With a clearly diminished global leadership status after a failed coronavirus pandemic response, thinkers and critics around the globe are wondering if America, diplomacy and multilateralism are back again as claimed by President-elect Joe Biden.
Too much freedom spoils a country and its characters. I have evolved as an unstable character since I started working from home beginning mid-March because of stay-at-home orders owing to the coronavirus pandemic. My workspace keeps changing from couch to study table to dining table to the kitchen island to deck depending on my mood. I can occupy any space I want anytime. Had it not been for the coronavirus, I would be working from a space that is neither assigned nor reserved to me.
America has lived through many pandemics most of which have had economic and political ramifications. The current COVID- 19 pandemic has had additional psychological dimensions to it. It has evolved to be extremely devastating for America. The public health crisis has surpassed the worst nightmares experienced in recent history since World War II.
I have a pollen allergy. Even a slight exposure to it greatly agitates multiple organs of my body and often causes debilitating headaches and intermittent fevers. Every spring, I still venture out to nature walk like a warrior donning facemasks and respirators to take on the pollen head-on. For I love to devour spring smell and glory notwithstanding my physique’s loathing of its byproduct (pollen), which is a given and plentiful in the suburbs of American south.
Spring is all about the grandeur of nature. The red and pink rhododendron blossoms smile effusively against the snow white mountains. Simal(red silk cotton tree) blossoms wondrously beam by the frothy rivers in the vales. White, pink, purple and magenta petals of pear and peach blossoms flash shy smiles while embraced by the breeze by hamlets and creeks. The orchids magnificently sway by the tree branches in the woods. This is perhaps the best of all seasons to learn from nature and live accordingly.
This year’s Swasthani Bratakatha recitals and Mahashivaratri festival celebrations are over. Sadhus and Naga Babas (naked yogis) from India have already left the Pashupati temple premises upon receiving dakshina (monetary gift) from the Pashupati Area Development Trust infusing some cash to the demonetized economy of the southern neighbor.
Faking complete knowledge is not wisdom. Therefore, it is a wise thing to say “I don’t know”. Only the people who can admit to not knowing tend to be more intellectually and emotionally confident than the ones who pretend to know it all. Herein lies the openness to the path of learning and knowledge.
We had a dog which often followed whenever any member of the family went to the fold in the field in a distance from the village. When the dog was around, I loved to pelt stones, twigs, and earthen clumps at the monkeys that would appear in the field during winter even though there were no crops to destroy. It was my favorite pastime. The inner ape in me made resurgence upon noticing the macaques when our dog was around as I had found a dependable ally and protector in it. We were a team together.
The tradition of treating guests as deities (atithi devo bhawa) may be theoretically sound but it is practically an impossible and flawed concept as no human beings can shoulder the burden of fulfilling all the unrealistic expectations and wishes of the people. Hence, the concept of hospitality and relevance of tourism has to be redefined at regular intervals to adjust to the ethos of the epochs and ever-changing socio-political dynamics.
Winter is the best custodian of the nature. It may seem to muck things up but it rarely sucks them up. It makes beautiful young lady joggers look like shabby decoys wrapped in multiple layers of apparels installed in front of a store of a stingy uniform business owner. Likewise, handsome young men joggers look like nondescript and rundown scarecrows erected in the farmers’ fields.
Shopping is a complicated matter. I did not realize it until I came to America. On my first visit to an American grocery store, I was shell shocked when I did not see any counters (as is case with Nepal’s most stores) aimed at preventing the shoppers’ direct access to the items. The shoppers could be seen all around the store like the bulls that had just broken free from their leashes. They were holding the items close to their eyes and reading something carefully.
Our tongue is unreasonably allured to sweet things. But we cannot do without bitterness. Most life saving medicines taste bitter. Most indigenous communities proudly include pickles made of bitter gourds in special dishes. The bitter shrub (pati) is considered auspicious and widely used for worship. Most expensive parties include bitter drinks. To the drinkers, bitter is the new sweet.
It’s no sin to turn your back to the sun occasionally even if you worship it. It behooves well to plan for feasts and fun in the sun as it requires bare minimum resources in the countryside. You just need to snatch a couple of corn pods from the bunch, peel and extricate the grains, roast them in a handi (earthen fryer) and mix them with some roasted bhatmas (soybean). Never worry about thetna (half-roasted grains) as they team up with the soybean to fight hunger effectively.
Major festivals across cultures have their roots in rural life. They also share similar rationale for celebration. The reunion of family members, sharing of good time, food, blessings, and worship of gods/goddesses are their universal themes. Unsurprisingly, they are embraced, modified, and commoditized by the urbanites, exurbanites and suburbanites in no time.
Many renowned writers have been known to write under the influence of alcohol and various drugs. Why creative people seek out stimulants/intoxicants such as alcohol and drugs is still an unsolved mystery.