Wednesday, March 07, 2007

Riders of The Storm

Amid myriad imported cars, some step into a vehicle that charms numerous common men in the streets of Kathmandu. The famed Tuk Tuk which at an instant looks like a tin box is my guide towards a destination unknown to a fellow passenger riding along. There are hands waving out of nowhere and the journey is shared. It is a moment when men unacquainted to each other share a common destiny; one common space and the common road. Like the unexplained flow of a wild river and the brook that hits the rocks before the river engulfs it, we are meant to meet in the wild trying to escape from the chaos of a life left behind. I discover a certain charm in riding a Tuk Tuk. Something that bears a resemblance to an experience of thrill and amusement entwined in a perfect harmony.

At dusk when the smooth, crimson face of Kathmandu stretches to a facade of a dusty glum, a Tuk Tuk marches towards Lagankhel, which for a moment stands no less than the truth that only some crumpled notes that sum up to eight rupees occupy my pocket. It stands before me in a strange continuous fervor, like a wild river that cannot be tamed. There cannot be something more welcoming than a vigorous and sturdy eight feet body anticipating you to climb along. The offer is too good to resist.

The Tuk Tuk always carries different kinds of people. There is the meticulous, the hasty, the scowling, the chatty and each of them with a sense of mystery, with a past and the future. A strange understanding of unspoken words and indifferent faces connect all of them. It is a time when the din and clash of a usual Kathmandu no longer exists and men who speak aloud are silenced. Only the rattle of the Tuk Tuk reigns supreme.

At Maiti Ghar, where routes diverge, the eagle eyed driver yells to lure a possible passenger. For sometime we had ridden in silence save for the clatter of the tin and the engine no longer restrained by any silencer duct. But for the Tuk Tuk the silence is seldom incessant. You may only crowd in another one or two of them and move along.

The clash over the fare is only common. It is to be understood in the commonness of one man struggling against the vicious cycle of life and death. No, the problem is yet graver. It calls an answer to the question of one’s rights. The battle, sometimes won by the passenger leaves a mark on the driver. So he with his rumpled black hair and ingenuous brown eyes rides along. He looks like a teenager ostracized by his friends.

The Tuk Tuk always reminds us of an underlying power to realize that there is magic in being common. The Tuk Tuk ride tests it in more ways than we can elucidate, and in each curve and bend of the lonely road, a miracle gradually unveils before us. The miracle of feeling pride in being ordinary.

Article By:
Pradeep Rai
Kathmandu
(Master of Arts in English)
North Bengal University

From Blogger's Side: I really want to thank Pradeep Dai for this contribution. He is a very good poet. And the interesting fact is that he is die hard fan of actress Maggie Q. He has more than 1200 collections of photo of her. He is also a good guitar player.

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