Monday, February 4, 2008

Bandh Day Bandh Day ...

Sung to the tune of "Monday, Monday" which I vaguely recall being a 60's ditty but I wouldn't bet the farm on it.

Bandhs. Pronounced "bunds". These are strikes or closures and usually mean that all major businesses and transportation wherever the bandh is called close/cease. Any group can call a bandh and it is usually called in protest and is increasingly accompanied by angry people burning tires and blocking roads to enforce their call for closure and bring attention to whatever issue they might be protesting about that day. These tend to be incredibly successful here which is why people persist in calling them. Living with them is a Pain In The Rear End. Can I rant a little?

If a valleywide bandh is called, people can't get to work and don't get paid. Here that means that they might not eat that day. If a nationwide bandh is called - goods that should be making their way across the Terai from India will sit and rot - not a good scenario. It makes me crazy.

What does it mean for the pampered expat set like us? Inconvenience and annoyance yes - danger possibly - hunger, not yet. When people complain I just feel like walloping them and saying "get some perspective!!!" It is completely humbling to live the way we do when so many have so little.

Last year we had lots of bandhs but last week was a first for many new arrivals. It started earlier and ended later and we did not venture out at all. In the past blue plated vehicles may have been allowed to pass - not last week. The kids were at school when some of the tire burning and road blocks started so the school kept them on campus until 6:30 that night. I knew they were safe but was not exactly sans anxiety. They are only 4 and 6 years old! They got home after 7 pm pretty darn excited about the extended day - "we almost had a sleepover Mom!!". Geez.

I can think of one benefit to a bandh. It has to be good for the environment to have all the vehicles off of the road for a day. The quiet roads with only walkers, bycyclists and rickshaw drivers are actually nice - as long as you really don't need to get anywhere. I have to get a before and after photo of this at some point.

Punchy incoherent tired ... but I've been meaning to put this down for over a week so thought I should seize the moment.

Peace. L

4 comments:

William said...

Hi Laurel,
Loved reading your blogg.
We are new parents and live in Kathmandu.
I hope we can join your playgroup? We have a very little one with us.
If possible, please contact me at uoliverpool@gmail.com
Thanks a million

Elizabeth Foss said...

Laurel!
Got your Christmas card today and was so happy to have your blog address. Keep writing--I'm thrilled to have a little picture and prose peek at your life.

Gregory Strong said...

Laurel,

I enjoyed your observations and reflections on experiences in Nepal. We got your Christmas (New Year's, Valentine's) card today. Many thanks! I hope all is well with you, Bill, Kit, Lindsay, and Swift!

Yours,
Greg

megscarson said...

Laurel!
Thank you for the Christmas card.
It's so great to read your blog and hear how y'all doing. What an amazing life...thanks for sharing so many great details.
Take care.
Megan Carson