The Rural Superstore-East diaries

Today has been a rather testing day as far as my patience is concerned. A six hours of delayed flight to Biratnagar (A city of East Nepal) from Kathmandu required some meditative composure and undulating faith of  a spiritual one to pass through it. But however, six hours of wait were not as uninteresting and gloomy as a weeping cloudy day. It had its bits of sun shine in form of some pretty faces that I took notice off during my wait to board the flight. Among those pretty faces one of the lady who was in the lounge too waiting to board the plane seemed familiar. It just sounds like one rotten trick of breaking the ice, ” Have we met before?” ,but unfortunately  I am not quite the hero or the super dude to have used that line. As I unfocused my attention from her I was witnessing some anxious, some angry, some inquisitive and some quarrelsome faces as  result of series of delayed flight. Thinking back I don’t know which of these emotions best described my state of mind then. 

Focusing my attention back to girl again what I noticed was a shuttle calm and relaxed attitude of her towards a rather uncanny situation. She was taking bites off a lovely red apple by then and was engrossed in reading a book. ‘Unfortunately’ my flight took off at 11:40 am and I gave her one last look as probably I was giving my eyes one last opportunity to grace the sight. 

In the plane I just felt that my titanic had untimely met its iceberg as Jack had not had a conversation with Rose. The plane ride also did not end without drama bit of turbulence first, the heavenly look of the mountains as if each mountain was boasting of it height but yet displaying the humility of the person who had seen it all. Wow they certainly have their place in the heavens and I felt that they do meet the gods quite often.

Leaving behind my little and one sided love story I soon landed in Biratnagar. The road heading from Biratnagar airport to Itahari quite surprisingly did not have ladies on the bicycle but they had bikers instead. I just thought that may be the place just progressed and went un-green because the overpowering innovations of modern world are very enticing. But at the same I thought that those girls on the scooters that passed my vehicle must have once been the bicycle riders a year back when I last visited. We then headed for Laukahi, a small town in Sunsari district. What I witnessed in Laukahi was not something new, a Haat bazzar, which is a periodic market day for the local consumers conducted only on Monday and Tuesday. It was a bustling marketplace,some  busy selling clothes, some daily commodities, some utensils, some fast food and so on. For a urban dweller  the sight was pleasing and interesting but for the locals it was a way of life a place where they had to come to get daily supplies fulfilled. May be I was free of all those compulsions of having to purchase my requirements on a scheduled day only so the sight was just an interesting piece of situation to be in. But for the locals it a superstore, a rural superstore, which was devoid of all those fancy elevators, escalators, reflective floors, pretty looking attendants,Credit card payment facilities, well organised and well arranged stations of different varieties of material. Comparing the two may be unjust but for me the rural superstore was more lively, bustling, interactive and most important of all its ability to cater to all the needs of a common man was commendable. The superstore was a melting bowl where all those needs had met their end where all the hard earned paper money had met their honor and pride. 

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A glimpse of the Shangrila

I had traveled some 400 kilometers through the length and breadth of two prominent districts of west Nepal just before the sun called it a day. On the day as our four-wheeler hustled and  bustled through prime market locations of Nepalgunj my eyes scanned through each of acts on display. The talkative tea shops, brightly lit jewellery shops, hardworking sage like rickshaw operators, champion businessmen who had no time to pay attention to new face in town,street smart hawkers who could possibly win an Imageapprenticeship in New York’s trump tower, neat utensil shops, temples and mosques, heavily decorated Manhattan like tall structures being sold for upcoming Muslim  festivity,hotel on wheels, sweet shops, some window shopper ladies and their quarrelsome little once, festival laden  electric shops with mesmerizing lights on display are possibly the most notable visuals that struck my memory.

As the day’s activities were coming to close my eagerness to go back home was all time high. But it felt that in the past three days of travel I had developed a romantic attachment to insignificant and abstract aspects of the city which I called a holy love. Suddenly the roads were much more familiar and so were the faces and it was sad to have left them when they were beginning to embrace me with open arms. I believe it was selfish on my part to have thought so as I had taken my mother completely out of the pictures who was waiting for me to come back home.

Although my little love story had a sad demise but as eternal optimist I cherished the positives. Back  in school one of my friend had graced me with her part of positivism and I guess I repay it back with every act of optimism. As the plane took to the skies at 5:31 pm this evening it was confronted with gust of wind and think layer of cloud. After fifteen minutes in the air the plane was above the clouds into the sea of tranquility. The cloud was below me and I felt like playing a part in some mythological Indian serials. Suddenly the sky was purple and had mixtures of violet, orange, brown, light red just above the horizon which made me wonder whether I could interpret them onto my canvas.

The visuals out of the window continued for next 30 minutes. It was a glimpse into the  Shangrila and suddenly the thoughts had lost it ways and felt like an enlightened one with no desire, without containment in promises and responsibilities, no anger and self earned ego, no likes no dislikes, no commitments, no aspirations , no dreams, no jealously , no action to equal and opposite actions, nothing to lose nothing to gain simply meditative.

The journey could not have a better ending than this. let me live happily ever after.

My legendary bicycle

Bardiya, a district in western Nepal, borders the neighboring India. Since it was my first visit to the district I carried along some predetermined sketches and visuals of the lush of green overpowering all the others colors, big river Babai flowing past the green way and above it some quiet roads toddling along natures’s tunes. 

Bardiya stood guard to my latter expectation but I had some invention to do with the first two. First, the greenery had some what lost its way as per the locals and to my amazement Babai had nothing to boast of her presence as she was flowing all time low. It seemed like she was depressed, barren of any thought and deserted of all sources of life  but it may also be that she was on to deep sleep and hibernating to allow the locals villagers ease past her banks, the luxury they would have otherwise not enjoyed when she was on song. The sand full lane of the river was in fact a seasonal exercise of mother nature but to my emotions they seemed like river’s way of saying sorry to it neighboring human residents who come under heavy scrutiny every now and then. 

The never ending fields had gone past the horizon out of the vehicle window which was tuned up and down with passing gust of wind. But I didn’t mind that all. It was fresh with the hint of smell of the burning woods and dung. As a urbaner, such insignificant events are true a luxury .The vast stretches of land, with people working on the field in a sea of yellow, which was evident all along the journey.

Among such luxury my mind interestingly was not without thoughts. In fact,  the rectilinear road of the plains of Nepal and the ladies on the bicycles have a romantic connection which played on my mind through the day light. I have been a bicycler for almost six years of student life right through my high school to under graduate which may be the primary reason of fascination with it. It has been almost two and half years since I last rode it on a regular basis. Since then my feet has been willing partners of my power walk and my legendary bicycle found a new owner. It was sad to know that the new owner was careless with its handling and my two wheeler has found use to some thieves instead. Since the bicycle was an eye witness of my rainy days I have a strong bonding to its memory. The tragic story of a small boy and his lost cycle could have easily made its way into a Shakespearean tragedy. As I recall the chains of the cycle used to be huge problem and sometimes I was late for college or had black handkerchief upon returning as I found its best use in repairing them. Sometimes the breaks didn’t work and I clearly remember bumping on to a newly bought car. The driver was furious and sorry me, but the owner at the backseat was kind enough to let me go. 

Throughout those six years as I rode the bicycle I used to imagine whether I was riding the thing out of need or out of fantasy or could it be that I was not able to afford alternative choices. When I look back the third option could best fit but paddling those chains grew my desires of owning a car day and day out so as to be able to look at a bicycle rider through my car window. It kept me grounded, made me humble enough to fix the tacky chain that crumbled down its track in emergency conditions such as while going to an exam center.

The bicycle did hurt my ego to some extent when it was parked besides some swashbuckling motorcycles on campus’s parking lot. But I believe my self pride was enough knock the devil down. It saved me lot of penny and with it provided my single mother with a financial cushion of some Nepalese Rupees thirty a day, which in my world was huge. 

Today as well I met the fairies in the bicycle with the same sublime grace as I went past some undulating road of Bardiya.  Wow what a beauty. I took time to think what if the ladies had the same thought going into their mind which I had, that same desire, slight frustration and slight hurt of ego among others. That may be true to slightest possible degree but in places wheres bicycle rule the roads as a major means of transport unlike the cities where they are referred to as “exercise machine”.

The vast presence of bicycle in the plains of Nepal are an open sarcasm to urban dwellers and policy makers who hire consultant to materialize the dream of a cycle city. A cycle city exists in practice already. I feel that the  bicycle themselves feel humbled as they participated in hardships of my friends elders and fairies in the plains of Nepal. 

The sublime grace on the bicycle

The bumps of the roads weren’t worrisome but the black topped pitch were monotonous and seemed like they had forgotten to take a steep turn. I was speeding thorough a 8 km long rectilinear road before reaching Agaihiya, a small stoppage in between Kusum and Kohalpur of West Nepal. The green forest flying past my window with heavy armored tank like 4 wheeler booming the highways tracks were nothing new to my visuals. It seemed like the script of the movies in our part of the world with a villain , a hero to save the heroine and happily ever after.

But suddenly things took a interesting turn a group a young ladies flew past the  window with bicycle full of green grass and leaves. The sublime grace was evident in the first sight. Neatly kept hair, a light makeup, a clip keeping the hair intact ,just a little hair coming over to the forehead, few colorful bangles, a simple neck piece and above it all the hurry to reach home was overpoweringly projected in the canvas.

Upon my return the same road back to Nepalgunj, a major city of West Nepal, my eyes feel on the bunch of ladies on the bicycle with study materials on their back, with neat college and school dresses. Some of them were also dressed in their casual wears. The two description speaks volumes of the harsh reality of prevalent inequality even among the female population of my country but thinking optimistically I think neatly dressed college and school going girls were a significant reflection of the changing scenario.

But besides the social aspect of things as young fellow what I noticed in particular was simple grace that the ladies carried with them. One of colleagues at the office shared with me that girls look sublime when they come down an escalator and yes, they do, but i will have to add that the aura of a grace increases that much more in the suburban and rural parts.

The mesmerizing grace at the end of the day may be just a mere reflection of toil, tears and blood in some less fortunate parts of my country but to me they some rainbow ladies who have seen different colors of what is called “life”.