The tendency when people want to celebrate is to say, ‘Let's go somewhere.’ I remember reading as a child a small paperback titled, ‘Ripley’s Believe it or Not ‘which showed a picture of four Chinese marching abreast with the caption stating that because of the rate of increase of the Chinese population, the marching line would never come to an end. Well the Chinese are now all over the world but they are not alone, being closely followed by the Indians.
We Nepalis, being ‘A yam between two stones’, have perhaps caught the ‘Wanderlust’ from our neighbours and if the growing numbers of NRN is any indication our countrymen are following suit and will also be dispersed all over the world. The recent protests by Nepalis in all parts of the world against the Indian blockade have demonstrated this worldwide. We in Nepal must say a BIG ‘Thank You’ to NRNs. Though our ‘Shree Man Gambhir’ is no longer our national anthem, we Nepalis are in the process of covering the world. This is a vastly different scenario to that of the late eighties when the last blockade took place.
I remember seeing in Facebook (FB) the other day, the picture of a software engineer with a caption stating that he and his family were leaving Nepal for good because of the terrible conditions existing here. Can anybody blame them?
Things are bleak here and getting worse day by day. A few days back, having no other option; I bought petrol at 3.5 times the normal rate. Prices for all food items have sky rocketed, and people, both rich and poor have to pay that price, if they want to live on. What happens if you don’t have the capacity to pay? Is it to beg, borrow or steal? Or do you die on the streets?
Nepal is a country of migrants. People have been coming and going from this place since the time of the Mughal invasion of India. Many fled here but finding the mountainous country inhospitable have moved on elsewhere to survive too. We Nepalis have been on the move since time immemorial, either as lahures, bahadurs, bhanches or kanchas.
Following the earthquake things are at a worse state. Rehabilitation of those affected has not been done. Because of the Indian blockade trees are being cut down all over Nepal to provide firewood for the purpose of cooking.
When Chandra Shumsher sent thousands of troops to help the Allies in World War I many of the raw recruits died on the killing field of Italy (Gallipoli) or France. Young men, straight from the hills were sent out thinking perhaps that it was just a pleasure outing. Many of those never returned. The Nepali population in 1920 was down to 5.5 million as a result. Now it is almost five times more.
Now our government, instead of setting up industries is encouraging our industrious, enterprising young adults to go to Gulf Countries, Malaysia and even further afield. There too they die unexpectedly – an average of five a day and are usually brought back to the home country in coffins to have their final rites here. A Twitter post on 28th Nov. stated that 425 Nepalis died in Malaysia last year!
A Donald Trump, who built the Trump Towers in Las Vegas, is in the news these days as he is vying for the Republican nomination to fight in the next Presidential election in the USA. Some of my relatives who had been to Las Vegas recent were literally amazed. After about four hours of flying in a plane they reached a place which was a real oasis in the desert. A place for gambling, a place where one can take alcohol in bottles or glasses, walking around the town and replenishing it at various junctions or watering holes that abound in plenty! In this place too, there is a hotel which has the atmosphere of Venice, with a river running through and where one can even take a boat / gondola ride!
In Los Angeles, where there is a grave shortage of water they have gone to the extent of recycling water that has been used for domestic purposes i.e. Toilets etc. This water is diverted to an artificial lake in which there are live fish. Visitors are encouraged to fish there but are however warned that the catch may not be fit for human consumption and anyone doing so would do so at one’s own risk!
So America is a place where as they say ‘Anything Goes’. The returnees from the US were feeling that if one works there the food and clothing that one requires or even uses are dirt cheap. It is only about 10 to 15% of one’s pay that one uses to live.
Here in Nepal, everything is just the opposite. It is almost 90% for food, leaving almost nothing to spend use for recreation and general living. An honest hard day’s work will not let you survive. To get 10-20 litres of petrol at regular rates, I had to run around for three days. One is prone to conclude that Nepal is gradually becoming a land of ‘Lotus Eaters’ where people do not work and tend to make money by black marketing and underhand deals from top to bottom. No wonder many Nepalis apply yearly for visas to immigrate to foreign lands. Good luck and good bye to all of them. Only the old and the infirm will be left behind out here. When can we all make our country a better place to live in for ourselves?
The author writes fiction under the name of Mani Dixit. Website: www.hdixit.org.np. Twitter: @manidixithd