By LBTHAPA in Biratnagar FOR THE ROAMING POST
I had heard a lot about Biratnagar. I knew it well that Biratnagar is the second largest and the first biggest industrial city of the country. A big part of industrial activities take place from this city alone. Without doubt, Biratnagar is Nepal’s industrial hub.
However, after having reached Biratnagar, there was a different picture of Biratnagar before me. What I saw and experienced in Biratnagar was awful and disappointing. I had never imagined that I would see a Biratnagar at this pathetic shape. It was absolutely disgusting indeed.
Every street I walked was filled with dense cloud of dust. It was so much dust in the bazaar and road side that it made breathing extremely difficult. I ran back to my hotel and took out the mask from my bag. I duly covered my nose and mouth with the mask and began walking on the street. Whether it is the main street, highways or subways, garbage and filths were littered every nook and cranny. Wherever I threw my eyes, I could see filth and more filth scattered everywhere. There was literarily no drainage system built in Biratnagar. Dirty, still water is deposited in front of most of the residences and shops.
More amazing thing that I noticed in Biratnagar was inactiveness of Biratnagar sub metropolitan city. Such a rich sub metropolitan city but it was doing almost no work to manage the city is really enigmatic. Looking at the pathetic condition of the city, it can be firmly said that Biratnagar sub metropolitan city has done almost nothing in Biratnagar. Its existence is only for name sake. What is Biratnagar sub metropolitan city is doing then? In a situation like this we can blame the sub metropolitan city for only collecting revenues and feeding the corrupt officials! I am sorry for making such harsh comment about the sub metropolitan city, but this is true. I am sure no one will disagree with my comment after spending a few days in Biratnagar.
While walking on the street, I saw two poor buffaloes, which were almost buried under heavy load. But, their owner was poking them mercilessly. Those several long, green bamboo pieces must be very heavy. The weight was simply over weight for those poor buffaloes. The owner of those buffaloes however was reluctant. He did not allow those buffaloes to take rest at all. Feeling mercy upon those two buffaloes, I approached the owner and asked him to give them little rest. Upon this he said: “I know the load is more but these buffaloes can bear the load. In the meantime, I cannot allow them to take rest. If I allow them to take rest, even for a second, then it is next to impossible to bring them on their feet. That’s why I cannot show mercy upon these beasts”.
Due to blistering sunlight and lack of water, the buffaloes’ mouths were covered with white foams. They looked extremely exhausted. The buffaloes needed water and little rest, but the man driving them was ruthless. He was beating them instead. Where are animal rights group in Biratnagar? The first thing is that no animal can be treated brutally. The second thing is that there should be certain rules under which animals can be used for labour. Extreme degree of exploitation of animal is not only inhumane but also illegal.
I saw a mentally retarded person, nearby Biratnagar Sub metropolitan city. He was eating rotten foods from the road. One of the local shopkeepers told me that the man always eat food from the road for the last one year or so. If Biratnagar Sub Metropolitan City does not have time to take the man for a rehabilitation center, then at least some social organizations might have taken the man to their care. But none of them have ever come forward to help the old man, said the local people. There are several organizations which got registered in Biratnagar, which claim to help old and helpless people. But reality is quite different. Many of these organizations have been established with the purpose of pocketing foreign donations only.
Battery powered city rickshaws also known as City Safari in Biratnagar. They have definitely made local transportation a bit comfortable, but at the cost of local rickshaw pullers’ livelihoods. Speaking with a local rickshaw puller, Rampal Shah, said: “I have been paddling the rickshaw for the last two decades and it was alright with me as I was making decent livelihood. But now these electric rickshaws have forced us to a corner. Our income has drastically gone down. Now the income I make by paddling day long is not enough to feed the hungry mouths of my family. At this age I don’t think I will be able to drive or afford a City Safari. Will a City Safari owner trust me to drive and manage his battery powered rickshaw?”
The writing of this article will remain incomplete if I don’t write about the condition of roads in Biratnagar. The roads in Biratnagar are in tattered condition. It is quite rare to see a few feet of asphalt on roads. Most of the asphalts have already been removed from the top of the roads and now dust flies every direction. Over the last a few days of rain did fill several ditches and those puddles have increased the chances of road accidents. Many city drivers who are aware of road condition, always drive slowly and pay due respect to every puddle by slowing down the speed of their vehicles.
“During the rainy season driving becomes extremely dangerous on such roads of Biratnagar. All ditches are filled with water but we are simply not aware of their dept. If the depths of those ditches are deeper, it could lead a fatal accident. It is therefore, we always attempt to avoid those nasty puddles, if not possible then we have to slow down our vehicles over those puddles” said Dinakar Sahu, the City Safari driver.
This scribe had wonderful experience at Koshi barrage, which is about 55km before Biratnagar. Spending time with the SAT students was a unique experience for me. All of us saw the magnificent view of the Koshi barrage. We spent about two hours at the Koshi barrage.
When I asked the SAT students to tell about their experience in Biratnagar, their experience was no more different than mine. “The city is too dirty and dust flies everywhere. It is virtually impossible to walk without a mask. It is very hot here. It is very difficult for us to stay even for one day. However, we are glad because we had good exam and hopefully we will score good marks” said the students.
After leaving behind Koshi barrage, the driver stopped the bus at Barmajhia. We could not understand why the driver had stopped the bus again, because it was not a time for dinner. Upon this the driver said that the place was very famous for peda. I had never had peda before. The driver said that the peda available at Barmajhia were very famous. I looked up at the board, it was written ‘Asli budo bajeko peda pasal’. It means the soap belongs to the original grandfather’s peda shop. There were a few other peda shops, which also claimed to have belonged to original grandfather’s peda shop. It was little confusing but peda was extremely delicious.
I quietly visited the place where one man was preparing peda in a huge cauldron. He was boiling several liters of milk in a huge cauldron. “I stir liters of pure milk for whole day and in the end only a little quantity of peda is prepared. The process of making peda is extremely laborious.
One has to sit beside the fire and stir the milk constantly to make little quantity of peda. The peda we prepare here is very hygienic as we don’t mix any chemical. However, the sweet sellers mix too much chemicals to prepare sweet” said Ramdin Bandhu, the peda maker.
ABOUT THE BLOGGER
LB Thapa is a travel blogger. He is also the author of six books. His books have been published by Nirala Publications, New Delhi, India and Himalayan Maphouse, Kathmandu, Nepal. His book, POKHARA AND ANNAPURNAS has been translated into seven foreign languages. LB Thapa’s books are also available on www.amazon.com
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