Chiya

Chiya, nepali word for tea. Nepali chiya to me never before meant like a different label of its own until I came here to the US. Here whenever I go to a Nepali’s place, I am offered as choice, along with tea, coffee – Nepali chiya. My heart leaps up with joy when I hear that pleasent sound of “Nepali chiya” when I enter somebody’s home. I categorize myself as non drinker of – among many things – tea as well but after coming here I have not missed any cup of tea that came my way. Generally it isn’t much, but how often do you get to feel closer to home drinking something sweet, and hot; or  an aroma so familiar that it takes you back.

Somebody from belayat mocked Nepali chiya for being just sugar and water. And though I refuted that it is not just so, I also did not go to the extent of thinking Nepali tea to be a variety by itself. Come on, back in Nepal I always saw tea in terms of their brand, “Tokla chiya”, “tin patey chiya”, “Red Label tea” along with “green tea”, or “Earl Grey” tea, but never – a “Nepali tea”. The colour of the tea mattered, black tea or milk tea, black tea with lemon in it or without? Well, sugar and water are always there unless, somebody you are serving the tea is a diabetic.

Even though the tea is not like the Chinese or Japanese or Belayati tea, the “Nepali tea” is nevertheless American. When I do get offers of Nepali tea, it is the milk tea – the most common tea that is commonly offered. It is exotic. Perhaps its scarcity also makes it so valuable. But never once has anyone asked me of the details of the tea over here – black or with milk. People just presume that the Nepali tea ought to be the milk tea. Of course, no doubt it is the most dominant form of tea. As for the brand, here we do not care much as long as it is from Nepal. I think “Tokala” tea is most used here. I’m not sure though.

b9494290c6984830acb71403042efeb5When one of my friends first told me that I ought to bring “tea” when I come here, that seemed odd. The fact that among the list of important things like my “transcript”, she also cared to mention tea seemed awkward. But now after staying here a semester I know that I would be an absolute must. Tea there, when I was there, I took it for granted.  Visit any person and she/he offers you tea. “Chiya ta khayera janus”, “hoina hatar cha”, even then you still get to sit for the next 15 minutes finishing that cup of tea, doing some  guff with your host, you intended to visit only for 5 min, just to get that photocopy or a book.

“Chiya” also brings memories of loktantra movement. I was an undergraduate when and after that happened. Once during our field work we were in Putalisadak, sipping tea in this cringed corner near the overhead bridge near Ratnapark, marveling at the historic importance of the place. We had called it “Loktantra chiya pasal”. No it wasn’t much of a shop if you would call it a shop, just out there, with no place to sit, not even a room, it was in the open, but during the movement  people had come there, drank tea as they discussed important matters.

We drank tea, also during the “Occupy Baluwatar” days. After chanting slogans between 9-11 am, there were also days when we would  gather in a local nearby tea shop, order chiya and discuss what our plan is next. Well, I should point out that what kind of chiya mattered. We would count heads for who wants chiya, but even there, black tea or white tea mattered. We would count how many wanted what tea, and only then would we start our discussion. In the middle of the discussion, the sauni would pass on the tea tray and somebody would try to remember who said which tea and passed it around. Sometimes, one person or the other would have been missed. But, then, this didn’t disturb our discussion. It was as if chiya was a part of our conversation, perhaps even an essential matter – everybody was a bit tired after standing and chanting, and perhaps needed some refreshements or to stretch their legs. Chiya made that possible.

But this isn’t just an extraordinary revolutionary moment that tea has accompanied. This is a regular affair. Like you, I have my own memory of how when walking on the road with my friends, we would decide to have tea, and just drop in at one of the chiya pasals, sit there do guff and drink tea – black, white, or black with lemon, may be some people had their own special request of how the tea ought to be, but those are rare, and nevertheless would increase the variety of Nepali tea. Once, one of my friends even churned out an article out of a guff he had with his group at a chiya pasal.

So what is my point? I really don’t have one at the moment. I am sitting in a  cafe (american chiya pasal) when the university students haven’t yet all made it back for the classes next week, but the library in which the cafe is, is open, and so the cafe is open yet closed for its services. I am a bit thirsty and I can smell the coffee, read the chaye on the board as list of beverages served but cannot have it. Right now there are three of us here, all in different corners of the room, unaware of eachothers presence, immersed in our laptops. To my closer surrounding are chairs, empty ones.  May be the ambience present, missing and the possibilities I see triggered this tea/chiya idea.

How can words be people?

I guess I can now understand how it must be for those who have only known us in books, for I myself am going through the same. I have never seen these people, never before come across their names, and suddenly I have read more than I ever intended to about a lot many group of the people now termed based on what issues put the groups of people in the same category. Perhaps, they are the minorities, perhaps, their history has been silenced, perhaps they are rewriting their history trying to make a space for themselves in this world, fighting for recognition for their identity. Perhaps they get listed when talked about people living in a certain area in a certain condition. I have come to know the people by the issues that have interested me. I have known them to know more about what troubles them. I therefore, know more of their issues than about them perhaps. So even after having read detailed articles, heaps of them, on them, I really don’t know them. To my mind they are so and so people under this larger themes, going about doing different patterned activities under somewhat similar conditions.  I perhaps understand this perspective because I have, for most part of my life been on the other end. My people and I, have been the news headlines, of case of an “underdeveloped country”, a country in crisis, a country in transition. Those who have come to my country, perhaps to them it must be one among the many countries with the same theme, they know more about the issue we face than about us. And I think here is where the devll is. To know a country or a group of people by knowing an issue they face, is no good if you do not know the place and the people but the combination of the two is only among the most committed. 

Life of Pie

Second movie in a week at a hall. This is a record for me because though a movie watcher I am not much of a hall-visitor. “Life of Pie” was worth the trouble.

Pie and a tiger are the only survivors of a huge ship wreck in the Pacific. Though from its title it might seem like the movie is about the entire life of a person called Pie, well, it does not cover that long a period of time except on how he manages to not be eaten by the tiger and live. But perhaps it makes sense when we look at the event as that which changed Pie’s life forever.

Somewhere in the movie Pie says that should it always mean something? Maybe maybe not. So is the movie’s message. I do not find any lesson from the movie except this, and for the first time I’m satisfied by it.

December 19, 2012

Fright Nite

“When something strange in the neighbourhood…” while watching a horror movie.

So I call up Party Crasher, my best friend, with an adventurous proposal. Her reply “Are you calling me in my dream, are we really going to watch it on a night show – The Conjuring, a horror movie?” It isn’t surprising to hear these words from somebody who has just picked up the phone in the middle of her Saturday afternoon nap, after an eventful night. But she said “yes”. There goes the wild spirit, always ready for an adventure and mostly crazy stuffs.

And believe me we just had a wonderful evening. We had never before laughed and screamed the loudest as much as we did watching this horror movie tonight.

The first quarter of the movie was just about anticipation of poltergeist activities. A group of guys seated right behind us were making commenting so much that we thought they would not let us get the thrill out of the movie. Anyways, it wasn’t just them that made the experience unique. The first scary scene and the whole hall burst out with laughter. But probably those were nervous laughter. As one of the guys behind us rightly remarked later on “Those who are laughing are just doing so to cover their fear. They are the most nervous.”

We laughed along. Then came the real story, there weren’t many stereotypical horror movie scenes. But it was quality over quantity. Laughter died, hall fell silent, probably others too were biting their nails like we were. We screamed shamelessly, as if we were the movie characters (we being the whole hall).  Then, laughter followed (this time we were laughing at ourselves, amazed by our capacity to scream.)

The scariest scene! Well, I opened my mouth the loudest, closed my eyes the tightest, and Party crasher, did the same, except, kept her eyes open and shut her ears the tightest. As movie progressed, so did our anxiety level. Party crasher started not only opening her mouth wider, screaming harder but also covered her face with her hands, and I, my eyes. But again, we laughed after that. Anyways, we caught up on scary scenes from each other during the interval.

“So what happened after that old lady is seen?”

“Oh she jumps at the girls”.

Later, we realized, the people behind us were equally into the movie. They too were shouting like hell. And yes, there was a scene where we didn’t shriek out but the macho guys did. It was just a bird flying by – but of course, in the horror movie e-style.

Well, the couple to our left were having a good time, the scary scenes making it only better. The girl was literally clinging to the guy and the more the frightening the movie became, the more tight their grip and the more the inclination of her body towards his seat. It was as if two bodies in one seat.

Must say, the movie was scary enough for a guy to forget his helmet and just ignore ‘us’ shouting and waving at him like crazy with the helmet.

Coming back

It was raining heavily. Almost 10:30 and there were a lot of cars, bikes and people coming out of the hall with us. But that didn’t stop the movie hangover. On our way back at Jamal, I saw an old man in a wheel chair under the overhead bridge, staring at nothing.  But Party Crasher didn’t see him. (Jamal is supposed to be one of the oldest places of the city, and rumor has it that there are a lot of spirits around that area). We didn’t have time to discuss it then. We both shrieked out after getting showered by a splash of water from nowhere soon after – to me it seemed like the bridge, and to Crasher it seemed like from a tree. We don’t discuss it anymore. Anyways, the splash was enough to make us scream as we drove on the main road.

Then, a weird scene again – a lady in black in front of Dudh Sagar.  This time, both of us saw that woman. Black top, black pant, black bag, even dark black gazal – she was black from crown to the cuticle. She was all alone standing there, staring at us (we felt it intense, could be our imagination). Anyways, it is not normal to see a young lady, standing on the road, comfortable as if on a broad day light and waiting for somebody or something and that too at such an odd hour for Kathmandu on a rainy night in such a creepy get up.

Before we reached our house, we had to pass by a jungle notorious for its haunting. Well, we talked about it as we passed it, but nothing scary happened.

And, as we waited for the door to be opened by my brother, I saw a strange light on the water which was weird in a dark night. But it happened to be the reflection of a street lamp. I saw it later.  Anyways, Crasher is still shaken. Shaken enough to not to go to the toilet for she finds the mysterious fluttering of the curtain in the bathroom horror-ry.

At the moment, my worst imagination is having a third hand scratching the itchy part of my back.

It’s almost midnight and we are still awake. Crasher has to go to the toilet and so here we stop. I have to usher her to the bathroom. I’m sure she will do the same for me.

😀

P.s: We were accompanied by our macho guy friend who we didn’t hear screaming during the movie. He also felt the show scary rey.

Why-zz

Why I don’t dress what I like sometimes:

Kurta – can’t wear sports shoes/converse with them

Skirts – get blown when riding scooter

My favorite orange T shirt – can’t carry my back pack with it 

White Shirts –tubewell water makes it look  purano old after 1 wash  (with water scarcity in Ktm, there’s no way you can afford to refrain frm the overly iron filled tubewell-water)

My favorite Kurti haroo – I have outgrown them – they either don’t fit or are uncomfortably tight

Why I don’t always buy what I want: I’m still under the illusion that I will get slimmer someday SOON.  😀

Decomplexifying the MRP Funda

I would not be surprised if scientists discovered a new phobia, that of  ‘government office visit/work especially among Nepalis. Government office related work is mostly an inevitable pain. So here’s something that you might find helpful if you were thinking of applying for an MRP soon – not that anyone will be saved of this process as everyone will have to have one by 2014 I guess. A  lot of time, sweat and energy was wasted as I got  myself tangled just because of minor lapse in information when I went to submit an application for MRP recently.

What are required for an MRP application?

i.            MRP sized photos

ii.            2 photo copies of citizenship and passport

iii.            Original citizenship and passport

iv.            Filled MRP Application Form – 2 of them

v.             Money: 5,000/-

  1. Photo:

I’m here for an MRP photo.

Sure, you might want to use the dressing room?

Why?

Please takeoff your kajal, necklace and lip gloss. Tie your hair at the back so that your ears are visible. And yes, please change from your high-neck – your neck must be visible in the photo.

Opps! Taking an MRP and a PP sized photos in just my samez was a wild imagination. Not only the high-neck but the jacket I was wearing on top of it too wasn’t allowed re. Photo shoot in a samez seemed the only viable option. So I canceled my photo session for that day.

It was some time before I could squeeze out some time to appear for another visit to the studio; this time with a  poka – a neatly ironed white shirt. After all I couldn’t part from my high-neck in this winter, even if it be a 15 minute scooter ride. Loadsheding hadn’t made my prep easier. Anyways, I changed into the shirt. Again, another opps. They had the same coloured background so white shirt wound’t work re. Sure, I was ready to do just anything to avoid any more fuss with this photo thing so I put on a coat available at the studio. Men’s coat as it was  – over-sized – its shoulders reaching 4 inches further than mine. But I wore it anyways. The photo wouldn’t show all of the shoulder, right?

2. Photocopies:

I took two photocopies of citizenship and the old passport, just in case. Then, how was I to know then that photocopies in half of A4 sized paper wouldn’t work!

3. Form:

I thought I was ready to go and before leaving realized I had to fill the form too. I could always fill it at the shop inside the CDO’s building as that’s where I was pointed at when I had gone there to ask about MRP. But I wanted to do it on my own. Why take chances?

So there I was, at home, downloading the form from the passport department website (http://dopmofa.gov.np/)when I also checked samples of the right and the wrong way of filling the form.  Information it asked itself wasn’t that detailed but you had to take care of tiny things like how the photos and the signature had to be within the given box.

With no batti I had decided to save it in a pen drive and print it from somewherelese. After spending 20 good minutes of typing out, I hit the save button to receive the message “the changes cannot be saved”. Apparently one had to print it right out from the file in your computer after filling the file.

I decided to go for plan B – get it filled in the shop inside the compound, after all, I now knew all the information I needed to know and I was more sure that I could easily and quickly check how they fill it. But that was in vain. When I reached a crowd of applicants thronging the shop, and by the looks of it, my form wouldn’t be filled by the end of the day. Forms are only accepted until 1 PM, and it was already 12:30.

Plan C. I rushed out of the compound and got it filled in a cyber (of course with the label showing expertise in filling the MRP form). No queue. Yay? At first it was, until they told me the total charge was 130/-. Ok, who would take so much of money for filling half a page of form that takes roughly 15 minutes in total (info checking time included)? But they do. Anyways, at least they did the work on time, took care of the finger prints, sticking of photos, signature and photocopying my documents (bewaring me that the half paged photo copies wouldn’t be accepted and so I made other full length sized photo copies). They even told me that I should first go to room number 6.

4. Submission:

I checked: form, photos, photocopies of both citizenship and passport; and original copies of both plus 5,000/-. I was ready. After much up and down the building stairs, I found the room to be on the ground floor. The door said, come from the window. Apparently it was around the building towards it backyard but 50 other people were already lined up for the same task. By now it was almost 1 PM and  it rang ” I would have to come tomorrow to submit the form”.

Next day it was exactly 10 AM when I entered the gate. Amazingly the room 6 window was open with only 3 people in the queue. From there, I was sent to other windows belonging to – room 5, then 54 then 55 and then finally some room work at room 20 and then 8.

I wasn’t surprised that the office wasn’t there in his room. There were already three people ahead of me, waiting for the personnel, with their documents on queue. “He is not to be back until the next 1 and half hours”, we were told. I was determined to get this done so I stayed. By the time the officer was back his room was a like a jam-packed micro, all waiting for him, for his signature – a two second task. Of course,everyone hid the fists that was formed after 2 hours of waiting for a 2 sec work!

Then room 8, and then, 5 and 55 and then finally, 52. All window work again. The last window to be gone to is 52.  The officer there took my documents, the two filled forms, my original passport and then, suddenly asked for one more photo, MRP size. Thanks God I had not removed the entire bundle of photos from my bag. I submitted it.

Come after 42 days to get your MRP, the officer said.

I smiled – relieved that the ordeal was over, at least  for now. As I turned around I could not help noticing that the lady behind me had a panick striken face after n seeing me handing the photo and realizing that she would have to too and then hurriedly searching for it in her bag. People behind her, after much of the same process we all went through, didn’t seem keen on waiting for her to find her photo.

I looked at my watch – it was 12:30. Two and half hours just to submit a perfectly complete form.

Tips that might help remain calm through out the process:

Mentally prepare yourself for a hectic day where things if they progress at a snail’s pace is a supposed to be a good day or else you might have to visit it the next day again, queuing up, waiting for authorities to show up.

Before you go – Better to fill the form by yourself if you have a printer at home, but be careful to check out the specimen of how to fill the form and the kind of printout mode they need. Check this website thoroughly for downloading the form and how to fill check out:  http://dopmofa.gov.np/. You would save your 130/- (if done outside the CDO building compound) or 50/- plus at least 30 min to 1:30 hours (if inside the compound) wait even before you start your submission process.

Have all the material in a my- clear- bag: citizenship, passport, 2 photocopies of each (not the half page kind but the full A4 sized ones), one extra MRP sized photo (so a total of 3 MRP photos) and yes 5000/-.

You might want to take a book in case an official isn’t at his desk and you get stuck in one of the rooms for hours before he appears to grace your day with his signature on your docs essential for your the submission completion or move anywhere near it.

Good luck!