From own turf - 12
A Sunday that was
Dhasa: Dhal Dhai
Rajiva Shanker Shresta
Last Sunday the newswoman did not deliver our copy of the Sikkim Express and it was May Day. Like many of its readers who look forward for the whole week to its informative articles on issues like culture, heritage and literature besides environment, health and yoga - more for this writer as his column Thinking local appears on the day. It has more or less been a ritual for me to write at least something to share with and as we all know how easy or difficult it is to write - more so when it is not a fiction and you have to, if not so, recollect and write from your memory which I do. Many believe that such writing keeps you fit and away from many ills of advancing age. It is thus good that the age is not coming on my way - otherwise my fading memory would have long gone its own way covered by dust of time so polluted has been the surroundings. For a relief too I sit and write something so that my readers would have some lines to go through other than sensational news that you had to read almost daily one after another from Sikkim itself all throughout the week. Personally, a Sunday morning without seeing the article published, it would be too much for me also and I had no way out but to check at the news-stand at Development Area if they had a copy left unsold. Ranjana was telling me why not to find out from the Sikkim Express office itself, but again it was a Sunday with no one to attend my phone call. I checked with their website and that too was not updated but Friday 29 April issue with front-page colour advertisement inviting/inciting/enticing "Pools 24x7 to Play and match the hot season". No, the newsstand had all sold out as most of the office-goers might have bought a copy without waiting till the next day for what they could have to enjoy at leisure on Sunday. Bijoy too could not get one and the only option left for me was to check with Bidhan Mama, who loves to wait this day only to see what was there interesting on this special day of the week - besides the subject that I dwelt upon this Sunday.
Many of us wondering what could be the possible or plausible reason for such a sudden exit of some of the regular features that each Sunday brought them - for some readers more particularly the Thinking local column of this author himself. Much later when I happened to meet a much respected elder, an author himself, whose eloquent writings most readers are familiar with and love to read, joined by his wife asked me what was the reason for such an absence that Sunday with SE. Bidhan Mama had his copy but to tell that the issue had no usual columns nor articles at page 3 but instead a full-page advertisement was there dedicated to some advertisement. Further search online could lead me to the similar advertisement in other newspapers for the day. It was the All India launch of the Pradhan Mantri Ujjwala Yojana (Swachch Indhan, Behtar Jeewan) of the Central Government. So, there was nothing left to grudge whatsoever for the space thus being of use was for some issue of national importance. Some 5000 LPG connections were to be given to the poorest of the society all over the country. It was, thus, a Sunday gone blank for us - blanked for the better. While it gave an opportunity to earn some valuable revenue to the news-dailies always on resource crunch, it gave us some relief to have a much needed break to pause and ponder the journey so far while many left to guess the reason behind.
Sunday gave us opportunity to be together as we were at Bijoy's place to meet Thulo Maiju. A family gathering like this help us recollect from the past as well reconnect with what we had missed all during past few weeks rather months. It has been three months now back from the Sojourn USA 2015 for us but for Bijoy it was a fortnight only having come spending two months with son Barun and daughter Sneha both working at Bengaluru for about a decade now. So he found much to his dismay not only the hot climate but with mounting garbage everywhere with population increased and many new constructions coming up like any modern city in this part of the world. It left me thinking, that way, was Kathmandu better placed in spite of the things going bad to worse but people still overcoming them with a smile like always. Or was it that our last visit was perfectly timed that did not see similar situation that followed soon thereafter as we were told of the bad days they are passing through with hot weather taking over like elsewhere in the northern part of this country. Keshab Mama observed, Had been to Kathmandu for 5 days ... Surprisingly, people in Kathmandu have taken all the hardships in their strides. They are quite cheerful and are taking things as they come. All flights - both international and domestic- are on regular flights. I found the roads much nicer and broader than I visited last. ... Resilience of people is exemplary. Wish Government there had better sense to give priority to electricity and water when such natural resources are at the asking in the country. This reminded of the incident Durga Dai of Banaras recently narrated to me. People there were so annoyed with their neighbouring country that when a proposal seeking hand for the marriage, they bluntly refused to give their daughter saying that were you not the ones to impose Nakabandi/imbargo on us at a worst time ever following the devastating Great Earthquake Nepal 2015. Sikkim is better positioned that way with temperature outside hovering around 20 degree Celsius during the day but I still enjoying the sun to while away my time glancing through the pages of The Week that came three issues together before I had done through the one that had reached a few days ago. I still enjoy my woollens as the morning and evening are still cool inside and during the day too if it rains - the nature here being so generous here! Otherwise, Bengaluru used to be favourite for many to make it a home to settle down after retirement for its cool weather not many years ago. Sweet home 'Rachna' for us for we have just completed 25 years having moved in in March 1991. Many memories sweet and sour, yet Home is always Sweet home. Great living in Home, your own house., comments Mitra Daju, whom I reply 'thanks a lot for it was with your expert technical advice its construction was started way back in 1979.'
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This Sunday was equally important for quite an interesting posting on my Facebook timeline by Subhash Ram Prajapati from Seattle, Washington for his page Dhasa: Dhal Dhai (meaning, If we say, they mind it) with a comment for the collage of pictures shared, Chagu he safu / cassette gwa:ka: vimochan yayema:gu? Nyak:, jhik: ki jhinyak:? Dhasa: Dhal Dhai It roughly meant 'How many times the same book / cassette has to be released? Five, ten or fifteen times? If we say, they mind it.' I just liked the posting because in the said collage, he had also given pictures of the book launch of 'The Newars World~Wide : Connecting the Dots - Sikkim' in three different countries that was itself a sort of record for the book brought out of sheer zeal to contribute something to the society at a time when the Newars were having the Second WNO Convention 2016 USA at Baltimore. Further, the year 2016 also coincided with milestones covered by the prominent social bodies there -15 Years of the Newah Organization in America on May 28 and 25 Years of the Nepa: Pasa Pucha: Amerikaye in November on Nhu Dan / NewYear's Day of Nepal Sanvat 1137 at a time when we the Newars were completing 150 Years of the advent in Sikkim. Many were unaware of this historical fact while some were sceptical as to claim that they were here since many more years ago, but where was the official document to support such a presumption. Even if it was so, the book has prodded them all a poser as to the issue of our arrival here. Better be contented with what we could give all these years to this Himalayan Kingdom that our forefathers made their new home once they were out of the mainland Nepal in search of greener pastures that Sikkim is much to the envy of every state, everyone desiring to visit here and see what is the magic all about. It was their foresight, dedication and determination against all the odds when they reached invited to Sikkim and land at a place called Black Hill. It is now better known as Rhenock that gave the first chief secretary for the Sikkim Government from the Nepalese community and also the founder/president for the Sikkim Newar Guthi, Mohan Pratap Pradhan. Chip of the old block - he was the younger son of Rai Saheb Ratna Bahadur Pradhan who with his brother Durga Shamsher placed Sikkim in the floriculture world map with The Chandra Nursery established a century ago in 1910. Rai Saheb was also the first to be included in the Sikkim State Council from this community earlier known as Paharia. As we could know from Keshab Chandra Pradhan during the Book Preview Sikkim that its was perhaps for the first time the word Nepalese was used in the document that was signed on behalf of the Nepalese Settlers in Sikkim as a felicitation to bid farewell to Sir John Claude White, the first Political Officer in Sikkim and Bhutan and in whose honour they had built the White Memorial Hall out of the public contribution. While it would not be much of a guess who was behind this word/idea was. It would, therefore, be interesting to know who all the signatories of the said document were and also to know more about from the article 'White Memorial Hall - Standing tall illuminated bright' in my book. Coming back to main issue of Dhasa: Dhal Dhai, it was thus a record well noticed as the book was launched within a span of five days at three different countries where the Newars have played prominent role in the past. A great satisfaction for me personally that in all these places most remarkable about the most happening event was graced by the prominent personalities in the august presence of dignitaries in some way Who's Who of the community. Language is not a barrier when we speak our heart out in our own language as we have lost the mother tongue dedicated to the altar of Identity some generations ago. This mere common trait of ours - trust and loyalty have brought this honour across the continents.
There were some reactions to this Dhasa: Dhal Dhai posting and as space and time do no permit me to share all, one from Dr. Bal Gopal Shrestha (former president of the World Newah Organization) with a reply from Prabin Tamrakar whom Prajapati had also tagged is given here with whatever little knowledge of the language to have attempted its translation - "More the information and publicity done for the Nepal Bhasha and books, cd, films, etc. brought out about the Newars we should appreciate. There has not been much publicity or discussion about the Newars. If it is any book, cd or film is released in Khay Bhasha (Khas Bhasha/Nepali) we all know how people go after it (and buy.) Be it launch and release or review discussion by critics many go there not only in the valley but also in Pokhara, Chitwan, Biratnagar, Darjeeling, Gangtok and even beyond in foreign countries like England, America, Canada, Australia, Hong-Kong, etc. they reach releasing them. It would be enough if we look at the neighbouring country doing theirs in Hindi language. We need not talk about the English. It is not an old thing - A few years ago a publishing house based in England brought out a story book named 'The Gurkha's Daughter' written by Prajjwal Parajuly from Sikkim. This book was launched one after another in different cities of every country the world over where English was spoken. All expenses of the author Prajwal Parajuly and participants in such function including its hosting were borne by the publisher concerned in promoting well the book. It would be too much to compare talking about English language or Hindi language here. But in Nepal also the Newars are ignorant of the activities going on in Khay Bhasha but go critical of whatever little is done in the language of their own community. Compared to Khay Bhasha nothing much is done or being done. Instead of looking down on a function or two held with whatever limited resources of their own at a time when the state is brutally crushing our language, we all should have the spirit to welcome and extend support to the efforts of the people."
"Bhaju Bal Gopalju", wrote Prabin Tamrakar justifying his stand, "Madha:sa Madha Dhai! ( If we don't say, they say we did not say), We welcome healthy criticism and comments for the sake of saving and enhancing our own music.The original 'Madhushala' when it was published in 1935, though it became very famous had to go through criticism for different reason and was defended by Mahatma Gandhi himself. When I produced Nepal Bhasa album with best singers of Radio Nepal in 1985, there was no FB to comment, the response was not too great coz no radio for us to broadcast and at the same time, songs based on folk tunes were popular in outskirts. If we could share the full version of press release of this album, it would help to know why this second volume is made and what possible impact is expected. Let this music play and get understood if given a chance but 'May Nepal Bhasa Music Prevail'. There are so many great talents waiting to be heard and encouraged. The character of 'Madhushala' created by the writer has deep understanding of 'Life' who never gives up, it could be just 'you' or anybody. We are the fortunate/unfortunate generation who speak mother tongue but there is a generation who may never enjoy and get the floor of our language. Jai Ma Bhaye! Subhaye." For those who like to know what the fuss was all about - That was Harivansh Rai 'Bachchan's while this CD was its rendition by Janakavi Durgalal Shrestha in Nepal Bhasha that also had a WNO launch like the book from Sikkim.
Disclaimer: This is author’s personal account of memories updated to cherish and treasure often on a detour here and there en route to share the joy of the journey called life. Some names, quotes, places and events mentioned are just to connect with and no malice whatsoever intended. He can be reached at email@example.com. The Newars World~Wide Connecting the Dots Sikkim is available at the Rachna Books.