Sunday, January 14, 2007

Back home!

Woke up with the sound of vajan. It was quite early in the morning too, but at other's place there wasn't anything we could do. The best option for us was to move out as soon as we can. Yesterday we'd met the same driver with whom we came to Dang and he gave us the information that the microbus that runs from Tulsipur would arrive Lamahi around at 8 am. But we got out early - It's Maghi tomorrow so we maynot get seats to go to Kathmandu.

In a while a microbus came with exactly five seats left. We didn't want to risk waiting for another microbus, so we got in. Wasn't that comfortable, but we just wanted to get back home.

There aren't much reminiscences, but i was quite in an uncomfortable seat. It was supposed to be a seat for three and i was the fourth one sitting on it. Moreover once, there was a woman whose baby slept on my lap, the conductor was sleeping on my shoulder and there was another old woman next to me vomiting! I borrowed Kebina's iPod and slept listening to it.

We all were separated, so there wasn't much talking. All i could do was sleep. Some of the things on the way worth remembering were Kurintar's sweet oranges and the man next to me whom i pushed kinda harder all the time to make space to sleep. Later on Shishir told me that he was the newly appointed Member of Parliament from the Maoist side representing Dang! Holy #$%^!

Got back Kathmandu around at 4 pm.

Finally home!

Saturday, January 13, 2007

Busy morning, trip to Gorahi and our Headmaster sir

Stayed up the whole night! Infact the backup software screwed up. Actually my intention was to make a DVD which would reinstall everything in a single step. There was a program called Mondo to do the backup job, but it wasn't working properly back in the Kathmandu itself. So i'd another program called clonesys to do the job. I even tried Mondo for the last time, but still it didn't work. Later on i found out that the main file was corrupted. Damnit, if i'd known this back in Kathmandu i would have downloaded it again.

But no worries, i'd another program to do the job – clonesys. It was working good when i tested it in back in Kathmandu but i didn't have much time to fully test it back then too. I just hoped it would work.

Unfortunately it didnt! It was middle of the night, everybody else were sleeping and i was getting screwed to the extent i could. An easy recovery system was something we were promising since the beginning, and now it wasn't showing any sign to work. I seriously needed some alternative. Did i have some?

Yes i did. The whole system was K12LTSP with a list of changes applied. To say it better, the system was simply K12LTSP customized to our needs. Fortunately, every changes we made on it was written on my diary. So it didn't take me long to list down the changes/customizations. Once it was done, i started writing script to do the whole customization stuff automatically. Didn't take that long as i'd expected.

So now the recovery system consisted of two DVDs. One was the K12LTSP installation DVD. Another DVD was the one containing scripts to perform the required changes to the system. The same DVD also contained all the content of the Local Intranet.

Now i'd to check it, i began installing the K12LTSP in another computer. Meanwhile also documenting everything i was doing in my laptop.

Around at 4, Govinda sir woke up. Oh i forgot to mention, Govinda sir also stayed with us so that we can teach him better about the system. By then a draft copy of the recovery manual was also over. So i told him to exactly follow the manual and install the K12LTSP. To my relief, he did it. A night long of work finally had some results.

Slept at 6 in the morning. Woke up at 9.

Had some breakfast and back to work again. Now another disaster – the manual i'd prepared the whole night wasn't there. I donno what happened, but the manual's file wasn't simply there in the laptop. I know i made a mistake not saving, but i'm damn sure i didn't close it either.

No time for worries, i started writing it again. I'd already written it before, so didn't take much to rewrite it. Whala, the re-installation manual was (re)done!

Meanwhile, Shishir and Rajiv went to the office to install the fax machine. They also tested it and also taught Kushal sir (he's the accountant there, i guess) how to operate it. We also tried to connect the office and the lab through LAN but there was some problem with the cable. Maybe the distance was too long.

Now it was time to rush. Today we were supposed to leave and stay at our principal sir's home at Lamahi. I even had to go to Ghorahi. We atleast needed to move out before 2pm. Govinda sir was also rushing as he also had to go to his home – Pyuthan. We all were jokin that his wife's gonna kill him. But finally everything was done. We'd burned the required CDs too. Double-checked everything and then we moved. It was around 1pm.

Took a bus and reached Lamahi. Our headmaster sir had given us his number to call once we were in Lamahi. We called but nobody picked up. We were screwed for a while. But not for too long. Seems like our headmaster sir is quite popular here. Even the shopkeeper whose phone we used knew about him and knew where he lived. She told us the direction and so we moved.

Seems like everybody knows him here. We reached his home asking the local people. And there you go, we reached his place. Meanwhile our headmaster sir wasn't at home. We were welcomed by his wife. We kept our luggages there and moved out to go to Ghorahi.

Going to Ghorahi had a reason. I was born in Ghorahi but still dont know how the place is. I was brought up in some other place (Baglung). Now i've come upto Dang and i didn't want to miss the visit to Ghorahi. Previously only me and Shishir were planning to go to Ghorahi but since there was no work to do for the rest, we all went.

There was an truck accident on the way to Ghorahi so we had to stop for a while. But we finally reached Ghorahi. Now i'd one particular job to do – meet Saliza aunty of Marigold Public School. My dad in particular was insisting me to meet her. He'd told me that she was the one who loved me most when i was kid. But i didn't know how she looked, infact i dont know anything related to Ghorahi. I just know i was born there.

Now the problem – how to find Marygold school in the first place in this big town?? But fortunately the school wasn't much far from where we got off. We asked the locals there and they showed us the way. There were no taxi nor rickshaw. All we could do was walk.

But later there was this guy who told us that there was no Marigold school anymore. It was shut off a few years ago after the Maoists blasted a bomb in the school. So instead of Marigold School, there was Siddhartha Academy. He also showed the way to the school.

We reached Siddhartha Academy. But Saliza aunty wasn't there. It was a completely another school and Saliza aunty didn't belong there. But fortunately we met a woman (her name was Usha Sharma and she was wife of the Principal of the school). She knew Saliza aunty and showed us the way to reach her. She also gave information that the building of Marigold School is still there (but closed as a school) and Saliza aunty lives in the same building.

It was a long walk but we finally reached there. The building was really big but was really deserted. There was a school previously here. But after it was closed, it's just Saliza aunty's family who lives here. Top floor. Me and Shishir went up, other guys stayed outside. Finally we reached there, we thought.

But not so. Saliza aunty wasn't at home. There was another woman who told us that she's gone to a PCO nearby. I might not meet her, so i took the telephone number of the home from her. Shishir and others were freakin out coz we'd been walkin since a hour or two, but i still had energy to meet her. Cmon it's a nearby PCO. Me and Shishir went there.

Finally there she was. But she was busy talkin on phone. Meanwhile i talked to a man who was sitting there and when i told him that i came to meet Saliza aunty, he asked who i was. I told the name of my dad and everything. Then he was smiling – he was husband of Saliza aunty. And now remember them. I've been seeing them on photo. It was just i didn't know them.

They both were surprised to see me and asked how i reached there. I told them about the project and all. But one thing i missed – i thought they would be shocked to see me and tell me how big i've gone and such things, but they took it normal.

Some talks and it was time to go. We had to reach Lamahi. But i was glad to meet them. If i hadn't met them, it would have been a sad evening coz we walked soo much.

Back to Lamahi and back to our headmaster sir's place. It was somewhat boring, somewhat irritating and somehow hilarious to me.

It turned out that our headmaster sir was being involved in 'Om Shanti'. And after dinner, he started talkin about it on and on. First there was Swasthani and although we were tired and wanted to go to bed, we listened. But then he started his talks on Om Shanti and other spritual things. Oh god, he kept on talking and talking. I know none of us believed on such things, but we'd no option but to listen.

Later on i felt funny about how the guys were irritated listening to him. But i dont wanna talk about it. It was just too much. And it was finally over when he started taking out the video CDs to show to us. We then told him that it was too late and we were too tired and wanted to go to bed.

Finally to bed!

Friday, January 12, 2007

Fake load-shedding, Handover program and the sleepless night

The fake load-shedding spoiled my whole night. I'd a lot of finalizing works to do on the server. First of all the total backup of the software content on the server was still pending. Similarly, the local intranet was still remaining to be smoothed. There were a lot of other tit-bits to tweak. All these works were worth one night. But the load-shedding played villain here.

I began to work around at 8 after having dinner but the bloody electricity went off again. Since i've come here, the thing that has been bothering most is the frequent power cut-offs that happen here. Almost every evening there's loadshedding and we're left with nothing but to sleep. But this time it was really frustrating. I'd a ton of work to do n there was no lights to do them. But there was nothing i could do so i just set alarm for early in the morning and went to sleep.

When i woke up, there still was no electricity. I couldn't also sleep any further. So began to play a puzzle game in my cell phone. I chose the difficult one, the one i never had a record of getting solved. But what's this? I solved it within five minutes. Frustration grew as i kept on waiting for lights. Donno when i slept again.

When i woke up, it was already eight in the morning and there STILL was no lights. We felt like something really might have gone fishy – maybe blown fuse or tripped MCB. Later on we found that it was jus loose plug that was causing the whole fake load-shedding! However there was nothing we could have done even if we'd found it during night coz the plug was inside principal sir's room and it was locked.

We fixed the power but there was no question of getting back to computer. Today was the day for the handover program. The main purpose of ours to come here was to setup the computer lab, but we also had the responsibility of delivering the books for the traditional library donated by Help Nepal Network. Infact this whole project was about traditional library, the concept of digital eLibrary came much later. And this formal event was supposed to be organized few days earlier, but our headmaster sir got stuck at Kathmandu due to chakkajam and when he returned back, he got busy with SLC form irregularities of some of the students. Finally the program was scheduled for today.

Leave aside the program, the main problem among us was to select one among us to deliver a speech in the program. Rajiv was the obvious candidate as he was the most efficient Nepali speaker among us and the speech ought to be in proper Nepali. Rajiv was getting prepared for it.

But later on things changed. We also needed to highlight some aspects of Help Nepal Network during the speech. I was the one who knew most about Help Nepal Network among us, so we decided to share the speech between Rajiv and me. But when the program was about to start, the program conductor came and told us that there will be speech from only one among us. Finally (and surprisingly) i was selected for the job.

This was quite unexpected. I had no intention to speak but somehow i ended up with something i've never felt comfortable with. You know i'm such a bad speaker. I really dont have problem interacting with people but when it comes to speaking infront of a mass, i really do have a complex. But there i was and i had no alternatives. How long can i run away??

I gathered some points to speak on and noted them in the diary. And there you go, it was my turn. I know the speech was such a mess coz i really had problem speaking in Nepali. But i guess, i didn't leave any points to speak on.

Beside the speech crap, we exchanged papers related to the donated books, computers and other equipments. The program was short and sweet. The chairperson was Mr. Lalmani Sharma, the President of School Management Comittee. Teachers and parents were also present. Unfortunately there weren't much students as the school was closed from today for Maghi to be held the day after tomorrow.

After the program was over, we had a short demo of the lab to the attendees of the handover program. There was this person (i forgot his name now), who told us that he also talked with Arun dai the day before. He was infact the unofficial coordinater of this project. It was because of his efforts Help Nepal Network agreed to help this school.

Besides him there were other persons from the Guardian's Group. Others were well known and respected personalities of this area. Good thing was that everybody appreciated the attempt and the technology. I dont know if there were any back-bitings, but everybody came to us and praised and thanked us for what we've done.

Later on we also had interviews of various persons regarding their comment on the eLibrary. We also videotaped them. Actually videotaping the interviews was idea of Roshendra dai. Shishir had talked with him yesterday on phone.

After program we'd planned to go to Lamahi with our headmaster sir. But we canceled the program this time too. I still had a lot of works to do due to the fake load-shedding the whole night. I was really running out of time and spending time visiting Lamahi was quite out of question.

After everyone had gone, i was infront of the server full time. I'd a lot of things to do – backing up the whole server, finalizing the Local intranet and some other tits-bits. Would take a whole night. Hopefully the lights wont go this time.

Thursday, January 11, 2007

Excited teachers, Homesickness and the Chocofun

Fourth day here at Bhaluwang and i was already getting homesick. Most of all, i was missin my honey and during night, my bed (cmon, we are staying in the computer lab itself). Talkin about missin stuff, it was quite a joke here. And by the way, all jokes are courtesy Rajiv (Dude, you are the man!) According to him what i miss most was internet (coz i talk about internet all the time). Shishir misses his bike most. The open highway is just there, and he doesn't have a bike to ride – quite a misery huh? Ayush's case was different. He misses madal! Quite a thing to miss. Actually there was a time Ayush was gettin so frustrated (perhaps homesick or else?) and he was complaining on lack of any musical instrument – 'Aint a madal'. Rajiv was having all the fun i guess. It was his first stay outside valley and he was enjoying it to the fullest. But i can't say anything about Kebina coz she stays at a different place. Dont u get cardiac arrests at times??

Leave the homesickness aside, we've come here to work. According to our schedule, it was the teacher's turn this time.

However teaching the teachers wasn't much different than the students, as most of the teachers here were also completely unaware of computers. So we had to start with basic computer skills like typing and mouse handling. But besides these we also showed them the Local intranet in our system. We really have a huge collection of articles in our system which can also be very useful for the teachers.

Later on we had some talks with the teachers about the proper use and the sustainability of the eLibrary. All the teachers are excited and positive towards the lab. By now i don't have any question regarding effectiveness of the softwares being provided. My main concern is the hardware and maintainability issue. Since this is a linux based lab, i'm wondering if the lab would be easy to maintain.

During evening we went to Bhaluwang again. But this time, walking. Actually we had a plan to go to Lamahi. Me in particular wanted to go there coz i'd heard from others that there's internet and i so badly needed to access my email. But the time we finished the training sessions, it was already late and our principal sir recommended not to leave as there might be difficulty returning when it's too late.

At Bhaluwang, we straight went to a local shop to have some fish from nearby Rapti river. Wasn't tasty at first but later on we ended up eating ten plates of them. Well uh, the plates were small, but ten plates is quite a number. We also found a momo shop there. Oh dear, we were already missing momo. Went there and had it too. I didn't find anything wrong with the momo but other guys were freakin out. Ayush was already in search of a medicine shop for some Digene tablets. But later on we ended up with Chocofun :). Ayush's philosophy is that Chocofun helps in digestion. Well, i give a damn to that but being a Chocofun fan, i bought some more Chocofun and later on also made Kebina to buy some. Quite a Chocofun evening!

It was already dark when we returned, and thankfully the bus didn't play any weird songs like last time.

Wednesday, January 10, 2007

Chungi, sleepy day and the training

Yesterday i was feeling little sick in the evening, felt like i'm gonna have some fever. I was having kinda soar throat, n every time i have that, a fever follows. I was really scared if i'd catch some fever. So i had to take a tablet of cetamol before sleeping. And thanx god, it worked. I was feelin much better when i woke up.

Talkin about waking up, i must say that we've become quite lazy here. It always gets eight in the morning when we wake up although we even dont work late night. By the time we finish our breakfast, the school ground is already full of students. And you know, we also used to do this when we were at school – some light sports before assembly. What grabbed my attention this time was chungi.

Whereever there is bicycle, there is always chungi. No wonder it used to be our favourite when at school and also at college. Quite a reminiscence of school days, i quickly went to the students to revive some. Although not good at chungi, but it was fun to play with the students. They were more like little brother to me, but it was fun playing with them. Hmmm, i even played chungi at Dang. Quite an experience.

Now back to work. As per our schedule, the first two day were allocated to setup the hardware, the next two days for trainings and the last two days for case studies n all. Well, the two days have already gone, so today and tomorrow are the days for the trainings.

So with the help of Govinda sir, we called group of students to the lab and started teaching them how to turn on the computer, to log in and to run the programs. Well i'm not good at teaching. I portrait myself more like a geek and find pleasure hitting keys and racking my brain in front of computer. But somehow i was trying to cope with other guys.

But not for too long. During breakfast in the morning i had somewhat running nose and was suspecting flu. Shishir had told Govinda sir on phone to bring some tablets of Decold for me and i took one during lunch. The same tablet was inducing sleep now. Oh god, i was tryin soo hard to keep my eyes open. But it seemed almost impossible to me. So in a while Ayush, Kebina and me went to canteen to have a coffee. Funny, before coffee arrived, i fell asleep.

When i woke up, i found myself resting my head at the canteen table, with a cold coffee (which might have been hot when it arrived) before my head. I drank that and ordered another coffee (little hard this time). Sarita ma'am (Kebina stays at her place) and Giri ma'am (newly appointed librarian for the school) joined in. Had some talks with Sarita ma'am. Giri ma'am doesn't talk much. Maybe because she's new.

Now i've mentioned about Sarita ma'am, i'd like to talk little more about her. Her full name is Sarita Rijal and she's from Ghorahi. From the information given by others and especially Kebina (as she stays at her place), she is one of the most influential lady i've ever met. She was married after her SLC but still continued her education from her husband's home. Mind you, i'm talkin on the rural context. Then she came to Kathmandu for her further studies. By then she already had had a child whom she had to leave with her husband. She even had to take meditation classes as she was depressed on being apart from her child. She has done upto masters and she is the most educated lady teacher here. She takes interest on everything – she even has taken computer hardware trainings! But one thing that i'm particularly impressed about – she's soo so simple. Even after what she's achieved, i didn't find a single sign of arrogance in her. She talks like a kid, dresses simple and speaks soft. And most of all, even after reaching such a height she still prefers to educate the children in this remote place. Her husband and child are in Ghorahi and she lives here at Lalmatiya as a teacher. And every weekend, she rushes back home to meet her loved ones. Sarita ma'am, you're the one. You truly are a role model and everyone of us should learn from you. I really salute you from the core of my heart.

Okay now back to my sleepiness. Well after the canteen-snore, i was out of sleep. Returned back to the lab where the training sessions was still going on. I helped the guys to teach the students how to log on, how to open programs. There were few students who were already familiar with computer. To them, i taught some little advanced stuffs like to add article to the wiki (we also have a local wiki in the network). The students are really bright and have keen interest on computers. All they lacked was a computer lab. Felt good that Help Nepal Network is helping them to have one. And i was glad to be a part of it.

During evening we went for a walk to the primary wing of the school. The school where we are setting up the lab is the newly constructed building. It has just been a year or two since they shifted to this new building. The old building is also really big. Of course, they used to run the whole school (upto 10th grade) there.

We walked a little further and for the first time we saw little more houses here. But none of them are cemented. Quite felt like a typical terai village. We used to feel like this is a deserted place, but there's quite a population here.

Tuesday, January 09, 2007

Cheerful students, Rapti bridge and the beautiful sunset

Back to work again. Actually the system is already functional, but we're tweaking the system to make it easier for students to operate.

During day, we opened the lab for a short demo for the teachers and students. And perhaps that was one of the best moments of my life. Our month long of work finally paid off. Seems like everybody is liking the system. The excitement among the students – i just can't explain it in words. Even the teachers were excited. There were some key points about our system to be excited over.

First of all, it's Linux based, so there's less change there'll ever be virus attack and very less change of system crash. Second thing, it's Nepali localized. Ask students whether to use the system in Nepali or English and they promptly say 'Nepali'. The teachers seemed excited about the Nepali language too. I even showed them the Romanized input system and they seem to like it. The keyboard layout and the magic of Unicode was more than excitement to them. Third thing was that we'd put the local cache of and, which seemed to be really a hit among the teachers.

But for students, games was what they liked most. The GCompris Suite was a hit. The students are really really bright here. They solve the puzzles in the GCompris Suite without problem. Really really bright students.

The most excited were we ourselves. Our months long work is really paying off. We later on also came to know that this is the first computer lab in a government school in the Central West of Nepal. And as far as i know this is the first Linux LTSP based lab in the whole Nepal. Felt like quite creating a history.

During evening, we went to Bhaluwang. The Rapti bridge was awesome. And the sunset was just marvelous. The orange shade was just too romantic for me to seriously miss my honey. The parrots flying over the bridge in such a wavy motion. The clear water. And the cool breeze. Boy, i'd been living in a hell and i even didn't know about it!

Back to school was hilarious. The bus had over speedy cassette player. The hindi song it played was soo squeaky and soo funny. I kept laughing all way long. Other guys were laughing to see me laugh.

Routine loadshedding. We went to the canteen where the people there made a fire. Was cold. Quite a relief.

Also called Rama dai (HeNN). He was very very excited when i told him what happened today. He urged me to email my experiences. But internet is a problem here. I was told that there's internet at Bhaluwang, but there's aint any. Now i've heard that there's internet at Lamahi, i gotta try it. During afternoon we also tried to access internet via local telephone line using Shishir's roaming password, but the telephone exchange here doesn't support internet.

During dinner we got to talk to Kamal dai. He runs the canteen. And he seemed to be such a wonderful guy. He seems few years older than us, but he's 31 years old and he's seen so much of things in life. He's a cook now, but previously he used to be an electrician and used to work at Gulf. He worked there for more than 5 years but returned back as the pay wasn't good. He told us so much things he's done. But the amazing part was that he's young and looks even younger. He was such a wonderful guy.

Monday, January 08, 2007

Back to work, some politics and the scary darkness

Woke up quite late and it was due to cock's noise. Natural alarm huh? Smell of terai. And it was cold outside. Talkin about weather, here it is as cold as Kathmandu during morning and evening. Days are warm. Terai has problem of fog for several days, but we were told that there aint such thing here.

Had a cup of tea and we moved towards school. There's little distance from Govinda sir's place to the school so we took a local bus. Bus was packed and at a time i even had to swing at the door. Later on i entered inside and there was a funny incident. The metal bar we were holding broke off and i was in such a unbalanced position. Quite a laugh there. We reached school in 5 minutes. Rupees 5 per person. Atleast things are cheaper here than in Ktm.

The school. I mus say this school has quite an infrastructure. Maybe i'm used to seeing schools at Ktm being run in a small house but the building of the school is really enviable. More than i'd expected it to be. Well i did my primary schooling from Baglung and the building wasn't bad there either. But this one is cemented. Later on i came to know that it was perhaps the best school in the region. Nice place we reached.

We went straight to the building where we dumped all our stuffs yesterday. But the staffs didn't open the door for us. They were seeking for permission from a 'higher official'. Later on i even met this 'higher official' – Mr Pravin sir. Well before i talk about him, there's another thing to note first. There's an IT college being built near the school premises. It is under construction now and is supposed to be really big when it's over. There's lots of fundings from Indian Government for this project. Pravin sir was its in-charge.

Now Pravin sir, i felt quite odd dealing with him. We shook hands and he does it like an armyman. He wears army-like cap and everything he does is like army. Funny enough, he even talks on cell phone like a walkie-talkie. But specifically, me n perhaps everyone of us didn't liked the way he behaved to us. We were here to setup the computer lab for the school. But he was from IT college and he was tryin to boss us around. Infact there was some politics here.

The building where we kept our computers was the property of the school, but there had been an agreement with the IT college that they'll be using the (school's) building for some months to train their students. So when we reached there, the room was already furnished by the IT college, with space for around 35 computers.

Pravin sir talked on n on about his IT college. I really dont care what he onto. But i really didn't like it when he said something bad about my college – Pulchowk Engineering Campus. My college is best when it comes to infrastructure and facilities in Nepal and is top ranked among Asian engineering colleges. Maybe it was ego of me but i really didn't like it. He kept on talking and talking boasting about the IT college. He said there's gonna be a VSAT of their own for internet. Well this was good news as the school can also be benefited from it. But the way he said these all in such a egoistic manner was such a headache to me.

Pravin sir went and then there was another guy. Passout from Kantipur Engineering College. Now again he started being 'Pravin sir'. Again? But i was reaching my limits. Then i started too. I told him that our system is totally Linux based, custom tweaked and Nepali localized. Maybe i exaggerated at some point but he totally o'ed his mouth and went away. Now i felt good.

But i was little disheartened too. Is this building being shared by school and the IT college?? I seriously doubted the sustainability of this lab. If the IT college's computers come in, our system will be completely in shadows. Cmon, our system is a low cost solution and we're using old computers as workstations. The IT college's computers' gonna eat ours. This is seriously not good!!

But things were cleared up in a while. Govinda sir came n told us not to care about the IT college. The school and the IT college were separate entities. Yes, they'll be sharing the lab, but it was jus temporary. As soon as their building is over, they'll shift everything to theirs. So no worries. Our system's going to be there. And he also told me not to listen to Pravin sir. Seems like nobody likes him here. Neither do i.

Now back to work. Me and Shishir were to setup the hardware. We unpacked everything. But before we connected the wires and all, we also called some enthusiastic students from class 9 and 10 for a demonstration. We taught them how to connect mouse, keyboard and monitor. Shishir did a short explanation on what are the things inside the CPU box. Maybe some things went over the students' mind but they seemed to be enjoying. We also did an short explanation on how the system is and the interconnectivity of computers.

After students went, we clamped few wires for the networking. Also taught Govinda sir. He seems to catch up fast.

Meanwhile other guys – Ayush, Kebina and Rajiv went to the classrooms to give short intro on computers. The guys told me that the main problem was to speak Nepali all the time. Goddamnit, we're Nepali and even can't speak fluent Nepali. Such a shame! But we're slowly improving. Another thing they told us was that the students were really enthusiastic about computers. Really bright students and they ask brain-racking questions.

During evening, went to play volleyball with the locals for a while. It was jus for fun, i seriously aint athletic. Got back with swollen hands. :)

In the evening, went out on the highway for a walk. It's such a lonely place here. Maybe we're too habituated at living in a concrete jungle. The distance between two home is atleast 100 meters here. Spacious is good, but this is too much.

Dinner is at canteen which belongs to IT college. Good food, and there's TV with foreign channels too! Star Movies also. But there's no time for TV here..

We stayed in the computer lab. Another option was to stay at the guest room of IT college, but u know there's politics here. We preferred the computer lab. Govinda sir managed some 'sirak' n 'dasna'.

One thing note worthy - during night it's COMPLETE darkness here. Seems like everybody goes to sleep at 8. No sign of people. There was a time when the electricity went off and we went out for some leak, the darkness was really scary. And another thing, (maybe the health personals wont like this) but we use the open field for the 'leak'. That's the way it works here. The toilet is some 100 meters away and there's no water!

Sunday, January 07, 2007

Good head start, lonely highway and lucky us

After a month long of technical what nots, a week long stay at Help Nepal Network (HeNN) office, broken stomach, shattered sleep with biscuit and sausage snack, our Linux based low cost computing solution using thin client system was finally ready. Destination Lalmaitya, Dang – our excitement was perhaps higher than the mountains of ktm valley, willing to cross Thankot. We were supposed to gather at HeNN office by 6 am. I was the nearest but perhaps it was broken sleep, i slept more than i should but fortunately didn't get too late for HeNN office. Shishir was already there and half of the stuffs were already loaded – dozen bundles of cartoon full of books and eight set computers. Rajiv and Ayush joined in a while. Kebina came a lil' late, but since the whole microbus was on reserve, we didn't think it was going to be something to regret on for a while.

Some photographs at chabahil, n we hit the road. But not for too long - we got stuck at Kalanki. Might be just some 'Kalanki ko jam' we thought, but it was infact a strike. And to turn us down, it happened to be for indefinite period. C-R-A-P. It was 7 in the morning. Our microbus was almost at the front of the line of vehicles that soon made up. Had we been lil' early to move, we would have escaped. But there was no moving behind. All we could do was wait.

But it kinda became wait, wait n wait. We stayed in the microbus listening to some music, then got out for a walk, then again back but still no sign of escape. The strike was getting more aggressive as one got beaten up for shouting at the strikers. We started gettin hungry. Kathmandu's momo for the last time – we'll be missin it at Dang. But if we can move forward, that is.. Well, i dont believe in superstitions but that moment i was too joinin others with – 'Kun sahit ma aaiyechha'.

Then around at 12:30 our guruji suddenly came out with an indigenous idea. There was a petrol pump little below Kalanki's chowk and there was a small road which we were told was shortcut to reach Thankot. Although there was much risk using that road, our guruji dared. Not to dare is to be dead. Now we felt much alive.

But the travel wasn't a pleasant one. Infact we almost had near death experience taking that road. Well, there were no strikers there to (maybe) burn our microbus, but the road itself was a real killer. At one place the road was so narrow that we almost doubted the microbus would pass, but i really appreciate the courage and skill of our guruji that we finally got outta there and finally reached ..... at around 2.

Now hit the road jack! Journey till then had been quite a nightmare – uneven road with creepy turns and breath-taking width. But now the highway was so lonely, courtesy the strike at Kalanki. We'd reserved the microbus but it seemed like we also reserved the highway. I have never seen such a lonely highway in my life. Our guruji told us that the Koshi was also bandh. Our microbus ruled the road. Just us and the open road.

Naubise at 2:30pm. There we had a very very expensive lunch. It was clear that the shopkeeper was cheating us, but at highway we'd no option.

Now it was a fun-ride. The microbus was new too. At times we were also hitting 100 kmph steady. But i hadn't realized microbus can be this confortable. Even at 100, we didn't feel anything jerky. The ride was smooth and comfortable. No sound of engine, felt like riding a jet plane. Shishir and me were at the front seat, and we both enjoyed the scene. I specially liked the sunset around at 5.

Around at 8 we stopped at .... to have dinner. Finally our own dal, bhat and tarkari. There was meat too, but the skin were really rough. We even were jokin if it was the skin of recently killed rhinoceroses. More enjoyable was the fact that we're gonna reach our destination after one hour.

Finally we reached. The most delightful thing was the stars. Dude. Jus lay back and marvel. There's much light pollution at ktm, we never get to see such a clear sky full of bright stars. It was really really beautiful scene.

More enjoyable was the school. Previously i thought that the school was small and located at remote location. But things weren't like that. The school was two storied and full concrete building. Later on i came to know that the building was constructed with the help of British Gurkhas. There was a separate block to keep the books and computers. 'Laxmidevi Bhawan' – the inscription at the outer wall said. But shouldn't it be 'Jamunadevi Library'? I was confused. But i had no time to ask, we all were busy unloading the stuffs.

After unloading, we said bye bye to the microbus. Kebina stayed at one of the ma'am's place. Rest of us headed towards Govinda sir's room. It was some around 15 minutes walk from the school premises, but i really really enjoyed the walk. It was cool weather and we were walking on the highway. Really liked it. Finally reached Govinda sir's place. We shared the room. Tired, didn't know when i slept.