Thursday, November 20, 2008

It’s a rare thing for me to be excited about getting up at 5am but I was today because it’s trekking time. Our bus was scheduled to depart for Pokhara at 7am so the 5am rising allowed me enough time to finish packing (which I did in the dark – load shedding) and walk the 40 minutes to the tourist bus park on Kanti Path. Sudip met me on Lazimpat and we were both happy to be getting out of the city.

Only thing, what bus? The buses didn’t show up that morning because the valley was under a bandh. A bandh is a very big transportation strike to the exponential power. Nothing moves (except feet and bicycles) and everything closes. If you try to drive you risk getting a brick thrown through your car window and if you keep your storefront open you risk the same fate for your plate glass windows. However, some of the people who own stalls or sell their wares on the street at Indra Chowk or some other alleyway or square are usually left alone. These events are designed to gain UN, foreigner, media and official attention so the main streets are where the action is.

Today’s bandh is due to the murder of two youths by, allegedly, members of the YCL – the Maoist youth force. The families and many supporters are protesting to demand that the Maoist led government take full responsibility for those responsible and provide reparations for all the loss and damages incurred. Really sad. But at least now in Nepal, the deaths of two young men calls forth a protest instead of silent resignation which is the case in so many other nations.

While heading down Kanti Path to Lazimpat, we encountered the live protests and I took a few shots along the way. For those of you who worry, don’t, we stayed safely out of the way and these shots are taken with the zoom. The protest was fronted by the security force and what we observed was angry but peaceful. We did see the bus that had its windows taken out and you can see the shattered glass on the street in the photos. There were some injuries but none that we witnessed.

It’s a surreal thing to witness for a contemporary American but makes me think about our own civil rights movement and the protests that some of my generation were involved in. More surreal still, Kathmandu and especially Kanti Path with not a vehicle in sight.


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