Wednesday, June 29, 2011

At The Buspark

I had been House Captain of one of the four senior houses. There were two junior houses, four senior houses, and then there was Gaurishankar, where people who stayed on to do O Levels and A Levels - Senior Cambridge stuff - stayed. Back then in Nepal school was 10 years. Then you sat for the nationwide School Leaving Certificate (SLC) exams. And if you passed, maybe you went to college. But high school was 12 years in places like America and Britain. And this British founded and run top school in Nepal had introduced O Levels, A Levels. Half of the students in Class 10 were selected to do O Levels. Half of those were selected to do A Levels. And this was already a school where you got into in Class 4 after sitting through nationwide entrance exams.

O Levels was two years in Britain, one year at this school. So you finished school in 13 years.

We had three vacations: summer, Dashain/Tihar, and winter. Dashain would be the Nepali Christmas. I was not from Kathmandu. Kathmandu is a valley, the capital. Half the students at school were from outside the valley. I was one of them. The valley students got to go home about once a month for a weekend. We went home for the three vacations.
Kathmandu store, NepalImage via Wikipedia
I had given an excellent year as House Captain. We won pretty much every competition there was, academic, sports and otherwise. Morale was super high. The grades of the students went up across the board. I personally took charge of one student a year junior to me who was considered struggling. His marks were up by 20% across the board by the time I was through.

And a fight broke out on the soccer field. We won the match, there was a fight. I learned about it later. It apparently escalated. It erupted in the dining hall later, and one or two places on campus. I heard.

Our official color was blue. The red house were the sore losers.

But then things quietened down, or so I thought.

I had been the top student in my class every year to that point.

The way it worked for vacations was, a school rented bus would take you to the city buspark, and you then took the overnight bus home. My usual ritual was to go do a little shopping in that hour or two window you had before you boarded the bus. I liked to buy "gundpak" and "pushtakari," two Kathmandu delicacies my father really liked, as did the rest of the family.

One vacation a few years before I took noodles home. No one would touch it. Looks like worms, my cousins said.
Dewali Festival, Kathmandu, NepalImage via Wikipedia
So I got off the school rented bus, and hurried off for my shopping with a few friends. We got back to the buspark on time. I checked in, got into the bus. My seat was in the front cabin close to where the driver was. I sat down. The bus was to leave in 10 minutes or less.

Someone tapped on my shoulder from the back. I turned around and looked. They must have had to jump for that tap. There were a few guys I had never seen before, perhaps a few years older than me. At this point I don't remember if they asked me my name.

"Will you step outside for a second? We need to talk to you?" one of them said.

"What do you want to talk about?" I asked.

A little bit of that back and forth and one of them lost his temper.

"We hear you have been bothering our cousins!" he said.

I did not step outside. They realized I wouldn't. One of them jumped one more time and grabbed the sweater I had stylishly rest on my back.

I urged the bus driver to move the bus. He looked the other way. He moved the bus a few minutes later when it was officially time.
Dewali Festival, Kathmandu, NepalImage via Wikipedia
And that was it. Or so I thought.

Now the Kathmandu buspark is in a different, bigger location and it is concrete. Back then it was near the city center. Almost always there was a ton of mud all over.
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