Memories

I have lost hundreds of photos and documents due to hard drive crashes and memory card failures. Crashes are inevitable. Electronic devices can fail anytime without any symptom. I backup some of my important data online but I don’t backup everything. Over years, hard drives turn into parts of my own memories, and they even represent my personality. I feel I lose myself every time a crash occurs. Sudden crashes have hurt me at least five times now, the recent one occurring on February 14, and I have not been able to recover everything yet.

Our brain captures our sensory perceptions and makes memories. The brain also erases the ones that are less significant. It is so spontaneous that we don’t care how the construction and deconstruction of memories occur. I have come to realize that when we actively interact with the environment, we make sharper memories compared to times when we are passive. Undivided attention helps produces better memories than when my mind is divided. My memory becomes the weakest during the times I have to multi-task. As I am writing this, my mind is trying to run quickly, but it is also interrupted by the talks of my sister and mother, and the loud TV. I am trying to understand what they are talking about but my mind processes only bits and pieces. I am sure when I wake up tomorrow, I won’t be able to remember anything of this evening except that I was typing something on my laptop.

This lack of proper memory construction a frightening situation for me. It was not always this way. I used to do home-works while watching TV in the past. My brain might not be as effective as it was 10-12 years ago; I don’t know. I might not have been able to grasp information from different senses at the same time. I can’t say for sure. Did my brain change the way it worked as I grew into an adult? I can’t say for sure. What I know for sure is that the volume of information my brain has to process is huge, and it has tired. All the things from trivial to complex calculations have affected it for a few years. The fatigue has lingered for a long time as I have not been able to give it a proper rest.

Unrested mind is unstable. It fears more, lacks confidence, and kills enthusiasm. It has so much to do but does not want to do anything. Moments of laughter decrease as worry grips every thought. Such a mind does not make good memories. It takes one deeper into abyss. Images of Riley from the movie “Inside Out” run in my mind as I write these lines. Sometimes, I see myself in her place, trying to keep myself happy against all conditions and making myself sadder as time passes.

The TV is making me listen to Yog Gurus who are focusing on happiness and Pranayam (breathing techniques) that help in the removal of all thoughts. After that, they say, we can enforce happy thoughts. I have not tried them yet, but as I look the paragraph above I become doubtful. Are we composed only of happy thought? We definitely are not. We are made up of several different kinds of emotions—happy, sad, angry, and so on that have roles in defining our personalities. And as the movie “Inside Out” showed, these feelings are ingrained in our memories.

Do memories make us human? Do they drive humanity? As long as I know, we learn a lot of things from the individual experiences of our parents, teachers, friends, and our own. We also have collective memories in the forms of communities, societies, rituals, libraries of books, and archives of different forms of media. Humanity relies on these things so that we don’t have to start from the beginning of the civilization. Humans are in a sort of relay race where the older generation passes the baton of memories to the younger generation can continue from what they have. A new generation always more privileged. Look at the progress in technology, for example.

Progress in technology means that we are relying more and more on it to keep our memories. Will a time come when the machines understand the meanings of our memories? That they will empathise with us? We are already astonished by the answers given by Siri and Sofia, aren’t we? Will they be more human than we ever are? “Blade Runner 2049”, the sequel to the classic “Blade Runner” movie triggered the question within me. Both the movies focus on memories implanted in factory-made humans; the sequel on the memories of automated programs as well. I don’t have the answers to the questions but the possibility of the machines becoming more intelligent or more human could be possible. For now, I am happy with the machines helping me put a part of me into them. It’s a risk as they may crash any time and I might lose those bits of my memories again. It’s okay because, “All those moments will be lost in time, like tears in rain.”[1]


[1] Quote from Rutger Hauer’s character Roy in Blade Runner (1982)

राधाको सम्झनामा

देख्दैमा राधाका दुई नयन बसिगएथ्यो पिरती
कोकिल वाणी, मुस्कानको मधुरता मन हर्ने अति ।
खेल खेलमा मित्रता भएको थियो गहिरो जति
टुट्ने हो कि ती प्रिय सखीको साथ लाग्दथ्यो पीर अति ।।

अर्कैकी बनेर डोलीमा चढी जब गइन् राधा रानी
भन्न नसकी गुम्सिएका भाव सम्झी बढ्यो ग्लानि ।
कान्हाको मन छ धेरै बलवान् भन्दछ सारा गोकुल
देख्दैनन् ती मुहारको मुस्कानले लुकाएको शूल ।।

मुरलीको दु:खी विरही धुन गुन्जाई वृन्दावनमा
डुल्दछ सम्झनाले कृष्ण यो, सन्ताप बोकेर मनमा ।
योगीको मार्ग चिनी ती बुद्धिमती प्रियाको सङ्गतले
राधाकृष्णको प्रेम अमर भनी चिन्नेछ जगतले ।।

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!

पाल्पा-२

​ यसअघि “पाल्पा” शिर्षकमा तीन कविता पाल्पाबाट पोस्ट गरेको थिएँँ । काठमाडौंं फर्किएपछि लेखेका तीन कविता यहाँ प्रस्तुत गर्दछु ।

 १.

लेक र बेँसी, गोरेटा-बाटाहरूमा

जिन्दगीका हरेक पाटाहरूमा

जीजीबीसा राख्दछन् नरनारी

मुहारमा हरपल गुलाबी रङ्ग छरी 

मस्याम, टारीडाँडाबाट पूर्वतिर हेर्दा

 २. (हाइकु)

मस्याम, डुम्रे घर

        महिना दिनलाई

                   यादका अत्तर
 ३. (मित्रताका ती पल)

राईझुमाको लय, रोदीघरका गीत

मित्रताको स्वर हासोको सङ्गीत

कम्मर मर्काई, ताली पड्काई

साथ पाई मित्रजनको, साह्रै रमाई

बित्यो समय कति छिटो पीर सबै भुलाई

Monthly Feature 13: Some Nepali Folk Songs

On this first Monthly Feature (first post as well) of 2017, I’m going to share some of the songs I heard during my stay at Palpa.

The first song I share is a typical Folk song of the Mid- and Far-Western Region called Deuda. There are a lot of songs within the Deuda culture, Raijhuma is the most popular. I’m not going to tell why it is popular among the mass; just a reason why it got famous in our camp.

One of the students in the camp, Tej Bahadur Rokaya (Tej dai-because he is much senior by age) hailed from Karnali.

img_20161226_150847
Tej dai sings on the last day of the camp

Within some days we discovered that he can sing Raijhuma of his own using his quick wits.Soon the whole camp was singing and enjoying the song. Here’s a version of the song on YouTube.

The second song is related to the Rodi culture of the Western Nepal with a modern touch. This songs tells the features of Rodi popular among the indigenous communities like Gurung, Magar, etc. I heard this song for the first time through Anil Regmi. I found two versions of this song on YouTube: https://m.youtube.com/watch?v=zp8n38kx7Ow and https://m.youtube.com/watch?v=EPzM92gZMO4

The other song that I remember is Jhamke Guleli. I had heard this song being sung by boys last year at Malekhu but I had not understood it then. This song is a simple one with deep sorrow expressed in beautiful words. Here’s a link of the song on YouTube: https://m.youtube.com/watch?v=Q8f0EL6u99o

The fourth song I am sharing is Kaanchhiko chhata dhalkai deu yeta by Tulsi Parajuli. This is beautiful Folk song of love with its origin in the Eastern region. While listening to the Folk songs from the Western Region on a regular basis, my mind wanted to switch to the Eastern Region. That’s why I downloaded and listened to this song. The YouTube link: https://m.youtube.com/watch?v=ASIaCFl3NfA

That’s it for this month. May our lives be filled with music this year!