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)

A Wedding (Part 3/4): The Ceremony

Birth, wedding and death are the three most important ceremonies in the life of a human. One does not know what happens at birth and what happens after death but they can witness their wedding. While birth is a ceremony of joy and death that of distress, a wedding is an affair that mixes both joy and distress. I’m going to see this just as the bride prepares to arrive at the groom’s house. Before that, I must attend the ceremony with the groom and and his family.

***

Nepali Panche Baja that also make the Naumati. The combination here is Naumati. Source: Wikimedia

The music of Panche Baja wakes up the neighbourhood. Panche baja is a set of five instruments: Narsingha, Damaha, Tyamko, Sahanai, and Karnal (often replaced by Madal). These instruments are traditionally played by Damai men. Wedding processions are led by these men and are called auspicious. However, they are also called “lower” caste and are “untouchables”. How hypocritic!
Anyway, the Mangal Dhun (auspcious music) has begun the beautiful day. The sun is shining but its not hot. The groom and his parents are in their house making final preparations before the Janta or Bariyat (wedding procession).

Janti (Bariyati), the participants of the Janta (Bariyat), have begun gathering. The number is increasing every minute. Soon, there are around a hundred men, women and children.
The musicians are encouraged. They begin playing some old folk tunes and some Lok dohori (folk song sung by two groups, one of boys and another of girls) tunes. This genre of Nepali music. During the latter part of the decade modernization shot down the folk part and reduced it to Dohori. Folk instruments are now replaced by computers and auto-tuning has been creating robotic voices.

But folk tunes that use folk instruments have become popular again. And these are the tunes the musicians of the wedding procession are playing. The crowd gets excited, gets to its feet and starts dancing.
The groom’s brothers, sisters, uncles, aunts and even some neighbours are dancing on the last available piece of land in the neighbourhood. Had it been covered by a house already, the dancers would be on the streets. They are, but no vehicle or pedestrian is disturbed.

The way the Janti is dancing without the groom, I feel they are happier than the groom himself. They seem more excited than the groom. Why? I don’t know. If you analyse happiness, the remainder can not make you happy.

The Janti is tired but the groom has not come out. Questions are increasing: “Where is he? Isn’t this the time for Bariyat Prasthan (the beginning of the procession)? Why are they doing it late?”

Its midweek and not a public holiday. Most of the Janti will have to go to their jobs. They look at their wrist watch and then the people who are still dancing. They look at their wrist watch and then at the groom’s house.
Dad is not worried. “Have you taken a leave?” I ask.

“Yes,” he says. “You must attend your neighbours weddings. Janti is a proof that the groom’s family is not alone. The bride’s parents will feel secured that the neighborhood will support the groom’s family when they are in trouble and they also feel safe because there is a society that will secure the bride in case the groom’s family tries to hurt her.”

“That’s beautiful!” I exclaim. Before this, I thought wedding procession was just a medium to show off and that it was something that added woes to the bride’s parents. Sure, it increases their expenses but happiness and security are far greater than money.

And if groom and his family beat up the girl and neighbours interfere, they cannot say, “Get out off it. It’s our family matter.” The neighbours have the right to say, “You brought this girl here with promises of happiness in our presence. We are the witnesses of your oaths.”

***

The priests and the groom’s father put Teeka on each of Janti’s forehead including the musicians. The groom comes out. He is greeted with smiles, laughter and hootings. He then revolves clockwise round a decorated car, hired for the day, thrice. The musicians lead. A column of women carrying Kalash and other items follow. The groom’s car then sets off. The road gets blocked for a quarter of an hour. Other people who are passing by get irritated. Some don’t hesitate to curse!

A bus can easily come to the street but the groom’s family wants us to walk to the Chowk. We don’t mind. Elders say, “A Bariyat without a walk is boring.”

***

Wedding at the bride’s home or Tole (community) in Kathmandu is rare these days. Party palaces have the catering, ample space and wedding ground. They may be expensive, but are more convenient.

The bride’s family, relatives and neighbours (Ghargaule) greet the Janti. As I am distracted looking at the people, the groom disappers. About fifteen minutes later, I find him seated on a chair with the bride. The bride’s relatives are washing both of their feet. Her parents have done the “Kanyadan”, i.e. they have given their daughter to the groom.

Janti is sent to the “Dining Hall”. They gobble up food quickly. Those who have their office duties rush. Some people have taken, on their plates, more food than they can eat. People waste a lot of food in weddings. It’s beyond my understanding how they don’t know what and how much they want.

Ghargaunle eat next along with the bride and the groom. More food reaches the trash!

***

The sound of Panche Baja comes up again. Everyone rejoices. The use of Panche Baja in weddings has increased again in recent times. There was a time when playing folk Panche Baja was looked down upon. Band Baja (a Band with European instruments) was considered “modern” and better than the traditional folk music.

The dresses too have changed. I hear an elder saying, “When we were young, wearing Daura Suruwal meant you were going to be teased at. You would be a cartoon because no young people wore it. Time has changed. Young people have begun taking care of their culture again.”

Yes, young people don’t wear Daura Suruwal everyday but we have at least adopted it as a formal wear. I believe the youth of other religions and castes too are now taking care of their culture. I am not sure but I believe this is a result of the socio-political changes in this decade.

***

While the music has woken up people, the bride and the groom come to the Yagya. There are several rituals before and after the groom puts sindoor (vermillion) on the bride’s head. I don’t remember all. What I notice is that the bride is to the groom’s left in the beginning. At one point, I’m not sure when, the groom lifts the bride and puts her to his right. She will always be at her right in Yagyas since.
In Hindu tradition, before his marriage, a man conducts Yagyas all by himself. He alone makes all the things necessary. He alone pours ghee to the sacrificial fire. It’s the same for the girl. After the first Yagya with his wife, they’ll always perform the Yagya together. Both of them sacrifice their solitude in the fire and unite for life.
We have rituals that can go for hours.

Some people find these useless. I too thought so before I saw American weddings. Christians have short weddings. Father reads something and asks the man’s promise to take care of his wife. If he replies “Yes”, he asks the lady if she will take care of husband. If she too says yes, they become “Man and Wife”. Our Priests too read out something and asks for promises–all in Sanskrit. Most of us do not understand.

When the short wedding ends, bride and the groom play different games, sing and dance. Now, our rituals already have games like tug of war, gambling and so on. I feel its alright.

***

As the rituals are coming to an end, I see a plethora of emotions. The bride and her parents look sad, the groom and the Janti look happy. The Ghargaule are happy as well as sad. These play of emotions makes the wedding ceremony special.

The bride has lived her life with her parents until that day. After the ceremony ends, she will move to a new place, surrounded by new people. She is full of emotions. Sadness of leaving her parents, joy of ending society’s questions like “Why aren’t you married yet”, fear of not being accepted by her husband and his society. I am not a girl but I can feel her pain.

Parents are the saddest when their children leave them. I know this. I had a kitten. I loved her like a child. When she died, I could not control my emotions. Daughters are more than cats. Daughters are more livelier than sons. They laugh, dance and sing. They help parents in chores more than sons do. They heal their parents’ griefs more effectively than sons can. Without their daughter, her parents will lose the home she had created.

Relatives, neighbours, all cry. They have special bond with the girl. Friends cry seeing their friend in tears.

The groom and his family are happy because she will make a new home, similar to what she had built, in their house. Their happiness does not touch me much and despite being a Janti, I get emotional.

***

Sadness is not going to stop the custom. She must leave her parents. Before leaving, she cries and along with her cry all her family members, friends, relatives and neighbours. By the time she reaches at groom’s, she does not look too sad. Some brides cry for hours. She does not. The groom and the Janti have done a magic. May the charm stay forever!

A Wedding (Part 1/4): The Proposal

(A Wedding is a single essay that I chose to break down into 4 parts because of its length. This is the 1st part of the essay.)

***

“Difficult times have come,” Mom expresses her worry after getting an invitation of the wedding of my neighbour. “Brahmin priests have stopped getting Brahmin girls for their sons. I heard … is bringing a Chhetrini!”

“The line between Brahmins and Chhetris is dissolving,” I say.

“Are you planning to bring a lower caste (non-Upadhyaya Brahmin) girl? Do it if you want. Then don’t see my face again!”

The calmness with which she says this baffles me. Dad says, “You shouldn’t be obstinate. Don’t you need your son.”

“I don’t need anybody who don’t respect my thoughts and rituals. A lower caste girl can’t participate in Pooja and can’t get involved in Shraaddha. I don’t want to be hungry after my death.”

“What will you do if you are hungry while you are still alive?”

I had that question too. Mom does not give a straight answer. She has a notion that she does not agree to quit. And no one can change her.

While my Mom warns me not to be in relationship with a girl of “lower caste” or a foreigner, she actually wants me to fall in love with an “upper” Brahmin girl. “How do we choose who we fall in love with?” I ask, the answer to which my parents do not know.

***

Much later, just as I am writing this essay, I have a revelation, “I can choose someone of a particular caste, religion or nationality to be my girlfriend. I don’t have to randomly fall in love with anyone.”

“How?” You might be asking.

Well, in societies like the one I am in living, there are said and unsaid rules that guide me. I am told repeatedly, even before I understand the dynamics of love, that being in love with a girl out of my caste is bad. Her beauty and character won’t have any effect upon me. I might say she is beautiful but I’ll never have a desire to be with her.

But a beautiful girl of my caste might attract me in no time and without even knowing her enough, I might “fall” in love with her.

A socio-psychological wiring can make me choose the one I have to be in love with.

However, even without such sociological barriers, you can choose who you want to be in a relationship with. You see thousands of beautiful girls everyday but you don’t have to fall for everyone. Neither of the girls may attract you. You have your preferences which determine who is the most suitable for you.

I have not been able to choose to be in a relationship. It’s hard for an introverted guy who questions everything. Even when I am in love with someone, I’ll question myself, “Is this love? Or is it just an infatuation?” millions of times before I accept that I’m in love with her. Then a gazillion times, I’ll ask myself, “Should I tell her? Will she accept me?”

By the time I decide to ask her, she’ll be gone off as someone else’s bride. Even if she does not, I will never have the courage to say, “I love you”–the simplest three letters that carry the biggest weight of a relationship.

Whenever I’ll be in a relationship with a girl of my caste, Mom will be the happiest. No, I’m not saying this. She says it herself. She will not have to worry about match-making which is the most difficult task these days before a wedding.

***

If you’re not in a relationship, your parents will start looking up girls for you. They make contacts with the families of girls who are the “most suitable” for their sons. Often a third person (Lhami/Lami– match-maker) who knows both sides is involved. After a lot of rejections, in many cases, and sometimes after immediate acceptance, wedding ceremony between a girl and a boy is fixed.

This “type” of wedding known as the “Maagi Bihe (arranged marriage)” is still the most prevalent. The most worrisome of all the weddings is “Bhaagi Bihe (running marriage)” because a couple in love runs away from their families to get married. The family does not accept most of the times. There have been many tragedies because of Bhaagi Bihe.

Another type of wedding is getting popular though. It’s the “love cum arranged marriage”. A couple fall in love, parents accept and then the couple gets married. There may be conditions like the ones set by my Mom but some of intercaste weddings have been accepted by parents.

***

By now, you have known that my Mom has some rules that I must follow to choose a suitable girl. She is not alone in this matter. She is a typical Brahmin woman who wants to secure her “life” after death. I don’t blame her for her thoughts. I don’t know if I should blame our culture but I think I must accept that most of the Hindus are worried about the “life after death” and another life than the one they are living.

Hindus believe in the existence of Atman that is unfaltering and indestructible. Atman is the source of consciousness or life. It resides on bodies that are alive. Once someone is dead, the Atman leaves him and goes to the Paramatma, the highest consciousness or Bhagawan.

There is a twist though. Atman is not incorruptible. It also carries desire. The Atman that carries desire to remain in the material world (Earth, Heaven, etc.) falls in an endless cycle of births and deaths. However, the Atman that chooses to be with Paramatma does not have to go to the endless cycle. However, it has to come to the material world whenever Paramatma wants.

Confused? It’s indeed confusing. No lecture on Veds and Geeta can clear up the confusion. No dead has come back to life and said what life after death actually is. Is it absolute darkness? Is it brighter than our world? Do we go to Heaven or Hell after our death? Will someone reward us for the good we have done and punish us for our evils? Nobody knows.

But these have been etched in our minds through scriptures and Gurus and priests. We choose not to deny our scriptures and we don’t question our Gurus. That’s why, “life after death” has become more important than the life we are now living.

And I can’t change my Mom’s mind. She has heard stories of Heaven and Hell. She desires to be in Heaven. One wrong move from her son might be consequential in God denying her the paradise she dreams of. Her daughter-in-law must prepare Pinda, the food of the dead, in an annual ceremony known as Shraaddha after her death. If her daughter-in-law cannot be involved in Shraaddha, she believes she will be hungry in Heaven.

When a Brahman gets married to someone of a lower caste or a foreigner, he/she “falls” from her caste. A Upadhyaya Brahman might turn into Jaisi Brahman, Chhetri or Shudra.

I propose a solution, “If I bring a “lower caste” girl as my bride why not elevate her caste instead? If she takes my Gotra (clan based on Rishis) and my surname, why not my caste? Elevate her, get her involved in rituals, propagate culture. You don’t need to worry about your afterlife.”
My parents look at me with a shock. We all know the society does not work that way. But I just hope it worked like that. Nobody would have to worry about anything then.

***

Meanwhile, my neighbour’s home has just begun buzzing with activity. His brothers, sisters and relatives have come up to help them. His wedding is going to be the one that will be remembered for years to come. Even if we forget, the groom and his bride will not!

The Pressure of Growing Up

About a couple of months ago, I was watching an Indian kids’ dance reality show with my parents. My sister is a fan of the show and I too liked it. Until that evening.

A pair of girls came up to dance–a competitor and her mentor. The dance was a fusion of classical and acrobatics. The performance was beautiful and magical already. Then came a moment that made it ugly to me.

The little girl hung on to a rope attached to her mentor by her neck. It looked so dangerous that even the judges looked scared. The child kept smiling, though.

“Was such a life-threatening step necessary?” I asked my sister. She did not know what to say.

“It was not,” was my verdict. The show acknowledged that it was dangerous but did not warn the mentor to put a child on such a risk again. Even if she was warned, it was not televised.

Are we watching a circus in the name of a TV reality show? I asked myself.

When a circus puts children in danger for “entertainment”, we usually feel bad. There are several organizations working to rescue them from the illegal, perilous, and underpaying circuses.

The TV show is similar to the circus in putting the children in peril for entertainment. They may claim it is safer, but the children are swung on harnesses, rings and trailers with very little visible protection beneath them. Days of training against the fear of falling, and yet they smile. Everything they feel is overcome by the appraisal of talent and the way they handled the performance with maturity.

Maturity comes with training and experience. When a child becomes matured at an early age, she understands discipline, as well as responsibility. Being matured, however, is not the same as growing up into an adult. Some adults never mature.

But children participating in reality shows are not only expected to be matured, they are also expected to act like adults. It’s cringey when a five year kid dances on adult-oriented songs like Sheila ki jawaani, Munni badnaam Hui, and so on. It’s even more frustrating when you see how the kid became a helping hand to her poor family changed the economy and lifestyle forever. Parents living off on the income of a child less than sixteen years old! Isn’t it child labour?

When a three year child comes to my home and dances and sings “Didi ko magani bhaisakyo merai paalo chha”*, it looks and sounds cute but have we not unconsciously placed on her mind that she should be wed soon after her sister marries.

Children insist on listening to a popular song because we play those for them. We never care whether they are suitable for them or not.

About six months ago, one boy, four years old, came my home with his mom. They live in my neighborhood but very rarely come to us. As soon as he was in, he asked his mom her phone and ran a video. He read the lyrics of Shape of You and sang along. I had not heard the song before. I watched the lyrical video. One line caught my attention, I’m in love with your body.

Body? I asked the singer in my mind. Not “you” but “your body”! So you’ll leave her once she loses the shape.

I wanted the kid to turn that song off immediately. I disturbed him. “Do you know what this song means?”

I knew he did not understand. He looked at me, smiled ignorantly and shook his head. He did not stop, though. I did not have power to stop him. And now some girls are learning to dancing on the song. [Facepalm!]

Children all over the world are now undergoing the pressure of growing up. Recently, a twelve year girl won an extremely popular American TV reality show. In one episode, she made her puppet flirt with a male judge. People found it cute. A twelve year old, albeit indirectly, flirts with an adult and we find it cute. What sort of world are we living in?

I don’t know how many people think the way I am thinking. I don’t know if I am over-thinking. I don’t know if the things I am thinking are problems for all. But if there are problems, they must be resolved, and I am yet to discover an effective solution.


Footnote:

* A line of a popular Nepali song that translates to: “My sister is already engaged, it’s my turn now.”

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 ?

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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 ।

फर्किने बेलाको लाइन

​के पढेलेखेकाले देश बिगारेका हुन् ?

“पढेलेखेका मान्छेले देश बिगारे ।”–कसैले लेखेको थियो फेसबुकमा । पुस महिनामा देखिएको यो पोस्टको बारेमा घरमा छलफल भएपछि डायरीमा टिपेँ । समाज, कलेज, स्कुल र आफैँलाई नियालेँ अनि फेसबुकमा भेटिएको त्यस वाक्यको पक्षमा केही तर्क निकालेँ । ती तर्क पालैपालो राख्छु । आफूलाई पढेलेखेका मान्छेमा राख्छु । यसो गर्दा म आत्मालोचना पनि गरिरहेको हुनेछु ।
१. पढेलेखेकाले सानातिना काम गर्दैनन् । उनीहरू सानातिना काम देख्दै देख्दैनन् । भन्नलाई काम सानोठूलो हुँदैन भने पनि खाना पकाउने, फोहोर सफा गर्ने, झाडी उखेल्ने जस्ता कामलाई तल्लो स्तरको देख्छन् । केहीले त्यस्तो ठानेनन् भने पनि सकेसम्म पन्छिन्छन् । मोबाइल र सामाजिक संजाल ती कामबाट भाग्न सहयोग गर्ने साथी भएका छन् ।

२. पढेलेखेका मान्छे घमण्डी हुन्छन् । मास्टर्स, पीएचडी गरेका विद्वानहरूले जुन सम्मान पाउँछन्, त्यसले गर्दा ती अभिमानी भइदिन्छन् । पीएचडी गर्ने मान्छेले एउटा विषयको सानो अंशमा विद्वता पाएको हुन्छ । तर ऊ यसरी प्रस्तुत हुन्छ कि यस्तो लाग्छ उसले नजानेको केही छैन । पीएचडी ज्ञानको अन्त्य होइन भन्ने बिर्सेर ऊ ठान्छ, “म जति जान्ने कोही छैन । मैले कसैको कुरा सुन्नै पर्दैन ।”

३. नजानेको कुरा ‘मैले जानेको छैन’ भन्न नसक्नु पनि पढेलेखेका मान्छेको अहमको पराकाष्ठा हो । शिक्षकहरू प्रायः यस्तो विमारीका सिकार छन् । विद्यार्थीमा पनि यो रोग सारिदिन्छन् उनीहरू । यो रोगले शिक्षक र विद्यार्थीलाई एकअर्काबाट टाढिन सहयोग गर्छ । शिक्षक र विद्यार्थी नै एकअर्कालाई विश्वास गर्न सक्दैनन् भने राम्रो पठनपाठन कसरी हुन्छ ?

४. आफूले बिगारेको कुरा पनि अरूले सपार्दिओस् भन्ने ठान्छ्न् पढेलेखेका मानिस । अधिकांश समय अरूलाई गाली गर्दै बिताउँछ्न् । कतिपय बुद्धिजीवीहरू त राजनीतिजस्तो तुच्छ केही छैन भन्छन् तर ताक पर्दा राजनीति आफैं गर्छन् ।

५. पढेलेखेकाले कुरा घुमाउन जान्दछन् । शब्दजालमा माकुराले पुतली फसाएझैं फसाउन उनीहरू माहिर हुन्छन् । नियम पनि उनीहरू नै जान्दछन् अनि नियम बङ्ग्याउन पनि । एकछिन कुनै चोकमा गएर उभिनुहोस्, जानाजान ट्राफिक नियम पालना गर्ने पढेलेखेका मानिस सयौं भेटिन्छन् । सरकारी काम नगर्ने, काम छिटो गराउन घुस दिनेहरू पनि पढेलेखेका मान्छे नै हुन् ।

आफूलाई सधैं सही र अरूलाई सधैं गलत देख्ने, अरूका कुरा सुन्न नचाहने, आफ्नो ज्ञान सीमित भए पनि सर्वज्ञ ठान्ने पढेलेखेकाहरूकै कारण हामीले दु:ख पाएका हौँ भन्ने निष्कर्ष पो निकालेँ मैले त । सहमत हुनुहुन्छ ?

“ADVERTISEMENT PROHIBITED!”

I saw my email early this morning to look at the e-mail sent by Michelle Weber from Blogging 101. The second last bullet of the mail fired:

  • “Don’t leave a plug that simply links to your blog — your name links back to your blog anyway.” – @michelleweber

I use Wattpad to publish my works online and I had happened to see an article there which briefed on the ways I could use to boost up the number of readers. To publish works in time, following other users and commenting on their works were what the author had emphasized. He had also added, “Comment, but do not advertise. Never write, ‘Look at this,’ and then add a link to your stories. You might get viewers, but you will never get a genuine reader.”

Those were not what exactly the article said, it’s just the gist. The words “advertise” and “genuine” had grabbed my attention. This morning when I saw the mail, I felt Michelle Weber meant the same thing. The thought haunted me. We all like to advertise ourselves and our works, but “that’s not the right way,” I guess.

Back to the Wattpad article. The author clearly stated, “Do not follow someone for the sake of following. And do not follow someone because you want to be followed back.” The only genuine way of getting followers is to add comments to their works. The stories are posted with the expectation that they were will be provided with criticism- either positive or negative. The critics will help in the overall growth of the author. “We want to make this a rich learning experience. If you help others in the process, you will also be helped,” and “As your comments are valuable assets, use them effectively.”

The secret to earning the greater number of viewers and readers are within us, the article had said. The time we manage in publishing and improving our works will earn us true followers and genuine readers. To find a genuine reader is the most important, the article had emphasized. That allows a writer to meet his targets. A writer wants his articles to be read, and wants creative comments from readers. Only genuine readers can do that.

This post is for me, for you, for all the bloggers. Do not advertise your post in your comments. While I might not be annoyed, there are people who may not like such an act. To avoid their annoyance, it is better that you quit such a habit. And do make your blogs richer. That will increase your genuine followers.