Opening shutters

Bandh or not, newspapers still print, which means I have to work. While the majority of the city sleeps in, watches Hindi serials, or farts around (I honestly have no idea what most people do during bandhs), our office is bubbling with the usually chatter, music playing, and the click-clacking of keyboards as tomorrow’s words are written.

Being picked up at home in the office van is nice. Those who live closer to work are compelled to walk, but I have the luxury of being chauffeured to work… given I don’t get to choose when but it’s better than having to hike here in the scorching sun. Although I have to admit, it’s odd having neighbors peer in, makes me feel oddly exposed. (I prefer tinted windows, I think.)

The streets were mostly empty save for the clusters of people walking here and there. Without the crammed traffic and the noise of vehicles, I felt like my eyes were more open to making observations. Today, I realized, Kathmandu could be a pretty city. But maybe when one can appreciate silence, everything is more beautiful (?). Everything was moving slower almost. Maybe lately I just like the quiet.

Around 4:30, a friend and I decided to walk to Basantapur for chhiya, the aromatic Nepali tea that tastes like home on my tongue. (Why did I give it up for seven years?!) It is home on my tongue, perhaps.

Walking back, I noticed shutters flying up, drawing attention with their clacking. Early evening, the city starts to run but, even then we don’t have much of a nightlife. When around the globe people leave their desks and head on home, the city here shows signs of its overpopulated life.

I find the entire concept of a bandh so strange. Essentially shutting down an entire city or country, a speed bump in the flow of life, a political statement, a statement from the “people”, all it does in inconvenience those who have things that need to get done. And for those whose days are unproductive as it is, it’s just another holiday the masses welcome.

Sitting back at my desk as tomorrow’s page is designed, I’m thinking about shutters opening at 5pm.

5 pm. 5pm. 5pm.

And yet, days pass us by and life here meanders on.. slowly, bumpy, in jolts interrupted by khaja breaks and cups of tea… swimming in indifference.


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