The Festival of Reminiscence

“What does a rhombus look like?” the teacher asked.

“A Kite!” the students replied unanimously.

A rhombus in our heads was always represented by a kite. And a kite, was and will always be about Dashain, one of the most important festivals of Nepal and Hindu devotees around the world.

Lately, I have been trying to remember what is it about this festival that I absolutely adored as a kid.

Perhaps it was the month long holiday (which is now only being cut shorter and shorter as we step into adulthood!), or perhaps about the cramped shopping with my mother and aunts. May be it was about meeting my cousins after a long summer at school, flaunting our new dresses and making plans weeks before on what we would do the day we finally met. May be it was the kite flying tradition at the last moment that we always lost, because some other neighbor always had sharper and stronger thread. Or perhaps it was the amusing game of cards that the adults played as we counted the number of years when we would be able to join along.

We learnt about cards in probability or probability in cards. Whatever it was, it was certainly worth the wait.

A big part of the festival was always about my cousins. Some of us have moved abroad, some of us in the city are studying and busy chasing our respective lives, others- the younger ones, the new generation is growing up and living the times we once lived. Some of us have joined the cards table, borrowing a couple of hundreds from our parents to marvel at the game while it lasts. The younger ones are demanding kite traditions and traditional clothes, moving their tiny heads away from their iPads and tablets.

It was simple. And it still is.

As I watch from the observer’s seat, the child like excitement may have faded away, but a new set of perspectives are on the rise. For each year, it means a different thing. For each set of transitionary period, it represents a new angle of life.

It is about the buzz in the town, the shades of new color that paints the city for a short while, the conversations in the table, an anticipated break from the routine that we are accustomed to, the new set of photographs in social media. Behold the time has come and gone in a flash, what have you seen? What you have seen is all that counts.

Wishing everyone celebrating a prosperous, lively and meaningful Vijaya Dashami. May this festival bring you closer to what you’ve been looking for.

Best Wishes,

Alfa

Why Teaching is one of the most Incredible Jobs on Planet Earth or even in Mars!

No, I am not kidding. Sure I didn’t do the finances and while teachers may not appear much on Forbes list, they undoubtedly had hands in getting the names on top.

No sugar, no chocolates. No butter. Only what I’ve felt for a few years, not because I teach, but because I had the opportunity to step into some classrooms I wish I could replay time and again. And with the belief that so many more are yet to come. 

Let us begin.

First thing first. It’s Guru Purnima in Nepal, our Teachers’ Day. Yeah! Wishes to all my beloved teachers!

Let us begin again.

A few months back, one of my high school teacher put up a Facebook status that read something like this: My students think that teaching is a boring profession, but I love it anyway. (Great!)

Can’t say I wasn’t that student once. But I no longer am. If you still do feel that way, here’s an invitation to swap your eyes!

Let us really begin now.

Here’s why Teaching is one of the most incredible jobs on planet Earth (if you could find one in Mars, it would still be equally spectacular!):

LEVEL: DIFFICULT

You think it’s easy to have 80 eyes staring through you throughout 90 minutes, watching every tiny little detail of you, noting down every word you say? If you think conquering kingdoms in Age of Empires was hard, think again! Our teachers would not even need extra alliances to get through all this and win! You are victorious!

VORACIOUS LEARNERS

The one that cracked the most witty jokes in class, the one who taught without teaching at all, the one you learned to truly respect, have worked REALLY REALLY hard. It certainly didn’t happen one fine day. They are the absolute voracious learners.

INDIVIDUAL MARKETEERS

Well, this one is my favorite (one of my favorite!).

Each year a new set of students arrive in class, with freshly pressed uniforms that are smeared with mud and sand by the end of the day. Each child is different, each class is different. Some classes are noisy (I’d have to admit ours is!), some are too quiet. It’s different everyday. (We are quiet sometimes!). Teachers are the best individual marketeers in the world. She remembers what will make Sanima happy and what will irritate Rahul, which toy is Raj’s favorite and why Rima won’t do her grade two homework.

YOUR FIRST MARKET

If some of my best teachers wrote books, I’d stand in line to buy them, get them signed, not because “they are my teachers and the need to buy their stuffs”, but because they are so great that anything they touch is going to be golden. (Did it get a bit cheesy there? If it did, enjoy the free cheese. If it didn’t wait for the next cheesy line.) (While I hope they’d buy mine too! *cough*)

CHANCE TO INSPIRE THE WORLD

Loaded with cheese.

 All of our superhuman teachers are just normal people. They have crazy dreams (like owing an original Rolex Constellation, opps! its Omega Constellation! Hope you get it soon!) and they feel the pains of the world just like we do (taking about the tragedy of the commons and politics, and just plain rain pain on a motorbike). Amidst all these, they teach not just calculus and the Allegory of the Cave, but also speak of dreams, fears and courage.

गुरु ब्रम्हा गुरु विष्णू

गुरुः देवो महेश्वरा

गुरु शाक्षात परब्रम्हा

तस्मै श्री गुरुवे नमः

(The Sanskrit Mantra that says teacher is the equivalent to god and the universe.)

Bonus Point

ANYONE CAN BE A TEACHER

三人行,必有我师

(Confucius’s saying that if there are three people walking, one of them must be my teacher.)

Applying some partial rule of logic, if we can learn from anyone, then someone must be able to learn from us too.

To all my teachers out there, from the ones at home, to elementary school, high school, university and beyond. Each one of us must be honored to walk down this path of yours, to have met in this path.

P.S. Teachers have access to some best libraries around.


Wishes on Guru Purnima again! While my words will never do justice to the wonderful people and their profession, it was worth giving a try.

Til’ the next post

A student who asked too many questions in an attempt to ask the good ones,

Alfa

30 Minutes of Traveling: Stories from the Streets of Kathmandu #3

1993: 2003

1993

Rushing to college, every morning Monday through Friday, walking fast towards the slightly moving bus at Patan Dhoka. The closer I get, the faster it moves. Finally the conductor makes this unique bang at the door and sends signal to the driver to stop.
I get on the bus, no signs of seat so I stand holding on to the top metal bar with approximately six inches of gap with people next to me.I try my best not to be sandwiched between the crowd during the stop-motion jerk. Somehow the conductor manages to slither through the crowd. I hear the clickety-clack noise coming from the coins. The conductor’s hand is full of coins and ticket. He is moving his hand in a unique way to produce that noise which is a signal to pay the fare.

I tell him, ‘Not right now, let me find a seat or I will pay you when I get off.’

2003

On my way to my first job, Mundelein Bus stop, Chicago, IL. I get to the bus stop 10 minutes early, the bus arrives with the display of routes in the front. Automatic door opens, I get on the bus with no struggle. After climbing two steps, I exchange greetings with the driver while I slide a dollar bill into the machine next to the driver’s seat.
Then in an air conditioned bus, I see the privileged handicapped seating. I walked little further and get a seat near the window. I admire the view outside while I hear the automatic announcement of next stop.

Memories went flooding back 10 years, Oh where is the clickety- clack music and the Big Bang signal on the door? Where is that stop-motion jerk that alerted me from being sandwiched? Oh it’s only in my memories now. My stop arrives and I pull the string above my seat which signals the driver to stop. I get off the bus.

What a transition of transportation!

-Sarana Shrestha Parajuli


एकजना आमाले भन्नु भयो- “बाबु, यस्तो च्यातेको पाइन्ट किन लगा’को?”

अनि खलासी दाईको गुनासो- “मैले यो च्यातेको पाइन्ट लाउँदा ट्यापे भन्छन्,यहि पाइन्ट केटीले लायो भने हट भन्छन्। केटा हुन नि सार्‍है गार्‍हो छ।”

-Rojina Shrestha


Bhada Vs. Bhada

A curious little girl along with her father got inside the bus. They sat behind me. Her innocence stole my heart. She became a reason for my smile. Her fascination towards the things happening around left me dumbstruck. She gazed around and bombarded her farther with questions. She sang all the rhymes her teacher had taught her. Her mother tried hard to make her daughter stop talking, to keep her little girl from being the center of attention. But the girl didn’t fail to clear all her doubts.

As their stop arrived the conductor asked her farther for money ‘Bhada’(bus fare).

She immediately said, ‘Baba bhada ta kotha ma huncha yo dai lae kina mangi ra ko?

As they got down her farther answered her question and handed over the bus fare. The little girl proved to be different from all of us inside. She ignited enthusiasm to keep learning.

-Sefali Agrawal


Ladies and Gentlemen! It’s 31st May and the last chapters for 30 Minutes of Traveling (for now of course!) has arrived. Gratitude, gratitude and more gratitude towards everyone who read, followed and put their time to write and share their travel stories. 

I hope you enjoyed reading, reflected your good and bad times on the road inside the people packed buses. May be you got lucky with the window seat, may be you offered your seat for the elderly, and may be sometimes felt like the tuna inside the sandwich! 

They are but memories now, once the moment goes by, even after a fraction of time. 

Till then keep traveling, keep living, keep giving, keep writing, keep sharing the stories ignited inside the flames of your hearts!

Alfa

30 Minutes of Traveling: Stories from the Streets of Kathmandu #2

Variety of People

It is really amazing that we rarely observe the people we travel with.  I often look at the passengers boarding the bus. Most of the people I notice are in a hurry. Sometimes their faces vividly show their inner tension.

I notice many, while a few draw my attention.

A woman in her 60s is screaming at the young man to leave the “mahila seat” for her, but the young man wouldn’t go down without a fight. There is a Grand Pa who is kind and tries to converse with every inside the bus, a few teenage girls who are self-conscious about their looks and the dress.

Bus rides on the same route can be boring so I always try to get the window seat so I can enjoy the view and watch the people on the road. As I look out of the window I see a young man who is speeding his bike, not bothered about anything coming his way.

I enjoy the laughter of school kids the most. Their faces are the brightest.

-Sushaili Pradhan


A Day to Day Chaotic Beauty

It is 9:00 AM on a Monday morning as I stand at the bus stop waiting for Annapurna Tempo to go to college. Annapurna is the only tempo that gets me to college without the need to change vehicle in between. It usually arrives at an interval of 15 to 20 minutes. I close my eyes, take a deep breath and get myself ready for the day. It has been 10 minutes already that I have been standing, waiting, tired of the assignments due last evening.

I look around the place and I see ‘busy bees’ humming all over the place. Everyone has somewhere to reach, something to do and everyone is in a hurry. A bunch of people are waiting for vehicles to reach their destinations. Most of them are middle aged women chattering and laughing among themselves. I wish I knew what they laughed about.  An almost full tempo arrived; people stopped talking and began the ‘struggle for the seat’. They do not care about who might be watching, they do not mind if they step over someone’s foot and they do not even bother to apologize. More people are cramming themselves inside the small tempo. The scenario is displeasing.

Amidst the crowd I notice a boy of about five or six. I see something pink in his hand; I guess it is a set of fancy erasers. He is curiously observing his possession. A man is holding his hand, probably his father. With the look on his face, I assume his mind is occupied by bills to be paid, his salary date, school fees, monthly expenses, his pending tasks at office, his wife at home, and such or maybe not. What is troubling him? He has not left hand of his son all this time, but he is not looking at him either.

It is 9:20 AM and there is no sign of the Annapurna tempo. I take a tempo to Gaushala and from there I will have to take another bus to college. The struggle for the day begins for me as well.

-Riju Joshi


The Nepali Way

There’s the right way, the wrong way and the Nepali way. The slang/jargon “chalxa nepal maa” is so famous that it almost seems like we are growing into it. Most of the times it’s not about what’s right, but what’s acceptable.

On my way back sometime during May 14 in Jamal I could see a taxi and a tourist in a cycle. The cycle was on the left lane and the taxi had to take side. Without turning on the signal light, the person driving the taxi waved his hand out of the window and started cornering himself. The cycle was speeding in and the tourist started shouting “hey hey hey ” but alas he didn’t know the Nepali way and it was already far too late to stop the taxi. The tourist had to force brake his cycle.

I think he knew there was no talking through this (maybe this was something he had learned by now), so he just rolled his eyes and moved along.

-Aakriti Thakali


What can I say but utter two little words ‘Thank You’ to everyone who stopped by, read and also shared their stories. Stories on the streets have a different taste to them. Sometimes they shown us the irony of our culture, other times remind us of the beauty in life, other time they just happen like a state of time. 

This May let met take you through the streets of Kathmandu through this little project. 

Read more of 30 Minutes of Traveling:

Stories from the Streets of Kathmandu

That Piece of Metal

Three Rupees

Alfa