One of the other days, I was caught up in a traffic jam at Ratna Park, resulting from the same usual youth business of demonstrating on the road. With all the vehicular movement coming to a complete halt, the road was deadlock, and I was glued to the same spot for about half an hour. With no options left, I decided to give my bike engine a rest and take a look around to watch people and their activities.
An activity that I had initially opted out merely as an innocent pastime later engaged me to muse on the multiple colors of city life that the sight offered me. It seemed as if the place was a conglomeration of people from many different walks of life, each carrying a different story, a different expression and harboring a different dream. Everyone was in haste and too busy to have any concerns for the others. Working ladies, with their tired look, desperately waited for buses and tempos to head home, where their kitchens must be waiting for them. School children, too tired even to chat with each other, continued their lethargic walk on their way home. An elderly woman, seemingly an octogenarian, sat on the footpath round the corner with a few limes in front of her looking at every passer by with appealing eyes. A middle aged woman at the far end of another corner fried something in a pan on a kerosene stove, while a small baby of one or two played jocularly beside her. Up in the garden, popularly known as Shanti Vatika, gathered a small crowd with a few flags raised in the midst, where a local leader of possibly one of the fringe political parties spat out his opinion on state restructuring model. Not very far from the crowd was a group of young men enjoying their leisurely time sunbathing and eating groundnuts. At the mean time a middle aged couple jostled through the crowd towards Bir Hospital possibly because some one of their kith and kin might have breathed his/her last in the hospital bed. This was the typical picture of the life in metro in miniature.
Kathmandu, the only metropolis in the country, shelters about five million people belonging to different levels and strata of society. Every day, hundreds of both youths and adults alike, land in this city from different parts of the country. Some of them choose to stay here and pursue their dreams while many others use it only as a stepping stone to find their destiny somewhere else. For those who choose to stay in the city, Kathmandu is the land of dreams. It is where they can see their dreams materialize. It is a vast ocean of opportunities, where one can make the best choice of his career goal from among the tremendous possibilities available. It is the place where one can carve his identity and status. Everyone enters this metropolis with such utopian expectations.
However, this utopian world begins to turn otherwise not long after they have entered here. They begin to encounter a number of problems, and the first to come is that of adaptation. Very soon, they realize that they need to modify their ways of life in order to ensure their survival in the fast forward world of this metropolis. They find everything different here: the people and their behavior, the language, the so called etiquette and many more. Even civilization seems to have a different attribute. It is associated more with people’s flashy appearance. It seems as if the people here have been too tired of the old stereotypes, and have, therefore, discovered new meanings in everything.
There are more problems that hit them hard on the head in course of their stay in the metro. Water shortage, fuel crisis, inflation and black-marketing, rallies and bandhs, traffic jams and many others begin to suffocate them, and coping up with all these absurdities seems a hard nut to crack. As a result, many of them begin to cultivate fear long before they have learnt to make aspirations.
Gradually, they find themselves lost in the city crowd. The city continues to turn colder, and at length they realize that it’s not only weather that is cold but also a number of things, which appear as cold as the city weather. The people are cold. Despite living under the same roof, they hardly meet or even get to know each other. They are too busy even to smile at others, let alone help or cooperate. One who ventures to do so is often thought to be intervening or being unnecessarily concerned about the personal life of others. Similarly most of the landlords seem cold. People are often at odds with their landlords for the latter hardly seem to acknowledge the former’s identity as individuals. They seem to take pride in considering their tenants as ‘The Other’, and treating them as some kind of inferior race. Even the acquaintances, at times, turn to be cold. They don’t respond well when people encounter or sometimes visit them, but seem to find ways to avoid them.
This way, the metro way of life gradually belittles people’s ego and dreams. And eventually there is a shift of focus from the pursuit of dreams to struggle for existence. The rat race of metro life brings about a complete transformation in people, and a majority of them sacrifice their ideologies to discover a new meaning in life. The long years of disillusionment, confusion and frustration harden them, ultimately making them the perfect metropolitan citizens. They have many new things to live with: new friends, new relations, and new dreams to chase. They have left behind almost everything that was so much theirs in the past: the old friends, acquaintances, and sadly, even the family, which had so much of hope in their dreams. For this reason, there are many stories of the city still popular in many rural households. The story of a peasant father ill-treated by his city dweller son and referred to as his servant among his colleagues is still widely shared in the rural communities. The anecdote of a modern urban daughter- in- law being unable to greet her mother- in-law in that rural fashion is still a popular tale among the rural women folks. And, this vicious trend continues on.
लेखक : Santosh Lamichhane
मिती : November, 2018
लेखक : एन. पी. खतिवडा
मिती : 2016
लेखक : Laxmi Prasad Devkota
मिती : Evergreen
लेखक : Santosh Lamichhane
मिती : September, 2015