The Week’s Cilla Khatry had an exclusive peep of the 2nd episode of Nepali: A TV Blog, a television series about the broader scopes of Nepali identity; and how our different identities connect us as Nepalis .
A preview: In far west Nepal, where the mighty Mahakali River cuts off two villages--Chandani and Dodhara, the villagers’ distress rarely makes it to Kathmandu, 698 km to the east.
A suspension bridge constructed in 2061 BS stretches 1452.96m between the two villages and is Nepal’s longest bridge but every Chaitra, the river floods and for ten months, the journey that the villagers have to make en route to Gadigoth and Gadda Chauki in India and back to Nepal is treacherous.
Talk about inaccessibility. Even in dry season, crossing the bridge in group or carrying big loads across was and is still impossible. The journey via India takes some 1.5 hours, not to mention the hassles at Nepal-India border. Had there been a concrete bridge, the journey would be a matter of five minutes.
Cut-off from their own country due to lack of proper roads connecting the villagers to mainland Nepal, Tara Singh Bhandari, a Kanchanpur local talks about the hardships. “Nepali currency is hardly used in any dealing making life all the more difficult. The use of Nepali currency is limited to buying and selling of land only,” she says.
“The suspension bridge has made life a lot easier than before but it’s still very tricky in many ways. We have to bribe the security personnel at the Indian border to let our goods pass through every time we travel to and from India. We have to pay at least Rs 400.”
Inaccessibility manifests itself in different forms. Bhagyadevi Thapa Magar, a local farmer grieves how there is barely enough food to keep her family going through the year. And it is not just her story.
“We are like birds with clipped wings. We can’t sell our land and move to Bardiya or Dailekh. We are stuck in the middle,” says Jasmaya Thapa of Dodhara.
The stories of these women echo the lives of some 25, 841 villagers (2001 census) and with no option to pursue, many have migrated to India. A local NGO estimates some 2500 young people cross the border to work every day.
Pushkar Dayar and Tilak Thapa are two lads who work in a canteen in India but they are not particularly fond of their jobs and the circumstances that leave them with no choice.
“Who likes to work in a foreign country? We have to wake up really early and rush to work and on top of that we are verbally abused for the smallest of things,” says Dayar.
Nepali – A TV Blog airs on Avenues TV every Saturday at 8:30 am and on Sundays at 9:30 pm.
The series hosted by Yubakar and directed by Tsering Choden will also be available on YouTube< youtube.com/user/nepalitvblog>