Nepal doesn’t need to change. We do.
Here is why. Recently I hiked as part of a “Green Hiker, Green planet” group of change-makers, along the Langtang region in Rasuwa, north of Kathmandu for four days. As we hiked, I couldn’t help but realize that Nepal is simply beautiful and it is just fine the way it is. Sadly it is us who are abusing it. Here are some of the experiences that convinced me, we need to change ourselves, not Nepal.
Where else would you be garlanded with assorted vegetables like tomatoes, potatoes raddish (mula), maize, onions, beans and garlic! For you non-believers, here is a photo of Miss Nepal Sadichha Shrestha wearing just that on the trip 🙂
Where else can you play “Chipleti” i.e desperately crawling and slipping downhill on a slippery red mud path with rain pouring over you for hours. Here we were swinging crazily between fun and danger like little children.
Where else can you sip hot, therapeutic, Seabuckthorn juice (made from wild berries found in high himalayas) and watch the panaromic mountains as clouds disappear below us.
Where else can you feast your eyes upon white, pink, red rhododendrons on the backdrop of beautiful Langtang mountains, that shine like one of Monet’s painting?
Where else can you have “Nettle Soup” (Sishno) with Maize pudding (dhedo) for dinner? My favorite punch line was: “Aaja nikai Sishno khaiiyo”.
It was snowing up there, in mid April. We didn’t mind.
Where can one sip fresh nyak milk from a local yak dairy as well as nibbling nyak cheese while chit-chatting with yak herders, surrounded by majestic Ganesh, Langtang and Gosaikunda mountains. (btw, a female Yak is called nyak, Hence I use the term, Nyak cheese.) 😛
Imagine taking midnight photos of Ganesh himal glowing on a full moon night! Listen with awe, to a local village girl recite poems about impacts of climate change on her village.
Where else can you find local lamas (shamans), at our behest start elaborate masked dance rituals, to scare away specifically the ghosts who are stopping our constitution assembly members from making the consitution?
Nepal is full of wonderful experiences. But Climate change instigated by our own actions in the past and present, threatens this way of life. If we don’t change our habits today, decisively and collectively, the next time you or your children go up to Langtang, you might not get to sip Yak milk or nip its cheese. Erratic climate changes might mean, yaks no longer find greener pastures and lose their habitat. You may no longer enjoy the beautiful forests color painted with rhododendrons because the rampant forest fires (which we saw ourselves) burnt it down.
Playing “chipleti” in the rain becomes out of the question as it either rains too much, causing huge landslides or became drier creating a dusty arid trails devoid of life.
The locals may only welcome you with a plastic “khasa made” rose garland instead of these fresh assorted vegetables because people could no longer grow vegetables in their unproductive lands.
You may not be able to watch the local Sherpa/ Tamang songs, dances and rituals because they all had to scatter away because of shrinking water supplies from the mountains.
And you might just have to be satisfied with photos of bare naked mountains because the snow melted away, leaving you with ugly ash rocks to snap at.
You may not be able to enjoy poetry slam-fest with local young poets because they had to leave for “Arab” to sustain their families as local means of income through agriculture, tourism dried up as a result of climate changes.
The rampant forest fires, the erratic rains and landslides are just the tip of the iceberg. Climate change is persistently trying to turn Nepal into an inhospitable, inaccessible, unsustainable place.
So, lets take a stand today, to protect and enjoy Nepal’s beauty as we still see it. We have a moral choice. Are we going to keep being part of the problem or a solution. As you finish reading this, turn to your best friend, and talk about how the two of you can start right away to keep our Nepal beautiful. This would be a wonderful start to turning things around. Because at the end of day, Nepal doesn’t need to change. We do.