Behind that shiny glass of a Volkswagen, a handsome face popped out. Seconds later a can of Coke was hurled out of the car’s window down to a nearby footpath. The man must have been quite rich, obviously because he drives a Volkswagen, and from what I could notice, he looked educated as well. And my imaginative head took him up as the kind of rich and educated man who keeps complaining about our government and lashes out on Nepali leaders for ruining the nation.
Behind that facade of education and wealth lied the hidden answer behind why Kathmandu is nicknamed “Phohor-Mandu”. It speaks of the reality that we’ve turned Kathmandu into what it’s today.
I am a Kathmandu native and many generations of my family have lived here. I have grown up with Kathmandu. When I was a kid, Kathmandu was the heart of Nepal. It was a big city with small houses and few people. It was like living in a neighborhood where everyone knew everyone.
And then people started to downpour here from all over Nepal. The overpopulation led Kathmandu to become what it is now, a dust bowl. I am not blaming the migrants. If I was born outside of the valley, I would have been eventually tempted to migrate to the capital. Not migrating to Kathmandu isn’t an option anymore. Even when the valley is so jammed up, people haven’t stopped coming here.
However, I see so many people busy complaining about Kathmandu. They compare it to their home towns. I have heard all sorts of dialogues: how Kathmandu makes people mean and selfish, how their village folks are kinder, how dirty Kathmandu is, how filthy Kathmandu is, how polluted and populated Kathmandu is.
But who is responsible for making Kathmandu this way? Aren’t all of us? We created our own storm and now we are upset after it rained. The government also did a bad job by depriving the rest of the nation while centralizing all the resources and facilities in the capital. But does that give us a right to complain about a place that has given us so much in return. Today we are doing clearly nothing more than playing victim to the circumstances we created.
As American motivational speaker Jeff Gitomore once said, “Blaming others for your problems is like blaming donuts for being fat. It wasn’t the donut, it was the choice.”
It was our choice to throw the Coke cans from our cars. It was our choice to have paan and spit it out on the road. It was our choice to throw the black smoke out of our vehicles. It was our choice to be mean to our neighbors. It was our choice to pollute every place we visit and leave our garbage as souvenirs. It was our choice to never clean up the mess that we created. It was our choice to make Kathmandu how it is today.
We are avoiding the truth that we are the crowd we have been complaining all along. We are the crowd that damaged Kathmandu. So, instead of criticizing a place that has given us so much in return, maybe we should use that time to strengthen our civic sense and initiate actions even at a personal level to give back to Kathmandu. If we do so, who knows in the next few years we can be the crowd that built a model city. Heaven is a myth, Kathmandu is real! Let’s make it that way.
Shraddha is an undergraduate student at Prime College.