Tuesday, September 10, 1996

By the grace of policemen


Razen Manandhar
"You scoundrels, what on earth are you supposed to do for this country? Why don't you try to do something worthwhile? You good-for-nothing boys. I know how to bring you on the track..."

I will never forget the dramatic situation I faced nearly a year ago when I went to Janasewa police station to file a complaint that my brother's store had been burgled. It was 7.00 am. I had a Mahabharat raging inside me to tell. I went straight to the counter and related all I could swiftly. Suddenly, the policeman took off his cap and yelled out, " I know, you Kathmanduites are all fools. You don't take care of your belongings and simply cry over the spilt milk. Do you think we have nothing to do but watch your assets?"

He finished his tea and jotted down all I told him. He then beckoned me to go into a room and wait. There were some eight boys of my age in the room, sitting sleepily, leaning to the wall. They were in different moods. One was already asleep. I later found that they were gablers, brought from Jhochhen the previous days. The inspector-in-charge came and started his stereotype lecture on the responsibility of youth. I admired, how happy we all would be, where all the people (at least all policemen) be wise and conscious.

After a few minutes, the policeman outside entered and told him why I was there. Gee, I missed the chance. He turned to me without regret, and calmly said, "You have to wait a bit. I'll call the fingerprint specialist."

He ordered someone through the phone to send a specialist there. "He will go with you and trace all the prints. That will make our investigation easier," he told me.

I was content with his reply. He read all newspapers spread on the table, smoking cigarettes after cigarettes. I was waiting, waiting and waiting silently. Time was running -- my stomach rumbled. My throat carved for a cup of tea but I saw no sign of getting even a glass of water. With my open eyes, I dreamt as far as my mind could travel (the mind does not do too far on an empty stomach). I saw the cops working hard and catching the burglar and we had got back everything that had been stolen - what a happy ending!

It was 12.00 noon and the concerned person was yet to appear. My patient gave way finally - I forgot every thing but my duty to save me from starvation. I got up and dared to say, " It would be better if I could go."

"You must be joking. Where do you want to go? The man is coming and you have to wait. Sit down," the policeman said. he wrote somebody's name on a pice of paper and handed it over to me.

"Take this. Go to Hanumandhoka and ask for this man. He knows everything. Just show him the place"

I went to Hanumandhoka Police Office and asked a policemen if anybody knew him. Among the crowd, it was not very difficult to meet him. No sooner did he see me, than he boomed, " Why are you so late? I've been waiting here for more than an hour. Understand?"

I preferred to shut my mouth. I simply led him to the shop. He sincerely worked with different types of brushes, black powder etc. Hi finished his job and said, "Look boy. I've finished my job. YOu are not the only person who has suffered this. I hope you are lucky and you get your things back."

Nothing came of it. Months passed. I wished I had gone to the Prahari Anuroth actors, they do things in a wink.

Saturday, August 31, 1996

At the funeral of monkeys


Razen Manandhar
"Ladies and gentleman, this tragedy comes as a terrible shock to me. I really feel bitter to stand at the funeral of our so called 38 brave citizens. Although this mishap occurred due to the negligence of Nepal Electricity Authority, I do share the responsibility as I am a staunch authority of human beings. I feel, I should have warned them earlier," The president of the Monkey Republic of Pashupati, an elderly monkey, rearranged the microphone made for that special ceremony. After a deep sigh, continued his speech, taking out his thick spectacles.

"I remember, they have worked hard to build this country's reputation, to keep the legends alive and to keep pace with a world rushing after modernity.

"They were all good monkeys and had a bright future. They are capable of doing something really remarkable for this country.

"Unlike their human counterparts, they are never lured by bribery, never try to twist our holy constitution for their benefit and never torture their counterparts. They have a great respect for their neighbors which other human beings lack. No one snatches others' property nor do they eye the government's property. The only difference between we monkeys and the insatiable men is that we never become greedy for what we really don't need.

"As our country is democratic one, many political parties exist here and those dead too believed in different political principles, but I've never seen them squabbling with each other like their human counterparts.

"Like all our citizens, these victims were also found of entertainment, as if they were born to enjoy. Some of them were hardworking sportsmen and devoted artists bent upon preserving our cultural heritage. they did wear jeans but preferred their mother tongue in FM programmes. they did belong to a different creed but never compared theirs as better one.

"They all were great scholars indeed. They never left their classrooms for narcotic puffs or for any political riot. I'm proud, they never turned themselves into puppets as students in Nepal do. They insisted o avoiding foreign textbooks and teachers. And you see, the children we have are simply geniuses.

"Well, all I want to say is that I smell a big conspiracy here. Most probably, these Fund people are planning a genocide. Perhaps, they want to eliminate us and import a different species of monkeys from Maharashtra.

"I'm grateful to those martyrs who sacrificed their lives against the power of encroachment of some suspicious human beings. May God resettle those departed souls in Heaven. Amen"


Saturday, August 17, 1996

Just for a Pajero


Razen Manandhar
"Could there be any thing more shameful than that I, the legitimate wife of a MP, will be walking home even wen all 200 MPs have registered their names to import the most sophisticated vehicles for themselves?" she was offensive at my quiet mood.

It has been more than two weeks my wife's persuading me to buy a Pajero for ourselves, as per the government's extra-ordinary facility for the MPs of this 147th LDC country.

"Look budhi. You have to choose one of us -- you want this husband or go and hunt for another MP-husband who will bring a Pajero for your pleasure." My patience gave way and I had only to say, " Do you know how much money I hand over to you every month?" That eighteen ropani bari in our village won't even fetch you an Indian motorcycle...."

I seldom find guts to retaliate, while she starts her never-ending lecture on home-politics. I broom up my vocal cords and she sweeps all my breeze with her god-gifted hurricane. I tried, "You know how much I earn. My love, I know you have dreams, so do I. But can you feel..."

"Stop it, will you? You see, Dhankumari's father, the MP from our district, he has half the land that we have. I met her last week and she was telling me her father is going to buy one."

"Oh! That old man dupes people easily every year. Let me tell you..."

"And you are chanting a song of sincerity. What a fool! do you know in which country you live? Bribery and corruption are symbols of survival here You have to do at least something for the sake of this country."

"Go on. Let me be proud of a better half of a woman like you. I used to think that had the world be rushing after illegal earnings, my sweet wife will always be at my side to battle against the serpent in the Garden of Knowledge. Now, show me where the apple is."

"I've never thought that you're such a milky naive," she seemed tired of convincing me (could she be?). This is the golden chance our government has provided us with to enhance corruption," she said.

Everybody knows it's simply impossible for a MP to buy a vehicle which costs more than his sincere life-long earnings.

"Think, why we the whole whole pack of them are after a Pajero when they too wear the same piece of cloth as you? You will get the vehicle in 13 lakhs while it costs about 40 lakhs in the market. You don't have to pay a paisa. There will be buyers with sacks full. Just give a couple of signatures and you'll profit a building in Kathmandu, the dream of a MP's wife," she explained.

I was spell-bound. I, now believe that only he who can coax and hoax can lead this country. I confess that the secret of my success is my ingenious wife. It is decided. I'll surely participate in this bonanza!
[Kathmandu, 17/08/1996]

Thursday, July 25, 1996

Sisters, go for love!

Razen Manandhar (1996-07-25)
Centuries have pased since the saga of supresson of women commenced. They are acrushed, grouned and squeezed but never heard moaning as in the case of equal property rights. They have made dozens of demands and got even the lawmakers to listen. They are at their shrilling best. It's all happening because they now know only the language of the land, and not of love.

Right from the dawn of civilisation, women seek to posess all the things they see around them. Love for them is nothing more than cuffst to keep spouses and offsprings by their side. Kitchen, garden, office, factory, jeans, and short hair…What else do they need?
A man gets married when he wants to possess something. A woman kicks him out when the right moment comes.

Sisters, I have no prejudice against you. But think, once you claim your parental property, you will be obliged to do all what your brothers do for your parents. Don't you know that parents are the most selfish creatures in the world?

They 'pay' their sons in advance for tehir security. So, you cannot leave them till death and there will be social respnsibilities for you during and even after their deaths.

Even today, parents generally shudder at the thought of a girl child because they cost a hefty dowry. Now, do you think they will ever accept a girl child who will grab the portion and quit with her man?I'm afraid that day will come soon when you will visit a national history museum to trace your own species.
Reluctantly though, you confess that you are always subjected to auction in a way or another. Very soon, you'll create another criterion to have yourself priced. You will be apprised about the resale value of your property and you'll start calling the right customers. Be proud to show off your rightful possessions and buy a handsome husband. So gals, are you ready for the show?

Let parrots, you go on yelling that men exist only to dominate, destroy and demolish the fair sex. Not only you, your cirtues and beauty but your treasures will also be counted. How beautiful our social scenario will be! (For me it's OK. I'll divorce my wife and search for a more wealthy one).

Marriage in our society is getin more and more extravagant and mompous. Oly a few faters can afford a daughter's wedding ceremony without being hurt by the shock of almost going bankrupt. Don't you want to share the true property (i.e., bankrupcy and loans) with your brothers?

So, sisters, don't get furious at this junk. It might be a social crime to utter a single word more against your flock. There are many other spheres of practice which are more vital for your existance. It is merely an open secret that not equality but coveteousness is what matters. Doing always what otehrs say would lead you to an abyss. It's your life, your choice.

So, do you really want land taken by force in the name of women's right or love that 'makes the world go round'? I simply feel pity when you cannot realise that you are runnign after men's signals. Moreever, you will be boycotted or given small patches of land which will cost you a lot -- love.

Tuesday, July 02, 1996

What turns tourism terrible?

Razen Manandhar

We quote Vedas and say guests are gods. Now, however, the reality we see today is so different that it could just make us ridiculous. Our society has become so mundane that all our divine principles of hospitality have turned into dust. All we care for today is money. The word 'guest' has taken a different meaning altogether in the tourism industry.

Everyday we read that our government spends a huge amount of money to promote tourism. Seminars aren workshops are arranged and training programmes are conducted. But what of them? Dinners and lunches aside, what we get is only papers. Paper for paper's sake? I'm not such a fool as to expect pollution to stop. But I wish we could reform our polluted mentality.

A tourist comes to Nepal to enjoy the exotic beautiy, to gather some memoriies of this Sangri-la. But he is eventually subjected to tolerate and be indifferent to the chaos he sees all around him. You have no other choice than give excuses for all the mismanagement seen everywhere -- from airport to airport.

Some weeks ago, one of my foreign friends came here for holidays. At the airport, I had hardly greeted her when a boy suddently pushed the trolley near a parked taxi and threw her gaggage inside. We too were pushed in the cab as he hurridly told the driver the name of a small hotel where the boy belonged to. I could't even get the time to call the police.

I took her to historical places. I admired her diplomacy for she didn't complain of beggars, vendors, dust, water, noice and taxi fare. Well, when we were at Bhaktapur Durbar Square, a middleaged man poked his crooked nose on us.

"Who's that kuire with you?" he asked.

"Ah, a friend of mine. She's very happy to be here," I retorted.

"Llisten gentleman, we have an association of city guides and you are not allowed to operate as a tourist guide without license. It's beter you send her to me or…", he exploded.

I was dumbstruck to know that I had no right to stroll around my birthplace with friends. Eventually, the matter was settled with the help of two bottles of ber. We trand together and waved eath other good bye. But I forgot to ask whethere he had the licence or not.

Whenever I went to meet her in the hotel, the receptionist always did his best to drive me out. For him, all Nepalis were money changers or drugs sellers.

On the mornign she was to depart, I went to the escort her to the airport. The receptionist frowed as said, "Sorry, she is gone." I was in a fix. I knew there was plenty of time and I drote to the airport.

I waited for half an hour and she arrived. She was shocked and came to me with hears in her heyes. She explained," Thanks, you're here. But the guy told me that you rang him hearly in the morning, telling that you wouldn't come as your ma had an accident. How's she?"