capital in the former and DV should be stopped.

Discussion before the debate

In the first debate, when Sulav presented the points for Kathmandu remaining the capital of Nepal, Sushovan remarked, “Ten wickets in the power play.” Meaning, we had won the debate because they could not be negated by the opposition. And they really could not.

Sulav presenting the points we discussed for the first debate. Noticed the smiles?

The second debate was more balanced. Several interesting points came up. It also took us to another question: Which is more important–an individual or his nationality? 

At the end, there were no personal grudges, no fights, no accusations. The debate session ended as it should have. The Quora users of Nepal surprised me once again.

Participants of the 1st Official Quora World Meetup in Kathmandu.
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नेता कसरी बन्ने ?

अलि पुरानो फोटो नेताहरूको । स्रोत: nayasamachar.com

नेपालमा अहिले चुनावी चहलपहल निकै नै छ । नेताहरू घरदैलोमा व्यस्त छन् तर घरमै बस्नेले चाहिँ सायदै तिनका मुख देखे होलान् । खैर, “तिनीहरू नेता कसरी पो नेता बने हौ ? अनि हामी चाईँ कसरी बन्ने ?” भन्ने प्रश्न कसैलाई उठेको भए ती प्रश्नको जवाफ खोज्ने प्रयास यो प्रबन्ध हो ।
चरण १: यी प्रश्न आफूले आफैँलाई सोधेर नेता हुने गुण छ कि छैन पत्ता लगाउनुस् :

के तपाईं:

१. धुर्त हुनुहुन्छ ?

२. अरूलाई औँलामा नचाउन सक्नुहुन्छ ?

३. स्वार्थी हुनुहुन्छ ?

४. अर्काको मन दुखाएर हाँस्न सक्नुहुन्छ ?

५. आफन्त, नातागोता, साथीसँगी, गुरु वा जोसुकैलाई कोखामा छुरा हानेर अघि बढ्न सक्नुहुन्छ ?

६. जनताले जे भने पनि कानमा तेल हालेर सुतेजस्तो गर्न सक्नुहुन्छ ?

उपर्युक्त गुणहरू तपाईंसँग छ भने मात्रै तपाईं राजनीतिक नेता बन्न सक्नुहुन्छ । नत्र त तपाईंको यात्रा सुरु नै हुँदैन । भइहाल्यो भने पनि कतै कुनामा बसेर रुनुपर्छ ।

चरण २: प्रवेश

चरण १ मा पास नभए पनि चरण २ मा आउन सक्नुहुन्छ तर दिगो उपलब्धिका लागि चरण १ मा भएका कुराहरू आफूमा जतिसक्दो चाँडो लागू गर्नुहोला । फाइदा तपाईंलाई नै हो । अब जान्नुस् यो चरणमा के गर्ने:

१. तपाईं आफ्नै पार्टी खोल्न चाहनुहुन्छ ? यसका लागि विचार र (वा) कार्यशैली मिल्ने (यसमा अरूलाई थर्काउने कार्यशैली पनि हुन सक्छ) एकदम धेरै मानिसहरू भेला पार्नुपर्ने हुन्छ । अरूलाई कन्भिन्स गर्न पनि धेरै समय र उर्जा खर्चिनुपर्छ । समय अलि बढी नै लाग्न सक्छ यदि तपाईं चरण १ मा भएका गुणहरूलाई नजरअन्दाज गर्दै हुनुहुन्छ भने ।

२. यदि तपाईंलाई छिटो माथी जानु छ भने चाहिँ स्थापित पार्टीमा लाग्नुस् । धेरैजसो मानिसहरू ठूला पार्टीको सदस्य बन्छन् तर साना पार्टी पनि शानदार पो हुन्छन् त ।

एउटा उदाहरण दिउँ है त । मेरो कलेजमा थुप्रै पार्टीका भ्रातृ संगठन (भन्नलाई स्वतन्त्र विद्यार्थी युनियन) छन् । नेपाली कांग्रेसको नेविसंघ र नेकपा एमालेको अनेरास्ववियुमा लाग्नेहरूको संख्या धेरै छ । खिचातानी पनि यिनमै धेरै छ ।

साना पार्टीका भ्रातृ संगठन धेरै छन्, कार्यकर्ता थोरै । कम्पिटिसन शून्य बराबर । सदस्य बन्नेवित्तिकै माथिल्लो पद हातमा । अनि पावर पनि ठूला संगठन जति नै । हेर्नुस् त काइदा !

कुन ठाउँबाट राजनीति सुरु गर्नुहुन्छ भन्ने कुराले पनि फरक पार्दछ तपाईंको जिन्दगीमा । एक चोटि फेरि मेरो कलेजतिर आँखा डुलाऔँ । तपाईँ प्रायः देख्नुहुनेछ, नेताहरू :

  • नयाँ विद्यार्थीलाई भर्ना गर्न मद्दत गर्दै हुन्छन् ।
  • पुराना विद्यार्थीका समस्या समाधान गर्दै हुन्छन् ।
  • विभिन्न कार्यक्रम गरिरहेका हुन्छन् ।

यिनीहरू पब्लिक रिलेसन (Public Relation) बनाइरहेका छन् जुन भविष्यका लागि लाभदायक हुन्छन् । मेरो एक जना साथी छ जसलाई म जुनसुकै बेला फोन गरेर जुनसुकै काम लगाउन सक्छु । भोलि ऊ कुनै चुनावमा उठ्यो भने म भन्दिन्छु नि “यसले काम गर्न सक्छ” । उसले यसरी भोटर कमाउँदै छ ।

आफ्नो समुदायमा राजनीति गरेर अघि बढ्न चाहनेलाई चुनौतीको पहाड नै आउँछ । चरण १ मा भएका गुण नभए पहाड फोर्न गाह्रो हुन्छ ।

चरण ३: कुटनीति / चालबाजी

महाभारतमा शकुनिको भूमिका सम्झनुस् त । कसरी धृतराष्ट्र र उनका छोरालाई भड्काउँछन् । उनको धुर्त्याइँले पाण्डवहरू जुवामा मात्र हारेनन्, कुरुक्षेत्रको युद्ध पनि भयो ।

कुटनीतिक चालबाजी एउटा कला हो । राजनीती गर्नेहरूले आफूले भनेको ठीक, अरूले भनेको बेठीक भन्ने पारेर जनतालाई आफ्नो पक्षमा पार्छन् । अझ कतिपय अवस्थामा अस्थिरता ल्याइदिन्छ्न् ।

गेम अफ थ्रोन्समा लिटलफिङ्गर भन्छ:

अस्थिरता सिँढी हो ।

यसका उदाहरणले मेरो मुटु चिरिन्छ । हाम्रा नेताहरूले पनि अस्थिरतालाई भर्र्याङ् बनाएका छन् । जब स्थिरता आउँछ, उनीहरू माथि हुन्छन् । पुष्पकमल दहाल (प्रचण्ड) ज्वलन्त उदाहरण हुन् जसको बारेमा मैले चर्चा गरिरहनै पर्दैन । 

कोखामा छुरा घोप्ने काम पनि चालबाजीको विशेषता हो । एकजना मेरो छिमेकीलाई चुनावमा “टिकट” दिने वाचा गरियो । पक्का आउँछ भन्दै बधाई दिने पनि भेटिए ।

मनोनयनमा भने उनको नातेदारको नाम आयो । ती नातेदारले विरोध गरेनन् । मनोनयनमा हेराफेरी गर्न सक्नेलाई ती नातेदारले हातमा लिएछन् । यसरी आफन्तलाई पनि धोका दिन सके तपाईंको राजनीतिक यात्रा उकालो लाग्नेछ । शुभकामना !

चरण ५: अरूले जेसुकै भने पनि “बाल” नदिने 

अरूले तपाईंको गल्ती औँलाइदिए भने तिनको औँला काटिदिनुस् । यो त तपाईंले सुनेको प्रमाण पो हो क्यारे ! यसो गर्नुस्, सुन्दै नसुन्नुस् । हुन त यो गुण तपाईँमा पहिले नै छ । जति गाली गरे पनि, जति सरापे पनि, एउटा कानबाट छिरेको कुरो अर्को कानबाट निकालिदिनुस् । यसो गरेपछी न अरूको पिर, न प्रेसरको चिन्ता !

***

द्रष्टव्य:

१. यी चरणहरूलाई नजरअन्दाज गर्न त तपाईं राजनीतिक परिवारमा जन्मिनुपर्छ । बा प्रभावशाली थिए भने त उनले बसाएको जगमा चुनावैपिच्छे जीत दर्ता भइहाल्छ ।

२. माथि उल्लिखित चरण र गुणहरूमध्ये पब्लिक रिलेसन र सानो पार्टीबाट उक्लिने उपायबाहेक अरू सबै व्यङ्ग्य हुन् । सिधा भन्ठानेर त्यसै गर्नुभो भने मलाई अवगाल नआओस् !

अझै सजिलो बनाइदिन्छु । यी काम नगर्नुस् :

  • चोरबाटो नलिनुस्
  • नकारात्मक चालबाजी नगर्नुस्
  • कोखामा छुरा नहान्नुस्, जेल पर्नुहोला !
  • रचनात्मक प्रतिक्रियालाई आत्मसात् गर्नुस्

३. नेतामा हुनैपर्ने दुई कुरा हुन् : ज्ञान र बोल्ने क्षमता । यी दुईलाई प्राथमिकता दिनुस् ।

शुभकामना !

***

[प्रस्तुत लेख Quora.com मा How do I become a political leader in Nepal को जवाफको नेपाली रूपान्तरण हो ।]

Communist Alliance: “A Game of Probabilities”

Really?

The question I asked last week while the alliance was declared. I was shocked. I mean, how could a party that is in the government (CPN Maoist Centre) decide to work together with the party that is a staunch opposition of the government (CPN-UML)? But Mr Pushpa Kamal Dahal (Prachanda) said:

“Politics is a game of probabilities to a huge extent.”

As far as I understand Nepali politics, the probability of Maoist Centre and UML coming together was extremely low. Not long ago, Mr Prachanda had broken an alliance with Mr KP Sharma Oli, almost filed an impeachment and Mr Oli gave a resignation from the PM. Not only did the Maoist Centre break the coalition, they went ahead and supported Mr Deuba.

We got another former PM Dr Baburam Bhattarai in this alliance. He had broken up with the Maoists, because of his bitter experiences with Mr Prachanda but he’s back joining hands with him.

What was going on? I thin

1.Polarization: Polarization has often been termed as negative but we always expected fewer political parties, didn’t we? This election-time polarization is most probably a step into that stability we wanted. However, this is not a complete polarization. Maoists did not leave the government to make this alliance. If this was a complete polarization based on political ideologies, I think we would be alarmed.

2. Selfish interests: The political leaders and parties of Nepal do everything for the “sake of the nation and the people”. Have we progressed though? The “leftists”, while making the alliance, again said that this is an important step in stability. I’m skeptic. Look, this is just an alliance, not unification. The larger probability is that after the elections are conducted and winning a large number of seats, Mr Prachanda, Mr Oli and Dr Bhattarai will play the same old blame-game, break the alliance and we’ll fall into instability again. I believe not many Nepalis will say, “We didn’t see that coming.”

3. Politics between the three major parties: The NC and the UML led government were polar opposites during the blockade we faced. UML (particularly the then PM Mr Oli) blamed it on India completely, went on against even genuine demands of Madhesh. Very few people remember that it was continuity of the stance taken by Late Sushil Koirala while he was the PM. After Mr Koirala’s resignation, NC stated it was not a blockade at all. Mr Deuba rose to power following Mr Koirala’s death. He showed an affection with the Madhesh. It was important in NC’s victory in Province 2. Maoists, showing the behaviour of opportunists, wanted to capitalize on that by making an alliance with NC but it did not bear fruit. Now they make alliance with the party that won the largest number of seats in the local level. I believe it’s the alliance that ensures survival of the Maoists and helps Mr Oli gain a upper hand in politics for at least a couple of years to come.

What could happen?

1.Communists win: While it seems good for us that one of the major political ideology becomes victorious, I’m a bit scared. Why? These Communist parties of Nepal are not the communists that are against democracy and capitalism but they still stick to the term because it lures common people. However, the US, NATO and the EU look upon even the word “Communist” against Democracy. I’m scared that they will try creating instablity if they see “Communists” running the Nepali government.

2. Political Stability at least for some years: The Constitution prohibits impeachment of the PM for the first three years but it does not prohibit breaking of political alliances or coalition and it also does not prevent the PM from resigning. I think this will be again used as a tool for instability. With an alliance of larger parties, it might be more stable but will they stick together for long? I doubt.

Conclusion:

  1. I am dubious that everything will be nice henceforth and there will be a political stability.
  2. I am scared about world-view regarding the “Communist” victory.
  3. I believe this alliance is temporary. If it becomes long-lasting, I would be positively shocked and smile from ear to ear.
  4. And yeah, I didn’t mention it above but this alliance could be a way for the UML to use government resources. Who knows?

[Note: First published as an answer to What’s your view on recent political development in Nepal regarding alliance of leftist party? on Quora]

Beyond Social Sites

Kite flying was a sort of “national sport” during Dashain some years back. The tradition is now almost dying. I don’t even see kites in shops these days.

Rashmine

Amidst the chaos and constant rush, I stumbled upon these cute fellows at around koteshowr area trying to fly kite even when the flow of the wind was very subtle. They happened to be playing in groups and constantly pulling each other’s leg. Watching them play actually triggered my memories and took me back to my childhood days and made me realize how we people are forgetting our lives beyond social sites.


I still remember me and my folks gathering up as soon as our Dashain vacation begun. We used to play cards, ‘okkhar’, ‘Langur burja’ and fly kites. Dashain, for us, was a chance to gather up and play for whole day till night, no one would ever tell us anything because we’re on vacation! Back in the days, we would see many kites in the sky which entails dashain vibes. We could easily identify the kite flyer through…

View original post 132 more words

On Scientific Inquisition

We humans have always been guided by two fundamental systems: Faith and Science. Faith implores us to live life as it is and accept what comes in life as the will of God or fate. It has its own pros and cons, which I shall not discuss here. Science, on the other hand, urges us to transcend the boundaries that are created by our surrender to the fate. The advancement in medicine and technology is the result of inquisitive minds who studied the nature and imagined what else they could do with the knowledge they gained. They also disseminated the knowledge they obtained so that it would not be lost with time.

Suppression of knowledge and scientific inquisition in Europe during the Middle Age (5th to15th century) led to numerous wars, widespread famine and submission to fate. During this period in the history of humanity, also known as the Dark Age, several scientific discoveries are said to have lost. Scientists were termed “heretics” by the Church and were executed. The Renaissance Period, of which the Republic of Florence and Leonardo da Vinci are central, gave rise to art and through it, promotion of scientific discoveries, inventions and rediscoveries.

In the ancient Indian sub-continent (most of the times attributed to the Indus Valley Civilization), the Vedas and Upavedas, and later the Upanishads promoted the culture of scientific and logical discourse. Proverb such as Vaade Vaade Jaayate Tatwabodha (वादे वादे जायते तत्वबोध:), i.e. knowledge is gained through debates is alone sufficient to understand the importance of discourses in order to discover the truth of the world. The knowledge however came under the control of few people on the administration for centuries. The lack of effective dissemination of the ancient wisdom has created a lot of problems in the sub-continent.

Scientific discoveries have made things possible that were treated only as imagination in the past. The discovery of sea-routes brought people closer, the invention of aeroplane reduced the time for the journeys between different parts of the world, the invention of telegraph and telephone changed the way messages were shared. On the basic principles of navigation, aerodynamics and telecommunication, the humanity has moved from the Age of Cultivation to Age of Global Communication.

Not just that, humanity has also given up the instant submission to fate. In the Dark Age, Black Plague killed thousands of people in Europe. Venice, because of the lack of burial grounds, suffered the most. Instead of contemplating that the disease was spreading through the canals, they believed they were suffering the wrath of God and their loss was God’s will. In the modern age, humans do not readily submit to Faith when they encounter diseases. They investigate the disease, their causes and work on the vaccines and inoculation.

As students of Geology, a branch of science, we have gained some fundamental knowledge about the Earth and how it works during the four-year B.Sc. programme. We have learnt to observe the rocks and soils, to ask what they are and why they are there. We have familiarized ourselves with the Earth processes and the benefits and the problems they bring. We have studied about natural hazards and some ways to mitigate them. We can strive to learn more and publicize what we know. We can make the world a better place.

There is no doubt that the Earthquake of 2072 B.S. (2015) gave rise to a mass awareness about how that particular earthquake occurred. Some people used to say, with much politicisation, “There are two plates: Indian and Chinese. The Indian plate moves to the North to encroach the Chinese plate. Nepal is in middle. That was why the earthquake occurred.”

While I myself tried to remove politics whenever I could, there is a mass of people who believe the above statement to be true. They are right that Nepal lies in between two plates. But most of them are not aware what “plate” really is and that the Earth’s lithosphere is made of a number of plates. As a student of Geology, I feel that we have a lot to do to make the public aware of what the plates are and how they are formed.

We, ourselves however should be ready to face skepticism. Science is not a belief system. Whenever scientists come across hypotheses and theories, they first question, “Is it true? What are the evidences?” A hypothesis can become a major theory if evidences support it. The theory of Plate Tectonics is a common example. If the evidences from submarine navigation and Paleomagnetic studies had not been available, the theory would still have remained a hypothesis. Similarly, if a new hypothesis can challenge and prove that it is stronger than an existing theory, the existing theory, even if popular, will be discarded.

Many people put a blame upon science for the problems we’ve been facing. Sure, guns and bombs have been developed by science and are being used to inflict terrors. Nuclear weapons have threatened the existence of our dear home itself. The knowledge of making explosives and harnessing nuclear energy was not bad itself. Gunpowder and dynamite were used in construction works, and nuclear energy has become an important source of energy in many nations. That’s why I firmly believe that it’s not science that is faulty. The fault is on our crooked desire of using knowledge that we have.

In short, as a student of science, I appeal to everyone to gain right knowledge from the nature, from each other and from what our ancestors have passed on to us. I urge everyone to deliver the knowledge to the public and to the generations to come. Because only with the right knowledge, we the make the world a better place.

[The above article was intended to be the editorial for GEOWORLD Students’ Magazine, Vol. 8, 2017. It was heavily cut in the magazine for the sake of relevance and space]

“So it goes!”: A take on Slaughterhouse Five

I had never heard about Dresden, I had never heard about Kurt Vonnegut though I think I had heard the book’s name somewhere (I am not so sure) before I watched the Crash Course Literature videos on Slaughterhouse Five. At the end of those two videos, I felt I must read the book.

The first chapter of the book which seems like a preface or the background, is about Vonnegut trying to write a book on Dresden for more than 23 years. He thinks he can do it but cannot pull it up. While still writing the preface, he also adds a case of dialing a wrong number, which we know later on,  had been received by Billy Pilgrim–the main character of the novel. After he meets O’Hare’s wife Mary, he promises that he would not glorify war and call it the Children’s Crusade. Therefore, the Slaughterhouse Five is also known as The Children’s Crusade: A Duty-Dance with Death.

Billy Pilgrim’s Plot (Summary and Analysis)

Billy Prilgrim is a prisoner of war (POW) in Germany but he can time-travel. He can be in the moments of past, present and the future. Vonnegut says, “Billy has come unstuck in time.” The life of Billy Pilgrim is not shown in chronological order. In one moment he is a soldier, in another he is a twelve-year-old boy and quickly, he becomes an old optometrist who lives with his daughter in Ilium. He sees his infancy, childhood, adulthood, old age and even death.

On the day of his daughter’s wedding, he says he had been abducted by the toilet plunger-like aliens known as the Tralfamadorians. Billy says that he had been to the alien planet for years but nobody missed him because the aliens had warped the time in such a way that years would become less than seconds on the earth. The Tralfamadorians are able to see the fourth dimension–time and they can go to the moments again and again. The linear concept of time is absurd to them. On free-will, a Tralfamadorian says:

“If I hadn’t spent so much time studying Earthlings,” said the Tralfamadorian, “I wouldn’t have any idea what was meant by ‘free will.’ I’ve visited thirty-one inhabited planets in the universe, and I have studied reports on one hundred more. Only on Earth is there any talk of free will.”

–Chapter 4, Slaughterhouse Five, Kurt Vonnegut

The Tralfamadorians believe that what has to happen will happen. They cannot change the moments that have happened and will happen. They can see every moment that will occur but they can’t change the bad moments. They look for the good moments and find peace in it.

Billy Pilgrim himself has no free will. When he is twelve, he does not want to swim but his father forces him into the swimming pool. He does not want to come out of the water but it pulled out. He did not imagine marrying Valencia, yet he does. He wanted to die in the war but he survives instead of the characters around him who wanted to survive.

Billy Pilgrim also tries to find moment of happiness and solace but he never finds such an instance. In all the above examples, he is unhappy. Even in the moments he tries to be happy, he is reminded of the war and deaths. As the story progresses, we know that Billy cannot speak about the war to anyone and that has resulted in a mental disorder.

Billy’s mental instability is the result of the losses of his mother, his wife, his father-in-law and most of all, his experience during the war in Germany and in addition to that the fictions of Kilgore Trout. Despite his psychological imbalance, he is saner than the people who thought that bombings on Dresden were justified. Dresden was not a strategic point for warfare, there were no industries that produced weapons and hence, there was no logic behind the attack. Thousands of lives were lost for the show of unnecessary pride.

“So it goes”

This is a repetitive phrase throughout the novel. According to Nick Greene (2014), the phrase is repeated 106 times. Whenever death and destruction are mentioned, the phrase comes up. It is in accordance with the Tralfamadorian concept of time, life and death. The death is inevitable but there is nothing to worry about it. In other moments a dead person would always be alive.

I found this “Tralfamadorian” concept similar to the Bhagavad Geeta where Lord Krishna says to Arjun that there is no need to worry for someone’s death. The death is pre-determined. It’s not in the hands of humans to change it. And there is no need for regretting that.

Billy Pilgrim, too tries to take things as his fate and accepts that he had no power to change them. But it’s too difficult to get out of the trauma he feels. “So it goes”, might give him solace for a while but it is not a statement he wants to follow. It’s been dictated upon him by fate.

Some Memorable Quotes:

“Billy had a framed prayer on his office wall which expressed his method for keeping going, even though he was unenthusiastic about living. A lot of patients who saw the prayer on Billy’s wall told him that it helped them to keep going, too. It went like this: “God grant me the serenity to accept the things I cannot change, courage to change the things I can, and wisdom always to tell the difference.” Among the things Billy Pilgrim could not change were the past, the present, and the future.”

–Chapter 3, Slaughterhouse Five, Kurt Vonnegut

“Everything is all right, and everybody has to do exactly what he does. I learned that on Tralfamadore.”

–Billy Pilgrim

“It was peaceful in the ruins.”

“American fighter planes came in under the smoke to see if anything was moving down there. They saw Billy [who was also an American] and the rest moving down there. The planes sprayed them with machine-gun bullets, but the bullets missed.”

“The blind innkeeper said that the Americans could sleep in his stable that night, and he gave them soup and ersatz coffee and a little beer.

“Good night, Americans,” he said in German. “Sleep well.””

[Americans had destroyed Dresden only two days ago. These lines brought tears to my eyes.]

 

References:

SparkNotes Editors. (2002). SparkNote on Slaughterhouse-Five. Retrieved September 10, 2017, from http://www.sparknotes.com/lit/slaughter/

Greene, N. (2014). 15 Facts About Slaughterhouse-Five. Retrieved September 10, 2017, from http://mentalfloss.com/article/58888/15-things-you-may-not-know-about-slaughterhouse-five/

गोर्खा मनकामना …

“उठ्, हामीसँग मनकामना हिँड् ।” ठुल्ममीको आवाज आयो ।

“जानू दादा, फुर्सद पनि छ ।” बहिनीले भनी ।

साउन १० गते मङ्गलबार मेरा कानमा परेका पहिला शब्दहरू यिनै थिए । म भने निद्राबाट राम्रोसँग ब्युँझिएकै थिइन । के भइरहेको छ भनेर बुझ्नै सकिन निकै बेर त । सपना पो हो कि ? एकछिन रनभुल्लमा परेपछि सपना होइन भन्ने लाग्यो अनि नुहाउनु पो पर्छ भन्दै जुरुक्क उठेँ ।

शरीर भित्र र बाहिर सफा भएपछि चियाको चुस्की लिँदै बिस्कुट चप्लक्क चोब्दै चपाएँ । मन्दिर जानु थियोे तर भोक असाध्यै लागेको थियो । पेटको जलन शान्त भयो । साँच्चै भैरव अर्यालले भनेझैँ भुँडी पूजा नभएसम्म केही गर्न मन नलाग्दो रहेछ ।

सवा ६ बजेतिर ठुल्ममी र ठुल्बाबासँग घरबाट निस्किएँ । कालो बादल बर्सिन थाल्यो । घरबाट धुम्बाराही चोक नपुग्दै मसिनो भए पनि भिज्ने गरि पानी परिसकेको थियो । ठुल्बाबा त लमकलमक अघि लागिहाल्नु भो । ठुल्ममीलाई चैँ हिँड्न गाह्रो हुन थालेको रैछ । त्यसमाथि मामूको सानो चप्पल लगाउनु भएको थियो । उहाँको गतिमा हिँडेँ म पनि, छाता ओढ्दै ।

धुम्बाराही चोकमा पुग्नेबित्तिकै महानगर यातायात चढियो । हुन त चक्रपथ परिक्रमा गर्ने गाडी पाउन गाह्राे छैन तर जुन पहिला आयो त्यही नै चढियो । पहिले महानगर यातायातको गाडी चढ्दा बस्न अफ्ठ्यारो भएको थिएन । त्यो गाडीमा बस्दा चैँ अगाडिको सिटमा घुँडा ठोकियो । ‘घुँडा नठोक्किने सिट स्पेस भएको गाडी पाउन पनि अति मुस्किल !’ मेरो सोच ।

सात बजे कलंकी पुग्यौँ । एकैछिनमा नारायणगढ जाने गाडी (माइक्रोबस) मा मनकामना (कुरिनटार) ओर्लिने भन्दै चढ्यौँ । सुरुमा प्रती व्यक्ति ३७० रुपैयाँ भन्दैथिए तर ३०० मै माने । सुरुमा त सोचिनँ तर एक जनालाई ५० रुपैयाँ जती महङ्गो पर्न गयो कि जस्तो चैँ लाग्यो ।

कलंकीमा सातै बजेदेखि जाम ! एक लेन बाटो खनेको छ अनि मास्तिर चोकमा पहिले बनेको आकाशे पुल भत्काएर बिजोग ! आधा घण्टापछि जाम खुल्यो । काठमाडौँ जिल्लाका नगरहरूको बिजोग पनि देखियो । बाटोभरी पानी परिरह्यो । हिलोले छ्पक्कै छोपेको छ काठमाडौँको सडकलाई । गाडीहरूले जोतेका छन् तिनलाई । कमी छ त रोपार र धानका बीउको ! काठमाडौँ महानगरपालिका, नागार्जुन र चन्द्रागिरि नगरपालिकाका मुल बाटाहरू नै खेतजस्ता भएका छन् । कीर्तिपुरमा सडक निर्माणमा घोटाला भयो रे भन्ने सुनिएको थियो अघिल्लो दिन । स्मार्ट नगर बनाउँछौँ भन्ने निर्वाचित पदाधिकारीलाई सम्झेर हाँसो उठ्छ । माया पनि लागेर आउँछ । कम्तीमा सिटी त पहिला बनाउनुस् भन्ने सुझाव पनि दिन मन लाग्छ ।

धुवाँधुलोको शहर छुटेर गाडी नागढुङ्गाको ओरालो झर्यो । हिलो कम भएको थियो तर कुहिरोले डाँडो पुरै छेकेको थियो । पानीमा रुझ्दै गाडीले कुहिरो छिचोल्यो । नौबिसे आइपुग्दा त आकाश अलि खुलेको थियो, पानी पर्न पनि रोकिएको थियो ।

सिम्लेमा गाडी एकछिन रोकियो । पर पानीले डुबाइएका खेतमा खनजोत गर्दै रोपाइँ चल्दै थियो । मलाई रमाइलो लाग्दै थियो । ती किसानहरू चाहिँ रमाइ रहेका थिए वा सधैँ गर्नुपर्ने कामको बोझले थिचिएका थिए, थाहा नै भएन । अझ पर पर पहाडको टाकुरीमा सेतो-कालो बादल मडारिइ रहेका थिए । ती बादलले किसानलाई खुसीको सन्देश दिन्छन् सायद । तर कल्पना नै गर्न नसक्ने त्रास पो दिन्छन् कि सँगै बाढी पहिरो ल्याएर ।

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सिम्लेमा हाईवेबाट देखिएको दृश्य

 

त्यसपछि गाडी फेरि हुइँकियो । निकैबेर हावाले मुखमा हानिरह्यो । मुख अलिकति कुच्चियो कि जस्तो पनि लाग्थ्यो घरीघरी । तर मीठा गीत सुन्दै बाहिर हेर्दै हावा खानुको मज्जा शब्दमा वर्णन गर्नै सकिँदैन ! बैरेनी बजारमा बाटो बन्दै रहेछ । त्यहाँ पनि हिलो र धुलो देख्न पाइयो । काठमाडौंं झैँ निर्माणाधीन बजार रहेछ भन्ने मेरो मनमा पर्‍यो । तर अलि पर मोडमा पुग्दा खनिएको पहाड अस्थिर भएर अहिले नै ढुङ्गा खस्छन् कि जस्तो पनि देखियो । त्यो बजार कटे पछि फेरि रफ्तार पकड्यो माइक्रोले ।

साढे नौ बजेतिर मलेखु बजारमा गाडी गुड्दै थियो । मेरो मन पनि उड्दै थियो । परार साल हिउँदमा दुई साता बसेपछि त्यो ठाउँमा प्राणको अंश नै छोडे झैँ लाग्छ । त्यहाँ हिँडेका बाटा-गोरेटा, पहाड र खोलाहरूको सम्झना मस्तिष्कमा ताजा नै छ । गाडी त्यो क्षेत्रबाट जाँदै गर्दा सोच्छु–ओहो, धेरै नै पो हिँडिएछ त्यो बेला !

हामीले परार साल “इन्डिभिजुअल फिल्ड” का क्रममा सुन्तला किनेर खाएको ठाउँ शितलबजारमा गाडी रोकियो । ड्राइभर दाइले धेरै समय लगाए खाना खान । कुरिनटार अब बीस मिनेटमा पुगिन्छ पनि भने । खासै टाढाजस्तो त मलाई पनि लागेको थिएन त्यहाँबाट तर बीस मिनेट मात्र होला ? प्रश्न आयो मनमा ।

आधा घण्टा गाडी त्यहीँ रोकियो । अनि गुड्न थाले पछि बीस मिनेट घडीमा हेर्न थालेँ । समय मात्रै अघि बढ्यो । ठाउँ त आउँदैन त । अर्को बीस मिनेटमा पनि आइपुगेन । होइन, ड्राइभर दाइले त उसै भनेछन् । निकै टाढा रहेछ । शितलबजारबाट हिँडेको ठ्याक्कै एक घण्टामा कुरिनटार पुगियो । त्यसबीचमा थुप्रै ठाउँ देखियो । इच्छाकामना नेर पर पहाडबाट झरेको झरना देख्दा मन रमाएको थियो तर गाडीको बेगका कारण फोटो खिच्न चाहिँ सकिनँ ।

मनकामना केबलकार

मनकामना मन्दिरसम्म सजिलो गरि आवतजावत गराउने उद्देश्यले मनकामना केबलकार प्रा. लि. ईस्वी सम्बत् १९९९ देखि सञ्चालनमा आएको छ । कुरिनटार र मनकामनामा दुइटा स्टेसन छ्न् । बीचमा २० वटा टावरमा बाँधिएको तारको लट्ठामा गोन्डोला (कार) हरू समान दूरीमा झुन्डाइएका छन् । जम्मा ३६ वटा यात्रुबाहक र ३ वटा मालबाहक कारहरू छन् । तर मर्मतका लागि केही कारहरू छुट्टै राखिएका हुन्छन् । केबलकारबाट ओहोरदोहोर गर्न औसतमा दस मिनेट लाग्छ । काउन्टरमा तीनजनाको लागि ठुल्बाबाले टिकट लिनुभयो । हामी स्टेसनतर्फ लाग्यौं ।

मनकामना केबलकार स्टेसन, कुरिनटार
केबलकार चढ्न मानिसहरूको लाइन । माथि बोर्डमा सुरक्षा निर्देशन ।
एनसेलले कुनै बेला पर्पल बनाइदिएको त्रिशुली पारिको बस्ती
करालो

मनकामना बजार

गोर्खा जिल्लाको मनकामना स्टेसनको गेटबाट बाहिरिने बित्तिकै मनकामना बजार देखिन्छ । दश वर्षअघि यो बजारमा खानाको व्यापार व्यापक थियो । अहिले पनि छ । तर अझ व्यापक भएछ, फोटोको व्यापार !

“फोटो खिचाउन यता आउनुस् (दाजु/दिदी/अंकल/आन्टी) ।”

“हाम्रोमा अरू पसलमा भन्दा सस्तो छ ।” रेट कति भनेर सोध्दा भित्र तानेर लान्छन् अनि थरीथरीका फ्रेम देखाउँछन् । चित्त बुझेन भने पनि सकेसम्म आफ्नोमा फोटो खिचाइदिन चाहन्छ्न् । खिचातानी चल्छ । रिसाउँछन्, गाली पनि गर्छन् । रमाइलो मानेकोले मात्रै तर फोटो खिचाउनु छैन भने त अत्ति नै हो नि !

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व्यापार

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बजारमा अग्लाअग्ला घरहरू छन् । छक्क पर्दै हेर्छौँ । बजारको अन्तिम मोडमा पुगेपछि देखिन्छ मन्दिर …

मनकामना मन्दिर

किंवदन्ती

गोर्खाका राजा राम शाहकी रानी महिमावती (जसलाई लीलावती वा चन्द्रमुखी पनि भनिन्थ्यो) सँग महाकाली, महालक्ष्मी र महासरस्वतीको शक्ति थियो । उनको शक्तिका कारण गोर्खामा जनताले न्यायको प्रत्याभूति गर्न पाए । उनको न्यायका कारण “न्याय नपाए गोर्खा जानू” भन्ने लोकोक्ति प्रख्यात हुन गयो । उनका भक्त लखन थापा मगर मात्र उनको दिव्य शक्तिका बारेमा जान्दथे ।”

एकदिन राजाले रानीलाई देवी स्वरूपमा देखे । उनले त्यो कुरा रानीलाई भनेको केही समयमा नै उनको मृत्यु भयो । तत्कालीन चलन अनुसार रानी सती जानुपर्ने भयो । लखन थापाले ठूलो बिस्मात् गरे । रानीले उनको घर नजिकै अवतरित हुने वाचा गरिन् ।

केही महिनापछि एउटा किसानले खेत खन्दै गर्दा हलो एउटा ढुङ्गामा ठोक्कियो । त्यो ढुङ्गाबाट दूध र रगत बहन थाल्यो । किसानले लखन थापालाई बोलयो । उनले त्यो ढुङ्गामा देवी अवतरण हुनुभयो भन्ने बुझे । तान्त्रिक शक्तिको प्रयोग गरेर उनले दूध र रगतको वहाव रोके अनि मनकामना देवीका रूपमा स्थाप्ना गरे । उनै लखन थापाका सन्तानहरू मनकामना मन्दिरका पुजारी रहन्छन् ।

वर्तमान 

… त्यस दिन मनकामना मन्दिरको जुन स्वरूप देखियो, त्यो मैले कल्पना नै गरेको थिइनँ । पहिले देखेझैँ रातो रङ्गले रङ्गिएजो दुई तले मन्दिर देखिन्छ भन्ने लागेको थियो । तर देखियो गजुर र माथिल्लो तला झिकिएको, खट बाँधिएको, फुङ रङ उडेको एउटा संरचना !

२०७२ वैशाख १२ गते गोर्खा जिल्लाको बार्पाकलाई केन्द्रविन्दु बनाएर भुकम्प गएको थियो । त्यही बेला नै मनकामना मन्दिर भत्किएको थाहा पाइएको थियो । ठीक ६ महिना अघि मामुबाबा त्यहाँ जाँदा खट बाँधेको रहेछ भन्नुभएको थियो । तर मैले त्यहाँ मन्दिरको स्वरूप नै देखिनँ । शंका लाग्यो, मनकामना मन्दिर यही हो त ?

IMG_1032

मनकामना मन्दिर । पुरानो स्वरूप जस्तापातामा टाँगिएको फ्लेक्समा । मान्छेले नगरी त भगवानले पनि आफ्नो घर बनाउन नसक्दा रहेछन् !

बजार र वरपरका संरचनामा भुकम्पको प्रभाव देखिँदैन । मन्दिर चाहिँ पुनर्निर्माण गर्न भन्दै भत्काइएको छ । चन्दा उठाइँदै छ । “मनकामना मन्दिरको र केबलकार कम्पनीको आम्दानीबाट नै मन्दिर बनाउन सम्भव छैन र ?” ठुल्बाबाको प्रश्न । “सरकारी सहयोग पनि कुरेर बसेका होलान् ।” मेरो तर्क । तर मन्दिर छिटो नबन्नु दुर्भाग्य नै हो ।
मन्दिर हेर्दाहेर्दै मनमा उठ्यो, “ढुङ्गाको मूर्तिमा भगवान मान्नु अनि संरक्षण गर्नु मानिसको कल्पना बाहेक केही होइन रैछ । शक्तिशाली भए त ढुङ्गाका भगवानले आफ्नो घर त जोगाउनु पर्ने । अनि आफ्नो घर आफैँ बनाउनु पर्ने । तर मान्छेको कल्पनाभन्दा माथी केही पनि छैन । मान्छेले नगरी त भगवानले पनि आफ्नो घर बनाउन नसक्दा रहेछन् !”

ढुङ्गाको मूर्तिमा देउता हुँदैनन् भन्ने मान्यता राख्ने मजस्ताका लागि यो निकै राम्रो प्रमाण हो । तर म खुसी हुन सकिनँ । मन्दिर र मूर्ती हाम्रा पुर्खाको कला र मिहिनेतका निशानी हुन् । मन्दिर बनाउन ढिलो गर्नु भनेको पुर्खाको उपहास हो ।

मूल मन्दिर छेउमा एउटा टहरो बनाएर “देवी”लाई राखिएको छ । मगर पुजारीका हातबाट म “बाहुनको छोरो”ले टीका थाप्छु । जातीयताको कुनै प्रश्न उठ्दैन । पछाडि रहेको गोरखनाथमा बेलपत्र चढाउछौँ । अनि दश-पन्ध्र मिनेटमा नै हामी मन्दिर प्राङ्गणबाट बजारमा आउँछौँ । बजार तीनचार पटक ओहोरदोहोर गरे पछि हामी स्टेसनमा फर्कियौं ।

मनाकामना स्टेसनमा केहीबेर लाइन बस्नुपर्यो । तर दुई बजे हामी तल्लो स्टेसनमा पुगिसकेका थियौं । तर काठमाडौं आउँदा नौबिसेमा जाम परेकाले अनि पानी पनि परेकाले नौ नबजी घर आइपुगिएन ।

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