Mystical Lands

I watched, or rather looked, at what was happening below. There were four boys playing football. From the few seconds that I gazed at their play, I could not gather where the goalposts were. I did not even know if there was one. What were the rules of their game? I could not tell.

One of the players, a young boy in a white ganji and a pair of yellow short, hit the ball with some force. I would imagine that his intention was to hit the ball either to the post (if there was one!) or to his teammate (again, if there was one!) but it landed on a muda that an older guy was sitting on, drinking tea with his friend. The guy looked at what had caused his tea to spill, and realizing that it was merely a half-torn football that was kicked by a boy twenty or thirty years younger than him, he looked away.

Another player went close to where the ball had stopped, and retrieved it. He then kicked it back to play. I did not watch long enough to figure out if there was any rule to the game or not. Maybe I could have if another boy had not kicked the ball at the foot of a girl walking along, minding her own business, again, not out of intention. The girl’s face hinted annoyance but since she did not know the stranger who had kicked the ball, she went back to doing her own thing.

I had not been to Basantapur for a long time. The name itself perhaps is not what the locals called the place. That is generally the story of a lot of places not only in Kathmandu but entire Nepal itself. A good example is ‘Sagarmatha’, the ‘Nepali’ name for Mt. Everest. But that is not what the Sherpas, the indigenous community call the highest peak of the world. Such Sankritization of indigenous names of places have had a long history, and I would imagine that to be true for Basantapur as well.

The game of football below did not interest me anymore. The young boys seemed to be enjoying their play, and I am glad that they were doing so, but it gave me a nostalgia of my own childhood that I did not want to experience at that particular moment. Memories of the past, both good and bad, have been too painful for me to reminisce. Not because the good ended up being bad but because I do not think I have ever had any completely good experience in my life. The elements of bad have always intervened somehow.

I liked this particular place. It was a rooftop restaurant that was neither too expensive nor too cheap. I usually love cheap places with tasty food and a homely environment but this particular day, I wanted some peace for myself. I would have gotten it too, but the ‘bad’, like always, mixed with the ‘good’. The group of men in front of me (God tell me why this particular dude had his sunglasses on in such a cloudy day!) were talking about returning back clothing items to H&M and Banana Republic. The sound of such pretentious bougie brands irked me and I decided to focus on something else for the sake of my own sanity.

Luckily, the dark clouds gave way to a slight drizzle and in a few second into pouring rain. A flock of pigeons flew away, perhaps to seek shelter. Within a matter of seconds, the street vendors below covered their showpieces with large transparent plastic sheets and the boys, along with other people who were relaxing on the courtyard, managed to find shelter from the rain somewhere. I did not know exactly where the boys went but I figured that shop-owners were kind enough to let them shelter themselves from the rain.

I sat there as I looked onto Swayambhunath. The monastery had been covered with mist. It looked like a perfect shot for an exotic scene for Doctor Strange. Oh how I laughed at that movie!

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