And what shoulder, & what art,
Could twist the sinews of thy heart?
And when thy heart began to beat.
What dread hand? & what dread feet? (From Tiger by Willian Blake)
January 1, 2016: Tiger is an animal that co-holds the titles of both – the beauty and the beast. Meeting a tiger in its wilderness is a treat – not only for the eyes but for your heart too as someone termed the experience as equivalent ‘achieving orgasm during first sex by a lady’ – a possibility but a rarity.
I was in Lumbini a week ago to attend a seminar. This was my fourth visit to the Birthplace of Buddha, and there was along gap between this and the third one. And, I felt happy about the difference I saw in Lumbini.
“Excuse me, why are you stationary?” An Indian passenger walked back to the air hostesses on the back of the Nepal Airlines place and asked.
“We don’t have any stationery, we only have newspapers,” an air-hostess replied.
“No, no, I am not talking about pen or paper; I am asking why the plane is stationary.”
“I told you sir we don’t have pen or paper in the plane.”
“Wait. Stationary means still and I’m asking why you are still standing here for a long time.”
[A little aggressively] “Look Mr. I have finished all my works for take-off….”
(The conversation was overheard a few minutes before the Delhi-Kathmandu flight of Nepal Airlines took off. The not-so-good thing was that the air-hostess started talking in Nepali with other air-hostesses without finishing with the passenger. The good thing was that after a few minutes of take off, the air-hostess approached the passenger and said sorry and that she would look into dictionary for the word she had heard for the first time.)
My flight number was RA 2066 according to my e-ticket.
The flight number was RA 206 according to all display boards at the Delhi airport.
During in-flight announcement both. I don’t know why?
The immigration lobby at the Tribhuvan International Airport, Kathmandu.
The immigration desk with ‘Indian’ board was unoccupied (I don’t see why especially at the time when a flight from Delhi arrived). The Indian passenger and his four friends passed through the empty desk without anybody stopping them or asking for embankment form or identity card.
The passenger suddenly felt that he needed to go the toilet. The toilet was only on the other side so he walked back through the same desk, used the toilet and once again walked through to other side without anybody saying anything.
I thought maybe that’s how we Nepalis are also supposed to walk through. I tried but I was stopped by the immigration officer in the next desk who asked me to be in queue, the same for foreign nationals and submit my embankment form! (Ok! No problem)
And, during my queuing, a foreigner told me that she got the visa in her country for at the airport where they provide on-arrival visa, credit cards are not accepted (only cash – and that many foreigners find it surprising)!
A friend asked me why I haven’t written a blog on my six weeks in Oslo. I pondered on the questions… there was no answer.
Sometimes words just do not come to you and six weeks in Oslo where I attended the International Summer School 2010 at University of Oslo was such an experience that I could not put down in words and do justice to it.
* * *
“What’s ISS for you?” One of my hundreds of friend asked me on camera.
“ISS is six-week of my life that I am never going to forget!” And, they decided to put this small interview just before the end of an eight-minute movie.
It was indeed so. In those six weeks, I met hundreds of friends from all countries imaginable – and talked to them. I met the world at a place.
They not only helped me understand the world, but also filled in me the enthusiasm to work more; work better; study more and help to make the world better.
Some of the friends, I am never going to forget – for their talent, love and compassion!
* * *
“What’s best part of Media Studies group?” Our assistant course leader asked me during a lunch. (Yes, our teachers did occasionally join us in breakfast, lunch, drinks and dances – and late night gossips!)
“Friends… like that of teenage,” I told her that once I started my professional career, befriending people for true friendship without jealousy and with the ownership of teenage friends had become very hard.
In my group of 15 classmates, it was friendship that mattered most. There were of course ‘close friends’, ‘good friends’ and ‘friends’ but the way we could talk freely to each other, sometime even making joke of each other, and share a few light moments together was just wonderful!
* * *
In Oslo, we were far and foremost two things – teenagers and tourists!
Teenagers because we attended classes; completed assignments; went out in evenings and nights; and most important were free from any life pressure. Also because we talked how boring the lectures sometimes are and wondered around the city for nothing.
Tourists because we had such a busy schedule given by ISS in the early weeks that we felt like they are not going to give us time even for shopping. They were guided tours including that of Oslo city – all of which no one could attend, and there were an excursion tour (I went to Telemark – that was the only one left for me when I went to register) where we were made to feel like tourists rather than students.
* * *
And, of course, we were also made students.
At ISS, not only did I attend four-hour-long lectures every weekdays but also asked to do assignments that needed visits to library.
Looking at Media Studies schedule which had the last week free for take-home exams, we had thought ‘yes, here we have free time’. But it turned out that nobody from our class was seen around for long time during the week because they all were busy in the 15-page essay. It turned out to be the most time consuming part of our stay; and everyone sighed long and smiled at each other after the deadline passed.
* * *
I have no words to explain, but it was wonderful experience, just perfect!
After two weeks of stay in Oslo – Norway’s capital – for a six-week study at the International Summer School 2010, University of Oslo (UiO), there are a few things I am amazed about. But one thing that I like most is the Norwegian people.
I have always heard about the ‘smile of Nepali people’ and many foreigners find it amazing that Nepali people are so smiling and hospitable. It’s true [we always tend to smile at people and believe guests as god].
Norwegians are different than Nepalis – they are more happy people.
Why I am saying so? Because I find at least three very good characteristics of those people: firstly, they seem to very simple, secondly, they enjoy what they are doing and finally, almost all of them have a sense of humor.
Yesterday, I attended a Norwegian Cultural Evening. It was an evening to remember – of course more for the performances that were truly amazing – for people displaying all those qualities I like.
A professor at the UiO was the MC and was making us laugh at every sentence. He came up with this brilliant idea of giving away a ‘prestigious award’ to somebody who had helped to save the ‘dairy industry of Norway’. Dressed up as a cow, he brought this empty container with a string and announced the person ‘who had in desperate attempt to save the dairy industry have helped consume 5,000 liters of milk in last few years’.
The award winner was the ISS 2010 director and he received the award; wore it around his neck throughout his closing speech and even later.
This is something unthinkable in Nepal. People like Einar (the director) – professors or directors or something like that – will probably consider such an act as an insult (and I have never seen a professor or people of that level becoming an MC).
And, at Natadal Farm House, where we spent a night during our Telemark trip, the owner (who also happened to be a professor of tourism at Telemark University College) briefed us about the farm, the old life and why houses were built in the way they are (of course with a lot of humorous tales – ‘I tell a lot of lies and I have a license to tell lies’.)
We also had two sisters – from the minority Sami community – who presented us their traditional dresses and chanting. And, I enjoyed watching them talking to each other and smiling (even laughing) shyly. That was always evident whenever there are formal programs – it feels like simplicity (or being informal) is the formality of Norway. I just love it.
And, those seven people who presented us the traditional Norwegian dances were all past their 60s but they were enthusiastic and happy to perform for us. Probably they missed a few steps but who cares of steps – all I was watching was how happily they were performing and how proud they were to do so.
Performing people – musicians and dancers – did perform in front of us but I know they were more playing instruments and dancing for themselves – the satisfaction on their faces (rather than strains) was satisfying to us as well.
And, how can I remain without falling in love with Norwegians?