Monday, November 4, 2013

Panchakanya: A Tale of Five Women

Preeti is getting ready for school after a year. She is little nervous and worried. Radha, Preeti’s mother is trying to encourage her, ‘Preeti, you are my sweet, dearest and intelligent daughter. You have to learn so much, right? Don’t worry; your friends are waiting for you.’ Preeti is a 7 years old chubby with so much intelligence. She is such an adorable child. Her presence made the whole neighborhood so lively and when she laughed, it would be echoed all over. But, the situation is different now. 

It’s been a year that she had been raped by a 17 years’ old guy from the area. The boy was like a brother to her. Who knows what lies within a brotherly embrace? The boy took an advantage of the innocent child when no one was present at home. It was a nightmare to the family. Since the very day, there was haunting silence in the family. Preeti was unaware of what happened to her. She was told that she is unwell and will recover soon. She was critically injured and hospitalized for a year. 

And after a year, Preeti is finally backed to her home. Radha does not want Preeti to be miserable. Being single mother, it was a very hard time for her. But, she doesn’t want her daughter to suffer for the plight. Radha had already arranged dates for school so that Preeti would be busy in her studies. Preeti’s friends arrive at home to go to school together. She is pulled by her friends, at the mean time she glances back to Radha, waiving her hand with a humble smile. Radha responds with teary eyes and stares until Preeti is beyond her sight. Radha has suffered a lot in her life. She decided to divorce her husband after she came to realize about his extra-marital affair. Instead of supporting her decision, family as well as the whole society was against her. She was considered as a character of hatred and shame. 

With a heavy heart, she had to migrate to some other place with her only daughter. She had created her own world there. By profession, she was a health worker. She had worked really hard to earn love and respect from the people around. Preeti was also doing well. This had healed her pain to some extent but then eclipse occurred in her life again; Preeti’s rape case. Worst part is, the convict is still missing. She was completely shattered. Bishal helped her with his whole heart. Oh! I forgot to introduce, Bishal is a childhood friend of Radha. He has an NGO working on the health issues so it was easier for her to get the job. And to be frank, he was deeply in love with Radha. His childhood crush had turned to his lady love but he feared to confess it to her. He was there for her, every time she was in trouble. He appeared like an angel to their lives. Be it the treatment of Preeti or any other problem, he was a true friend indeed. 

Every time Bishal arrives at home, Preeti rejoices. Radha too, wasn’t unaware about the situation. She could sense the relationship being developed between Preeti, Bishal and herself. Bishal was fulfilling the love and care of a father that she lacked. She was just acting to be indifferent. Suddenly, Bishal arrives in front of her, holds her hand tight and says, ‘Radha, I tried really hard not to let my feelings conquer me but I am defeated. I loved you since the 4th standard and still I am madly in love with you. I don’t know what do you feel about me but if given a chance I promise, I will love you and Preeti immensely. You both are my world and would never let anything or anyone hurt you.’ 

Radha replied, ‘Give me a time to think.’

She is standing at the edge of the cliff, recollecting all those memories she spent with her boy friend. Those days were the most cherishing moment of her life. Smriti couldn’t believe that Bishwas has deceived her. What actually had happened?
Smriti is a beautiful teenager born with the silver spoon on her mouth. She was in the best school of the city and never had short of any things in her life. But, there was something no one knew. Something was weakening her deep inside. She had no close friends. She had no interest in studies, sports or any extra- curricular activities. Her only friend was her iPod. She always had earphone plugged into her ears. She was lost somewhere .And the reason behind this was her worst family relation. Her parents were very busy person and had no time for her and even if they were at home, they always quarreled like cat and dog.

But things changed when a new boy appeared in the school. Bishwas, a very good-looking, smart, decent boy, had caused butterflies fly in the stomach of almost all girls of the class. Of course, love sprouts at this age. It was a regular day for Smriti and as always she was lost in music.

‘Hey, what are you listening to?’ asked Bishwas.
‘Somebody’s me by Enrique’ Smriti replied in a rude tone.
‘Oh,really. That’s my favorite. Would you mind sharing the ear- phone?’ requested Bishwas in his regular decent tone.
But without Smriti could say anything, he grabbed the ear-phone and started humming the song. That’s how it started. They became friends; Smriti’s one and only best friend. He appeared as an autumn in her life bringing all the happiness she was deprived of. By the end of the year, Smriti had completely transformed.

And most obviously, she was silently in love with Bishwas. There was not a single moment when she did not think about him. She wanted to express her love but feared the consequences. But luckily, the feeling was mutual. Smriti and Bishwas made an adorable couple.

Teenage is a very crucial period. It can lead into a mishap if not taken care. No one had ever imagined that the plight of the most adorable couple would turn so horrible. Their intimacy had resulted what should not have taken place. Smriti was pregnant at the tender age. And worst part is that Bishwas blamed Smriti for trying to ruin his career. Smriti was in a hopeless state. She had no idea what to do, whom to share her problem with. Forget about her parents, Bishwas was her one and only friend.

He had started avoiding her and claimed the baby to be the result of her entertainment with some boys around. She was devastated in summer love. This led her to choose the best option i.e suicide. At the moment, a song was being played in her iPod. It sang ‘Good-bye my lover!’ and there she goes like a mermaid into the white splashes of water.

‘Akanshya, I have already said that I don’t like you to arrive home late. Are you unaware of the situation out? Men are like vultures, looking a chance to devour you up. Oh God, when would you be able to understand’- mom lectured. 

This was not something new to her. Akanshya had been listening this since the time immemorial. She belongs to a very strict, educated Brahmin family. She is doing her Bachelors in Agriculture Science. She is a very talented, friendly and amazing person. Her academic record was excellent.

Belonging to a very conservative family, she had never worn dress that displays her beauty. She had a tomboy dress codes with a big wrist watch to be always aware about the time. She was never meant to be late from school, forget about the picnics, outings. She had no idea about having fun with friends, hanging around. She was so much limited and every time she asked for a permission to visit her friends her father would say,’ Girls from a decent family don’t go here and there. It is not good to walk with your “so-called” friends and laugh like hooligans. They are not trustworthy. And boys, they just are looking some chances to flatter. You are wise enough to understand. Decide yourself.’ 

And only thing she could do was nod silently and return to her study room. But, her life had a U-turn after she got enrolled in IAAS, Chitwan. She was far away from her home and could experience whatever she was devoid of. She was very much outspoken and known for her friendliness. In course of her studies, she had to travel so many places that she never imagined she would be able to do. Traveling has become her passion. And she was enjoying the explorations. 

Obediently, she seeks permission with her parent every time she comes across any field-based works. She has to assure them that at least a girl is with her during the trip. She has to explain everything and she has no bitter feelings doing so because she thinks that parents have right to know. They are worried about her safety coz they are aware about the society. During her visit to various places and meetings with many people, she has also realized that everyone is not trustworthy. Men are cunning like a fox and good like a cow too. She has to be able to differentiate. 

But the limitation still exists. Lately, she has been trying to convince her father to let her visit far-western Nepal. This was one of her favorites and most awaited work but there lies a big hurdle. She is the only female amongst the group of men. She was damn sure that her father wouldn’t let her go. But still, with a minimal hope she asked him and as expected he burst out with agony, ‘Are you out of your mind? I hadn’t expected this sort of behavior from you, Akankshya. Have you ever imagined what does our society say to such woman? How can you be so disrespectful to me? What do you know about men, huh? You will drive me crazy. This sort of activity can lead to lifelong disaster. Tell me one thing, who would be responsible if anything wrong happens with you? The only thing you can do then is jump into Rani-pokhari.’blah blah. 

Akankshya speaks out boldly, ‘Baba, till when will you be there to protect me? In the days to come, I may have to work with only men around. What shall I do then, quit the job?’ 

This was the first time, she raised the voice of revolt and it was infuriating to her father.

He yelled, ‘You have turned very indiscipline. And yes, now you are under my supervision. You are responsible towards me and later to your husband. So, stop this nonsense and focus on your studies. If the situation continues, I have to immediately get rid of you. I think I have to look after a guy to bear your responsibilities.’

With eyes full of tears, she rushed towards her room. She was so much hurt by his words. We could see how she has transformed. She just can’t agree whatever was being told to her. She was in mental conflict; either to follow her instincts or accept whatever is decided for her.

The emergency room was full of people; some were sobbing, while others were chatting with themselves. In the bed a semi-burnt body was protected within an incubator. Sita, 38, was seriously burnt and was in very critical state. Police arrived later and her brother had to go through the rigmarole of procedures as per the investigation.
He sobbed, ‘Sir, they have been torturing her since marriage. She was beaten several times inhumanely demanding for dowry. We are not well off to fulfill all their wishes but still we tried. Still, they did not stop abusing her. This time they conspired her to be a witch and brutally injured her. That was not enough and they burnt her alive.’ Sita was stripped‚ beaten mercilessly and fed human faeces for allegedly practising witchcraft. She was critically injured after the miscreants thrust a stick into her anus and later burnt alive. What sort of behavior is this? How can somebody stoop so low just for the sake of some dowry. 

Tulmaya is peering out through the wooden-carved window. The street was busy with people moving here and there; wearing their best attires; putting red tika on their forehead and jamara swinging on the head. But unlike the rest, she was there lying stationary with her shabby choli and old dhoti. While the whole country was celebrating Dashain, she was just a bystander. 

She is staying at an oldage home near Pashupatinath. Every morning she gets up at 4 am, visits the nearby temple, prays for a while then return back. ‘Happy Dashain, aama!’- I wished her. She gave a short smile and blessed me, ‘How are you? Oh, you have grown up so fast.’
I knew her since I was a child. She was our neighbor and was very nice to us. She was happy in her small world; her husband, son, daughter-in-law and grandchildren.
‘I am good aama, and you?’ 

I could see how time can transfigure a person. She was so beautiful and fine. Now, her face had wrinkled and turned dull. She was coughing almost every time. Suddenly, tears rolled down her eyes, reached cheeks and still falling.
‘No matter how badly they treated me, they are still my children. It is better to be browbeaten by them than staying here with the strangers. I wish I could die seeing them. I miss them so much.’

I remember how her world turned upside down after the demise of her husband. The way her son, daughter-in-law and even grandchildren tortured her was so much intolerable. I also heard that they tried to kill her so many times that she had to escape. And with nowhere to go, she took a shelter in the oldage home. It’s been 17 years already. It’s really strange, how a child can act so inhumanely with his own mother; the one who gave birth to him, nurtured, and made him capable enough. And when the time comes to pay her back, he kicks her out of his home.
Since, then she is living the lonesome life. She spends most of her time praying to God, chanting hymns, crying silently. ‘I hope my children are very happy and wish they have to suffer no problems in their life.’ She prayed with a wrinkled smile.

All these stories are occurring every day in our society.
A recent government survey found that 47 percent of all women report being the victims of either physical, emotional, sexual or economic violence. But 84 percent of those who are victims of domestic violence remain silent. The situation is dire. It is also observed that the countries that are most conservative have the biggest problem with sexual violence against women and human trafficking.

There are hundreds of Sita and Radha in our society; seeking justice and struggling hard for their better future. We are not fighting against the men; we are just revolting against the orthodox practices that have been affecting our society. We are born with this malady of the spirit inherited from our orthodox norms and values. We confine ourselves within the Plato's cave of shadows. We ourselves have wrapped our wings.
And in order to have a prosperous society, All members must be productive, both sexes!
So, Women widen your mentality, Go beyond the boundaries.

 Woman has different roles; daughter, sister, wife, daughter-in law, sister-in law, a friend. Above all, the most challenging is to be a Mother. She bears all those pains with a smile and gives a new life to the baby. She does everything for the baby. It becomes her life. She has to nurture as well as get tortured?

As De Beauvoir says, “One isn't born woman but becomes woman"
It is also ironical that election manifestos of different parties are not interested in reducing gender based discrimination. Women are never minority to be reserved as there are as many women as men on earth. In Nepal, we hear reports of women being tortured, raped, accused of witchcraft and being brutally killed every day. They face sexual harassment in all spheres of life. We may not have a father, a brother or a husband everywhere to save us from ‘dangerous’ men. How can a same man be Ram as well as Ravan; on one side he is so much possessive about his female members and on the other hand he is so much violent and aggressive with other women of the society. We just want men to treat us as a normal person and respect us.

Just remember, that you have the ability to end things that you don't like and to say something isn't okay when it isn't okay. You have the power to insist on good and real things for yourself. You always have the choice to walk away when you are not being treated with respect and most of all you have the right to make adjustments regarding anything and everything to your life. Life is the sum of all YOUR choices. WE RISE!!

Sunday, October 27, 2013

The Poplar Tree

Out of my arched window, I was peering through
It was a quite sunny morning with cool breeze.
 Birds were chirping loud, people were rushing
But I felt a deep silence continuously whistling.

A smile appeared suddenly on my face
 And my eyes were wide open with grace
Coz I saw it born again
Battling through all those pain.
Yes, the Poplar tree which got killed
Has revived one more time.

I do remember it’s mighty trunk
With giant bushy branches that got shrunk
How the birds hovered around n nested there
And in turn, the way it always showed love and care.


I used to lean at its trunk when got tired
And talked for hours as if I was sired
The way it relieved all my pains
I would have saved it at any instance.

But, one cruel morning, some barbarians appeared
Chopped it into many pieces and the field was cleared.
I wept and pleaded on my knees
To leave it and asked for choppers to seize
But my turned mute to those brutal men
Instead they had browbeaten me as if I was insane.

Since then, there was no chirping heard
No cattles grazed and no rains occurred.

Seeing the green seedlings again in the field
All those sufferings got magically healed.
The Heaven has spoken that no one can decree
That the plant will rise high and above, yay, My Poplar Tree!!!

Friday, July 5, 2013

A Journey to Remember

Never stop just because you feel defeated. The journey to the other side is attainable only after great suffering. 
Life is full of uncertainties and surprises and this is the reason why we can take a look at the past and always cherish those moments. 

I remember the day 24th June,2013 which holds a wonderful cover story. Actually, I have no words to explain that moment, every single part of the day but still I tried to scrabble. I was on my way to Pokhara after spending some quality time at home. I like to travel a lot but not in vehicle. I just hate to be limited to a seat and spend soo long time doing nothing. But, I am compelled sometimes. Another thing is I am very gregarious and a chatterbox. I feel really bored when I have a very silent company beside. During my journey, I have  met many types of people; some are too serious, some are funny, some are irritating, some are adorable and some very creepy. I specially travel via tourist bus so I meet many tourists too and I just love to talk to them as I could talk about my country, people, culture and many more. And that day too I had an amazing person but she was Nepali.  
I was happy to have a sweet person by my side without knowing what's waiting ahead. Hehe, on the way we came to know that a district- Tanahun was declared to be banda (on a strike)
It was around 11.45 am when we had arrived Dumre but all the buses were compelled to stop until their(strikers) demands has been fulfilled.  Oh God, there we were stuck at the  bus in scorching sun. Later, we decided to walk around the town. We were not sure when the buses would be set free. I had never been in such situation but was enjoying little bit.  We kept on moving here and there and came to know that football tournament was going on nearby. I was really excited to see the match as I am a crazy fan of football. How would I have known that it was a very wrong decision. As soon as we reached the playground, we heard some noises from the highway. I couldn't believe my eyes when I saw our buses was rushing ahead. i felt like a dream and my mouth was left wide open. Oh God, we ran like crazy beasts.

The bus was already out of sight. I had no idea what to do, my blind was completely blank but sooner I came to realize I need to call the driver. We were already mad and hah, our great NTC network, it was also adding the problem in a sweet way saying 'Sorry, we are unable to connect at the moment'  Finally, we were  able to connect to the driver but instead of consoling he was angry at us for our stupidity.  Ergg, the situation was frustrating. 

Suddenly, we saw a police jeep nearby and thought of asking help. But as per my expectations, they did not helped us instead they tried to magnify our difficulties. We had no idea what to do except running. 
It was so damn hot, we ran out of water and very very tired. Later, my phone rang and it was our driver who informed that he is coming in a motor-bike to receive us. We were relieved and grateful. Fortunately, there arrived a bus and we thought of asking lift . 

The bus had gone really far and we were really worried. if we had to run across it would have taken hours.  Finally, we reached where our bus was resting. We were completely wet with the sweat and my face had turned red. We both were panting so badly. We were soooo happy to catch the bus that we yelled madly and hugged each other. I never had any such experience in my entire life and I felt so much glad for the achievement. It felt awesome to recollect that moment. We both kept on laughing and laughing remembering our plight few minutes ago. I came to realize what it meant to lose something and get it back with so many hardship. 
I realized that no matter how hard it seems we should never be pessimist and work harder to achieve it. And if we wish it from our heart, the universe conspires in helping you to achieve it.
The way we spent 7 hours in a bus, the way we ran to catch the bus, the way we yelled, the way we finally made it. All those will be safely engraved in my heart. I am grateful to have such moments in my life which always inspires me to move ahead and enjoy every moment of the life. Kya pata Kal Ho na Ho

“It is good to have an end to journey toward, but it is the journey that matters in the end.” 

Wednesday, June 19, 2013

Voice against Assault!!!

Oh God, not again. I don't know why newspapers are always filled with violence against women in different forms these days. You know what women are always susceptible to violence in each and every step of her life. Between April 2012-13, WOREC recorded 793 cases of domestic violence, 200 cases of social violence, 256 cases of rape, 42 cases of attempt to rape, 163 cases of murder and 22 cases of attempt to murder, 32 cases of trafficking and 55 cases of sexual violence. It is not common for women to seek assistance from any source for violence they have experienced; 77% have never sought help and 64% have never told anyone.  Beyond such direct forms of violence, women experience violence when trafficked into forced labor or prostitution. Between 5,000 and 12,000 girls and women aged 10 to 20 years of age are trafficked every year, 75 percent of whom are below 18 years of age and the majority of whom are sold into forced prostitution.

With a heavy heart, I rushed towards my college. On my way, I saw some bunch of hooligans at a corner cafĂ© as always. They are quite famous among girls. C’mon not because of their looks, because they are experts in teasing girls passing through them. One of my friends, Kriti was once surrounded and terrified by foul words. I still remember how she came panting and crying. Sometimes they try to stop your way, sometimes play with your curls, sometimes flirt, and sometimes even touch your body. Luckily, I have not come across them and I am avoiding them as far as possible. But, I guess we can find such groups at each and every corner of the street who try to offend you.
Waiting for a bus is the hardest job for me and I really hate as the bus is always over-packed and we have to squeeze like tomatoes. This is another place for violence as the situation is so vulnerable. Some creepy men would love to take advantage of the situation and try to touch here and there just to calm their “Burning desires”. Being little fat, I always spread myself and always aware about what’s going on around. Once, a stupid, ugly middle aged man came shrugging near me. I was sure he had no good intentions and I am always ready for such situations. I immediately took safety- pin from my bag and hid it. As he was rubbing his arm against mine, I pierced the pin (U can imagine the pain) so hard ;), he yelled with pain and ran away to the next side of the bus. I felt so happy as if I won a big battle for my independence.
I have been advocating against the gender violence through my facebook page We Rise. Similarly,I always advise my female friends how to tackle the situation so that they don’t have to break down emotionally or physically.

You can imagine that the situation is dire. But we can’t just keep on being exploited and tortured. If we wait until all is prefect to move, we will never move ahead. If we can be soft and kind, we also can roar and fight. 

Friday, May 31, 2013

World Environment Day 2013 : THINK, EAT, SAVE

Every morning when the clock strikes 9, my mom yells loudly from kitchen in an alarming tone ‘Everybody is invited for the food, do please trouble yourselves and eat.’ We rush towards dining hall as if we are released from the dark dungeon.

My mother has a strange habit, every time she serves food, she always gives us lesser than we need. And I always used to demand her more as I need heavy appetite ;) I would like to quote her saying, “I would prefer to serve lesser food than wasting it carelessly.”

I used to be pissed off often but ironically I always had to eat much, quite full indeed. I was the only child whose stomach is composed of transitional muscles so you can stretch your belly as much you want, while others had quite inflexible ones. Hence, I had many nicknames like Miss. Humpty Dumpty, Miss Baby elephant, Miss Food Almighty, Miss Food rescuer, Miss. Scooby Foodie Doo but the most widely known was “The Living Dustbin”. Here comes the giant the living dustbin who never waste any food, don't worry if you can’t finish your food coz Anisha, comes to the rescue (imagine myself wearing superman’s costume with spoon and forks clinging on my long thick hair).

Do you think it’s cool? Ummmm, maybe or maybe not. I used to give a don't mess with-me look if sometimes any tom, dick and harry start teasing me. But, I agree that I love to devour like a hungry lion and I had no control over this feeling. When I see the sweet, salty, sour, spicy multi-colored, multi-flavored dishes spreading their arms (I mean smell) and calling me so gently. I just can't say no, it would be so rude, right?And this became my habit or say addiction. I am happy for my love for food since the day I came to know about this: 

According to the UN Food and Agriculture Organization(FAO),every year 1.3 billion tonnes of food is wasted. This is equivalent to the same amount produced in the whole of Sub-Saharan Africa. At the same time, 1 in every 7 people in the world go to bed hungry and more than 20,000 children under the age of 5 die daily from hunger.

Not only that, if food is wasted, it means that all the resources and inputs used in the production of all the foods are also lost. It is really frustrating to see the facts indeed. On one hand, people are dying just because they don't have food to eat and on the other hand people are throwing food like its nothing.

Do you know how much hard work, patience does it require to produce a single grain?
Only the farmer can better understand the value of the grain he produces. only a starving person knows the value of food. While people of Humla and Jumla have to wait for a helicopter loaded with some bags of food to fulfill their hunger, we the Kathmandians have problems with our waste. The situation is very very dire and we gotta act very soon.

Stressed? Of course, after such eyebrows raising dialogues  everyone should feel guilty. But does it suit for the most so called 'intelligent' creature of the earth to be mute spectators and stare the whole self created problems with the hands crossed? Or are we waiting for the problems to be overwhelming?

We have a habit of taking chill when the problem can be addressed and later when everything slips out of our hands, we start trumpeting far and wide. The issue will get a political attention and turn out to be another burning issue.

"It is the greatest of all mistakes to do nothing because you can only do little- do what you can"- Sydney Smith(1771-1845) Writer, Clergyman.

And I am really happy to be called whatsoever coz I have been doing what I can do from my side. C'mon I am not asking to do hunger-strike or stop eating foods you love. That's rubbish if you expect so. The thing is why we don't turn ourselves into our own dustbins rather than turning this earth into a massive dump site. We can reduce our diet little bit rather than throwing it in the bin which ultimately mixes with the environment. One grain reduced is hundred saved, and see we can also control famine. If we wait until all is perfect to move, we'll never move ahead.

So, are you ready to share my nickname? For that, Think before you Eat and help Save our environment!


Wednesday, May 22, 2013

The Dark Side

The tusks that clashed in great battles are just showcases
And no more wild as the wilderness is gone
Have turned to living specimens with nothing own
Compelled to live behind the bars
And hear the human’s noise and tease.
The legendary is dead and gone.

Yes, this is the plight of almost all the captivated elephants in the Chitwan. Recently, I had a chance to visit Sauraha through WEPA. Altogether there are around 80 elephants in captivity including private owners, elephant breeding center, hattisar and NTNC. Elephant riding, bathing etc have been one of the major tourist attractions contributing in the Nepalese tourism industry.

Elephants had been close to human since ages. Airawat, the vehicle of Lord Indra was an elephant. In Shri Swasthani, story of selection of a king by elephant is quite famous. Likewise, most importantly, Elephant is regarded as a symbol of Lord Ganesha too.

Similarly, elephants are also linked with the monarchy as we have heard that kings used to ride on elephants around the city and hunting was done riding on elephants. This clearly shows that elephants were captivated since time immemorial.

Still many of us would love to visit Sauraha just for the elephants. But, do we all know how the wild, strongest, largest mammal on land would follow simple instructions by the tiny man? They are so intelligent creatures but still how are they compelled to work like slaves?  The story is very frightening.
Being the most intelligent and knowledgeable species of the planet, humans have established their supremacies. It’s their mind and their discoveries that have made them most powerful. As per Hakku kale’s dialogue ‘Bal hoina pasa buddhi laga’ we have used our mind.

However, the job of training an elephant is not so simple and easy. These magnificent creatures are accustomed to browsing in forest, mud baths in the river banks. But, young tusker about 2-3 years old, is trapped; he is tortured, left to starve for many days, beaten severely, pulled with rope from the opposite sides, threatened with fire or smoke, and applied all the harsh and inhumane ideas. He is isolated, frightened. At the end, his spirit is shattered and is made to surrender. Once, a cub was killed during the training in Chitwan. There are many such horrifying stories.

We may not have seen all the procedures but if anyone of you has done the elephant ride or bath, have you noticed the scars in the body? The mahout continuously hit the elephant with the sharp metal i.e. ankush or bill hook. . Some even have their ears torn, bruises on the skin.
There are approximately 15,000-16,000 working elephants in dozen countries of Asia. Mahouts often do have a deep and genuine care for the well being 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 them with cruelty because of the widespread misconception that pain and fear are necessary for controlling an elephant. And the main reason for using pain-inflicting methods is not cruelty, but an unawareness of the existence of an efficient, animal-friendly alternative.

The traditional training mechanism also causes safety issues for mahouts. Elephants with painful memories occasionally attack their handlers, resulting in hundreds of deaths per year across Asia. Hence, new, improved training method is being implemented by WEPA in Chitwan and Bardia. This training procedure, often called “Positive Learning Method” has been designed to combine a maximal reliability of elephants at work with well-being of the elephants and safety of staffs. This is achieved through a detailed understanding of an elephant’s brain functions related to learning.

The advantages of Positive Learning method over the traditional pain inflicting methods is that detailed attention is paid on the clarity and timing of the signals the trainer gives to the elephant and another element is an understanding on how to motivate the animal to follow each command in any circumstances like providing awards. With these skills, the trainer can control the elephant without harsh behaviors. The elephant also learns faster compared to traditionally trained elephants, and carries out its tasks with reliability and precision along with mutual relation with the mahout.

Whether in the wild or at work, elephants are among the most intelligent of all land mammals, and are capable of complex social behavior and communication. And to sustain our elephant based tourism, we need to replace the traditional inhumane approach as the tourists are also very much concerned about animal welfare these days. Hence, positive learning method is to be implemented, tested and verified for the betterment of elephants, mahouts as well as nation as a whole.

Monday, April 29, 2013

Water, water everywhere – but no water to drink!

 “I remember when I was a child. I used to watch the rivers flow with all its heavenly beauty. Devotees thronged there every morning, children took a delightful stroll into the sparkling waves, couples would bask at the bank of it and enjoy the cool breeze.” – my father reminisces.

But I never got to enjoy the rivers. What I see is the dark, hellish filth mistaken as rivers. No one can walk along the riverbanks without masks; foul smell hits our nose. Rivers have become dumping sites. Rivers – once known as the source of civilization – would be the fall of civilization.

Every year many die of diarrhea, dysentery and cholera. Not only humans, as animals also have died by drinking the poisonous water mixed with hospital wastages. No birds hover around the rivers. It has become a place of disgust.

Rivers which was regarded as bliss has now turned in abyss.
How? Good question.

Mahatma Gandhi once said: “Earth can fulfill one’s need, but can’t fulfill one’s greed.”
Who else can be so selfish as we, the so- called “intelligent”? In the name of development, we have destroyed every natural gift – cleared lush green forests, blasted rugged terrains and polluted pure rivers. No matter how hard we try to prove ourselves as the most developed, conscious organism, our deeds are worst than animals. We are the culprits.

Now is a good time to ponder; how does our action relate to the lives of the last person in society. In the last 10 years, the population of Kathmandu Valley has increased from 1.7 million to 2.51 million, according to the 2011 national census.

With the sharp increase in population, the demand for water naturally also has gone up. Currently Kathmandu Valley needs 350 million liters of water per day. But even in rainy seasons, KUKL (Kathmandu Upatyaka Khanepani Limited) is only able to supply 149.62 million liters per day. And during the dry season, the supply drops to 90.59 million. Hour-long power outages also prevents KUKL from pumping sufficient groundwater during the dry season.
As KUKLs supply remains erratic and unreliable, an increasing number of Valley residents are now dependent on the water supplied by private suppliers. Some families have not even installed the government tap.
We can see the plight. There are rivers everywhere, but no water. What a shame!
With deterioration of the rivers, even campaigns and big projects against pollution can’t make a difference. There is no mechanism in practice to sustain a program for longer that a limited period of time – when the funds are gone, the projects end.

It’s the bitter truth. But there is no use in crying over spilt milk. Rather than complaining, we should to take action! Together we can make change!

My heart crumbles with pain
when I see you, my mom
Just look at you;

Your beautiful and twinkling water
Have turned to black gutter
Your sizzling splashes
have turned disgusting passes.

I am sorry, very very sorry mother

Coz I am the one; to rape you
I forgot all your contributions
and all your love.

Now, no more….
I won’t make you suffer any longer
and I will make you stronger.

Let me start a fight
against myself and my selfishness
Yes, I would return your smile
For that I wouldn’t wait a while.