The girl who wants to fly (an acrostic)

“Rhiannon is my name”, she said.

“Hey, want to know me?” she said.

“I am a girl out of this world”, said she.

“And so, would like to fly higher than the tallest tree

Never landing on lands

Never with broken hands

Over to the moon or even far but

Nay, that’s impossible. I am inside a jar!”

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A BREATHE OF ROLPA AIR: Something that I needed to end 2014 gracefully.

Quarter-life crisis! Yup, that is exactly what I thought I was going through. No kidding! I seriously thought my life was pouring out all the teensiness, which I had unintentionally suppressed inside during my actual teenage days, that too at the age of 20. No passion, no source of pocket money or job to keep me busy, no interest in studies (even though I was in Bachelors, second year already), no energy, no productiveness and most of all, no direction of life. To top it off, United States of America was gulping all my beloved friends one by one. These had been my serious problems that haunted me like nightmares.

And that time, Rolpa came in my life. Came in like a breathe of fresh air…

It wasn’t that I had not been on a trip before. Bandipur, Chitwan, Lumbini, Bhojpur and Sunsari; in fact, 2014 was full of road trips for me. But Rolpa was special. It IS special. The thing is, I don’t know how and I don’t really know why. But Rolpa became something that just came all of a sudden and then made me realize many things all of a sudden. And although it didn’t pull off a 360, but at the time when life was so lifeless to me a 180 degree turn of vision was enough for me.

So, now how should I really start off with my travelogue about Rolpa? Should I start portraying pictures (in words) of the mountains I got glimpses of? Or should I express the harshness of the cold Libang wind? Or how friendly the inhabitants of that place were? Normally, I’d do so. Before I went ahead with this write up, I had even searched for ‘tips for writing a travelogue’. But then I realized if I write it that way, I will be creating another junk piece in my drive; I’ll be writing it just for the sake of writing it. So, I discarded the idea of describing about physical aspects of the trip. And believe me, all those mountains, climate or people– it was nice to see/meet them, but it wasn’t something that changed me; it was something that just accompanied me to change myself.

Time! Yes, Rolpa gave me time. It gave me enough time to think. Think about myself, think about my pursuit of a good life, think about my bygone days and think about what and how I think. Pondering over the issues that had made me uptight was all I did during the whole trip and it was all I needed to do. Many people say, over the top thinking is not good, but for me, it paid well. The trip gave me a new place to think at, new people to think around and new weather to think with. I had to think about myself and my life in a whole new perspective now that the circumstance had been changed.

After coming back from the trip, I realized I was caring more about the negativity that surrounds me than the positive things that protect me. I needed to subtract the negativities somehow to be happier.

After coming back from the trip, I realized it was time for me to let go of the job which I had forsaken for my studies, the job which I had enjoyed so much, the job without which I felt incomplete. In order to embrace new jobs, experience varieties of work and make myself capable of those jobs, i needed to let it go.

After coming back from the trip, I realized that people come and go in life. I won’t be able to make them stay with me all the time and hide myself behind them. I am able to live a life without being dependent on others too.

And after coming back from the trip, I realized that without any direction, life can go on quite well. It is more interesting to be taken away by the wind like a bird than to sit on an aeroplane for hours to get to a place.

And this is how I could let go of the worst nightmares of 2014 with new blooming dreams of 2015. I still haven’t figured out what my passion is. I thought that could wait for some time. Worrying is not going to be a part of this year. I am going to make sure I enjoy all of 2015. I am going to be the ‘Rhiannon’ in the song by Fleetwood Mac. I am going to take to the sky like a bird in flight, be the girl taken by the wind and sky

Note: This piece of writing might be less of a travelogue and more of a personal journal. I express my apology if I happen to disappoint you in any way.

MY 20 YEARS OLD MONEY-MINDED SELF

She was 17 years old when she got her first job. She was in the UK with no financial support- she had to get a job. She sweated a lot to get it and she sweated a lot even after she got it. She hasn’t been so proud of herself since then.

He was 19 years old when he got his first job. He was the eldest son of his family- he had to get a job. He failed the first time he tried to join British Army but succeeded on second attempt. He has been perceiving struggle as an integral part of life since then.

The lady I am talking about is my sister who is going to celebrate her 24th birthday this July. She is one of the two people who unintentionally instilled in me the desire to work at an early age (before twenty). When I heard the news of my sister working as soon as she went abroad I was just 13. While we talked virtually I could sense her confidence boosting. No matter how hard it was, because of her teen spirit she learnt everything very quickly, she used to tell me. I started wishing, “I need to get a job at seventeen and I need be like her!”

I got a job and I became like her.

Wait, let me rephrase it- I got a job, ‘but at eighteen’, and I became ‘somewhat’ like her.

You see, in Nepal most of the S.L.C passed student utilize their free time doing an internship at an organization. But even though I wanted to work like my sister, internship was nowhere in my mind. May be I was still naive at that age. Yep! I was naive; everyone said so; like I knew nothing about anything. But that all changed after I gave my plus two. Actually, when I was in my plus two, I had wanted to do an internship for a magazine that I adored a lot. And to my luck a woman from that publication house called me offering not just an internship, but a whole job; I felt as if my time to shine had come (with little exaggeration). So, in order to add beauty in my entirely empty CV and some knowledge of experience in my entirely empty head, I had to compromise a whole year. I had just turned 18 then.

Now I am 20. Everyone (my family and friends) says I have changed. I bet they are right; I have changed, most likely in a progressive manner. I can’t count my fingers to point out specifically in what ways. But, I can assure I have become confident, outspoken, not hesitant to do something, and grew in terms of knowledge too. And I have become somewhat like my sister who is proud of herself and independent in terms of decision making. But I can’t be as active as her. I am guessing, I will never be. Oh well, two out of three ain’t bad!

Let me move on to the second person I talked about in the above lines, my 50 years old father. He is a good father, a knowledgeable father who has lots to share about life and struggle; he who thinks one has to pave their own way to heaven on earth, no matter the failure that might come across, because he did the same for himself too. He is the other person among the two who has inspired me with his deeds and words to do something impressive at an early age and allowed me to be my own master. Because of him, I got the urge to work and impress him with my ability and make him proud. He always told us hard work and dedication are not bitter, they just make you better. I got to experience that before turning twenty and I am proud to boast about it.

But there is a little secret to tell…

The job which i got in my late-teen didn’t take its toll on me. Nah, definitely not! BUT… i eventually  started seeing money in the flowers my mother planted in the garden. No pun intended, but I had even earned two rhino-printed-notes by selling cycas leaves to a floristry last month. All I ever wanted was to earn some pocket money, but without knowing my motive was dictated mostly by money.

After I gave up my work to study, I thought I’d manage the finance somehow; I’d rather work as a contributing writer so that I won’t have to bother my parents with monthly allowances. But god! My desire to make few bucks would not stop. It turned so strong that these days, more than 55% of my day is spent thinking about ‘money. How to earn enough? And how can I save and expend?’ I don’t remember the last time when my mind wasn’t occupied by economy at all. Sometimes it frustrates me to not have money and instead of working my energy on studies, I sleep the frustration off. And this has happened many times. I am just 20, I don’t want to be the one running after money from this age!

Some people who worked in their teenage years don’t have problem with being money-minded. One of my male friends, Grishma Gurung, 20 says, “It is not a big deal as long as you look more at the better things working has to provide. It is the smallest fraction of it.”

Sumitra Gc, 17 shares, “The main outcome of working at this age that bothers me more than being money minded is not being able to spend more time with friends and family.” While I nod vertically she adds, “We get ‘a day’ free from work. What are we to do in just a day?” Well, couldn’t agree more!

Nevertheless, like Grishma said, there are better things than worrying about such things. I will have my time thinking about money one or the other way. But god forbid that habit will last forever. Because at the end of the day, what counts is the experience that helped me to grow personally. Since it was entirely my decision to work at a young age I’ll have to make sure to not regret for taking such commitment. Consequences of it came along the way. I bore it somehow, and am still bearing. But what about you? I heard that you want to work too. Are you sure you are ready? Well, good luck with that!

Pilgrims at its best!

“Pilgrims?”

“Of course, my father used to take me and my sisters to the one at Kupondole to let us indulge in books as birthday gifts. Oh, how he loved to see his kids searching for the best ones…!”

“Ah wait, did I tell you how unconsciously I had taken my unofficial first date there just to shake off the whole awkwardness? Thumbs up to me! Ha ha!”

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Hi everyone, I am Sikuma Rai. Please ignore the above lines; I was just talking to myself. Actually, the thing is one sunny day I got to meet Pilgrims’ Managing Director for a small talk about the unfortunate accident caused by a rowdy fire in their old house on May 16 last year which burnt down to ashes almost everything existed physically therein. I was mumbling to myself as I was anxious.  You know, Pilgrims has always given me happy and sweet experiences. So, to talk about the bitter part would be quite discomforting. However, I had a great time talking with her which made me realize that my level of respect for Pilgrims Book House, after meeting Elizabeth Tiwari, reached even higher than before and I am sure it will last forever.

 

The book house at JP road, near Ganesh Man Singh building was standing tall and was as welcoming as ever as I entered taking a deep breathe. I asked for Mrs Tiwari; they asked me to wait. In the meantime, I flipped through the pages of Ranas of Nepal while a little boy ran around playing with the staffs. Before I could get a full glimpse of him, Mrs Tiwari called for me for the interview.

 

Mrs Tiwari is such a bright and cheerful woman. I guessed- it would be hard for her to recall those shocking moments despite her nature; I was right.  “May 11”, she said, “May 11 was the day my son, Siddhartha Tiwari was born and it was after 5 days that we heard the hapless news.” She went on, “As we are four sisters our family was celebrating the birth of a son after such a long time. Our feelings mixed but then our son, our little bumbum became the healer of our life.” Right then, I regretted for not clearly looking at the boy I came across before who was now playing with his grandma, Puspa Tiwari.

 

To lose something with which they grew up, something whose appearance would be crystal clear when eyes closed, would sure cause grief, the heaviest one. But Tiwari family got back again, they had to get back again. After all, their scattered customers all around the places and their cries were yearning for their return. “Their love towards Pilgrims, their tears behind the loss of Pilgrims and their wish to rebuild Pilgrims gave us a bundle of courage”, Mrs Tiwari expressed. Immediately, came in my mind a blog post of a traveller Mark Horrell (www.markhorrell.com) about his admiration and support towards the book house. There are infinite people like Horrell out there. Pilgrims family is definitely large, larger than we think it is.

 

As our conversation furthered, I could be formal no more; Elizabeth Tiwari’s amiable nature made me address her by didi (sister). She, in the same way felt close and at ease not just with me but Nepal and Nepalese as a whole. After the event, she realized Nepal was more like a home to her and her whole family instead of just another country. The affection and support given by the Nepalese supplier and general public were immense. They didn’t turn their back when Pilgrims needed them the most. “They are the ones forcing us to hit the show again. And we did hit a show”, she said. I say they hit a great show!

 

In the process of starting from a scratch the second time, Tiwari family didn’t take the chance to overshadow the dedication of their loyal staffs. Rather Elizabeth didi seemed to be very much indebted to all the staffs who stayed even during the crisis, caring less about their future or finance. One of them was Arjun Adhikari; he had been working at the Kupondole branch for one and a half year and then shifted to the former main house a year before the accident. He shared, “After whatever Pilgrims had given and done for us, treating us more than just workers, we couldn’t leave them. We had to give something back and that was what we had learnt till now in Pilgrims– our experience, knowledge and some time.” The faith in humanity still remains, doesn’t it?

 

In the above paragraph I have mentioned ‘starting from a scratch’, know why? Well, because the present Pilgrims used to be the smallest of ‘em all. No important or serious collection at all. Moreover, after losing more than two lakhs non-repetitive books, it is hard to imagine that the come back would be easy and so soon. Insurance? Nope! A little experience with an earlier accident caused way before at the old restaurant and the insurance company had discouraged to apply for another one. “It was our bad luck, which became worse as we had lost the biggest branch that had just been merged with others”, declared didi.

 

Whatever was the scenario then has changed now. It was obviously painful but mourning was not the way out. Sticking together was one of the options they had; working day and night was another and they accepted it. Despite being broken inside, all the family members tried giving their 100 percent to little bumbum and then to re-establishing Pilgrims. Among all, didi admires reaction of her youngest sister, Kahani Tiwari, who looks more after the account section, to the emergency. “She showed us how actions mean more than words; how things are and should be done when in crisis; she became the youngest but the strongest giving lights of hope to us all” ,didi recalled, “Her husband, our two sisters and their husbands also did a lot for us to which we are greatly thankful.”

 

Everything that goes up, definitely comes down. This was exactly what Tiwari family had learnt and I guess we should too. Ramnand Tiwari, the founder of the book house got enlightened; he realized material world had nothing to provide for lifetime. So, it is better to not think we have control over these things, didi shared her thought.

 

After sharing with me all these things, Elizabeth didi, left me alone for few minutes giving me time to recall her words. I looked around with a realization that my perception towards many things would change. For now I am sure of one thing– my views on Pilgrims changed; it was no longer just a source of books but of inspiration as well. Now I see Pilgrims in new light, well somewhat at a new place and as a new hope.

 

NOTE: This article was first published in June issue of HOPE Magazine. This one is the unedited/original piece.