Paradise in Our Backyard, A Blueprint for Nepal

Paradise in Our Backyard, A Blueprint for Nepal

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Item Code: IHL444
Author: Karna Sakya
Publisher: Penguin Books
Edition: 2009
ISBN: 9780143066613
Pages: 234
Cover: Paperback
Other Details 7.8 inch X 5.0 inch

I believe that life is like a river. Till it finally mixes with the great sea, it has to flow; sometimes in the freezing cold of the Himalayas and sometimes in the scorching heat of the-plains. I am an ordinary citizen of Nepal. I am a thoughtful person but I am not a slave to any principle. I am reasonably intelligent and I am not a victim of any religious prejudice. I am not driven by any false ideas about the superiority of my own race. I have one main principle: I must live a peaceful life guided by good sense. To feel at peace I listen to the gyanmala bhajans of Swayambhu, some days I visit Lord Shiva at the Pashupati temple. When in Europe I have prayed at churches and at Ajmer in India, I have visited the dargah to be blessed by the Muslim saint. I have found that there is peace in any holy place. This is why I do not want to erect the fake walls of language, caste or religion in the open spaces of my heart. We get only one chance at life, why can’t we live it peacefully? Why should we sully life’s purity with fear, anger and disgust? These are the questions I ask myself and this book is a compilation of some of these questions and answers. This is not an autobiography or a travelogue. This book reflects my thoughts, my questions, and the answers I seek.

I am an entrepreneur who occasionally writes on conservation and tourism issues. I have written a couple of books and about a dozen papers but I don’t see myself as a writer or a litterateur. I haven’t written much in Nepali and there was a reason why I wrote this book originally in Nepali. Our country has lately been mired in problems and consequently the hearts and minds of the Nepalese have been shadowed by the terrifying clouds of negativity Hope is the strongest pillar of life. To live without hope is like not living at all but I am certain that hope can be rekindled in Nepal. I try, in Paradise in Our Backyard, to light for the youth of Nepal the lamp of hope and confidence.

I have been an optimist all my life; my greatest strength has been my ability to be positive. I have always believed that there must be night for the sun to rise and to harvest a good crop there must be rain. But Nepal has been in the grip of darkness that has carried on so long that we have despaired of seeing the light. Suspicion and counter suspicion is rife and threaten to tear the country apart. ‘Whatever we do is not enough’ is the general feeling among all Nepalese. For most people, the duties towards family and self surpass allegiances to the government and the state. Because of this we see a large part of our workforce migrate out of the country; we lose a lot of homegrown talent due to this brain drain. This is only natural and those who go away cannot be blamed in any way. At the same time, I cannot let die the hope that one day the dove of peace will fly in Nepal and all those who leave will not have to.

However, negativity has slowly begun to make inroads into my life for the first time. Nepal is my motherland, however it may be, and I cannot leave it. This is where I earn my bread and where I have made a name for myself It is my supreme desire that I live peacefully in Nepal till the day I die. If——and I pray to god this never happens——this country becomes a veritable hell, I will still look for heaven in it. It is said that there is hope till there is breath and Paradise in Our Backyard is a search for that hope. Today, scepticism and anxiety have grown so much that everybody from politicians to beggars, are haunted by dissatisfaction. From five- star hotels to small restaurants, from Pipalbot in New Road to the maidans, one comes across only negativity and pessimism. National as well as private, daily or weekly all periodicals have unvarying content: news only of destruction, of killings and deaths.

Yet to only say that the country has been flushed down the drain, that all leaders are corrupt, all officials are thieves and all merchants are cheats is not enough. Yes, it is true that Nepal is seriously sick, a chronic malaise has attacked the collective mind but we have no choice but to strive for a cure and only a fierce desire for improvement and a better future can help us. We must believe that we can make things happen and that we can make a difference. If we are to live in Nepal as Nepalese, we must, under all circumstances, remain mentally strong. Else this ship will sink, and then we will be faced with an impossible choice: desert the ship like rats or go down with it.

In such dire times, if we stay unmoved and don’t act, who will help us? Nepal is a state where limited resources mean that problems will naturally arise. But there is no country in the world which does not have problems. If we look deep within ourselves, we will see that Nepal has plenty of areas for growth and development; all that we need are eyes to see those opportunities and brains to bring them to fruition. And it is with the conviction that such eyes and brains exist that this book was written. From the life I have led I hope to show people, especially the youth, who have grown negative that the possibilities in our country are many and varied. This book is not for the lazy ones who know nothing better than to sit around with their hands on their laps. I am looking for the people who believe that they can shape their destinies. Nepal has much talent and many people who believe that they can change their vision into reality can make their dreams come true and by working hard, can create opportunities for themselves. There is no place in the world for escapists but for those who are ready to take on challenges, Nepal offers much scope. The only thing lacking is positivity. If all the negativity can be changed to optimism, no one can hinder Nepal’s progress; I firmly believe that.

Wherever I go, whoever I meet, I speak only of being positive. I feel that if one provides the initial spark, the conflagration of optimism will only spread. Schools, colleges, the Rotary and Lions clubs, periodicals, radio, television, wherever I speak, I say just one thing, ‘Nepal is not finished, we have a bright future To make this message more penetrating and effective, I had requested Nepal Television to start a programme called Positive Thinking. With the help of Sumitra Kayasth, this programme on Channel Nepal was able to convince many viewers. If Paradise in our Backyard can further spread the message, I would consider myself very lucky like I mentioned earlier, I am not a professional author or litterateur but I could not be just an interested onlooker of the crises of the nation and decided to write about them.

If one is strong mentally one can beat even cancer: I was convinced by this statement and to give it wider circulation, I planned a poets’ meet around the theme. I am not a poet and so I met Kedarman Vyathit and Durgalal Khobilu to explain my plans. I managed to convince them and they agreed to organize a poets’ meet. I had written three poems in Nepali on the most painful episodes of my life. The first episode was when I hunted a male Brahminy duck on the Rapti river in Chitwan: the female’s grief was almost human. I never hunted after that. The second I wrote in 1982 when I had to make a difficult and sad decision. I wrote my third poem after I could not manage to save my cancer stricken wife and daughter despite my best efforts. If emotions cannot be contained, they compel man to do things he never thought himself capable of doing. But these poems were never meant to be published and so they have remained in the confines of my diary.

I know Durgalal Khobilu from childhood: we lived in the same locality Later we went our ways and never kept in touch. He knew me only as an hotelier. He was surprised by this new aspect of my personality He said, ‘You write poems! Let’s hear them.’ I smiled and with some reservations, read out my poem called ‘A Fight with Death’. The words in the poem had no weight, no sweetness. The stanzas were awry and similes and metaphors were wrong. Yet I read out my poem to these poets who were respected nationally. After hearing the poem and its context, Khobiluji began crying. On seeing him cry my eyes watered. Vyathitji looked first at Durgalal then at me, and laughing, said something I remember even now ‘Whether poetry or prose, the presentation can be done in two ways- one, to mould emotion to tit language; two, to hang words on the scaffolding of emotion White haired and possessed of an astonishing personality, Vyathiji laid a hand on my shoulder and said, ‘Karnaji, your poems were of the latter kind which is why Durgalaji cried.”

Yes, like Vyathitji said, this book is an outpouring of the emotions of my heart. All the events I have mentioned herein are based on facts and I have tried to present all the emotions I have experienced in the simplest way possible. Thus I humbly request the reader to ignore style and language and understand the emotions I have tried to express here. I beg forgiveness for any mistakes and lacks that might have crept in. Lastly I have mentioned by name all those who need to be praised in the book but have withheld names when I felt that mentioning them would adversely affect those people. I would like to thank Bhairav Risal and Anil Chitrakar who have been supportive of the book from the start. Thanks are due to Binod K.C., a dear friend, Raman Gradon and Sian Pritchard Jones. Paradise in Our Backyard would not have been possible without Chelsea Fish who helped with the translation; many thanks to her.

Introduction vii
1The Power of Positive Thought 1
2 The Pandora’s Box of Democracy 13
3 An Assessment 30
4 The Urban Forester 47
5 Kathmandu Guest House 66
6 To Create Heaven 84
7 Let’s Do Something, Please! 101
8 Making A Difference 115
9 Hope and Despair 128
10 A Cancer Hospital From a Paisa 135
11 To Heal a Heart 145
12 A Nation Without Problems 154
13 Memories 165
14 Visit Nepal Year 1998 179
15 A New Beginning 193
16 203
17 At The End 214
18 A Revelation 223
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