Kathmandu is a cosmopolitan city, a big city with an ever growing multitude of people from all over the nation making it their home. Life is hectic, traffic is unruly. Amidst all this are pockets of serenity and calm, particularly in the splendid premises of grand hotels, with their landscaped gardens endowing a refreshing ambience. There are also, amidst the hustle and bustle of the busy city, pockets of hope and optimism and hard struggle, particularly in the many shelters run by non-governmental organizations for the disadvantaged sector of society. It is natural for glamour and glitz to be always in the limelight, and for others to remain in the shadows. That is why much of what is so good and noteworthy about Kathmandu is out of most people’s view. Here are some examples of the same that could be eye-openers for those seeking to understand Nepalis better, and provide a fuller picture of Nepal.
Big Problems of Little People
Mr. Lok Nath Dhakal, 57, is the chairman of the Nepal Hocha Pudka Sangh (Dwarf Association of Nepal) that was established in 2060. Mr. Dal Bahadur Karki is its general secretary, Mr. Asal Lam, 26, is the secretary, and Ms. Sundari Misra is the treasurer. Although the association has its office in Baghbazar, many of its members are to be found at most times of the day at the Little Star Foodland eatery in Bhrikuti Manadap. It was opened a year ago, and is quite a rundown place serving basic vegetarian food. According to Mr. Dhakal, it is not doing well.
That is a problem that they are trying to come to grips with, but it’s a tough battle because these individuals, who all suffer from dwarfism, cannot do many of the regular work we normal folks take for granted. “Our problems are too many to recount,” say Mr. Dhakal. He points to where I am sitting on a chair, and says, “For instance, look at yourself; you are sitting comfortably with both feet firmly on the ground. But look at Mr. Dal Bahadur, his legs are dangling halfway way up the ground. This is only a small example of our problems, which start from the moment we wake up and begin doing everyday activities. There are practically no facilities that are convenient for us.”
As he says all this, his face takes on a bitter air. I ask him about health problems with people like him, and he says, “After 35, people like us begin to have many health problems.” Apparently, there is no support, as such, from the government. “We get some support from the shops in Hong Kong bazaar here,” says Mr. Dhakal. He believes that there may be around 2,000 to 2,500 people suffering from dwarfism in the country. The Hocha Pudka Sangh has around 100 members. He shows some photos of a cultural program organized by the Sangh, and says, “There are many talented individual among us. If we could get more sponsors, we could do such programs on a more regular basis.”