Bara-Parsa Tornado: Reconstruction and Lessons

On September 16, my friends and I attended the third lecture series organized by Nepalese Society of Engineering Geologists (NSEG) at the National Academy of Science and Technology (NAST). The first lecture of the series included a presentation titled, “Bara-Parsa Post Tornado Reconstruction—An Overview”. Lt. Col. Shrijan Bahadur Malla, the leader of the Parsa Karyadal (“Karyadal” translates to “task force/group”), showed through a series of slides the effects of tornado, the government’s response and the Nepal Army’s effort in accomplishing a near-impossible task within the given time-frame.

What had happened at Bara and Parsa? 

Between 7: 45 to 8: 15 PM, March 31, 2019 (Jestha 17, 2076), a storm swept through several villages of Parsa and Bara districts of Nepal. The reports that came since puzzled the scientists as such a wide range of destruction had never been reported before. The winds had travelled 90 km (30 km of which was observed from the satellite images) within 30 minutes, uprooted trees, overturned trucks and completely damaged some masonry buildings. The winds were stronger than what was usually observed. They had to dig deeper into what had actually happened.

Department of Hydrology and Meteorology (DHM) had observed the possibility of rainfall in the area, but due to lack of resources, had not been able to predict the nature of the storm. On the other side of the border, India Meteorological Department (IMD) had issued a warning against “chakravaat”. However, there was no official information exchange between the DHM and IDM. So, we were completely unaware of what was about to come.  

A week later, the Department of Hydrology and Meteorology (DHM) confirmed it was a tornado, with intensity up to F2 and F3 (180-332 km/hr) on the Fujita Scale. The actual speed could not be determined. The tornado had generated at the Chitwan National Park and had travelled eastwards, reaching a maximum width of 200 m and destroying everything that came in its way. Bharbalia, Parwanipur, and Pheta villages of Bara suffered the worst. 28 people died (according to the official report), about 1200 people sustained injuries, and around 1450 houses were destroyed. Farmers also suffered the loss of crops and livestock.

Was it the first ever tornado that occurred in Nepal?

Most media and even among the scientists, the event was discussed as the first ever tornado occurring in the Nepali territory. However, as someone with roots in the Terai, and having heard accounts of hard-hitting storms from the past, I don’t believe it was the first ever tornado. Still, it is the first time, a tornado event has been recorded and studied scientifically. To confirm this further, I would like to quote from Kiran Nepal from his article in the Nepali Times:

“The tornado was not the first of its kind in Nepal. In fact, literature and folklore speak of twisters ravaging Tarai villages. But because these are localised disasters, they did not make it to the news.”

(Ground zero in Pheta)

Response to the crisis

Government of Nepal made a quick response. Rescue teams were immediately employed. On April 1, the Government declared a state of emergency in the affected area. Nepalese Army then got involved in the rescue and relief operation. All three levels of Government—the Federal, Province No. 2 and Local Governments—worked together to manage the relief works, and to rehabilitate the affected people before the Monsoon hit them hard again.

So, the Local Government brought up all the data necessary for the reconstruction process, the Provincial Government facilitated the smooth operation, and the Federal Government asked the Nepalese Army to complete the task as soon as possible. On April 26, it was declared that the Nepalese Army would be involved in the construction of new houses under the Janata Aawas Kaaryakram (People’s Housing Programme).

Challenges to the Nepalese army

Lt. Col. Malla provided his first-hand experience on the challenges the Nepalese Army had to face.

1. Timeframe. The task had to be completed within 3 months. The Local Governments had enlisted a total of 884 houses to be constructed. All the construction had to be parallel. They needed a lot of construction materials, required large areas to heap them until the construction. The need for human resources was also paramount.

2. Weather Condition. The summer was in its peak. The temperatures reached more than 40 degrees Celsius during the day time. Winds blew from time to time, destroying the temporary shelters, and floods delayed the construction.

3. Health Issues and Snake Bites. Heatstroke is among the common health issue in the summer. Flu is another illness that can occur because of the cold sweat drenching your clothes and skin. There is also high risk of malaria and Kala-Azar. Snake bites are also frequent occurrences. Lt. Col. Malla reported incidents of flu and snake bites.

4. Socio-poilitical issues. When huge reconstruction work is at hand, most families separate so that they can enjoy the compensation provided. The number of victims fluctuated frequently and even at the end, there were issues related to citizenship and land-ownership.

How did the army complete the task?

Nepalese Army was provided with the design of houses by the Department of Urban Housing. The design had two rooms, the frame and trusses were to be made from bamboo. The Army changed it slightly. They added a verandah and a toilet. And instead of bamboo, they would use steel.

With the design in hand, they had to look for huge amounts of construction material. The government had eased the process by letting the Army buy directly from the market (instead of the usual bidding process). The contractors for construction materials were chosen such that they could supply the materials required without any corruption and commission.

Since the task was labour intensive, they required to hire a huge labour force. It was convenient to use the troops themselves. The Army personnel were divided into the highly-skilled, skilled and semi-skilled and the work division was done accordingly. They worked in shifts from 6 to 10 o’clock in the morning and 4 to 8 o’clock in the evening.

There were some hurdles, as state in the section above. Nepalese Army went through and helped themselves and the victims. They worked as smoothly as they could. Finally, 869 of 884 houses were completed by the end of August. The remaining 15 houses were not built due to the issues such as citizenship and land ownership. These houses were handed over to their respective owners officially on 4th September.

Lessons Learnt

At the end of the presentation Lt. Col. Malla presented a list of lessons learnt from the Bara-Parsa Tornado event. I have added some by myself.

1. Improvement in Weather Forecasts. The DHM and IMD are now working together to identify such disasters. The weather forecasts are also becoming increasingly reliable.

2. Where there is will, there are ways. The government’s response was quick. The Army was given the rights to final decision on the construction. The buying of essential construction materials was made easier. All there levels of government came together. The tiff between the Federal Government and the Province-2 Government did not affect the victims.

3. Enhancement of the capacity of the Nepalese Army. From all sort of labour-intensive work to planning and design, the Army has grown stronger, Lt. Col. Malla stated with pride.

4. Goodwill among the people. All the government bodies, and especially the Nepalese Army won the hearts of the people affected by the tornado.

5. Civil authorities need to play important roles in future disasters. As he concluded, Lt. Col. Malla said that Nepalese Army cannot do all the reconstruction work by themselves in the future. Though he was proud of what the Army had been able to do, it is the task of civil authorities to actually involve in the disaster prevention, risk reduction and reconstruction. Thus, they must be prepared to provide relief, and for rehabilitation and reconstruction in the aftermath.

Conclusion

The presentation brought out a sense of joy and pride in everyone present in the seminar hall. It helped us understand what actually happens during the reconstruction. It’s one thing to read and say, one should do this and that. But listening it from someone who has had first-hand experience in the act, we knew how difficult the task is. And how it feels to see smiling faces as the hard work comes to fruition.

Many thanks to the Government! Salute to the Nepalese Army!!

References

https://www.nature.com/articles/d41586-019-01159-w

https://myrepublica.nagariknetwork.com/news/nepal-army-constructs-869-houses-for-tornado-victims-of-bara-parsa/

https://myrepublica.nagariknetwork.com/news/na-hand-over-houses-to-tornado-hit-bara-and-parsa-people/

https://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/March_2019_southern_Nepal_tornado

आजकल मैले फेरि सपना देख्न थालेको छु

आफूले जन्माएर
आफैँले मारेँ भनेका सपनाहरू
चिच्याइरहन्थे,
“लाग्यो होला तँलाई हामी मर्यौँ
तर हामी त तँ भित्रै छौँ
हामी तेरै अंश त हौँ !
जबसम्म तँ जिउँदो छ्स्,
हाम्रो अन्त्य हुनेछैन ।

“तेरो मनले बनाएको पिँजडामा
हामी बसेका छौँ
तैले वास्तै नगरे पनि
झक्झकाएका छौँ
भनिरहेका छौँ,
ब्युँता फेरि हामीलाई
खुसी हुन्छस्, सुखी हुन्छस् ।
कति रोक्छस् अन्तरात्माको आवाज ?
तोड पिँजडा, मुक्त गर,
अनि हुर्का हामीलाई ।”

डरको झ्यालखाना तोडेर
बचेखुचेका रहर जोडेर
सपनाको लिलाम गर्नेहरूसँग जोगिएर
आजकल मैले फेरि सपना देख्न थालेको छु !
नीदमा र जागामा
आशाका मसिना धागामा
सपनाको माला उन्न थालेको छु !

(२०७५/०४/१९)

आजकल म सपना देख्दिनँ

आफ्नो नाफा हुन्जेल
बोलाउँछन्, उचाल्छन्
यो छ, त्यो छ
यो गर्छु, त्यो गर्छु
यस्तो हुन्छ, उस्तो हुन्छ
भन्दै, फकाउँदै, झुक्याउँदै
सपना देखाउँछन् ।

जब सत्यको पर्दा खुल्छ,
तब थाहा हुन्छ,
यहाँ त सपना देख्नै पाइन्न ।
यहाँ सपनाको कुनै अर्थ नै छैन
जति नै राम्रो भए पनि !
यहाँ सपनालाई रेटेर, अँठ्याएर मार्छन्
सपनाकै अभिभावकहरू ।

त्यसैले,
न त नीदमा हुँदा न त जागा
अचेल म सपना देख्दिनँ
आफूले जन्माएर, हुर्काएर
आफैँले सपनाको हत्या गर्न चाहन्नँ ।

(२०७५/०४/१९)

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.

The Loud Midnight Birthday Party

1.

Poush 8, 2073 (December 23, 2016). About 2 p.m.

Along the Siddhartha Highway section between Dumre Khola Bridge and Dumre Bazaar.

Samir and I walked down about five hundred metres and stopped at a temporary hotel (ghumti hotel?) close to the Dumre Khola Bridge. We decided to fetch some fruit drinks and some snacks. Anish came along. “Take the drink,” he said. “It’s great!”

Samir asked five packs of the fruit drink. “Let’s take some pakodas,”he added.

“Some potato chops as well,” I said.

“They too are delicious,” Anish said. “We’re around here all day. Have bought them several times already.”

“Shall I warm them up?” The lady at the hotel said.

We said, “Sure.”

The pakodas and  chops were drowned into hot oil. They came out oilier than before. Samir paid for the items we bought.

A few paces back to our designated area of study, we met Padam dai. We had met him on Mangsir 15, the day we had come Palpa. He was the son of the owner of the buses the Department of Geology had reserved. We had first mistaken him for a teacher. Then we knew that he was almost the same age as us but had already graduated in Engineering. We had called him dai (brother) in the beginning. We continued to do so.

So, we met him. “Can you do us a favour?” Anish asked. “Can you get the best cake for us?”

“Are you celebrating someone’s birthday?” Padam dai asked.

“Yep.”

“Whose birthday?”

“Prasmita. I guess you know her. She is fair.., tall… has a mark on her forehead.

“The girl with curly hair, isn’t she?”

“See? I told you know her.”

Padam dai agreed. We all went away.

2.

Poush 10, 2011 (December 10, 2016). About 8 a.m.

In our room at Shree Masyam School.

No more field work. The rush had ended that day. Everyone was lazing about. We did not even want to get out of our sleeping bags. “Tomorrow is Prasmita’s birthday,” Anish told Bimal in course of talk. “We are celebrating at midnight.”

“How?”

“I’ve ordered cake.”

“Through Padam dai?”

“Yo!”

About thirty minutes later, we were still idling. Having lunch help not helped in removing our laziness. We basked ourselves in the sun looking down at the Bhaisekati Khola, the surroundings and all, gossiping trivial matters. Prasmita and Sarita came down. They were just going for lunch. Bimal said, “Prasmita, Happy Birthday!”

“Today is not my birthday,” Prasmita said.

When the girls were out of sight, I said, “Didn’t you listen earlier that tomorrow is her birthday?”

Puzzled, Bimal said, “I thought it was today.”

Anish was a little angry. “Wouldn’t we have already celebrated had it been today?” He chuckled, “I think she knows we are planning something. You have ruined the surprise, idiot.”

3.

About 6:30 p.m. the same day.

I came back to the room after the dinner. We had been busy writing reports. Nothing but reports. Some teachers had been to Palpa and some of us had been very much disapointed at that. All I needed was rest. I went into the room and placed my plate leaning against the wall.

Anish was lying down on the floor. He seemed tired, looked like he needed some air. I did not think of anything, though. All I wanted was to lean on to the wall on his right. I sat down. “Don’t press on to that sleeping bag,” Anish expressed his caution. I understood. Under the sleeping bag was a box of cake.

“Got it in ten minutes,” he said. The next day, in presence of Deepak sir, he told the complete story, “I was having dinner while I got a call (from Padam dai). Then I rushed down. (What about the plate?- I didn’t ask.) In ten minutes, I got down, took the cake and climbed back. Up here, I nearly got caught. I had to go the other way around.”

He showed us the box. Nanglo was printed on the box. The brand name did not surprise me. I had seen the Bakery Cafe of Nanglo at Tansen.

4.

About 11 p.m. the same day.

The evening turned into night before the presentations were over. Our room was the first to go out. Those who had been told to be in our room never came out. We waited, saw other groups coming out, made some laughter, danced, sang and all did all we could do without getting into our room. Work had ended. Only fun remained.

As we went to the other room and as others came into ours, Anish had asked not to stay in the corner of the room. Sandeep came and covered the cake with a mound of bags. When we came back, nothing had happened to the cake thankfully.

5.

5 minutes before midnight.

Boys had poured into our room to sing and dance. Some of us had packed up clothes into our bags as we were returning Kathmandu the next evening. The dance had continued for almost an hour. Anish had slipped out five minutes before us. Bimal and I asked Sandeep, Prafulla and Samir to go up. Only Samir assented but he did not come up with us. We slipped out quietly.

The birthday party was in the girls’ room. Last year was different. I had frequently visited the girls’ room but this year, I had not been in their room once. Now I was getting in their room in the midnight. I felt a little awkward. “Whoever comes has to dance,” Nirusha and Laxmi said. Bimal and I just nodded. Samir came in. Pooja called Badda (Sandeep Poudel). He was reluctant in the beginning but he agreed to come. He came up with Hem Sagar. I had never believed he would come. He surprised me.

The box of cake was opened. Six (?) pieces of cake showed up. Candles were inserted. The birthday girl had been sent out. We waited for her.

At exactly 12 o’clock, Prasmita entered the room As soon as she entered, the room chimed, “Happy Birthday to you.” The birthday girl herself sang the birthday song. She laughed heartily. She was overwhelmed with joy.

The candles were lit and put out. The cakes were cut with spoon and distributed. It was delocious. Girls cake-painted Prasmita. Manisha and Yuvraj took photos. The cake was still being distributed. Bimal whispered to me, “We might have to dance. Let’s go.”

We slipped away. The party began. We could listen to them jump two floors below. The dance continued for an hour. We knew it had ended when Badda and Hem Sagar came back. The other day heard that other boys too had joined the party and had woken up teachers as well. No wonder they were scared by the loud noises of the midnight birthday party.

All that mattered was happiness. The happiness of the birthday girl the most. Prasmita, May happiness always enrich your soul!

​A Month in Palpa: Some of the Things I Learnt

I spent about a month (26 days to be precise) at Palpa with my friends and teachers for field-work on Geology. It’s a matter of 100 marks after all. But life is not only about university lessons and exams. There are a lot more things to learn.

A view from Tundikhel, Tansen

1. Life’s uncertain

The day we left for Palpa, we were happy. Though we were in the cabin, 7-8 of us could gossip freely and we did not complain. The uncertainty of life showed up after we reached Siddhababa as it got dark on the way. To our dismay, the bus had a damaged dynamo. To state it straight, the bus lacked headlight. We searched for torch lights to help the driver, which was in vain. When the bus took sharp turns, my heart leaped out to my mouth. We prayed, we sought ideas. Another vehicle from behind helped the driver see the road. When the bus stopped at Dumre, Palpa, we shook hands with the driver, cheered and thanked God. The next day, when I saw the road and the gorge of Tinau River, I felt that it is a miracle that I’m alive.

Gorge formed by Tinau River

2. Schedule cannot always be followed

We began with a schedule. We had to follow it but we did not. What should have been done on the seventh day was completed on the first day. It created a lot of confusion. It was difficult to understand what we did but as time passed, we understood what we had done. Learning under a schedule is easier but there is no need to panic if the schedule is disturbed.
3. We can’t observe nature well from inside a bus

Three buses were reserved for daily travel (traverse is the word geologists use) along the Siddhartha Highway. While we were in the bus, we had difficulty in observing geological features. There is problem in connecting things with places when we try to recall. When we walked along towards the end of the exursion because of protests against Federal Model, we understood things really well.
4. There’s always a way to discover fun

When there are so many people around you, you never have to feel low. Even when there is a lot of work to do, you get support from them. Your mind is more inclined to fun in those times. I also found that we look for fun when we are under restrictions. Sometimes, noticing small movements and chats can also give immense pleasures. Enjoying things in the present can help a lot in overcoming troubles.

Boys find fun on the last day of field

5. Togetherness

Most of us have lived in closely-knit families. A lot of problems arise while we are away from family. Homesickness is a problem to many. With the support of friends, this is no big deal. Together we celebrated successes and soothed failures. Together we solved the financial problems we could get into. Together we worked and together we succeeded. Together we bacame family of a sort.
6. Thankfulness

Spending a month at an entirely new place is difficult. Without the help of local people, the school we stayed and all the stakeholders, it would have been impossible. We thank them for their support. We thank our chefs without whom we would not have got food in time. We thank our teachers for the knowledge they imparted. We thank each other for tolerating and cooperating. We also thank our families who have undergone several challenges before and during our excursion.
7. That feeling when you’re leaving

I don’t get a perfect word for this. I was happy that I was returning home but I was also sad that I was leaving the place that had sheltered us for about a month. I still remember the faces of people who bade us farewell. Was it a kind of attachment, a kind of bond I had made with the place and it’s people? Maybe I left a part of my soul there so that I can remember them everyday.
I heard someone say, “You may get a lot of chances to earn money. To earn memories though, you have a very few chances.” Memories of the camp, friends, people and places have formed this article. I proudly share my priceless article for all forever.

You are my Life!

LIFE IS IMPOSSIBLE WITHOUT LOVE. YOUR LOVE IS THE SPIRIT THAT BURNS THE LAMP OF MY LIFE.

Dear Family,

image

What would I do without you? You make me the person I am. You three are the best people around me whom I can trust forever.

I would never have written this without you, Ankita. If you are not come up with the origami booklet, these words would not have been penned and they would not have come up on my blog today. Thank you, my sister. If you had not brought up the idea, I would have been thunderstruck on the most amazing day ever- the day on which Mother’s Day could be celebrated together with Father’s Birthday. When will such a chance be conjured again? I would have missed it if you had not done it.

Thank you Mamu for tolerating me. I am not easy to handle. You have said it again and again. To bear the thoughts of someone who lives more on dreams and online than reality can be troubling. It’s difficult to take care of me. But you have taken it in your safe hands. That’s why I don’t need to take care of myself while you are around.

Thank you Baba for shaping my personality. My personality is influenced by all three of you in my family but you are the one I feel my characters match to a great extent. I have learnt a great deal through you. Thanks a lot for giving me your attention and making me the way I am.

I know I am not the best but everyday I strive to be better. I might lack the essential skills to face the world. I might have been obstinate at times. I might not have lived up to your expectations. But I’ll ensure that I use the goodness you have fed into me to go on with my life. I will always make sure that I will be with you, in both my joy and sorrow. I promise I will make you proud.

Happy Mother’s Day, Mamu!
Happy Birthday, Baba!

Yours forever,
Ankit

(A note on Matatirtha Aunsi aka Mother’s Day on Friday. Aunsi is the new moon in Lunar Calendar used in Nepal. Fortunately, it was also the birthday of my father according to the Solar Calendar.)

The Craziest Birthday Party Ever!

I am not someone who would take the first step in breaking rules. I am not the one who would like to be in a crazy situation. But one day, I was pulled- by fate or friendship, whatever you may call- to this weirdest, craziest birthday party ever.

We were on the geological excursion- a once in a lifetime experience. The tour was becoming too mundane. Wake up at about five in the morning, have morning meal at eight run to the field at nine. Return back within five-thirty in the evening, dine at six and work until midnight before going to sleep. Most of us were following the same routine. There was a need for change.

Some boys had tried spicing up life already. In the room where I had stayed, a friend of mine had been awakened in the night by some of the boys on his birthday. It was fun then but the teachers scolded them, albeit indirectly. Two nights later, we had to celebrate a birthday. We had to make it special.

Girls took the initiation. They prepared everything- unknown to most of us. They decided to take permission from the Field-in-charge Deepak sir. Laxmi did the talking. I was there when sir said to celebrate the birthday in silence.

The wait was long. I had some work to do, however. Time passed on easy. Rabi dai and Pawan dai made faces and took selfies and clicked photos. Sanjeev was probably waiting for the midnight but he did not know what was in store. Anish was busy in his work and we had to remind him at the last moment.

We waited in the dark. The birthday-girl had been sent away by the other girls. They came out as well carrying slices of cakes with them. It was almost January 14. What were we doing at the time when ghosts move around for food? We were talking in excited whispers, eager to wish the birthday-girl.

She stepped up. We all hid ourselves behind the walls of the dark corridor. Within thirty seconds, as soon as she stepped up the last stair, we all jumped and wished, “Happy Birthday to You! Happy Birthday, Romi!” We wished the birthday-girl in whispers. We had done it. We had wished her in the midnight, with permission, in whispers! (Bajrangi Bhaijaan’s ‘permission leke, taar ke niche se’ was running on my mind!)

Romi was awed. She could not believe it. She wanted to jump and shout. “Ssh! Keep your voice low!” We demanded. The same warning used to come up whenever someone tried to speak up loudly. The party continued with cakes. Everyone wished in whispers again. Apart from the aforementioned people, excluding Deepak sir, Prasmita, Bhawana, Pratigya, Ravi (not to confuse with Rabi dai), Nirusha and Sarita had joined the party. We even took selfies to commemorate the moment. Within half an hour, Anish posted one of the photos on Facebook.

What else happened? The boys slept. The girls said they had had a silent dance party. Rules and ethics ruled us out from the silent dance party. Yet we had participated in the craziest midnight silent birthday party!

image

[From left to right]1st row: Pratigya, Romi, Bhawana; 2nd row: Prasmita, Sarita, Nirusha,  Laxmi; 3rd row: Ravi, Rabi dai, Last row: Anish, Pawan dai, Ankit (aka Sandeept); Selfie click: Sanjeev

[Before the end of this article, Romi, I would like to wish you Happy Birthday again. I know it’s been more than a week already but I also can’t wait another year to wish you.

Along the road of life – miles,
Never let go off your smiles!
May happiness devour all your fears,
Never you be soaked with tears!
With Pure Heart, may you win the World,
Blessed with Friends as precious as Gold!
                    Happy Birthday!!]

What NaNoWriMo did to Me

NaNoWriMo, National Novel Writing Month, popularly known to the participants as NaNo (though I would prefer WriMo because it’s more a Writing Month and a National Novel. Is the name appropriate, though? I will come to that in a while.) is a global event, (that’s why I will discuss that again!) for the aspiring novelists. Thirty days of work for at least 50,000 words, the golden number for something to be called a novel – did not know before I signed up the event! That’s what NaNoWriMo about.

On October 17 of the year, I saw a post from Rashmi Menon on Blogging 101: Alumni, a forum of WordPressers. I clicked the link and there I was, where I could have been earlier if I had not been confused by the name of the event (it’s irresistibly coming up again and again). Anyway, I signed up. I already had something on my desktop that could be a novel, but I had no plans for it. So I decided- within five minutes since I signed up- that I would write on novel based on a short story I had sent to the Fiction Park section of the Kathmandu Post, but had never been published.

That was the beginning of it. Once I decided what I was going to write (type for most of the part), I built up some characters and drafted their personalities, thanks to an ebook, Crafting Unforgettable Characters, I had downloaded from K.M. Weiland’s website. On the first day of November, I started writing. About twenty six hundred words I typed that day. (Never broke the record. Such enthusiasm! Phew.) And then with the short story I used, I quickly moved to a higher word count than most of my buddies in the website.

Days went on. Managing at least 2,000 words per day, I was cruising slow and steady. Among my buddies, only Kristina Van Hoose was ahead of me. (She was updating her word count at rocket speed and was the first among my buddies to reach the golden number! I can’t really tell how she managed it.) From the second week of the event, festival of Tihar gripped me. The festive mood did affect me, and I was slowed down.

The third week was terrible. College had commenced after the vacation and I had an exam. While focusing on that, I lost hours of time for creating the novel, but whatever time I got, I crawled along. By the end of last week, there have been horrible things. Power cut off, college time, and assignments, all reducing the time  I sit in front of my computer. That was when I got traditional. I began writing on a exercise book. And that had its own perks.

Sitting in front of the computer, adding new words to the novel, I have heard complains from my parents and my little sister. Ignoring their talks and discussions, keeping aside the political issues that enrage me, and keeping aside the matter of the fuel crisis going on in the country, I wrote and wrote. I finally reached the golden number in time, but there was a big problem: HOW DO I VALIDATE?

At the end of the 50,000 mark, the website asks to validate the novel (an official word-count) to declare the participant a winner. Now that I wrote the last few parts in a copy and that I can neither scan nor type within the last moment of the event, I don’t know how I will be declared winner by the site. Therefore I decided to declare myself a winner. I even got a feast. Well, actually that was because of the birthday of my mother.

Typing a novel from an unknown location (for the site; Asia: Elsewhere in Asia), updating the word count every hour from a computer that can break down any time, I have learned one great lesson: Novels come out of great effort. Novelists are just as crazy as my father thought. One month is an extremely short time for a quality novel to come out (mine has not finished yet), but it’s an initiation and a great experience. It’s time I get out of the hangover now. (It’s also a high time I get acquainted with all new WordPress, which my friend Anish had said some days back, had lost its word-count on the editor. I saw it while scrolling down. How excited I was seeing that!)

 

Wait, did I forget something? Oh, yeah. The name of the event of course! You must have noticed the contradiction while I wrote National Novel Writing Month is a global event. Had I known that the event was actually a GloNoWriMo (Global Novel Writing Month) and not only for the USians, I would have prepared myself. Would I have, though? That would definitely have made another story.

This one’s for YOU!

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Dear  SOUL-MATE,

We know each other – at least by our names. YOU may never recognize me and as I will never mention YOUR name, YOU may also never realize that this message is for YOU. So, why am I writing this? I asked this to myself several times. I thought and thought and thought and finally came to a conclusion that this is not just about YOU, it is about Me as well. If I don’t express these things somewhere or to someone, I think I’ll go crazy. I don’t want that to happen. If I go crazy and if people somehow find out that my feelings towards YOU are to be blamed, I will never be able to forgive myself. Yes, I seem a little selfish, but it’s for the good of us.

YOU might ask, “If we already know each other, why no mention of names?” My answer is that I want YOUR name discreet. I don’t want others to know that it is really YOU. While others will be reading this, they will never know that I am telling this only to YOU. If I reveal your name, you might fall into trouble. People may mock YOU. Even YOU may feel bad that I did not tell this to YOU directly, but write it down on a letter that can be read by anyone. To save YOU from any stigma that YOU might face, I will try maintaining the secrecy as much as possible.

The day I met YOU was special. It was a fine spring morning with the Sun shining brightly. We were headed to different destinations, but our roads had merged somehow. YOU may not agree, but I think our souls had been planning to meet each other for long. The moment YOU talked with me is still fresh in my mind. I had felt stupefied and I had not known at that time, that I would know YOU as someone I have been calling YOU now. How that feeling came up might sound like a story to YOU (if I can tell it in future). But isn’t every life in this world a story with fascinating details?

Waiting for YOU on that route was difficult. It was a fifty percent chance that YOU would show up on a particular day. When YOU did not come, I just thought of that fine day, musing with myself. That moment gave me happiness no one can ever think of. Not a single moment has passed without the remembrance of that moment and YOU. It’s like my mind has been programmed to loop the same thing over and over – something that will never end until the end of my life. The best thing YOU did was to make me know myself. Before meeting YOU, I had very little interest in philosophy. Every time I met YOU, I felt that I had to have a good knowledge of life and death, of the world and its ways, of humans and love. I took an interest in these philosophical subjects to improve myself. The basic philosophy I followed was to love myself. If I did not love myself, I could not love YOU and could never expect YOUR love towards me. It’s been difficult. The transformation is slow. But it is not invisible. I have changed myself in a lot of ways. I have started seeing everything differently. I have got rid off the prejudices I had on people because they differed from me. I have started respecting each and every life on the Earth, the Earth herself, the Souls and the Creator. Above the Creator, I place YOU on the highest throne, respect, and love YOU. That’s because YOU made me contact with my Soul after a long time and it was during such sessions that I had understood the Creator.

As I communicated with my soul more, I could seek for YOUR Soul as well. Whenever YOU were not in front of my eyes, I would look into my Soul to search YOURS. You might not have realized but our Souls have been communicating. When YOU are happy, I feel a surge of happiness. When YOU do not, I feel the world has gone sad, unhappy. YOUR problems have become mine. The Mother Nature signals me of these feelings. If Nature can not, my soul makes a contact with YOU and transmits YOUR state into my dreams so that I can find out ways to help YOU. So far, I have not been able to do anything except provide YOU with some words of suggestions. However, that makes YOU happy and if such small tasks of mine makes you happy, I will be doing such things again and again.

YOU may think that these feelings towards to originated out of lust and not off Love. That’s not the case at all. Had it been only a crush or physical attraction, I would have forgotten YOU long ago. It was not about carnal pleasures – never has that been the case. YOU have attractive looks and YOU are more beautiful than average, but that was not the first thing I had noticed about YOU. The first thing I had noticed was YOUR presence of mind and the way YOU could notice small details from the past. Then I saw YOUR good heart and then I could see YOUR Soul. From the beginning itself, YOUR abilities and Pure Heart have attracted me, YOUR physique – never. There is no desire, there is no fear. Our Souls are Eternal friends and that will keep us close forever, though we might never meet again in our bodily forms.

Words are insufficient to describe my feelings towards YOU and I am finding it difficult to go on with this letter. Before I wrap off, I need to tell YOU something important. YOU might have been disillusioned by the ways people behave. YOU might have given importance to what others want to see from YOU. I know YOU are much different from what YOU have been showing to the World. No matter what YOU do, do not let anyone corrupt the Purity of YOUR Heart. If such a thing happens, I am with YOU forever and I will rescue YOUR Heart no matter what problems I might have to face.

Your Soul-Mate

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