Gandhi said, India lives in her villages and the same can be said of Nepal. Although, there seems to be a modern twist added to this village, and I don’t just mean those ubiquitous cellphones. Most of these villagers have spent a better part of their lives working in cities and countries across the world from Delhi to Doha and Iraq to India. They come back home with an income, a pension and a desire to live the life their ancestors did, a life which is dependent on the environment and at mercy to the elements of nature.
For most of us, the idea of a forest is a romantic one – verdant trees, flowers, animals – a protected space to be visited sometimes and read about often. But for most of the people of Syangja, the forest is a space that is to be lived in with resources that support the very fiber of life. Stores of any kind are an outing to be had once every few months for a few luxuries such as clothes. For everything else, it’s simply a walk into the forest.
They grow their rice, wheat, vegetables, fruits, flowers and livestock. Every 12 to 15 years when an offspring wants to move out of his/her parents’ home, the villagers meet to decide how much wood they can chop from the adjacent forest to build a house.
The clean village air and fresh foods keep the villagers in general good health although a visit to the doctor is a day’s or at least half-a-day’s excursion. Hence, most medicines are gotten from plants and kitchens.
While this life is idyllic and a true retirement-village-like, it also is a tad worrying. Is there a plan of action to make sure resources don’t run out? Will the villagers of Syangja ever be able to find and hold on to the arms of the clock so they can keep in step with the rest of the world? What happens if they refuse technological advances and in spite of working in the modern world want to return whence they came … where one can hear the stars twinkle at night? Will this be a new tribe of people? Will their children who are being educated in schools and universities in the city and abroad, want to follow in their ancestors’ footsteps? Perhaps a confluence of the new and old will ensure a life the villagers of Syangja will enjoy? Or is it a road that one gets used to – even the bumps and danger of steep falls? Whither next? Questions abound, answers are abstract.