As I covered myself under the quilt, holding onto a roll of toilet paper, for the first time I felt like I’d judged too quickly to title my blog – With Love, From Ktm. Kathmandu reeks of cruelty, ignorance, disrespect, violence, anger and dishonesty. Love – it’s lost under tons of garbage and flowing under the sludge of Bagmati.
What I experienced and felt today was an instance that made me oversee everything else that I love about this place. I shouldn’t blame the place. It’s some people who make living in this city a hell.
The bandh – of course. Why, what, when, by whom? I’d received a text from my cousin about Tripureswor being blocked but since we’d seen vehicles on the street, ama and I went out in the car. We had to. I had an important interview at 12:30 pm that I had been preparing for some days now. I was going through my final essay one more time when we met with a traffic jam at bishalnagar. We rerouted and went towards ring road to end up at a road block at Chabel. We had to reach Thapathali. I could’ve walked if we had managed to get any close but what happened next was really nothing I’d expected.
From Chabel we went down to Chakrapath and went through Chundevi to get out onto the main road. At the junction, next to the army camp, a whole crowd of people came running towards the vehicle in front of us and us. The front jeep was a hospital one, so they got away. We…they could have simply asked us to turn around and go back. But they didn’t and it was the rudeness and hostility of the situation that really got into me.
They pulled out the key from the car through the window, forced us out of the car, drove it to the middle of the street, locked everything up and amid all of this, yelled at us, insulted us and embarrassed ama and me in front of some 100 people gathered to see the circus. And Nepal One’s camera person was also filming it all.
“Tapai haru jasto manche lai ma ramrari chinchu…” What does that even mean? We don’t even know who was protesting and for what reason? We are as much as citizens of this country as them.
“Hamro pani degree cha…” I had only begged to let us go because I had an important interview and I’d been studying for it for days. I was dressed in a formal skirt and a coat and holding a folder in my hand. It felt so ridiculous as I cried in front of so many strangers, even though I knew that my tears were really only going to waste for some shitty people who had no brains or sympathy.
“Tapai haru ko jasto ko surakshya ko lagi ta yo bandh gareko. Kura sunena?” Really. Never in my life, had I felt so helpless being ‘protected’ by protesters. “Tapai haru dhukka hunus tapai ko gadi kasaile phoddaina…hami tyesto chainau…” Oh right. You proving us your innocence to us?
But the next minute they threaten us, “kasle ayera tapai ko agadi ko sisa saab phodincha ani kehi baki hunna.”
And people, they just looked at us. Some of them suggest we go and find and ambulance to reach Thapathali. Really? Reaaaalllyyy? Even if I owned an ambulance myself, I would be making sure that real sick people get to use it. This city teaches us to be most unethical in every possible thing and not the other way around.
Worse, even the Armed Police Force people just looked at us and the guy, who walked away with our car keys. If they couldn’t do a damn thing, how could we have done anything? And they were asking us to go find our keys. Hello, what is your job? To just sit around and watch people suffer and intervene when people actually start hitting each other?
Minutes had passed when I saw a bike approaching and I recognized the rider. It was our neighbor. He stays in the house behind us and I’ve known him since forever. I knew he had some political affiliations. He was one of those neighborhood gundas when I was a kid and he did a lot of antics in our tole. I didn’t think so highly of him. I dislike his activities yet when I saw him today, I was sooo relieved. He was riding around without a helmet! Hero nai bhako ho, but I was thankful to him for the first time in my life. If it wasn’t for him, I think we’d still be sitting on the roadside, right now.
He disappeared into the crowd ahead of us but when he came back, he had our car keys. He asked me, “Kina Royeko?” As embarrassed I was, I said that I had an important interview. He asked me if I had a scooter, but I don’t. I couldn’t walk it to Thapathali in my skirt and formal shoes either. We drove back home. At least, we were safe.
I guess a lot of people might say…kina gayeko? you know how things are? What did you expect? etc. etc. But then, this is how we end up being used to things in Kathmandu.
Here, people have no courtesy at all here and no respect – not for themselves and not for each other. Not even an inch. No consideration for anybody’s situation. We spit and litter our streets and look away when we see an elderly enter a bus because we don’t want to give up our seat, and that very attitude resonates in all aspects of our lives.
I am not sure what will happen to my interview. I informed them and I do hope I am given a second chance. At the end of the day, it was about how these people behaved with us that left me numb and not me missing an important interview.
I called up my best friend. I felt better after talking. “It was just a bad day…let it go.” And with that in mind, I don’t know when I fell asleep to wake up very hungry because I hadn’t eaten lunch.