Excessive snow in Europe, North America, India and parts of Nepal but only cold weather in Kathmandu is the prevailing situation. However, this increased my enthusiasm to celebrate Maghi this year as is done by the Magar, Tharu and Newar communities in the capital. The Newars celebrate it as ‘Ghui Chaaku Sallhu’ and subsequently anoint themselves with linseed oil. The Makar Mela at Panauti has been celebrated at Panauti for centuries, since the days of Lichhvi King Man Dev. The 3-Day Maghe Sangranti Mela at Devghat was started on the last day of Poush by the sadhus and other devotees there by erecting a bamboo linga. Bullocks are made to fight it out at Nuwakot. After the liberal amounts of ghiu, til laddhus, tilaori, chaaku and yams within me, I was prompted to take a nap in the wintery sun on the first of Magh. Somewhat sophomoric, I soon fell into a welcoming nap.
The first image in this slumber that I had was of Nepalis traversing both West and East of the country. Whilst some went to join the army of Maharaja Ranjit Singh to be Lahures, the others became the cow herders of Assam and Burma. Then came images of the half broken Dharara following the earthquake of 1934, Then followed images of King Tribhuvan returning back to Nepal in February 1951 after his short excursion to New Delhi. The election of 1959 when Nepali Congress obtained a two thirds majority in the first Parliament of the country was a historic milestone. This situation didn’t last long. The ides of December 1960 or 1st Poush came next to be followed by glimpses of Panchayat Raj. The start of the Maoist movement and the mass shootings of 2001 and the extermination of King Birendra and his family followed next. Then came the to and fro movements of political leaders and the setting up of the Federal Democratic Republic of Nepal, the passing of the constitution and the division of the country into seven Pradesh.
Then followed illumination. A new haze seems to have come in the country. Is the sun rising from the West these days? The almost twenty year old dream of the Melamchi water flowing in our drinking taps and perhaps even washing our streets seemed likely to be fulfilled. But alas, a hitch cropped up. The cooking gas coming to us in pipes had a very short span at Biratnagar and the red or blue gas cylinders are likely to be with us for some time to come. The wind energy of Jomson and the solar energy in various parts of Nepal are not fully functional. The visions of travelling North / South and East/ West on swift trains or gliding along in the steamers or even river boats are just individual jaunts of imagination at present. To expect hovercrafts in Nepal is not rational for we have not been sold these dreams.
All said and done things are not as they seem at first sight. One remembers visions of women carrying gaagros of water up the hill slopes and people of the outskirts in rags in different parts of the country being shown on our cinema or even television screens. Things have somewhat improved in the country with user friendly imports of clothes, shoes, household goods, audio, stereo and cinematic equipment from China. It is because of this that IT technology and service to the Western world has increased the credibility of the Nepalis and many are earning a living being service providers to the developed world. It is even claimed that the giant steps that the music and the cinema industries have and are taking is the result of moderately priced relevant and required equipment coming from China.
Not to be outdone it seems that our Southern neighbour India has started to expedite the various promised projects which had been signed years ago or after having had the foundations laid been gathering dust for years. Hopefully something will be done regarding the Friendship Treaty of 1951 regarding which some eminent persons of both India and Nepal have been deliberating for over two years. Whether anything likely to happen is a question that many are wondering about. A plus point for us Nepalis is that the annual million tourist figure has been attained and we are striving to make it two millions. Of course it is the visitors from the North and South who are the main players rather than the visitors from distant faraway lands.
Communication in the country has improved. True, those persons able to make liberal down payments and use hire purchase facilities in Nepal are able to utilise modern day facilities enjoyed elsewhere in the world. Whilst the number of traffic accidents and the number of deaths on the roads have increased tremendously, there is no denying the fact that the mobility of the people has increased by leaps and bounds.
One overriding question now is whether the people with all their new rights that they have recently gained will rise to the occasion if any attempt is made to take these away? As all these thoughts were going through my mind a cold gust of air woke me up. It was nearly 4.00pm in the afternoon. I had been almost sleeping for four hours in the land of Nod.