The dust has become an indispensable ingredient of the road. I hear it is more horrifying on the other edge. A scarf over the head, a big mask covering half the face will do for now. It has worked for years down this route.
I was far ahead of the rush hour, so there was no need to hurry for the tempo. It would be waiting under the brazing sun. I get in and take the first seat on the right. There’s leg space beneath. Suddenly a man with big black goggles gets in. His hands confusingly ramble around the legs of those seated. He carries a folded stick. He takes the corner diagonally opposite to where I am seated.
The tempo gains momentum and we head out, back home. The traffic’s moderate so there’s no stopping in between.
“Yeta ko bazar pani Ratna park ko jastai rahecha,” the man says when the vehicle reached by the side of Lagankhel. He seems to be enjoying the sound of the place, unique to its origin while comparing it to the other bazaar at the other side of the city.
“Hmm,” “Uh..” the other passengers inside show their agreement.
A few meters ahead, the man searches for something inside his pocket. He pulls out a few notes.
“Yo pachas ko note ho?” he asks to the person seated in front of him showing the note in his hand.
“Ho,” the other replies nodding.
“Yo bish ko ho?” he asks again holding another note.
“Ho,” the other replies nodding, again.
The man puts the fifty rupee note back into his pocket and holds the twenty in his hand. He holds his head high every time he talks. He doesn’t struggle. He doesn’t hide.
I get down. The tempo moves ahead, so do the people inside it.
This December, let me take you through the streets of Kathmandu one more time through my everyday travel routes which last for about 30 Minutes. If you look at the dust settling over the surface of the window you’re seated next to, you’ll find a story. If you look at the children dressed in school uniforms, you’ll find a story. If you close your eyes and listen to the horns of the big vehicles, you’ll find a story there too. What are we but the stories we tell each other.