August 26, 2016 02:55 AM NPT
By: Kalu Maila
I attended my high school reunion last week. We have such reunions whenever somebody in our batch who lives overseas comes back home for a visit and wants to meet his fellow comrades for drinks and guffs. So our reunions take place every few months and this time out of 120 students from three sections, only 14 showed up.
In high school, we had the A, B and C sections. The studious were in ‘A’, the average ones were in ‘B’ and those who were better off not studying were in the ‘C’ section. I was in section B so were most of us who showed up for the recent reunion. We were known as the ‘rebels’ because we always got into trouble with the school management.
It seems that in every batch in any school there is one guy who is known as the ‘BBC’ not because he works in the media but because he has news about almost every guy in the batch. According to our ‘BBC’ guy, half of our batch mates were in the United States while UK and Australia had almost 30% and the rest were in Nepal.
Most of our batch mates in the West had already acquired citizenship there and were no longer Nepali citizens. So, every time someone came from the US sporting a blue passport, word would get around town that the ‘Khaire’ from Texas or New York was in town and he wanted to hang out with his fellow comrades.
So there we were, 10 rebels, 2 geeks and 2 freaks from school, sitting around a table enjoying our drinks. The two geeks were now doctors, one a surgeon and one a pediatrician. We have a dozen doctors in our batch but most of them did not show up for the reunion due to their busy schedules. Well, that was their excuse but we all knew that their wives did not approve of such reunions where no one leaves till midnight.
Of the two freaks, one is now a tattoo artist while the other is into music production.
When I say freaks, I meant that in a good way because they were both unique and had their own style when it came to everything. We swallowed momos whole even if it was hot while these two would only eat the meat and throw away everything else.
We would be drinking soft drinks after school while they would drink cheap local raksi.
And they both would dress in tights when the fashion then was wearing bell-bottom pants.
No, I was not born in the 60s, the bell-bottom thing did make a comeback in Kathmandu in the 90s as well.
And out of the ten rebels present on the day, two were in the Army, while us eight were involved in some kind of businesses around town. We called the Army men ‘Rambo’ and ‘Arnold’ because we grew up watching these two Hollywood stars in action movies.
It’s funny that we did not have even one guy in the whole batch who joined the Police.
That happens when everybody listens to ICE-T while he raps about the police and then we see them as the enemy of the people. Yes, there are good cops out there but I guess cops are cops and we have yet to find a country where the public has a good opinion when it comes to the police. And the same goes for the politicians as well.
The ‘BBC’ guy began our reunion party by welcoming us all as if he were footing the entire bill. He had earlier sent a Facebook message kindly requesting us to bring some cash instead of only carrying cards because the place only took cash. And he then wrote an all-CAPS message where everybody would pay equally. That means the guy who did not drink alcohol because he was scared of MaPaSe or his wife or both would still be paying the same as the guy who would take just a few hours to finish off a bottle of scotch and was ready to take a cab home when the party was over.
Then our MC began his ‘Where Are They Now’ series but it would take hours to tell us where most of our batch mates were so he just took the names of a dozen who do want to meet his fellow comrades when they are in town. It seems that most of them had achieved the ‘American’ or ‘wherever they were’ dream.
They now had a house, a car, a wife and two kids and were doing well in their careers.
But whenever they came back home, they only talked about how life sucked in the West and it was only about paying bills, bills and then some more bills. And when asked them to leave everything, come back home and do something then they backed down and bitched about how life sucked here as well because of shortages of everything, load shedding, pollution and corruption and everything that could end with a “–tion”. I guess there will be people for whom everything sucks even if they settle down in Mars or some galaxy far away.
I tell them that yes, we are frustrated and our political parties know a whole lot more about destruction rather than reconstruction. But this is home and those who are here are happy because despite all the problems, we are still doing okay and at least we get to take a break now and then and not wait for annual leave or vacation to make plans to come back home.
If three of us are bored and have nothing to do and there is a public holiday that stretches for three days, we will be in Pokhara, drinking beer by the lakeside. We don’t make thousands of dollars but we get to enjoy life and take it easy rather than only running and running till you pay off the mortgage, pay off your kids’ college tuition and then finally say goodbye to earth.
Yes, we have problems back home. We had the earthquake and then the blockade. Those of us involved in businesses have all incurred losses this year. But we look forward to the next year and hope it will be better. Yes, we do not make enough money to buy a house or land in our own country but maybe we will get there someday. Our parents did and if we continue to work hard and save, we will be fine.
At the end of the night, half of us are drunk, half are hyper because of too much sugary drinks but we all agree that life is not easy and we just have to make the best of it and be happy with what we have. Then we all leave for home, knowing very well that our wives will be waiting to give us a lecture or two on bad habits and will threaten to leave us if we continue to meet for reunions that last till midnight.