Tag: temple

Nepal Quake – Hell in Heaven

Nepal, a neighbour that’s ngoas Indian as India can get, yet a character unlike India. It’s a place that has a special place for me and the reason I have been here for times unknown. Struck by a natural calamity that was one of the most devastating in the recent age.relie

Oindin 25 April when the earthquake hit I was at my home in Delhi with my parents. I sitting on the bed and felt the tremor. Told my mom. It was a strong one and lasted for ages. At that very moment I had the thought, considering the magnitude the epicenter must have been anywhere in Nepal, Afghanistan or southern India. I hoped it was not Nepal as it would be devastating knowing the topography and preparedness. Checked twitter and found the quake was of 7.8 magnitude (some people say it was 8.1) and the epicenter was in Barpak in Gorkha district about 70 km off Kathmandu. I knew that the fury was unfurled. The first day news said around 600 casualties and some damage to property. I knew it couldn’t be true and the reality will be known in times to come considering the remoteness of villages in Nepal.

My fear came true. Nepal was shattered and taken further years back in comparison to us. Read about it and saw pictures of the devastation. Couldn’t fathom what it would be like in Kathmandu and Nepal. The distinction as I believe Kathmandu is not even half close to the gorgeous other part of Nepal. I decided I had to do my bit.

On 16 May we took a flight to Kathmandu. The route from the airport to Courtyard made me think did they really exaggerate the quake? No damage was seen. Reached Courtyard and saw cracks in the hotel walls and stairs. People were sleeping in the outside and they had a fear unknown to me. I still didn’t understand the devastation. Went for a walk in Thamel (the main tourist locality in Kathmandu). Everything was shut. It was like a dead city. Got back to hotel and had a quake measuring 5.5. The scare continued.

We walked to Durbar Square. A big school was razed and temples severely damaged.

High School at Durbar Square
High School at Durbar Square
Temple at Durbar Square
Temple at Durbar Square
Kathmandu Durbar Square
Kathmandu Durbar Square

Was late at night sitting with a bunch of people discussing their experiences. Some were in Kathmandu and one was at the Everest Base Camp during the quake. There was a strange calmness, the one that gives you a chill down the spine. That’s when I realized what the quake did. It had shattered the people more than the structures. Made them believe how tiny we are when it comes to gods fury. People were waiting for something bigger and more devastating.

We drove down to Bhaktapur the next day. It’s one of the ancient city of Nepal. Famous for its durbar square which houses some beautiful temples and monuments. We passed through relief camps built in public parks and even at the Kathmandu Golf course. Hundreds staying in tents living on supplies by the government and the NGOs. Read an article in the local newspaper, someone at a relief camp termed life at the camp as a picnic yet the thought of future scared her. Bhaktapur was not the same this time. The beautiful Durbar square was broken. Ancient temples got razed. Monuments were down and those still standing have been marked as unsafe to enter.

Street at Bhaktapur
Street at Bhaktapur
Warning outside a museum in Bhaktapur
Warning outside a museum in Bhaktapur

We went walking around Bhaktapur. There were lanes were 7 out of 10 houses were down. People had lost their houses and families. They knew nothing about how they would stand back even closer to where they were before. There was a strange sadness and gloom. Was driving back and saw people smiling and waving at me. Realized the sadness was my inner introspection.

I was ready to walk out and meet people. Walk out of my comfort and know the reality. Help them with whatever I could. Walk out to a learning I never thought I would get at a calamity struck zone. Walk to a new life for them and for me.

Met a bunch of guys doing some humanitarian work through an NGO called ‘Khusi Hona’. They sounded true and invited us to join them in aid distribution at a relief camp at Bhaktapur the next day. It was the start.

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Ayodhya: the India changer !

Ayodhya, a city which has been a part of our lives since always. Ayodhya is the reason for the birth of communalism in this secular country. Religion based politics started thanks to the so called Ayodhya dispute. With every election in the country we relive the Mandir (Temple) and Masjid (Mosque). We get to hear Mandir and Masjid more than most of us would even go to in our lives.

So what exactly is this Ayodhya issue? A lot of people from our generation had not heard of it till before the news channels started flashing the arrival of the judgment. I was speaking to a friend and she asked me what was this case of which the judgment is coming about. Tried to explain her in details and she didn’t really understand. So told her in simple language, it’s a dispute regarding the title (ownership) of a piece of land, the question is to whom does this land belongs to, the Mandir (Temple) or the Masjid (Mosque)? She responded, isn’t such cases pending in millions in our courts?

Exactly, we have millions of cases regarding the title of land pending and none of them are given so much importance. My father is contesting a title suit filed by his elder brother on our ancestral property. Today they are like arch enemies and are doing their best to win the case. Things also got violent sometimes and yet the case is continuing. The day their case is decided the court would hold the title in one of their names. So it doesn’t mean that the losing side would go and kill the other side, or we their kids would fight because the case is going on or the case is decide in someones favour. Were we all not taught the Hindu Muslim bhai bhai thing, I do have muslim friends and their family treats me the same way as their son.

The other day I was in the Supreme Court attending the hearing of the petition filed for deferement of the Ayodhya verdict, lawyers for all the parties in the case, be it the temple or the mosque were hand in hand, praying for a dismissal and for making way for a judicial end to this unending saga or the blotch on our secularism. The lawyers were all together be it of any religion and were singing the same tune, this is what keeps us together. There are times when I appear for muslims and they treat me the same way as they would have treated a muslim lawyer. We are not living anymore in the age where religion was ahead of our moral and social values.

We all in India have been living under the same sky, unfazed by the religion we practice. When I was in the hostel we used to call each other by our roll numbers and even after passing out from there we didn’t know the names, religion, caste of each other, all that we knew was the roll number, everyone was equal and equally unequal. Why do we need to distinguish each other with religions?

We have lived through a lot of bloody phases in history and all these phases have done nothing good but taken us behind our times. Economic development is directly related to the social development. We Indians have a habit of spending our time and money issueless issues. It is time to accept that this Ayodhya case is nothing but a land dispute, same as the millions pending in our crowded courts. We need to accept that owning this piece of land would not make any religion superior or inferior. It would all remain the same, the preachers would preach with the same zeal and dedication and the atheists would still remain an atheist. Our constitution gives us a fundamental right to practise our religion, today we all do it, but is going to temples guarded by armed guards or to mosques with a fear of life really enjoying our fundamental right?

‘Religions are flawed, because we humans are flawed’.