Tuesday, November 24, 2015

Travel diaries: Karnataka Calling!!!!! Part-1

Travel, it leaves you speechless then turns you into a storyteller. Travelling is a form of rebel and once the travel bug bites us, there is no any antidote.  To pacify my wanderlust, I have been travelling near and far (farthest is India) and trust me nothing gives you such immense happiness and vibes than being a vagabond does. 

Finally, I received most awaited break from my mundane life at the moment and this time, it's Bengaluru Calling!!! Early May, I got an email that my research on vultures is selected to be presented at Student Conference on Conservation Science 2015, Bengaluru. This was pretty exciting news for me amidst the tragedy of earthquake. I have been to India few times but with different purpose and this time I was presenting my work. I booked my flights, prepared my poster and the day arrived when I found myself wandering inside the Tribhuvan International Airport baffled with all the procedures that I needed to follow. 

I was thinking to myself, 'How can people tolerate all these complexities just to go outside the country?' However, I was also enjoying everything before boarding in the plane, I could see people rushing; some with happy faces and some sad, some confused and some anxious. Many youths were bidding farewell with their families either to study or work abroad. Awakened by a boarding call from the Air India, I hurriedly glimpsed over my elephant engraved watch ;) and rushed.

This was my first ever solo international flight; yah, I was quite nervous and happy. The plane takes off, all I could see was houses getting smaller, roads getting narrower, mountains getting closer and above the clouds. I had one hour transit in Delhi; I was thinking I could at least get out of the airport and have a glance of the capital city. 

But, as soon as I arrived at Delhi Airport, I was startled how enormous and dazzling it was, forget about getting out, I even didn't have time to stop for a while. It was completely a different world than I have ever seen. I sighed with relief when my flight departed towards Kempegowda International Airport and btw I loved the food provided during the flight, yum yum!! 

So, after about 2.30 hrs, I reached my destination Bangalore :) but I had to wait for my friends whose flight was 1 hour late than mine. As soon as I got out of the airport, fresh air blew away all my fatigue. I met some Nepali students there and helped me to contact my family in Nepal. There again, I could observe faces; some searching for their guests to come, some desperately waiting for their family. I could merely understand them.

Bengaluru is the capital of the capital of south western state Karnataka. It is one of the fastest developing states and also known as Silicon Valley of India. I have been always fascinated by South Indian unique and diverse culture. I am a huge fan of South Indian movies so it has helped me a lot to know about their culture and lifestyles. Kannada is the major language along with Telugu, Malayalam, Tamil, and Hindi etc. Hastily, I ran through the arrival board to confirm if my friends have arrived and finally, they did.

It was already getting late and Indian Institute of Science is quite far (as per the information), so we got into the shuttle from the airport. The bus was another thing that impressed me. The drivers and conductors in uniform, properly maintained seat for women, men and disabled people and lot more was so cool. I was imagining the busty bus in Kathmandu, angry driver, rude conductors. Chilling wet air pulled me back to Bangalore; wide lane roads along with greenery, managed transportation system, subways were quite new and amusing for me.

The digital screening in the bus mentioned that IISc was the next stop after 1 hr journey. It was raining heavily, we ran across the road in heavy traffic (it was crazy and stupid ;)) and finally reached Indian Institute of Science. The organizers had managed our accommodation in a Guest House of Indian Academy of Science, Jalahalli so we were asked to have our dinner in Prakuthi canteen before the shuttle arrives. The canteen was the social get together forum for us, many were the local students, some participants etc. I could hear the croaking frog inside my stomach so rushed to order; I was pretty excited about the food as I have heard a lot about south Indian delicacies. After a long crazy session with my group, we finally decided to order range of foods from North Indian mini meal to idli. I wanted to try south Indian mini meal but it was already over so had to limit myself in the paneer fried rice. The annas (brothers) in the canteen were really sweet and smiled at my broken Hinglish.

After the dinner and some interactions with other participants, we were taken to the IAS Guest house. I and my friend Anita got a room with an anonymous room partner who hadn't arrived yet. It was quite hectic day so we collapsed into the bed. In the midnight, we heard a knock on the door; first we were like staring at each other 1) Ghosts????? Nahh! 2) Men???? Hmmmm!!!! (We were used to such scenes in lot of  bollywood movies).

Slowly, we asked who it is then received an answer from a girl who happened to be our room partner from Srilanka, haha! We grinned with our lousy eyes and again fall asleep within a second. We were informed to get ready by 6.30am so we got ready quite early but again there was no presence of our room partner. I wasn’t wearing my spectacles last night, so even didn't remember her face.

Srini anna, the volunteer, was running here and there asking participants to hurry, yelling in the phone for some confusion. It was fun watching him. The shuttle took us to the main venue; JN Tata Auditorium Hall. It was a very lively spot with many participants from far and wide, volunteers announcements, dignified faces etc. The Student Conference on Conservation Science- bengaluru brings together young researchers in the science and biodiversity conservation.  The SCCS series in Cambridge, Australia, Bangalore, Beijing, New York and Hungary is the only international series of conservation conferences aimed entirely at students. 

As a sister conference to SCCS-Cambridge, SCCS Bengaluru focuses on attracting student participants, primarily from countries in South and South-east Asia and Africa. The 2015 conference was organized and hosted by Indian Institute of Science, National Centre for Biological Sciences, Foundation for Ecological Security, Asian Nature Conservation Foundation and Madras Crocodile bank Trust and held at the JN Tata Auditorium, Indian Institute of Science, Bengaluru from 8-11th September 2015.

It included 6 plenary talks by eminent conservationists, diverse workshops, 20 student talks and around 80 poster presentations. The plenaries included both technical talks and practical facets of conservation from T.R. Shankar Raman, James D. Nicholas, Krushnamegh Kunte, Sudha Vasan, Kanchi Kohli, Uma Ramakrishnan and finally Former Indian Minister Jairam Ramesh shed light on climate change and COP 21 issues. 
There were six presenters from Nepal; I, Anita and Balkumar (my classmates), Hem dai along with his wife and two very talented and congenial brothers; Ganga ram dai and Tirth dai(as he pronounced to many focusing on the last letters J). It was a quite packed conference but we still got time to socialize and connect with many experts, students and researchers from far and wide. I was very happy to interact with IUCN vulture specialist, Chris Bowden and many other renowned scientists whose literatures and works I have been following. Likewise, the conference also provided a wonderful platform to share our knowledge and experiences with many students through student talks and poster presentation. I also received lots of suggestions along with appreciation from many people. In addition, I met amazing Srilankan, Indian, African, Australian, European friends who were also contributing a lot in the biodiversity conservation in many ways. So, overall it was not only an academic sharing but also socio-cultural flow along side. I loved the local food provided during the conference but my taste buds were reluctant towards coconut sauce.

Mariamma Temple

During the conference, I and my friends also visited some nearby attractions like Mariamma temple, ISKCON temple, Sankey Tank, Bangalore Palace. I was enthralled by the beauty and glory of the astonishing ancient monuments. We ran across these beautiful places via Auto-rickshaw which was another adventure. The drivers we met were quite friendly and gave us lots of tricks and tips to shop around. I was left in awe with the massive skyscrapers, shopping malls along with undeniably beautiful architectures around the city. 

Bangalore is a complete mosaic of scientific advancement and ancient enigma. I was startled by the beauty of Bangalore palace and ISKCON temple.Manu, our new friend from Karnataka itself, volunteered to guide us around these and we are so grateful for making us feel special. Along with encountering the historical master pieces, we played some pranks which made it more memorable (Anita, Balkumar and Manu can't disclose but m sure u guyz remember it).

Bangalore Palace

I have always tried to live my life to the fullest and when you have the good company then who on earth can stop us to make the best out of everything. Tired with the hectic sessions, we get back to hostel in quite dead form but on the last 2 days of the conference, we had a moving disco in the shuttle. One night, when they played some energetic dance numbers, my innate passion just exploded out and I initiated dancing in track lungi dance followed by many south Indian songs I had never heard. Many friends accompanied me simultaneously which transformed the entire environment.

On the final night, most of us came together in the hall, played the name game, danced, teased, and took lots of selfies. True is the saying,' A journey is best measured in friends, rather than miles.' We exchanged souvenirs, gifts, delicacies amongst each other and got connected in Facebook and watsapp. SCCS Bengaluru 2015 came to an end with lots of aspiration and hope in the days to come.

                                            P.S Part 2 is more fun!!! 

Tuesday, October 6, 2015

Multi-faceted Madhes!! My Pride!!

Nepal is geographically divided into 3 regions: Mountain(15%), Hilly (68%) and Terai(17%) of total land. Terai comprises 50.27% of the total population of the country.

Belonging to Inner terai, I share a deep intimacy, affection and regards to all my Madhesi brother and sisters. I have a very complicated origin; Born in Sindhuli(Inner Terai), raised in Kathmandu(mid hill) and still look like Gurungs( as many think I am cross bred lol from Mountains). Most of my families and relatives live in Janakpur, Sarlahi, Biratnagar, Sindhuli of course, similarly in mid hills and I love traveling to mountains. I acquire the essence of all three regions in me. However at times, I felt the identity crisis. Where do I actually belong? And I console myself saying I am first a Nepali and all these traits  make me unique. I have been to almost 50 districts of Nepal, traversed all across southern plains. Danabari in the east to Mahendranagar in the west, have embraced me whole heartedly and I do feel the same about them. I equally enjoyed the salty tea with Sherpa ladies in the north and meetha paan with my bhaiyas in the south. I was instantly a part of their families, their daughter and sister. Then, I never felt the identity crisis; It's utterly impossible to limit myself into one region or group saying Pahadiya and many opine the same. I have this privilege of taking any form and avataar as I like but the important feeling that holds us is being Nepali as a whole. Either you are tharu, madhesi, pahadiya, kirat, magrat, himali or any other unique ethnic group, first and foremost you are Nepali.But today, dirty politics have blindfolded many people. Brothers are fighting in the name of castes and ethnicity and with these we have again turned back to the plight before Prithvi narayan Shah united all these different pearls into one.

Madhes, as I know is completely different from what I am seeing now. And there are far more critical issues that need attention than just these political agendas. I can see ourselves turning into scapegoat for the sake of these bloodsucking traitors who give damn about the citizens and their welfare. I don't know why we have to support such leeches ever? It's not the time to blame each other, it's the time to envisioning a better Nepal, rising from the rubbles!!!

Well, I am already frustrated talking about this so I am sharing some pics that were taken during my field visit in Madhesh :)

Mustard fields at Chitwan and Nawalparasi

Planting paddy at Sunsari&Mangoes sold at Lahan

Terai is regarded as the breadbasket of the country. The southern plain produces most of the food and fruits, supplying to whole nation and exporting surplus quantity. Discrimination is everywhere but it depends on us how to change our mentality first rather than fighting amongst each other. Trust me, I was quite surprised when my friends from madhes told me they rarely buy rice, lentils and vegetable oil as these are produced in their own lands. I wished to buy land on terai someday, and I still do!!

A beautiful woman  at Koshi Barrage

I met her during my field work in Koshi Tappu.  She was so much hardworking woman busy serving customers however she was sooo cheerful. I think  it's the asset of Nepalese. " Smiling even in the adversity"

Inquisitive & Innocent kids at Sunsari

Hardworking people in Eastern Terai

They are the ones who have to tolerate extreme scorching sun as well as spine freezing cold. They struggle all their lives for their livelihood. They are the worst hit of this so-called strike. How can we ensure happiness, rights and well-being affecting these people's lives while the rest  who are meant to be fighting for them are enjoying the delicacies served by the neighbors! 

Terai is still facing the wrath of  various social problems; domestic violence, illiteracy, lack of sanitation and much more. Women face lots and lots of problems; accusing them as witches, torturing them for dowry, child-marriage are still crippling in terai. We surely need to focus on education to reduce this gap and make them independent. Sanitation is the another pressing issue that needs urgent attention. Poor feeding habits, polluted ponds in the locality, lack of cleanliness is risking many lives.

Marching towards education

All these can only be solved only if we are educated. Hence, govt must ensure sound education system and policies in the country specially in Madhes to cope very serious issues. A single educated woman at home, educates the whole family. So, better focus and invest on Sikshit Beti (educated daughter) than collecting dowry for her marriage.

Buffaloes n kids

Kids in Madhesh share very cordial relation with the animals. Actually, they don't need toys to play with. They go swimming in nearby ponds with the buffaloes and hence animals play important role in their social as well as economic aspect. In addition, bullock-cart is a very common mode of transportation as well. 
Mothers: First teacher in our lives

An emerging Engineer

Hatiya bazaar: the traditional communal market where local products are sold in specific days within the community

Beautiful faces

 Terai harbours most of the nation's biodiversity hotspots. Tigers, Asian elephants, wild water buffaloes, one horned rhinoceros, leopards and much more make this region super special. They are rich in natural as well as cultural resources contributing alot in the tourism industry of Nepal.

Arna at koshi Tappu & Rhino at Chitwan

Scenic beauties at Chitwan and Janakpur Temple 

Terai has been an epitome of unity in diversity, happily staying together since ages. Children are the hope of a developing nation. They need to be well educated in a favorable environment so that they can contribute in regional as well as overall development of the nation.

While the whole country is suffering at the moment, madhes has been drenched in blood. Many have been expressing their views as pahades and rest discriminate the terai but I wud like to ask a question, just becoz a son get angry with his father at times, it doesn't mean they don't love each other. Terai is the father  feeding the whole nation and how come we discriminate our own father. Madhes is a part of us. We are a complete nation with dignified mountains in the north, beautiful midhills and then fertile south.  Please end the ongoing violence and work collectively towards prosperous and peaceful Terai. Nothing can disrupt the bonding we have until and unless we think rationally. Lets not be the puppets of so called politicians who are just fooling us to fulfill their selfish motives. 


                                          TOGETHER WE RISE; DIVIDED WE FALL

                                                                                            JAY NEPAL!!

PS. Thank you Adarsha dai and Manoj for providing some of the pictures :) 

Friday, August 14, 2015

Letter to Man

Few months back, I had watched a video that was shared on facebook. It included a few children: a girl and some boys. The boys were first asked to watch the girl, then smile at her, embrace her. They did all those with giggles and some were blushing. Then suddenly, they were asked to slap her. Unlike other instructions, they were reluctant to obey. A boy said, ‘Real Men should respect her, love her, not beat her.’But, recalling most of the heinous and spine-chilling incidences that have been occurring every now and then in our society has developed a sense on fear on me. What if I am raped?? What if somebody pours acid on my face? What if this, what if that?????So, I want to convey my voice to 3 most important categories men of my life; My Father and My Brother and My Male friends.                                    To Fathers:
I vividly remember when I was crawling towards you and those stout hands held me so that I won’t fall. Baba, you are the one who taught me how to deal with this world, and still teaching!!! You have been for me as a strong anchorage that I can completely rely on. We have been friends forever and you have never ever made me realize that I am a fragile woman who has to depend on men for survival. You have taught me to create my own boundaries.
The most impressive thing you have done is how you made mom to continue her studies, sent her another city for higher studies, and decided to take care of 3 young children all by yourself. I have rarely seen any such men in my society. You have been my mother, my friend, my teacher and every other form I can imagine. While our society wants woman to be demure, you wanted me to be dauntless, you wanted me to be independent, and you wanted me to explore the world. And being the child of this revolutionary father, I have always been revolutionary. You have always inspired me to work harder and follow my passion.  I would say, you introduced me to myself and what I am capable of.
Despite all these, you have also made me aware that the society is not composed of goodness; it has lots of darker sides. You have made me able to identify the negativities around us so that I can be cautious, to understand the fact ‘everything that glitters is not gold’. You have instilled the concept that we need to learn to protect ourselves in every situation rather than looking for any other person to come and save us from our plight. We sensed no discrimination between my brother and me. We both were treated equally not a pinch of differences.
So, isn’t it true that every daughter is, her father’s princess??
How can you molest a young girl aged like your daughter? How can you pinch her in the breasts taking advantage of a thickly populated bus? What makes you think that she like it? Did her dressing sense evoke you?? If so, how would you control when your daughter is in the similar attire? How would she become characterless if she comes home late by working all day and I am still a disciplined and exemplary even when I don’t get to come home for months during my field works with all men counterparts??  If my first salary makes you feel proud, how can you defame somebody else’s daughter when she is doing job and earning for her family?

                                                         To Brothers:

The day when I held you for the first time was one of the most beautiful moments in my life. To have a brother like you is having a dream come true. The way you hold me and wept for hours when mom had gone for pursuing further studies, I was your caretaker, your mom for those three years. You have tolerated all my stupidities, my crankiness, my PMS, my blabbering, my ridiculous jokes with a sweet smile. You were first audience to hear my poetry and clap me with encouragement; you were the first one to taste my salt-overdosed curry before I served it to others. I still remember when you helped an elderly woman trying to cross the road, led her through the path and pacified her panic holding her tight. You have been my bestest friend with whom I have shared all my secrets, my happiness, my sorrows, my crime partner, my game partner. You were the one to wait for me and carry my heavy luggage every time I return from my field works; the person whom I can blackmail emotionally every now and then to complete my practical drawings or the remaining dishes to be washed. I never felt there was any difference between you and me.
So, aren’t all those girls, sisters of somebody else????
How can you dare to misbehave with her taking the advantage of the dark streets? How can you dare to tear her clothes, brutalize her and rape her? How can enjoy seeing her shattered and withered? You once said that you like me the most when I smile and on the contrary how can smash those smiling faces? Don’t you remember me every time you do that?

                                                                 To  male friends:
I just can’t pen down any specific person or any specific moments which wouldn’t have been so wonderful without you guys. Like, seriously, I would say I have been blessed to have amazing male friends who have constantly supported me, encouraged and even appreciated me for my achievement. We have partied hard in the nights, danced like crazy beasts, and chattered all day, shared lots of laughter and even sadness together. I never felt insecure or have to worry when I am with you all. I was never misbehaved or treated with disrespect. Despite, you guys were quite concern about my and other female friends’ safety every time we are on a tour or some visits. This was the main reason I never had such negative impressions and had stronger bonds with you guys.

Wouldn’t she have male friends?????
Then how can you disrespect any other girl walking on the streets at night? How can you pour acid on her face just because you liked???? How can you bully her with your bunch of hooligans claiming you’re the Man??? How can you be so inhumane? Does it hurt your self esteem if she discards your proposal? Does it make your feel weaker? How can boys get seduced so easily only seeing a girl, no matter what she wears; sari, kurta, jeans, shorts, bikini or veil?
Besides these, there are men in different forms; husband, son, boyfriends etc. How come you can act so selfish?

What amuses me is, this dual character of man: protector as well destroyer!!! Domestic violence, rape, acid attacks and many other forms of acts is ultimate avatar of male chauvinism, patriarchal mindset and disgrace to mankind.
Stop blaming women for every crime you do. It happened because she evoked me. Had she not fought back, I wouldn’t have killed her. If she was my daughter, I would have burnt her alive. Women are like flowers and hence should me in the appropriate place. A girl from decent family doesn’t go out at night. We have many Sangita, Puja and Nirbhaya in our socities and we want no more!!
Enough is enough!!!!! What do you think we are; puppets???? You can say anything you want, do whatever you want? We have no value without you??? What irks me the most is women are still regarded as nothing, we don’t have any importance, not even as the creature crawling on the ground. To be true, I know no feminism, I am just fighting for human rights. It’s quite ironical, belonging to the majority of the population; I am still striving to enjoy my rights.

 As Socrates said, ‘No society can progress until both men and women aren’t developed equally.’ And I can clearly vision where my country is leading!!! 

Thursday, July 9, 2015

An account of the destructive earthquake in Nepal: Narrow escape!!

I remain traumatized from the effects of the April 25th Nepal earthquake, but I am also optimistic at what Nepal can now become.
On April 25th, 2015, I was visiting the Boudhanath stupa, one of the UNESCO’s world’s heritage sites, to meet my friends for conversation and coffee. We were busy talking when without warning, everything started to shake. The cups and chairs, tables and plates began to fall. We rushed outside the cafĂ©, not fully aware of what was taking place. We hugged each other and stood next to the wall of Boudhanath stupa. Looking up, we saw cracks in the Boudhanath stupa. It wasn’t safe. People were yelling, crying and very were frightened. We tried to console each other but earth tremors continued at random intervals, keeping us on edge the entire time. We were looked towards the buildings and stupa, waiting for them to collapse. I tried connect to the internet in order to get updates via facebook. I soon learned that even my Indian and Bangladeshi friends feIt the quake. I learned that the quake measured 7.8 on the Richter scale and that the epicenter was in a small village in the Gorkha area, 80km north-west of Kathmandu.
I received a message from my father after the quake, relieved to know that he and the rest of my family were fine. Not being able to contact them made me worried. I wanted to get back to my home, which was around 20 minutes walk from the stupa. I decided to leave my friends and walk home. I had no real idea of the devastation until left the stupa. Many people were injured , running everywhere. Some were covered with blood; Many were crying outside of their crumbled houses, or over the bodies of their family members buried beneath crumbled structures. Doctors were scampering, looking for cardboard boxes in nearby shop to be able to treat victims in a semi-clean environment. II found all of this to be very heartbreaking. I have been worried about my family, relatives and friends but I was not able to contact anyone. It all seemed sereal; like a disaster movie. I was not being able to realize what was happening.
I was passing Om hospital when I felt another tremor. I saw a large building smashing loud on the ground. The rumbling and vibrations caused by moving buildings was quite disturbing.
After a while, I began to cautiously walk towards my home. I could see that all the residence were out in the open, away from the crumbled buildings, horrified from the quake and after shocks. I saw my Mom; she hugged me I was safe. People stayed outside, frightened. We were told that we were not safe, at least for another 72 hours and thus, were required to stay away from buildings.
That night, we slept under the stars on a small carpet on the ground. We ate noodles and biscuits. It was really cold and the tremors continued throughout the night. The next morning, we sneaked into homes for some food, warm clothes, and blankets. We felt another aftershock. This time measuring 6.7. I begun to loose all hope and thought we all would soon die. The tremors made me feel so helpless. There was nothing I could do and I had never been scared in my life.
Staying outdoors with out warm clothing or nutrient food, I had become sick. A mild fever began to set in, causing me to slow down. I briefly took a look at a newspaper someone had been able to obtain. Until this point, I had no idea how destructive the earthquake had been. It surely turned out to be a black day for Nepal and all Nepalese. We have lost most of our historical monuments, lives and properties. Our tradition, our temples, our past what we were so proud of, all are gone in a glimpse. Those heritages which stood with pride are now shattered on ground as some careless splinters.
It’s been 11 days since the first earthquake, but tremors are still felt every now and then. There has been about 145 small earthquakes above 4 Richter scale and countless below that frequency. We have moved in but still we are afraid to live in our 3rd story home. For few days, I had terrible dreams of running along the rubble, falling houses like ghosts approaching towards me. It is a lifelong ordeal that will haunt us for ages.
Despite all these adversities, I could see the ray of hope; the sense of togetherness, brotherhood and unity that had been fading away from our society is rekindling. Rich, poor, high, low, Brahmin, newar, tamang, gurung, kshetri, madhesi are all together in a tarp, holding each other, sharing their food, consoling one another. Amidst the unbearable suffering we are going through, the picture of unity was heart-warming for me. Every time there was a quake, we’d hold unto each other gazing up in the sky, praying to our own Gods to have mercy upon us and rest of the time, we talked, laughed like long lost friends. We are clearing the mess, removing the broken bricks and wooden planks, supporting each other in the time of grief. This is what our society had been lacking in recent years.
May be this is what our shattered, crumbled temples, monuments are trying to say. We have had enough clashes in the name of religion, castes, and ethnicity. We were too eager to divide the nation and taken our cultural heritage for granted. Since they are no longer among us, we now realize their importance. We had forgotten the sense of unity in diversity that Prithvi Narayan Shah had instilled among us long back. We have been provided this opportunity to correct our mistakes and build our nation collectively from every nook and corner towards prosperity. We can now drag our country from of the quagmire of inequality and poverty if directed towards right direction and with proper vision.
As the consequence of World War II, many jobs which previously excluded women were now open to them, allowing women to realize their potential.  This helped change the oppression of women in western society. As per this earthquake, where most of the men of rural Nepal are either a labor in gulf countries or studying abroad, women have been the worst hit. They have the responsibility of their parents, in laws, children as a whole. Besides, young women are seen actively involved in the relief operation too. Can we take this as a hope to shake our gender based discrimination?
Another important aspect we have to ponder about is our housing system and consciousness regarding cleanliness of our surroundings and water supply. It’s a mud mortar or lavish apartments, the houses have crumbled down mercilessly, it shows how tiny we are in comparison to the forces of nature. No matter how hard humans try to boast for their inventions, nature has always proved us wrong. Taking this disaster as a lesson, we have to plan a better housing system and consciousness regarding cleanliness. This earthquake has given us the chance to either leap ahead or lag behind; and the choice is ours.
We Nepalese have a wonderful habit of smiling even in the face of adversity. I understand that we have fallen, been shaken, and traumatized but we have not given up. We will rise from the ashes like a phoenix.
I am grateful to everyone who wished for our safety and trying all day and night to secure our lives all over the world. But, I also want to request everyone to make sure our independence and sentiments be respected, we might have lost our houses but we have not lost our dignity or pride.
(There was another big quake of abt 7.2 RS after 18 days of the first quake, survived!!)

Tuesday, March 3, 2015

The Vulture Song!!


MAR 02 - In 1832, the English naturalist and geologist Charles Darwin described vultures as “disgusting birds with bald heads formed to revel in putridity.” Since time immemorial, vultures have been always been characterised as ugly, cruel, greedy creatures.
The term ‘vulture’ is also often used to refer to someone who exploits others.
But are these birds that ugly or cunning? If one looks at these birds carefully, you will see the other side of these magnificent birds. To hate vultures is similar to hating people who sweep the streets every morning and keep our cities clean or those who collect and manage garbage. Vultures are the nature’s clean-up crew. These birds play an important role in maintaining a clean environment through rapid consumption of animal carcasses and human dead bodies that undergo sky burials practised in some parts of Nepal and Tibet. By devouring filthy carcasses, they prevent the spread of disease. According to a study done in India the number of feral dogs increased resulting in more rabies cases due to a sharp decrease in the number of the vultures.
Birds in need
There are 23 species of vultures present in  the world while nine of them are found in South Asia. Nepal supports all nine species: six residents and two migrant vulture species and one which was recently recorded. They are white-rumped vulture, Lammergeier, slender-billed vulture (critically endangered), Cinereous vulture, Egyptian vulture (endangered), Himalayan griffon, red-headed vulture (critically endangered) and Eurasian griffon. The long-billed vulture is the most recently recorded member of the species to be spotted in Nawalparasi, which makes Nepal rich in these birds. The population of three vulture species—white-rumped, slender-billed and long-billed—once stable and collectively numbering between 10 and 40 million have declined by 99 percent in the last 20 years. On monitoring vultures in Nepal, it has been found that there has been a 90 percent decline in their general population from 1995 to 2009. The near complete disappearance of these birds is generally considered to be one of the world’s most significant recent ornithological conservation catastrophes.
The next step
Various reasons such as deforestation, habitat loss, lack of appetite have caused the decline in the number of vultures. But the major cause for this catastrophic drop of vulture is the use of non-steroidal anti-inflammatory drug, diclofenac, used as a
painkiller for cattle and humans too. In 2006, the Nepal government banned the use of diclofenac and recommended the use of meloxicam, a better and safer replacement.
Still, to ensure the safety of the remaining vulture population, in-situ conservation and availability of safe food for the birds along with conservation advocacy and awareness programs are equally important. Conservation activities, however, cannot succeed without the participation of people. Realising this, Bird Conservation Nepal, an NGO, along with other stakeholders began community-based conservation of vultures through
the establishment of a vulture restaurant in Nawalparasi back in early 2006. At present, there are six vulture restaurants in Nepal.  Apart from providing
food to the birds, these sites have been developed as  research centres for scientists to study the biology and ecology of these threatened species. Besides, it also provides an opportunity for eco-tourism, which eventually supports the livelihood of the local communities.
Intelligent creatures
On the research front, studies on vultures are mostly limited  to their distribution, current status and threats to these birds, excluding a very important aspect of conservation—behavioural science. The conservation of endangered species requires that we know enough about their natural behaviour in order to develop effective policies and protection measures. Failure to identify the behavioural needs of these endangered animals will undermine the species’ potential not only for survival but also for evolutionary change.
It is sad that these disappearing large birds have got little sympathy for their plight due to their macabre reputation in comparison to other animals like tigers or rhinos. But trust me, vultures are far more beautiful and intelligent than we think. The world will be a rather disgusting and greedy place without them.

Wednesday, January 14, 2015

Awareness through Art!!

As the saying goes,' A picture is worth a thousand words!!' 

On the joint collaboration of US Embassy Youth Council (USYC), Animal Rights Club (ARC), & YUWA, drawing competition was organized within the students of Shree Malpur Secondary School, Sauraha Chitwan. Program was conducted with the theme of the conservation of endangered Asian elephants on 11th January, 2015. Altogether, 44 students took part in the competition who drew the pictures of elephants with the message - "Hatti Mero Sathi" i.e "Elephant: my friend".
There are approximately 16,000 working elephants in dozens of countries of Asia and 208 in Nepal. Mahouts often do have a deep and genuine care for the wellbeing of their elephants. For example, traditional mahout culture includes Tharus, who are known widely for their strong bond with nature and animals. But still they are compelled to treat elephants with cruelty because of the widespread misconception that pain and fear is necessary for controlling an elephant. The main reason for using pain-inflicting methods is not cruelty, but an unawareness of the existence of an efficient, animal-friendly alternative.

These days we have also been hearing about negative responses from tourists about how inhumanely elephants are treated. Hence, realizing this fact, this program was a small initiation to imprint the young kids about the elephants and their welfare. Surajan Shrestha,ARC's President hosted the program in the presence of School Principle, Krishna Dutta Poudel and Chief-Guest, Dhurba Giri from Sapana Village Lodge. Dhurba Giri delivered the powerful speech with the idea to do a business with elephant without using them for safari or other abusive activities. He is the first private elephant owner to initiate chain free corral in private elephants.

Students were also shown video of conservation of endangered species via projector. After that, they were distributed prize according to their position. Altogether, 7 students were awarded.
Winners from Secondary Level (Class-7,Class-8, Class-9, Class-10)
First - Ashmita Giri
Second - Suman Bote
Third - Sujan Darai
Consolation - Sandesh Lama
Winners from Primary Level (Class-4, Class-5, Class-6)

First - Channu Ram Mahato
Second - Alisha Mahato
Third - Ashmita Tamang

Besides this, I also realized something that pinched me within : differences between the private school and govt schools or say so called rich and poor. if I had conducted such competition in a private school then, every student would have their palette, sketch book, brushes etc. they would have drawing classes with qualified teachers while the principle of the Malpur (govt school) said, 'Here students cant bring the notebooks as they can't afford them, it's unimaginable to expect the colors, brushes from them." It is really sad as many of them were really good, but they lack good instructor and materials. 
Pictures drawn by the kids:

Keeping that aside, the program was successful and I am grateful to USYC, YUWA, ARC and my friends cum volunteers.

Into oneself !!

TIME: a simple 4 lettered word which is the most powerful thing. It can create topsy turvy changes in a glimpse. Time transfigures everything and everyone. 

Recently, we celebrated New year, welcoming 2015 and bidding farewell to 2014. The whole one year has gone and another has started but along with time, are there any other changes? We talk about developments in our lives, in the lives of people around us, in the country and even the world. With lots of advancement in science and technology, we have been passing the time even comfort. We listen to songs, read books, chat with friends, social networking sites, etc etc. We have lots of options to not to be alone.

I was wondering, how many of us just try to think about ourselves or talk to ourselves in some lone time? How many of us doesn't need any means to distract us from being oneself ? Actually, I felt this is a very important practice that we should follow regularly; giving time for yourself. This would not only refreshes you but also help you to keep on moving, most importantly we will be able to understand ourselves. This is a form of meditation for me. 

I do not know if this is the sign of maturity, but whatever it is, it's amazing!! 

Recently, I have been travelling alone to some new places, new people. I had to be formal with people, behave properly and i really missed myself. I am very informal, fun loving and joyous person. So, every time I was alone, I  talked to myself, laughed at myself. Surprisingly, it brought some positive vibes within me. For some days, I was sad to be alone, being far from friends and family but again I was happy that I am transforming. Something in me was changing and I could feel the expansion of nerves, muscles inside.  

I found peace, felt some sense of satisfaction and happiness... Hence, loneliness doesn't have to be filled with sadness, it's a journey into ourselves!!