Dream Kathmandu

It had been quite long since I last came out of my house. I thought of saying a good-bye to all my loads of works and here I am out into my city. I went to the usual micro-stand, where I used to wait for about an hour. But I was surprised when I saw a little cute Safa Tempo waiting! Excited, I jumped into it!!
Taking a cozy ride, I reached at Naya Bus Park within a few minutes. For the first time, I didn’t face any traffic jam. When I got out of tempo, I was stunned at what I saw. Oh my god! Is it the same place or somewhere else? I had hundreds and hundreds of questions in my mind and was super excited when I saw a beautiful city in front of my eyes! I could hardly see people waiting for vehicles because there were plenty of Sajha Yatayat serving the BRT (Rapid Bus Transit) system! Oh wow! Finally, ETS (Environmentally Sustainable Transport system) in Kathmandu!!

As I had to head towards Balkhu, I took a bus, actually the “green bus” and within a few minutes, reached Balkhu, the most polluted area I had ever experienced when I used to go to college. Another surprise here! I didn’t even notice any polluted SPMs (Suspended Particulate Materials) at Balkhu. I felt hesitation to wear a mask because no one, not even the traffic police were wearing it! After Balkhu, I thought of walking towards Sanepa. I crossed the untainted Balkhu, Hanumante khola, I walked along the flat roads, green lanes on the sides. At reaching Sanepa, I realized I had even crossed through a big park!

In one hand, I was glad feeling the pristine air around however; on the other hand, I was shocked thinking how idle I was. I mean why didn’t I realize this change earlier? Didn’t I even read a newspaper or something else? Had it been so long since I last came out to this area? Series of questions on min mind; yet, I had no clue. I could easily remember the EPI’s (Environment Performance Index) poor ranking to my city in air pollution and other pollution. What about the news in the Guardians regarding my sick city? And, many other bad news covered by both national and international Medias. More specifically, how could I forget my friends’ postings on their social media walls regarding the pollution in Kathmandu especially the air pollution?

However, what I felt in front of me was also a truth! In fact, a wonderful truth! Despite all these changes, I had doubt about Bagmati river. When I was thinking about all these, I saw one of my friends; Sham coming towards me on a Bicycle. What! Sham on Bicycle!! Bicycle in Kathmandu! Hey, is it safe dude? I yelled. He smiled and showed me the bicycle lane! Oh wow, there is a separate bicycle lane on the side of the flat road. I didn’t even notice it. I asked for a lift and both of us headed towards Pashupati Nath Temple to meet Bagmati.

Riding on a bicycle, in Kathmandu was the first my experience of my life. I even doubted if some big truck would hit me from the back like it had killed one of the great conservationists Dr. Prahlad Yonjon while promoting bicycle. However, we both were safe and yeah, we were riding with pride like other riders around! On the way, he explained about other similar beautiful areas within Kathmandu. I was so busy in capturing the beauty that I forgot to ask him how this drastic change happened. Within few minutes, we reached the PADT (Pashupati Area Development Trust) experiencing the dreamy Kathmandu.

Standing at the entrance, I could feel the freshness of Bagmati, hear her sound. Perhaps, she was singing some song with joy or was calling us to show her splendor. I was dying to reach there; I said thanks to Sham and rushed. Now, a big surprise was yet to come! What I saw was just a wow! I had never imagined the old open sewerage “the dead” Bagmati was so beautiful. Blue! Gardens around, people enjoying in the parks, Birds singing their songs, butterflies and many more ecstasies. In a single word, it was fantastic, a wonderland!

Happy and surprised, I captured the beauty with my mobile so that I could post this magnificence on my facebook. Had I known this I would have brought my camera or even asked my photographer friend for some bigger stuffs. Earlier, though I had seldom spent few minutes in this area due to bad odour, I thought sitting there an hour. I bought some snacks and ate it sitting on the park, threw the wrappers on the dustbin which were numerous.

The day was a total surprise for me! With full of satisfaction, I was returning back. I had to cross the road but as I didn’t see loads of vehicles, I ignored the zebra cross, even the traffic lights and randomly crossed the road. We often do this in Kathmandu, when we have to cross roads and we are still alive! To this exception I heard a loud “Peeeppp” of traffic. I was so afraid that I was full of sweat and was saying sorry bowing my head in front of traffic. I had never been caught before and had no idea about what the punishment would be. I was really afraid and here I realized I was lying on my bed! Oh, what a dream? Will I ever experience it in my city? Is it really me who is the culprit making my city so sick?

Waking up from the dream I remembered some lines from the guardian that stuck into my mind, “Nepal generally evokes images of a pristine mountain nation on top of the world. The thick cloud of pollution that threatens to suffocate Nepal’s largest city, however, provides a stark contrast to this reputation.” Being a resident of Kathmandu, it’s no wonder that I witness pollution blanketing all around. So, yeah, here is pollution all around but what can we do for it?

For sure, I am not the only one who is doing all this mess but I am one of them. So, we all are behind the bars. Hence, we must all get together for creating a dreamy Kathmandu. As there is a saying, “coming together is a beginning; keeping together is a progress; working together is success”. After all, every single effort counts a million!

Bashyal is a Capacity Development officer at UNDP-Nepal (SEforALL).

Reshu Bashyal