Many years ago when I was in London I saw a number of houses with blue oval plaques stating that 'so and so' personage who lived for the period stated, had stayed there. All very well, but as I myself used to stay in a road near the Lords Cricket Ground it was customary for me to frequently pass by 212 Baker Street, where the detective Sherlock Holmes was said to have stayed. Though one was moving from reality to fiction, this was a generous acknowledgement of a fictional character with worldwide fame.
Whilst studying and living in London I was invited many times to the Royal Nepalese Embassy located there. It should have been numbered 13, but perhaps being inauspicious by the British standards of those times it bore the numbering of its address as 12A, Kensington Palace Gardens. There was security too, for sometimes we saw a London Bobby standing beside a sentry box located at the exit end of the premises. It had another advantage too. The story handed down the grapevine was that after any wild party at No. 12A, it was quite in order for the empty bottles to be surreptitiously left at the entry gate of No.14 which was of then USSR Embassy in the UK. Of course one had to be careful and not be seen by the almost ever present policeman there. London then and even now, in spite of BREXIT is a status symbol place and if one was fortunate or wealthy enough to have a Mayfair address, s/he would be floating in the air.
Not so with us in Nepal. We have an Arubari, Bansbari, Chaksibari, Khursanibari and what not. With the coming of the more urban centres - Mahanagarpalikas, Nagarpalikas, the Smartcities and the urban centres to be scattered in the seven provinces of the Federal Democratic Republic of Nepal, things are already on the move and many changes can be expected in the years to come. One realises then that the first municipality of our land only came into being as late as in the nineteen forties at the time of the Rana PM Padma Shumsher!
My earliest recollection of my address in Kathmandu was Block No. 21/504 Dillibazar / Gyaneshwar. Later as the metropolis grew it gave way to a newer house numbering system and so was changed to another designation which I am unable to recall. The implementation of the present categorisation is interesting.
It was in 1979 when I went to Tokyo I realised that the house numbers seemed very individualistic and did not correspond to the regular 1, 2, 3 that I was used to. It was many years later that this Japanese system of house numbering was also adopted in Kathmandu. For example a house numbered 300/62 Nagar Sadak was said to signify that the spot was 300 metres from a designated stop and having reached the point one would have to turn inward and go on a further 62 metres. There lo and behold the entrance of the house would be reached! How simple and practical it all seemed.
I was also informed by some advocates then that it would be very practical for the postman to deliver both letters and parcels. However this was a reality many years ago when the postman invariably suddenly turned up at Dasain time to ask for his Dasain Kharcha! Now a days the postman never comes as people communicate with e-mails in a matter of seconds and receive their replies forthwith.
The recent local elections have demonstrated that much change is in the air. I used to live in Ward 33 of Kathmandu, but now it is 30. The house numbering example, I quoted was introduced in Kathmandu but has not been properly implemented and utilised. It should be introduced to many city areas elsewhere in the country too. This is the age of computers, Smartphone, online shopping and even pizza delivery to the homes. This is the call of the times and agencies such as Muncha and Kaymu are already providing such a service. This method is very useful in emergencies too. In New Zealand, a single house along a rural area may have a 'Rapid Number 145' signifying its distance in metres from a designated point. Having received a distress call the driver with his ambulance would be there in a jiffy.
In conclusion, one remembers that Donald Trump once stated that as he already lived in Pennsylvania Avenue in Washington, the shift to the White House on Penn. Ave. was no great deal. Late Harold Wilson's father, whilst visiting London took a picture of his 6 or 8 year old son sitting on the steps of 10, Downing Street. Many years later the adult Harold Wilson moved for sometime into the house as prime minister of the land. Even now perhaps, in some village in India a small Indian boy may be dreaming of moving at some time in the future into --- 7, Lok Kalyan Marg (old 7, Race Course Road) in Delhi, whilst a Nepali lad in Jomsom / Jumla may have his sights in living for some time at No.1 Baluwatar. This is just life and ambition!
Following the local elections just concluded and the impending one in the remaining parts of the country on the horizon, there will be enthusiasts travelling and staying at places all around in the country. They will have enough funds and power to bring about relevant and required changes on a countrywide basis. The elected ones have even been given the authority to change the name/ designation for the area where they were elected from. Anything is possible. So let us wish them luck and hope for the best.
The author writes fiction under the name of Mani Dixit. Website: www.hdixit.org.np. Twitter: @manidixithd