Nepal

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1.    GOING TO NEPAL

Although Nepal has seen turmoil in its political circle, Life and nature are at its placid best.  The country offers un-spoilt, and for once “natural” nature. I had the pleasure to make this country my home for two months as a project trainee at the SNPL garment factory at Biratnagar.

Biratnagar is a commercial town almost at the border of India (some 10 Km off at the max). There are many entry points from India into Nepal. Most people use the Gohrakhpur Kathmandu route. But with Biratnagar being on the eastern tip of the country, the entry  was best if it happened from Kolkatta – Kathihar – Biratnagar Route.

The travel from Hyderabad to Nepal was lengthy, and offered numerous perspectives of life at large. The trip started from the platforms of Hyderabad. The destination was Kolkata. I was travelling with  my pal Tapas (my intern partner). The train journey was quite a luxury, although food on the train was at its plightful best and we had to deboard at stations to get food from the platform vendors. Maybe less hygienic but at least palatable.  2 Nights later, Kolkatta with its black with age (grim) streets greeted us. Disheveled we got down at Kolkatta station, hungry we made use of a restaurant at the railway station, Not a bad food, but the water was the worst I had drunk in a long time.  We had to migrate to another station. So we bundled into a share taxi (ambassador – reminds one of those days) and shifted stations.

The next leg of the journey was also uneventful and was travelled in quite comfort of  AC compartment. We were on way to Kathihar. On the Bihar, West Bengal Border. One more night passed and we were on the platform of Kathihar station.  From There we had to take a local train to a place which borders Biratnagar on the Indian side (I will put up the name of this town shortly as it suddenly skips my recollection). There were crowds of people around the ticket booths. With our tee shirts, jeans, nice mobiles we strangely looked very out of place. Having managed to secure two tickets. We waited patiently. The train drew in 2 hours late and before we could comprehend there were hordes of people boarding it. And I must mention not only people but goats, cows, cycles, baskets and god knows what else were going inside too (makes me recollect “Gandhi” (the film) – India in many ways has hardly changed). We finally managed to find place to put our bum – actually had to wake up some one sleeping to make space. There silenced by the commotion we sat. Pungent and fermenting local arrack was hung from the train windows by local bootleggers. People soon occupied the corridors, squatting on the floors. The train, which I am sure was overflowing its capacity, lumbered through the country. And contrast to all this obvious poverty and depravity, one could see the rich lands laden with the produce roll by. Time passed and finally we came to our destination. I must say that few hours of journey eclipsed the longer trip and left a lot of things to contemplate about.

From the Indian side of the border we had to take a cycle rickshaw, into biratnager (Cycle rickshaws are like the autos of India and the taxis of the west in that part of the land). Its funny at the border there is a lot of migrant population and borders seem so artificial. And thus after a quick custom and skeptical glance at our attires, we crossed the international border on a cycle rickshaw, peddled by the alcoholic (I ‘sup they drink it to immune them to the pain) driver.
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Nepal Map

Nepal Map

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