Archive for the ‘ Experiences worth writing :) ’ Category

Dear Dharahara, We will rise again!

5th May 2015

A 7.9 richter massive scale earthquake hit my country on 25th April 2015. The central part of Nepal including the capital has been devastated. This nightmare has cost us 8000+ lives and the numbers keep on increasing.It has also cost us our infrastructures, our homes and our heritage. 5 of the UNESCO world heritage sites of Kathmandu valley are ruins, leaving a vacuum in their place and in our hearts. It eats up my heart to see it empty, what had always been there, which we had always taken for granted. Our ancient Durbars that have witnessed the different eras; the various dynasties; many rulers; their conspiracies and untold stories have collapsed. Our temples that have housed our millions of deities; heard trillions of prayers; answered many’s wishes and provided solace to all have crumbled; completely devastated and in ruins. Our deities are homeless like their many believers.

And our Dharahara has collapsed too. With the first seismic waves, hitting Kathmandu valley, it crumbled into pieces and Dharahara 2collapsed to the ground, taking many lives with it. A hundred stories, turned to dust as it fell,. I have been seeing the photos of our fallen Dharahara ever since the second day of the earthquake in national dailies and social media hundreds of times, and it appalls me every time. It has become a symbol of this earthquake, even though other UNESCO listed heritage sites have also faced similar or more destruction.  It is not a World Heritage Site, neither is it so tall , nor it has a unique architecture as such. It is a white tower, 9 stored, significantly tall in yesteryears but these years it stayed cosily amidst other high-rise building and was definitely not our “Qutub-minar” like Indian Media has been asserting. Still, when it opened a few years back for public to climb, it did attract a lot of kathmandu-ties and Nepalese from outside valley. One had to climb it at least once in their lifetime, so we all thought. And so on a packed saturday, when the earthquake hit, it fell with around 400 people in and around the tower. Continue reading

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Post Nepal Earthquake: A trip to Patigaun Village, Sindhupalchowk

April 30, 2015

30th April! Day 6 of the devastating earthquakes that hit Nepal! A 7.9 Richter scale nightmare hit my country on April 25th and with its wide spread effects, my country is still shaking! It has already destroyed 5 of our UNESCO World Heritage sites, caused trillions of damage to the meager infrastructure of the least developed country and claimed more than 5000 lives. This doomed number keeps rising with hundreds every hour.

Our country is mourning, traumatized and yet slowly picking up, gathering strengths. The youths are organizing, gathering themselves and their country with them, fighting their own government imposed red tapes and trying to act immediately, urgently and reach out to the needy ones. With the same pursuit, we visited Sankhu today. Sankhu, a municipality few hours drive from Kathmandu core city, a very old city in itself and center of Hindu religious tale, Swasthani, is highly damaged.   Approximately 166 of these were destroyed, 97 severely damaged, and 37 moderately damaged, according to sources. We ,a group of around 15 volunteers, reached there at around 1 PM, after a busy morning volunteering to bottle and package Piyush (chlorinated water disinfectant) but when we reached there, it was filled with Chinese aid, Mercy Malaysia volunteers and other supports. Because of its proximity with core Kathmandu city and motorable roads, there was even a traffic jam because of aid carrying vehicles. So the locals of Sankhu themselves suggested us to go ahead. As we moved further,  we crossed Jarsingpauwa (Lapsiphedi VDC) and reached Bhotechaur , of Sindhupalchowk district.

On  April 26th, that is the second day of the earthquake, the biggest aftershock of this earthquake series hit Nepal and had its epicenter in this very district. Sindhupalchowk has already lost 1587 lives and this number will also rise with each passing hour. A remote district next to Kathmandu, the district had to suffer the highest number of deaths and the second highest per capita death rate at more than five deaths per thousand residents.

The directions were confusing as we hadn’t done our research earlier. But when we reached Bhotechaur, there were Patigaun1already big trucks and vehicles carrying and distributing food and medicines to the locals there. More like looting and hoarding by the locals out of desperation. The relief materials still had no tents, only some packaged foods and medicines. Our volunteer group had no affiliation as such to any organization and we had collected a few bucks on our own and bought little relief. We were on bikes and had another volunteer’s car where we had kept few noodles and Chiura (beaten rice). Sensing that Bhotechaur has received aids and will continue to do so, because of the motorable roads, we decided to go ahead. The roads were mostly dirt roads, and we had to park car, when we couldnot take it further in the narrow trail. After around an hour from Bhotechaur, we reached Patigaun VDC of Sindhupalchowk. Not a single house was untouched by the earthquake there. Houses were toppled down, looked more like rubble. The standing ones also bore the cracks and scars of the nightmare.  Continue reading

One fine afternoon!

20th April 2015

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Summer arrived in Kathmandu! After almost a week of detouring here and there, summer announced itself in Kathmandu boldly. Scorching in Mid-afternoon! I was going back to office from a meeting; a pretty interesting one if I must say! A half an hour long meeting; with me drilling questions and the lady answering with maybe-s an around-s, really very interesting! See, I love my work!

So, as I was backing, I started observing; my favorite time pass! Staring at my fellow passers-by and shops whose life-size mannequins have taken over the walkway, dressed in fancy summery garments! There were all sorts of people. It was mid-day, so less people. There were housewives- running around with their shopping bags; college girls in groups- gossiping endlessly; boys from shops- hooting at those girls; street dogs sleeping lazily and motorbikes and a few cars passing busily on my right! Consistent Zwwiii and occasional horns! All beneath the scorching heat! Umbrellas everywhere! (I myself had one!) Some were walking swiftly, some sluggishly! Some were walking and shouting on their cell-phones and some were pushing others in their hurry and not even saying sorry! While some were peeking at the shops; indecisive of whether they should take a look and keep walking, creating a momentary people-jam!

And amidst all these variety of strides, a kid was coming my way, marching in his uniform and was holding his mother’s hand! A mere 8-9 year old little man, he seemed to be returning home from school. Kids are amazing, always delightful! What was even more amazing was that he had his eyes closed and had his right arm held open as if in an embrace. He would let his hand brush across other pedestrians and strangers with his eyes closed. He would then laugh and jubilate and open one eye to see who his stooge was!  Continue reading

Home-Stay Experience- Back to the nature :)

October 2011

It was flooding in Bangkok during our Preparatory course; one of the worst cases Thailand had seen. Since, Fk Preparatory courses mandatorily need the participants to stay at local homes for at least two nights, our course organizers at AIT were in awe to find homes because of the flooding incidents. The purpose of home-stay in the preparatory course is to make the participants have the experience of living in the worst situation with minimal facilities; exposed to foreign food, foreign culture with minimal or nil English. All participants had to stay with a Thai family and would not be allowed to contact other participants during the period. I had heard earlier participants complaining that the home-stay experience during the prep course was tougher than their whole stay in their respective host countries.
Now, the usual villages for the home-stay were flooded, our organizers selected a village in Chochaengsao Province for our home-stay experience; only this time all it was not a home we were heading to and all the participants were going to be together. 🙂 So, all the participants got into two vans as we travelled to Chocheangsao Province. It was an amazing drive as we left the concrete Bangkok behind and into the green Thai Countryside. Wanakaset learning Center situated at Sanam Chaiket Chaochengsao is actually the name of the agro-forest and a network of agroforest practitioners . So, we were heading into a forest, private but still a forest. When we arrived there, we were awestruck. As we moved inside the forest, through a narrow track, we could see a modest bamboo hut perched into the wild and a stream flowing right below it. So perfectly in harmony with nature!
As we dropped our bags and looked around we saw that this was more like a camp, with two spaces to sleep (no doors or barred windows); all built with bamboo sticks and the amazing stream flowing right below you. Mosquitoes were there and we were warned about the leeches but well it was all part of this broad “into the wild” experience. The owner then welcomed us and briefed us on the basic rules. We were supposed to cook in shifts, there would be local help and we had to do our own dishes. We were also requested not to use our shampoo, soap, detergents and even toothpaste and were provided with more organic, non-foaming, eco-friendly alternatives. We were then shown around the land; the huge expanse where many tress, herbs and crops of ecological and medicinal values were conserved sustainably. Later in the evening, we were briefed by the owner and introduced to the story behind Wanakaset. Wanakaset actually means “forest agriculture” and it also refers to the farming concept which goes beyond agricultural production to look at self-sufficiency and the relationship between man and his natural environment and resources. The idea was practiced and preached by Pooyai Viboon Khemchalerm. A farmer by profession, he had been attracted to the cash crop production and chemical farming and its preliminary gains once upon a time only to be plunged into loss of fertilityof his land and severe debts. Then, he had accepted and submitted to the power of nature. He had then switched to sustainable farming practices or Wanakaset. The current owner, his son is also abiding by his father’s doctrine “if you take care of the nature, nature will take care of you.” A simple, yet vital idea! An inspiration for all! Continue reading