buddha would have said ‘i don’t like’

my friend and i were in bhaktapur this past week. going down to the pottery square, in one of the narrow alley stores, we noticed a bag that read ‘I hate plastic bags’. we both decided that we needed to get a bag each. on the other side of the canvas tote was an image of lord buddha, meditating. nepal’s flag on one corner. the bottom read ‘our pride’ . we both thought it was a bit too cheesy (not that we aren’t proud nepalis…). anyways, we liked the other side of it, so she got one for herself and one for me.

and so i strut around the city carrying my bag, hoping that people will  notice the message.

and so i was in thamel yesterday, eating lunch with friends. lunch was over and we all were heading our own way. i was walking past the Saarc office when this man calls out to me ‘deedee, deedee!!’ I turn around and find myself looking at this tourist dude. no wonder, the heavy accent in ‘didi’. he was clearly much older than me though.

he points at my bag and reads out loud ‘HATE’…’I HATE’

me being all defensive, i say…’yeah, it says ‘I hate PLASTIC BAGS.’

then he flips my bag over and points out at buddha. ‘Buddha would have never said ‘hate’. buddha would have said ‘i don’t like’. okay?”

and then he walks off leaving me all disturbed.

for the next ten minutes to the bus stop and until i reached home in the crowded nepal yatayat, i kept thinking about what he said. i sort of felt ashamed for carrying the bag but i didn’t know why. i am not a religious person but coming from a family that follows both buddhism and hinduism, i never intend to offend anyone from any religious background. but was this all to do with religion or otherwise?

the word ‘hate’ is, in fact, a strong word. of course, i use it all the time…but never seriously. i hate snowfall, i hate the traffic, i hate the weather today…

perhaps, i’ll think twice before using the word again.

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