Monthly Feature 15: Zootopia

Zootopia–a play on the word utopia. Utopia–that can also be pronounced as Zootopia (in Sanskrit and in Nepali). Zootopia–a movie I watched twice in about twenty hours. One of the movie I cannot forget.

“Anyone can be anything in Zootopia,” Judy Hopps, the first rabbit police officer claims. But Nick Wilde, a fox and con says, “Everyone comes to Zootopia, thinking they could be anything they want. But you can’t. You can only be what you are. Sly fox. Dumb bunny.” Between these two quotes exists the story of Zootopia–the major city of world in which “preys” and “predators” are history. They have learned to live in harmony.

But fear still exists. Animals that were traditionally “preys” fear that the “predators” may go savage again. Someone targets the fear, turns some predators into savages and disrupts the harmony. Maybe Mr. Big (a tiny shrew(?)–I think he is a shrew, I don’t know😜) is correct in saying, “We may be evolved, but deep down we are still animals.”

Zootopia shows fear and prejudices can disrupt the peaceful coexistence. “Predators” are ostracized. Zootopia was, “a unique place. It’s a crazy, beautiful, diverse city, where we celebrate our differences,” Gazelle, the popstar says. She adds, “This is not the Zootopia I know. The Zootopia I know is better than this. We don’t just blindly assign blame. We don’t know why these attacks keep happening. But it is irresponsible to label all predators as savages. We cannot let fear divide us. Please, give me back the Zootopia I love.”

Fear rules the modern world and it is fear that divides us. A world free of fear can only unite us all.

More info on IMDb

Parijat: A Fragrant Flower of Nepali Literature

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Nyctanthes arbor-tristis (Night-flowering Jasmine) is called Parijat (pronounced paa-ri-jaat)  in Nepali. Parijat is small white flower with orange pedicel and sweet fragrance. The plant, however is also known as “sad tree” because the flowers bloom during the night and wither during the day. Bishnu Kumari Waiba (1937-1993) chose to call herself Parijat in Nepali literature and enriched it with a sweet fragrance.

Parijat was born in Darjeeling, India. Her mother, Amrit Moktan died when she was still very young and was raised by her father, Dr. K. N. Waiba and her grandparents. Although Darjeeling lies in India, the people have retained the original culture and literature from Nepal. Growing up with Nepali speaking community, she developed keen interest in Nepali literature from her early childhood.

Parijat’s first poem was published on Dharti magazine in 1959. Her three poetry collections have been published:

  • Akansha (Wishes)
  • Parijat Ka Kavita (Poems of Parijat)

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The Mathematics of Love and Depression

Love: exciting, interesting. Synonymous to happiness. A feeling everyone wants to embrace.

Depression: dull, gloomy. Antonymous to happiness. A feeling everyone wants to aver.
How are they related? I’ll try doing so using three expressions.

1. Love = Depression

Presenting love and lost love as a cause of depression is popular in literature, movies and music. Is love really a cause of depression?
About three months ago, I read ‘Monsoon’ by Subin Bhattarai. In the novel, Subhan falls in love with Monsoon and falls into depression (twice) when she goes away from her. Lost love is a cause of depression in the novel.
I remember reading Chetan Bhagat’s “2 States” about two years ago. The male character, Krish falls into depression when his lover Ananya leaves him. A depressed character, whose girlfriend has left him, also appears in Bhagat’s another novel “Revolution 2020”.
“Ghumti ma na aau hai” is a popular Nepali song from the movie “Kumari”. It is a song sung by a boy who is in love with a girl who had been made Kumari (living goddess) but can not express his feelings because of the society. He asks her not to come to meet him as they might be bound by ties of love and they may have to cry alone when separated.
A lot of people write poems (Ghazals, Muktaks, etc.) mostly saying that love is something that gives tears. They say, “If you can, avoid loving anyone.”

With this we come to our second expression:

2. Love < Depression

When depression takes over someone, love dies slowly. The feeling of “one-sided love” may not die. People may not be able to forget their lovers who left them. But should love be restricted between two people?

Movies and literature have popularized the concept of love between two people, mostly a young man and a young woman. And that’s where the problem arises. Two people think they are the only people who love each other. That’s why when one leaves, the other feels that love has ended.
Whenever love ends, depression overcomes.

Subhan in ‘Monsoon’ has a family and decent friends. When Monsoon leaves, he is depressed. He detaches himself from his family and friends. He does not talk to his parents, and not even to his grandfather with him he is closer. He is not happy with his friends.
In his depression, he kills his love towards his friends and family.

Now, it’s time I discuss the third expression.

3. Love > Depression

Can love overcome depression?
I believe that only love can overcome depression. If you understand that there are a lot of people who love you, depression can be overcome. Sometimes the love of a single person can make a difference. (Euta manchhe ko mayale kati farak pardachha jindagima.)

When Subhan’s grandfather and friends realize that he is depressed the first time, they pull him out of his dark shell. It takes long, but he is able to overcome depression. And this is the only portion I liked about the novel.

“Love all, serve all,” is one thing preached by Eastern philosophers. I believe it is the key to happiness.

Monthly Feature 14: Is there problem in the world?

“The world does not seem to have any real problem.”
I read the comment as I was listening to a song on YouTube.

The song composed by A.R. Rahman was sung by students of Berkelee College of Music who belonged to different nationalities, religions and ethnicities. Yet they sang an Islamic devotional song together that has touched the hearts of thousands of people.

Each of us is different from the other. We should not be scared by the differences between us. Captain Paul says:

We must respect the differences we have. We must also be able to know that despite our differences, we have some similarities.

What really do we have in common? A lot. You just need to observe them carefully. One thing that I would like to discuss here, however is that we all want peace. Music is one form of art that has bound us since the beginning of time.

I love listening to songs of different religions. They have beautiful, meaningful words and soothing music (even if I don’t understand word.) They touch my soul. I feel my connection with the Being Supreme- the caretaker of all souls.

I have sung and listened Bhajans (Hindu devotional songs), I have listened (and cried with joy) listening to Buddhist hymns and Islam Sufis. These songs have taught me a lot of things: human culture, life and above all, humanity.

No song has taught me to disregard the Supreme Being. (Some pray Bhagwan, some Ram, some Krishna, some Buddha, some Allah, and some Khuda.) No song has taught me to kill others for fun. No song has taught me to cheat people. I have always learnt to be good to everyone and everything around me.

So, why are there disputes in the names of religions? All the religions in the world show path to the same Supreme Being called by different names. I intend to share a few other songs on YouTube that have touched my soul.

  1. Zariya – AR Rahman, Ani Choying, Farah Siraj – Coke Studio
  2. Phoolko aakhama by Ani Choying Dolma
  3. Bhagwan Timro – Ani Choying Dolma
  4. Tri Ratna

On this day of Saraswati Pooja–the day of the Hindu Goddess of knowledge, wisdom, art and music– I pray that our knowledge defeat the darkness of ignorance.

The day I reached the Birthplace of Gautam Buddha

I can’t believe almost one and a half month has passed since that fateful day because it is still fresh in my mind.

Mangsir 26, 2073 (December 12, 2016), was the day I was waiting for long. I had heard that during our field tour of Butwal-Palpa, we could go to their but I was not sure. Thanks to the teachers, I finally got to observe and walk on the Holy Land of Lumbini–the birthplace of Gautam Buddha.

Lumbini is in Rupandehi district, about 30 minutes drive from Bhairahawa, the headquarter of the district at the co-ordinates 27.484ºN and 83.276ºE in the Terai zone of Nepal. It has an area of (4.8 × 1.6) sq. km. and consists of several temples and monasteries.

It was a fine day at Masyam, Palpa. There sun was shining with its might. The hills were bright green. Some stripes of white clouds could be seen in the sky. We would first visit Semlar and Kalikanagar for our field work. Then we would visit Lumbini. Everyone was excited.

As we moved south towards Butwal, I noticed from the bus that the clouds were getting thicker. By the time we reached Siddhababa, the clouds covered the sun completely. I realized it was going to be cold.

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Fog being formed on the north of the Tinau River. Gives an idea on the cause of Sitlahar.

When people living in the hills think of Terai, they only think of the hot climate. However, Terai is a difficult place to live in. Just before Spring, (we call “Shishir” in Nepali), strong winds uproot trees, blow away roofs. In summer it is scorching hot. Hot air “loo” blows from Rajasthan, India and in winter it is bitterly cold due to “Sitlahar”. This “Sitlahar” occurs because the relatively warm air rising up from the rivers and lakes cool down when they reach the Siwalik hills. As a result, thick fog covers the Terai. Sun remains absent for weeks. The cold gets its hold slowly, killing people who are deprived of proper shelters, clothes and food.

Our field work was completed by half past eleven. It would take a little longer than an hour to reach Lumbini. We sang different melodies. Some of my friends danced on the bus. Everything was going on well until our vehicle was dragged into a case of accident by a local Bolero. The Bolero driver claimed that our bus had hit his vehicle on its front. Our driver denied and said that our bus had been hit on the back. The traffic police got involved, looked into the case but could not say if the vehicles had hit each other. In the end both were charged a fine of a thousand rupees. What a chaos on the way to the land where the preacher of peace was born! This incident not only tensed us but also got us late by an hour.

At 2 o’clock, we reached Lumbini Bus Park. At four, we had to return to the bus. As I said earlier, Lumbini was enveloped by cold dark clouds. Everything looked gloomy, except our hearts. Several structures were being constructed in the area under Lumbini Development Master Plan. We walked joyfully down the bus park through a bazaar. About two hundred metres down, I saw something I had never ever imagined: a canal.

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The structure on the far end gives the feel of a terminal. Also notice the foggy weather.

The first time I saw the canal at Lumbini, I was awestruck. Even those of my friends who had come here before had not seen it. We could see arc-bridges in across the canal from where we stood. As we went a little further, we saw motorboats. This astonished us again. Some took motorboats for the experience. I say for experience because they were not that fast and the canal is almost half a kilometer long. The motorboats were noisy, moved along the mid-canal as if zipping and unzipping a zipper and created huge ripples which hit the banks of the canal. At the end of the canal is a huge bell and a continuous blazing fire, which everyone said was artificial.

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A canal and motorboats at Lumbini
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Ripples produced in the canal by a motorboat
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An arc bridge across the canal

We had time enough to observe one structure only. So we headed to the Maya Devi Temple. On the way we were greeted by the little golden Siddhartha Gautam pointing his right index finger to the sky. About a hundred metres ahead was the entrance to one of the holiest temples of the world.

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The little golden Siddhartha Gautam

It was (and still is) a tradition to send a pregnant woman to her parents as she is about to give birth to a child. Maya Devi, the Queen of Kapilvastu was pregnant. Suddhodhan, the king sent her along with servants to Devdaha from their palace at Tilaurakot . However, before she could reach her parents at Devdaha, she gave birth to a baby boy while she was standing grabbing a branch of a tree precisely at the location of Maya Devi Temple, Lumbini. The boy is believed to have walked seven steps just after his birth. However I believe the boy tumbled down and survived. Both the mother and the son were then bathed in the pond by the name of Puskarini nearby.

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Maya Devi Temple from the bank of the Puskarini Pond. On the left of the Temple is Asoka Pillar

Maya Devi Temple was built circa third century B.C. It was renovated and restructured several times until seventh century A.D. After that the land was forgotten for centuries. The archaeological remains are preserved under the current modern structure. As we walked around the temple to see the stone which is said to have preserved the footmark  of Siddhartha Gautam (Myths say Siddhartha Gautam walked seven steps. I just saw a single footmark!), I saw old, ripped up structure of the ancient temple made up of pale ancient bricks. Above my head however, I saw beams and pillars supporting the modern structure. It is forbidden to take photos inside the temple. Else I could show what I am talking about.

We then observed the Asoka Pillar erected by Asoka, the Emperor of Magadh in the third century B.C. The Pillar bears a strange language which, unfortunately I forgot to take photo of (I thought taking its photo was also forbidden). Several other photos were taken around the Maya Devi Temple and Puskarini Pond.

We returned to the bus park, bought some cakes (They were yummy!), and took our seats. Tired and delighted, we returned back to our camp at Masyam. I wish I can be there again. I still have so much to observe.

 

 

​व्यवस्थापिका र कार्यपालिकालाई खुला पत्र

माननीय सांसदज्यूहरू, प्रधानमन्त्रीज्यू एवम् मन्त्रीज्यूहरू,

आज राष्ट्रिय भुकम्प सुरक्षा दिवसका अवसरमा यो पत्र लेख्दै छु । मलाई लाग्दैन देशका सबैभन्दा शक्तिशाली र जिम्मेवार व्यक्तित्वहरूलाई सानातिना कुराहरू सम्झाइरहनु पर्दैन तर मन मान्दैन । २०७२ वैशाखको भुकम्प पीडितका सम्बन्धमा केही कुरा गरौं भन्ने लागिरहेछ ।

हामी (यहाँहरू समेत) सबैले कुनै न कुनै रूपमा वैशाख १२, २०७२ को भुकम्पले ल्याएका समस्या भोगेकै हौँ । दुर्गममा भने मानिसहरूले अझ धेरै समस्या भोग्नु परिरहेको छ । उनीहरूले बाँस गुमाए, आफन्त गुमाए तर आश मारेनन् । हामीलाई लागेको थियो हाम्रो अभिभावक कहीँ छ, गरीब नै भए पनि हाम्रा दु:ख कम गर्न सक्ने अभिभावक ।

तर हाम्रा अभिभावक हाम्रा पीडा महसुस नै नगर्दा रहेछन् । कसरी सक्नुहोला जब यहाँहरू वातानुकुलित घर, कार्यालयमा बस्नुहुन्छ र त्यस्तै सवारीसाधनमा यात्रा गर्नुहुन्छ । हामीले हरक्षण महसुस गर्ने चिसो यहाँहरू महसुस नै गर्नुहुन्न । हाम्रा पीडा बुझ्नै सक्नुहुन्न ।

सक्षम, असक्षम; धनी गरीब जे भए पनि हामी यहाँहरूमाथी नै भर पर्नु परेको छ राजनीतिक दाउपेच र भ्रष्टाचारका कारण । केही भुकम्प पीडितसँग पैसा छ, घर बनाउन सक्छन्, बनाइरहेका पनि छ्न् । कतिले पैसा भएर पनि बनाउन सकेका छैनन् । यहाँहरूले नै भन्नुभएको थियो- “भुकम्प प्रतिरोधी घर बनाउनुपर्छ भविष्यको सुरक्षाको लागि ।” उनीहरूले माने । उनीहरूले प्राविधिकको आश गरे । कम्तिमा प्राविधिक तालिमको आश गरे । तर यहाँहरूले निराश बनाउनु भयो ।

अधिकांश पीडितसँग खान एक गाँस छैन । आर्थिक सहयोगविना घर बनाउन सम्भव छैन । एउटा पुनर्निर्माण प्राधिकरण बनाउनु भयो, प्रमुख आयुक्त कसलाई राख्ने भनेर विवाद गरिरहनुहुन्छ । यहाँहरूले भुकम्प पीडितका नाममा फोहोरी राजनीति गरिरहँदा उनीहरू चिसोले काँपिरहेका छन्, निस्सासिइरहेका छन् । यहाँहरूले नियमावली बनाइरहँदा बालक र वृद्धहरूले ज्यान गुमाइरहेका छन् ।

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गिरानचौरको धुर्मुस-सुन्तली एकीकृत वस्ति । स्रोत: nepalaaja.com

यहाँहरूले राजधानी नजिकका पीडितलाई त केही गर्नुभएको छैन, दुर्गममा केही गर्नुहोला भन्ने त आश छैन । तर वचन दिनुभएको छ र त्यस्को लाज राख्नुहुन्छ भन्ने कामना गर्दछु किनभने जसले वचनको लाज राख्दैन त्यो त मान्छे नै होइन । तर केही सहयोगी मनहरूले वचन नदिएर पनि धेरै गरेका छन् । धुर्मुस-सुन्तलीले गरेका कार्यले यहाँहरू लज्जित हुनुपर्ने हो । उनीहरूको कदमले केही पीडितलाई आशाको किरण देखाएको छ, समुदाय दिएको छ अनि भविष्यको मार्ग पनि दिएको छ । धुर्मुस-सुन्तलीले गरेको कामको एक प्रतिशत मात्र पनि यहाँहरूमध्ये हरेकले गर्नुभएको भए, पीडितको जीवन कम्तिमा पाँच सय प्रतिशत राम्रो भैसक्ने थियो ।

भुकम्प पीडितले धेरै समस्या भोगिरहेका छन् । यहाँहरू शक्ति सन्तुलनमा व्यस्त हुनुहुन्छ तर केही समय निकालेर मनदेखि उनीहरूका घाउहरूमा मलम लगाउनुहोस्, आशीर्वाद लाग्नेछ । किनकि जनताको आशिर्वादविना यहाँहरू सत्ताको खेल खेल्नै सक्नुहुन्न ।

अंकित ढकाल “सन्दीप्त”

​An Open Letter to the Members of the Parliament and the Executive

Dear MPs, Prime Minister and Ministers,

I have written this letter on the occasion of Earthquake Safety Day to the most powerful and also the most responsible people of this country (each one of you) to remind you on an important matter related to the victims of the 2072 earthquake. Honestly, I don’t know if you think it’s important. I don’t even think I should tell you anything on this matter but I could not stop myself.

We (that includes you as well) all suffered the problems that came up after the earthquake on Baishakh 12, 2072. Some suffered more because they lived in the rural parts of the country. They lost their shelters, and relatives but they had not lost hopes. We believed we had a guardian. Poor, yes, but a guardian nonetheless, who would help us in making our homes as quickly as possible.

We had not known, however that our guardian did not feel our pains. How would you? You are living in air-conditioned houses and workplaces, you travel in air-conditioned vehicles. You have forgotten the cold we have to face every moment. You can never feel our sufferings.

However you may be: capable or incapable, rich or poor, we are dependent upon you. You have made us so by your political tricks and corruption. Some of the victims have money. They can build our homes and have built their homes. Some have not been able to build homes because you said, “You must build earthquake resistant homes for the safety of your future.” They agreed. They hoped you would provide them with technically skilled human resource or at least train us. They don’t understand what models of houses are earthquake resistant. You did not train them.

Most of the victims do not have a morsel to eat. Constructing a house is not possible without financial aid. You have set up a Commission for Reconstruction but you discuss over the Head of the commission. You do dirty politics in their name while the cold makes them shiver, suffer and suffocate. Children and elderlies have died with cold while you took time just to make mere regulations.

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An integrated colony built by Dhurmus-Suntali Foundation at Giranchaur. Source: nepalaaja.com

You haven’t taken care of the victims who are close to the capital. I don’t expect you will do much for those in the rural.  But you’ve given word that you will look after us. One who cannot keep his word is not a man. However, noble hearts have done a lot without promising anything. You must have felt ashamed by what Dhurmus-Suntali have given for the victims: a beam of hope, a community to live with and a path for future. If all of you did a percentage of what Dhurmus-Suntali have done, their lives would have been five hundred percent better than what it is today.

The earthquake victims have been through a lot of troubles. I know you are busy in your power politics but I want you to manage some time supporting them, healing their wounds.

May the earthquake victims bless you for your future endeavors!

Ankit Dhakal “Sandeept”