I have a dream for my Kathmandu. I have a hope that when I am 70, I won’t be locked away in a fancy bungalow. I want to have a “falcha” to sit on and chat with a 72-year-old neighbor. I want the same fresh morning air that filled my lungs when I was five for me when I am 40. I wish the friendliness, safety and community that Kathmandu offered me, that enabled me to run along and get “gwaramaris” in the morning for 25 paisa each, will be given to my children too. That, they will be able to play with their friends, learn the bicycle in the “chowks” and “bahals”. That I would be able to call upon my neighbors like my parents did when they needed help.
I want back my Kathmandu that glows in the morning sun, where I see the strength of towering mountains every day, where streets are clean, air is fresh, where I feel the rush of Bagmati and Bishnumati, where people are happily employed doing something they love. That there is a big red bus that I take, and my blue scooter can retire. That there won’t be kids who are forced to work at 14 to support their families. That we live to live, not live to consume. That we grow back to the days when there were no castes, only people. Yes, there used to be such a time, when we had no caste! That we accept people who are different than us, where people come to find their spiritual self. I really do have a dream and it is quite vivid it gives me goose bumps. I came back to Nepal in search of this place, to build this place, I dreamt of every day while I was away from here.
With the elections, I see this invisible key that will be passed on to the mayor of Kathmandu. I am scared and for the first time in my life, I do not know really what to do. For the next five years, to whom can I trust my Kathmandu? It chokes in the dust and black sooth as I write, it cries for help, it is thirsty for some water, and it is desperate to show how green and compassionate it can be and how much it has to offer to everyone who passes by. Is there really no one, who can hear my Kathmandu?
Kathmandu!! What is there in the name? Apparently a lot! Kathmandu means so much to me, and it looks like for people who promise to be the agent of change for the better, their own names mean a lot. A lot more than Kathmandu it seems. You call yourself Bibeksheel, CNP, Nepali Congress, Sajha, UML, Sajha, Hamro or Maoist or dozens other name, is your Kathmandu really different than mine?
They say young people are nimble, flexible and giving. But what is happening to the young political parties of Nepal, I don’t know. Not a single new political party has everything it takes to win - funds, youth support, and guidance of the experienced. Can we not build a team so that there is funding, young people to execute, intellectual interlocutors, and the will to be actually different for the better? It seems a lot of dreamers are confused. We don’t know who to vote for, because everybody promises the same change. So come the time of endorsements, who will they support?
We have but ONE vote each. The new political force needs the zeal, energy and optimism of the youth; the lessons learned, failed routes, and wisdom of the experienced; and a team led by vision rather than a person. Collaboration of new political forces will set an example where even the people who like to be behind the scene, will get a dose of energy to get out and campaign to vote to win. Then perhaps I can live outside my sleep in the city I dream.