Yin & Yang

Sunita Giri 11:34 PM |

In chinese philosophy, yin and yang represent the two opposite principles in nature. Yin characterizes the feminine or negative nature of things and yang stands for the masculine or positive side. Yin and yang are in pairs, such as the moon and the sun, female and male, dark and bright, cold and hot, passive and active, etc. But yin and yang are not static or just two separated things. The nature of yin-yang lies in interchange and interplay of the two components.

Just like the philosophy of yin and yang, I also have two person in my life, who played huge impact in my growing up life, both negative and positive way. My yang is Bernhard Rutz a Swiss man and my yin is Mrs. Shrestha. I have met Bernhard, once I have completed my SLC.  He just dropped from sky to help me. All he wanted me is to study and finish my college education. But, Mrs Shrestha was there in the management of Bal Mandir when I was growing up there. If I am not wrong, she has been in my life long before I am aware of things around me.

In fact, it was Mrs. Shrestha who did this huge favor for me in her life, by recommending my name to Bernhard as potential person for this sponsorship, when Bernhard approached her to give him name of two person for the same. Interestingly, other than that, she is one person who knows only one word to say me ‘No’. I have to admit, I have asked this question in my mind for so many times, “is she cursed to use that word only. What she has to lose if she say ‘yes’ to me” I am also not saying, she is the only person who is so negative and deprived of using positive words to me or the rest of others, who grew up in Bal Mandir.

On the other hand, Bernhard never ever said ‘no’ to me. He is the first person in my life who understood me, when the rest of the people around me just did not get me and I made no sense to them. In the early '90s the concept of self dependence for a girl was just too new and too bold. I do not want to say that it came to my by choice it came to me by default.  Going to college meant preparing myself for long and self-independent road.

When I was growing up, of course, in Bal Mandir, I always wanted to have a smuggler father, who have lots of money to meet all my demands. Bernhard did not meet all my demands as any teenager wish, but when a training or education was the talk of it, to enhance my chances to get good job or self independence in future, he never ever said ‘no’ to my all kind of crazy sounding demands. At least, it sounded too much to Mrs Shrestha all the times. To Mrs. Shrestha even asking  money for computer classes seemed too much demand. During the mid ‘90 offices in Nepal were as such that, even if they did not had computer in their office, but one of the requirement in the vacancy notice used to be computer trained.

I do not remember precisely Bernhard using the words like, 'I love you', or 'you can do it', but whenever I needed his help, which purely was financially, he never said no to me. Any kind of training, he never said to me no, just asked me tell me how much it cost and I will send you the money. As I said earlier, Mrs. was cursed to use no word.

Interestingly, both of these people were well educated, wise and intellect, came from good family background. Both were driven for a good cause but there was vast difference between these two people. One was full of promise and one was full of doubt. The positive vibe of Bernhard was so infectious that it infected me for the first time in life after my long stay in Bal Mandir. It sure took me more than twenty years to get over from my negative thinking. Had I not come into contact of Bernhard, I wouldn't have been any different, than anyone who grew up in Bal Mandir.

Even though, Mrs Shrestha was from well-to-do family back ground, well educated and was in the management of Bal Mandir; yet she was not much different in her thinking than the junior most staff of Bal Mandir. When I say  her ‘thinking’ I mean so full of negative for the children who were in Bal Mandir. No doubt she was professional and really good at her work but her negative thinking just forced me to think so hard for so long. The reason that forced me to think so hard about her negative attitude was why she could not think any better than all the staff who were in Bal Mandir ? Why she coming from well-to-do family did not made even an inch difference in her thinking and why her education did not play much role in her thinking than rest of the crowd, who were so less educated or most of them were had never ever gone to school ?

However, the truth is her too much negative thinking, perceptive about us, which she never verbalized in clear language yet, it was so loud in her behavior at times and and that constant doubt in my potential, is the gift in disguise for me. I may have made Bernhard proud but, my desire to make him proud has been nothing compared to my strong desire to prove Mrs. Shrestha wrong.

I am and I will be better in every possible way in the years to come by, not because Bernhard was so kind to me and always there for me to help, in every way possible way to open the road ahead for me but, because I [we] have been doubted for my true potential to make it in life.

I have to admit it, I did not realize the purpose of her placement in my life, but the day I understood it, I have bowed my head to the super power of God and his big plan for me. Love and his unconditional support alone was not sufficient for me to go deep inside my head and find my true potential and then work on it.  If you want me to make it in life, come on taste the power of my thought and say, I can't !

There are people who gets charged, only after when people doubt their true potential. I bet, I am one of them ! Because I have brain to use, don't you ?

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Scent of a green chili

Sunita Giri 12:15 AM |

After a long time back, last week I had my meal with green chili. I mean rice, lentil and then; just green chili. I am smart but bit lazy and it sure has its way of working on me more often than I want it to grip me totally. So, sometimes when it really comes to making curry, I rule out. Its not that I am not feeling well on that particular day. Sometimes I just don't feel like making it, even when the curry is just waiting and staring at me to make it.

So, now its rainy season and this means green chilies seasons. I love the scent of green chili as it hold so much childhood memory in my mind. The raw and sweet scent of green chili has so much power to send me into my memory lane, into the lane of childhood and mischievous time that is associated with it.

Good for people like me, who is lazy. Some times its mango that serves as a good company to have my rice, but; mango is just too sweet to have rice  and rice is something we do not eat as a dessert. Rice is our staple food and its a main course. It needs something spicy, something hot, something that has all the spicy taste to have it.

Now its easy to say that I am just too lazy to make curry and then have my meal with just sweet scent and taste of green chilies but there was time in my life, we had curry that was too bland and stale and we had no option but to have our rice with the help of green chili.

But then I was young child and growing up in Bal Mandir. I was one of the pickiest person like so many in my group, and liked only few curries they made in Bal Mandir. On top of that during the rainy [ or hot seasons] which is coincidentally also the time of chili, curries did not taste that good.

But plucking chilies was not the easy task and normally its been discouraged by the supervisors, mainly housemothers and didis [room nannies] also used to keep an eyes for us, so that we don't fall on the chili garden. But, there were more clever children’s and number of housemothers and didis were were limited so, we always used to get enough for us as well as for a group for others girls who were close to us. Some time they used to fall in the kitchen garden to get the chili for us.

Cooking meal for 200 children daily would not have been fun, so it used to show up on food they made or maybe it was just too hot to enjoy the work they were doing in front of big fire on hot season. So, green chili was and is best way to devour rice, even if  we are not feeling  lazy, but just the bad day that the curry did not turn out to be as tasty as we hoped for. Of course, it has full  power to overshadow the stale curry or pickle which is not of your taste.

When I look back and try to understand that why they discouraged us to have our meal with chili at the time when we did not find curry up to our taste. Maybe, it was too hot for our age, and they were just trying to protect us from its hot taste. Some adult did get scared with the hot taste of chili, and some of us needed more  than they could believe. the sight and scent of it used to send them in dizzying mood.

Because Bal Mandir grew all its annual requirement of chili inside our kitchen garden. So protecting it from us was also part of housemothers job. No wonder, if they used to scold us if we did not oblige to the restraining order to stay away from chili.  Slapping us, pulling our hair, raising their voice to keep us from it also used to fail completely, that just did not work on us. Sometimes they used to scare us saying that having too much chili may cause diarrhea. And strangely enough then, they were true also.

But when I look back and try to understand it, I think they should have been more concern with the fact, that we used to throw more small and unripened chilies on the alleys of the chili garden, than to keep the best one in a hope that it is hotter. Because we were too young to know, so we were not that experienced to pick the one, that was right one. No doubt, we threw more on the floor. Sure, that was a huge loss of food, but, If only; housemothers would have been wise enough to understand the need of it and then supply it during meal time. They would have controlled huge loss of chili that went on ground to rot.

I do remember having my meal with too much chili that in the morning, even after flush I could see all seeds floating on commode. Even that, did not deter me to  have my meal with too much chili. I am not convinced to blame it at all to chili alone, for my upset stomach, because chili was the savior for us, when it comes to swallow the meal, which we did not wanted to eat. Had not it been chili I could not have had my meal so many times. My weight used to go seriously down, in those months and then again it used to pick up around October.  Although, we did not slow down eating hot chilies but, yes we had to hide it from didis and housemothers so that we don't get snapped by them.  

My love for hot chili has not faded out, even after more than twenty years now. That is why I know for sure, chili should not be blamed for upset stomach or diarrhea as adult believed when I was child.

No wonder, today I strongly believe, if we like something it will  never harms us and if we don't like it, we love to blame it for all the bad things that bring it to us. In the case of hot chili its one thousand percent true. This proves perfectly to the people in our life too.

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The ghost palace ?

Sunita Giri 10:35 PM |

Some volunteers call it broken palace and some of my childhood friends insist it was so scary place at night. I got to admit it like all the children, darkness did scared me too, but, ghost inside Bal Mandir just eluded me. Unlike many of my friends, I just did not believe in existence of Ghost inside the palace and had almost nil experience of its existence or scaring me during my time there.

This is the palace of Bhim SJB Rana, one of the youngest brother of Jung B. Rana, who was the Prime minister of Nepal after forcefully rising in the political power. Rana era is regarded one of the darkest age of our country, as they only focused on the nepotism rather than the growth of a nation as a whole.

Of all the person who were part of my childhood life, Junkiri is one name that stands tall in my mind for making Bal Mandir a ghost Palace. She swears by that Bal Mandir was haunted by the ghost of the Rana victims.

When I was about ten year old, they had dug a big water tank. It may be about 10 - 15  thousands liters capacity tanks, but to my child eyes it looked a lot bigger than twenty thousands capacity tank. During that digging, the construction workers had found an adult bones. In my blur memory, the bones and skeletons were there but sword I can't remember, but Junkiri can't forget the sight of it. But, more than that, the talk of it lasted longer in the minds of people who liked the preconceived notion that Ranas were cruel people, who killed people without mercy and then they buried them under the four walls of palace.

Room nannies whom we called didis and male junior staffs really fed the imagination of children. Does that kind of finding do have power to scare children in their teen or some just use their juicy creativity to create the imaginary ghost ?

I can't tell about other people, but in the case of Junkiri, I am hundred percent sure that she used her juicy imagination when it comes to seeing ghosts around her. I doubted her always and it irked her to the max for me doubting her seeing any of it.

There is no doubt that the story of ghost fascinated her, and to quench it she used to listen to didies [room nannies] who had plenty of such stories to tell her. Oh, yes not just from Bal Mandir, but the story that happened in their respective villages as well. Junkiri used to see tiny bright light in the dark everywhere in any given day if it was dark and used to tell us that she had seen a cat’s eyes. And then her story surrounded around that imaginary ghostly and grisly cat. Cat is regarded as an evil animal, it being used by witches for black magic purpose in our society, therefore, cats as a pet is very rare case in Nepal.  Bal Mandir never had any pets for children, of course, there was a dog, but, no, not as a pet for children but to protect us during night time ? So there were no cats, however she saw it almost every dark night and she always swear by it that she had seen it.

Junkiri by nature is queen of sesame hill. She loves blowing things up and exaggerating things is something she uses it as her birthright. Of course, there were people who loved it without questioning and I have this habit of going into the depth of it and then trying to rationalizing it. It sure contradicted with her personality. Its not that I don't like her, but sometimes she blows things beyond recognition, which of course, she loves all the time except if she find me in her audience to cross question or rubbish her imaginary story. She could not answer my cross questioning habit to clarify it.

She having suffering from the learning disability, she was the weakest person in her class and had failed almost in every class. She tells you with so much ease, that she had failed three times in fifth grade and also two times before  that in her earlier classes. She never passed her SLC also. Needless to mention she hated going school. However, her visual memory was very good and her imagination was even at its best. She could tell us the movie she had watched better than the one who was best in her class, therefore making it her most comfort zone.

Although, she being the weakest student in her classes, she was not the lonely person, instead she was surrounded by many of her friends which made her feel good about herself, an achievement which she could never feel good in her classroom with her classmates like a queen bee. For this very reason my questioning just bickered her sending her in most uncomfort zone. Therefore she keeps repeating to me time and again “no one ever has said that to me except you.” In other word, no one ever asked her any question about her source of story, which of course was her imagination. They simply enjoyed it rather than questioning it.

You can only imagine it, how it irritated her. She is also the queen of illogical, irrational and insane. If you need a real escape from this world, she is the best company to enjoy; just like the movie of Govinda or any comedy shows. I choose her company rather than three hours in movie hall, because she is more time pass at free of cost than a movie that may turn out to be dull at times.

My only ghost like experience in my childhood was once, it was the forty day of my period and on that day we take a bath to cleanse ourselves, it's the tradition of our society. I had waken up at about 4 am in the morning and almost no one had waken up by that time. Like all others I too was afraid of darkness and cold water. As I was in the mid section of the stairs which we called bis bharyang, because it had twenty big steps and it was biggest stairs in the Bal Mandir also. I heard a moving sound under the stair. With so many ghost stories hovering in my mind I screamed at the top of my lungs and  waited for some time. And sure it scared many who was abut to wake up that day. Taking a bath on the fourth day of period is kind of religious act and we can't escape from it even if we are scared to death and hated cold water during the cold winter month too.

Despite my fear that was created by the sound, I had no other option but  to go down and take a cold water bath during the winter month. The cold water bathe was more scary than the sound that scared me. But after that, I never ever woke up early in the morning to take a fresh water bath to cleanse myself on the fourth day, every month after period. That day proved to be an end of a tradition in my mind and my life. I learned to keep myself clean all the time and not wait the fourth day to take a bath. I can't remember anyone noticed about this to mention with me. As for that sound, which scared me to death must have been made by mouse under the stairs, because I don't think it was ghost that roamed in the palace to haunt the children.

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Is Corruption a Cultural Attitude ?

Sunita Giri 10:37 PM |

 “Why are we wearing nice dress today ?” we used to wonder.

“Its because some ‘humans’ will be visiting us today”, we used to get prompt response from anyone near us but mostly it used to come from our didis [room nannies]

“Are we not ‘humans’ to be visited by them ?” one of us used to raise question then. Of course, you are but the one who are visiting us they are more special humans than us ?” another used to respond faster than the question was asked.

As I was listening my friend, when he was telling me about his bad experience of visiting disabled centers, within the valley my mind drifted back to my childhood memories of the same kind of experience, but at the same time it was so different in so many ways.
We used to be dressed mostly light yellow color front for girls and pants for boys and then white color shirt for both. This combination was good, but if about 200 children wore the same dress then it was a uniform, which stung eyes. This was also the dress we used to were to go to parades in some big royal ceremonies they used to celebrate, within or outside the Bal Mandir.

Then I did not knew, that they were big and important donors, who came to see how we were doing, Now, as I am grown up, I do understand why we were done so well to receive them. That special day demanded us, to take a good bath the day before and then wear clean dress almost whole day as they never appeared on time or it was the Nepali way of undermining the time value by foreign and then making us ready by more than two - three  hours ahead of the visit. This meant, not to play in such a way that made our dress dirty.
A friend of my who runs an special school was telling me his experience of visiting places before he started his school. He had visited many of those special needs places in the valley to figure out before he opened his school. His experience was not very good, as most of the  places were using those needy as a beggars to get donation for their institutes. They were ‘dressed in shabby’ and they looked ‘really hungry and destitute. My friends had very sharp look, he did notice the racks stacked with dresses but the children were not dressed accordingly, and they were not feed properly, hoping more donation with every visit. If visitors took time to visit places that meant many hour of ‘hunger game for children’ so that the visitors feel sorry for the children and that meant more donation.

Some of this disabled centres, even sold the donation stuffs, which is legs or arms to amputee in institutes, that kept physically disabled people not just children. They sold it to army men who had lost their legs in war who could afford but could not get such good quality legs in the market.

There are people who post in their blog that why rich tourist should not give to the charities, when they go to visit children home here in Nepal. I was sent one link of Lonely Planet from one of my reader in one of my blog post. It was really disturbing to read that news, that how children home have become an earning medium of bread and butter for many people in Nepal and most of its centers are in Kathmandu.

At one point it says that, do not give money to the children home, which children look more dirty, needy and their wounds are open and looks not taken cared off. They were purely used to beg, beg and beg. Whatever money you give will not go to the betterment of the children you feel sorry for. You might be giving to the owner who is running this business under the hide.

When my friends told me his side of experience then it only hit me hard in my head that there is vast difference between a missionary, a social work. Royals did the missionary work after a good vision but there are so called social workers who do this kind of work just to make money, even charity work is not exempt for their need to make bread and butter.  So, it really should not surprise me why some people think I am brat from Bal Mandir, instead of needy who provided basic needs to the so called social worker than the one who actually needed the help.

When I was in Bal Mandir, it was royals who were running this organisation. Its not that there were not people, who never talk of corruption  inside the Bal Mandir, but, let me tell you one thing here more honestly, even children were big trouble to the management due to their stealing binge and children [ my roommates and classmates ] only want to talk about the corruption that was done by the staff in the management.

Sometimes, when I really want to understand why there is two sides pointing at each other when it comes to corruption. May be the reality is,  no one is clean in this case, and presumes that the one party does not know what the other party is doing ! Does the children stole the donation goods that was meant for them ? or the management got too greedy to see the high quality products, whether it be dress or foods or in the case of disabled legs, arms or hands ? If the staff were greedy to steal those donations goods due to the greed, then what could be the reason behind the children used to get involved in stealing things; that was purely meant to them ?

Well, I guess this question sure demands me to write another post in this regards. I sure will try to answer this in my next post.

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Pomelo style Haircut

Sunita Giri 11:19 PM |

I had a very thick hair when I was in school and taking care of it was definitely not in my control. It was so thick that it could not fit in the both hands of Sunder Mana Didi. She was the tallest girl in Bal Mandir. She was beautiful just like her name meant. The good thing of growing up in Bal Mandir was, that if you are less interested to groom yourself or your hair or dress ups, there always used to be another girls who found interest in grooming you. I was the least interested in my grooming part and I let anyone who came to do any kind of styling on my hair.  

My hair, its thickness, its texture and its look has always been the talk of my whole personality,  when I was in my teen and twenties and it sure had dominated my other vertue. People around me verbalized that, it was, one of the best thing in my body. At that time my hair gathered more compliments than other parts of my body or my other achievements.

But during my preteens years it was maybe not the same thing.  In my pre teen years, I always wanted to have a long hair but it was just a distant dream;  I wanted to flaunt my long hair like some girls in my school. I just could not have. But, did I said I, it should have read we, as I was in Bal Mandir so it applied to everyone not just me. Now, as a grown up, I can understand why they used to cut our hair short, it was easy to wash, and maintain.

But then, I was not wise enough to appreciate their decision. Therefore, I hated Indian [?] hazam but more than that I despised the housemother who inspected him and gave him the instructions to cut our hairs. He just followed the instructions.

Hazam - the one who used to cut our hairs - used to look so boring man, who did not enjoy doing his work; yet did it for living and so there was no fun to get our hair cut from them. But who were interested to listen, about what we thought. It was a good chance for them to make easy money. I guess they getting out hair cut meant a week’s day off after that. Most of the boys and girls used to get almost the same haircut as for girls hairstyle we used to say it a pomelo cut.

Our haircut, which happened in about once in every three months or may be earlier, not quite sure about exact time, but, after every  I used to sit in front of mirror, mostly after school and used to pull my hair from front lot. I used to pull out my tongue from the corner of my mouth and then try to touch my hair, but all my efforts used to go in vain.  It used to    make me sad and I used to be almost in tears due to frustration.

Staying in front of mirror and pulling our hair trying to touch with tip of the tongue is just not my story, its the story of every girl who lived in Bal Mandir. If we could touch the tip of hair with our tongue, it meant its okay, we have hair enough long  to be happy and satisfied with its length.

Its not that I had only very thick hair, it sure had lots of head lice too.  Its not just in my head, it was the case with almost every child who used to live in Bal Mandir. It sure was not easy for room nannies [didis] to maintain our long hairs. Especially, if they had about twenty children in a room to take care.

But as we grew older and was old enough to wash ourselves, they did not cut our hair as they wish. Big girls have learned the idea to cut or trim our hair by ourselves. Then a girl named Nirmala had came up with the idea of bending our head down and then another person cutting the V shaped part of the hair that hanged. After that if we stand naturally, we used to have simple yet classy looking hair cut, at least we girls were happy with this haircut than the one we were given by Hazam. Some girls used to get their hair cut from government funded training in beauty parlors.

As for getting scissor to cut hairs we used to borrow it from the room where they used to cut cloths to make dresses for us.  Almost every girls used to work in this department so it was not hard to manage one.

Later on when I could keep my hair long as I wish, and as people requested me to keep it long saying, its so good and looks so good on you, I did not listen to any of them. Forget about making it long, I still don't have habit of letting it down which again gets more compliments. In fact not even when its cold ! Its really strange,I am not doing exactly the reverse way, despite the psychology of doing exactly opposite of what we de-tasted while we have to do as growing up child.   

At least something is in my control; does not this suggest that, I am jealous that my hair gets more compliments than my  look ?

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