Wednesday, December 28, 2016

Hiking the Sisneri Area

by Kusma Gongba, Nitya Poudel, Shaswat Badal, Abin Amatya, Utkrishta Mulmi
26 December 2016

It was almost mid-day. It took some time to reach the trail head. Once we went through the ancient township of Lubhu, we knew we were almost there. We did keep ourselves very busy in the van though, we sang many songs, some Nepali, some English. Off the van now,we took our stuff from the van and walked towards the hills.

We teased Nitya dada, saying that he looked like a Pokémon character, he was carrying the art material including the copies, pencils and flutes in two cylindrical containers on both sides, almost like the tank blasters carried by the cartoon characters.

The beginning was easy, they always are. We walked through the mud road, and reached a farm where we saw a pond.The pond was very nice, smaller than a lake but still big.We wanted to know if the owner was keeping fish and if they would let us come someday to try out our fishing skills. But there were three dogs. Many of my friends feared the dogs as they were big and two of them were not in their kennels. The big brown dog came near us, Nanu climbed on Pallav sir. It was barking and growling but soon started wagging its tail and playing with Pallav sir. Then it went to Pukar who was frozen. Sabitadidi said that he would be a mouthful! But it was a friendly dog though we were warned not to touch it just in case it misread our intentions.

Then we walked away from the road. There was a small narrow way and we went down that, to a stream and walked along the stream until we found a place to walk across the freshly planted wheat fields. The wheat shoots were fresh and deep green. This was lovely. Up a small hillock. But before wait for everyone to arrive. The best part about terraces is that there are so many comfortable places to sit down. There were holes in the walls and we kept teasing others saying that the holes were made by snakes. When Utu said that it wasn't, he was invited to put his hand inside which he didn't. He just was not sure it was not a snake hole for real. They could have been made by crabs though. A pity we did not have the time to find out. We caught a pretty large crab at a stream the last time around. 

After the hillock, we met a couple of goats, we would see so many of them that day. Nitya got a pretty nice picture of himself there. And then we saw many people making a house. There were two paths now. The first way was a walk and a simple and easy way to the top of the hill and the other way was the difficult challenging way as it lead directly up a twelve foot cliff and into ajungle to the top. Guess where Pallav sir wanted us to go. The first to volunteer was Nitya. The he felt nervous. So Pallav sir sent Kusma along. She was pushed by Pallav sir and she caught the branch of trees to reach the place where she could rest awhile. Then it was Nitya's turn to climb. He was very, very scared but he thought he could also do it like Kusma did. So, he put his bag down and climbed the cliff. He could not do it alone so he also got Kusma’s help. Then Susmita and Pukar also climbed the small cliff with help from the others on the top of the cliff.Utu really wanted to go but he had become heavy and the soil would not support his weight so he was asked to come down.

While the four of them had vanished into the bush, we went along another pathway. Pallav sir went first seeking and finding and we followed. At first we could not go up at all because the cliff became taller and taller, high over the trees even. The we started a steep uphill climb. The path was almost as if it was used by woodsmen and women once in a while. Some said it was not path but out leader said it was and we went along after him.

As we helped each other up. Nanu, who is three, was also doing great but our new members Abin and Abhik had never done this ever before so they felt nervous. Since we had done this type of trip several times, we were used to it and comforted them. Pallav sir had already found the jungle gang and guided them up to him and we reached them they were so excited. Utu felt that he should have been with them!

After the first cliff we felt tired but we were also very excited. There was a place full of thorny plants. We had to go through was more than 250 meters. Pallav sir was ahead of us and asked if we wanted to go down or find a path up and some said down and some said up and we went up, of course. Pallav sir led the way and Utu followed him and after them were Nitya, Kushma, Neeva, Sushmita and Pukar. Abin and Abhik were with Nanu, Shaswat, Sabitadidi and Bhagwati maam. After 15 minutes we came across lots of pine leaves on the floor which made it very slippery and then through that we reached Amlisho bushes which had soft long flowers that brushed our faces. Amlisho is used to make brooms in Nepal and several of our friends collected handfuls. That was a very nice part of the walk but the path would disappear again and again through Pallav sir and those above us went along as if there was a clear path completely unconcerned. We would heard Utkrishta and sir talking to each other. Nitya would call out our names and we would call back and we could see them. They told us to come straight up. They finally reached the place we could rest.

After we reached the top of the hill we took a small break to eat biscuits and drink some water and rest. Then we walked for a while till we reached a steep and slippery downhill. We saw a huge tree that had fallen on the ground Pallav sir said that we are not going near that tree since it may fall and we may get crushed so we went down a way that avoided a potential fall. Now the path finally disappeared altogether. We were faced with a very steep downhill and Pallav sir wanted to go down that. Since we had been with him before, heard about all the adventures that other kids had had with him, we were very excited. The trees were sparse, mostly pine. The floor was spongy with fallen leaves and soft soil. We could see all the way down.
Pallav sir was going first. Utu, Pukar, and Nitya were going right after him as they were fleet footed. Kushma and Sushmita were tasked to support the new kids and make sure they followed where our leads were going. Three year old Nanu was carried by Sabitadidi and Bhagwati and Bhavana maam was also ready and happy to test their outdoors skills. 

While sitting, sliding, creeping down the hill Pallav sir would told the leads to stop and wait for those falling behind. He would tell some to stop there and point out a better way.Since the way Pallav sir, Nitya, Pukar and Utu were going down was not easy, they would test this way and that but still they were far ahead of those following. We had a lot of moments of fun coming down. We would hold tree trunks, grab bushes, hook our feet on stumps, slide down on our bottoms, help each other, squeak and screech. At one place we were asked to stop and go touch a tree on the other side. We were really confused as to which tree he was telling us to touch because there were many trees. Some went this way and some that and everyone had become good at keeping their balance. Pukarreached and touched the tree and everyone went and touched the tree and came back. All of us got little scratches.

When we touched the tree our hands became back because of there had been a forest fire and the bark was burned. Each of us were very proud that we could go to such a place and back ourselves.

Now we could see houses. Kusma and Nitya were sad. Utu wanted the downhill without the path to go on forever. We reached an area where villagers had planted dale fodder trees for their animals and we were careful not to step on these. We reached a path and a settlement that had dogs. And after we went more down the hill it got more and more slippy, and because of that a lot of us slipped and fell.Wow this had been a good afternoon.

Abin and Abik did this type of hike for first time ever. Pallav sir kept saying this was a baby hike and of course our 3-year-old Vidheha had walked most of the way. Abik said that he also went on hikes in his school, but they were nowhere as adventurous. As we were used to this type of trip, which are harder but much more fun, we were annoyed because they kept complaining. 

Some of us had brought the Amlisho all the way down. They wanted to make brooms for our school since the brooms at our school get worn out very quick. Pallav sir asked Utu to take out his camera, on these trips we are the so called official photographers.I reached into my pocket and could not find it, I had lost it in the jungle. Oh no! I would probably be asked to climb up and look for it. Everyone started looking for it. I thought it must have dropped from my pocket. Luckily Sabita didi had found it where we had rested gave it to me.Everyone was glad. Utu tends to lose his stuff that is why we have leaders and sweepers also who are charged with checking the area as they come down last. 

The village we reached was full of domestic animals, especially goats. The village was very traditional and pretty. We climbed up, got to a  house, sat on the floor outside a small house with the goats and their kids and played the flute as we rested. For some reason, the sounds were just not perfect but that was fine. The owners of the house were kind women and let us stay and play our flutes and use their toilet. We played our own compositions on the flute and some songs and village women, children and some college students going back home listened to us and we were on our way. Then we went towards the heap of straw. We took some photos near the heap of straw as well as those of very white cranes that kept flying away when we tried to photograph them.

Then the walk was very nice along the valley with streams, canals, snake holes where again Utu said they were not but refused to stick his hands in. There were nettles! We avoided those. We went along a small steam and near that stream, we saw a squash tree. There was a lot of nice and big squashes on that tree and on nearby trees also. We talked about the wonderful pumpkins and lapsi we had seen on the Lele hike and an old lady heard us. She asked if we wanted squash and Bhawani maam said, of course. We can boil them and eat them like potatoes Sabitadidi said. The owner of that tree gifted us many nice squashes and the people there were very kind. This was so nice because on our hike on Jharuwarasi there were a nasty man who complained and wanted to start an argument which we ignored. Pallav sir said that there are always people who are kind and who are not, those that are generous and those that are not, those who want to see children laugh and enjoy themselves and those who are like Scrooge. 

We reached the road and walked towards a shop. We ate creamy bread and candy and it was fun as we waited for the van to come. The shop keeper and her husband were very nice people. While returning, we heard a lot of stories from Pallav sir in the van, the stories he told about outdoors and swimming adventures  were very interesting this hike was a lot of fun.

Learning to play football

Today we had a football match. My friends had also played yesterday but I had some work so I could not play in that match. I was really very excited. We are trained by Bidhan sir. At the starting of the training we practiced kicking. We were taught that we should hit the ball with the inside of the foot and not with our toes. We were doing shooting practice. Everyone hit the ball very nicely but many of them did not score.
After that we had the match. I was placed in Abin dada’s team. Our team had: Abin Dai, Abhik, Susmita, Shaswat and me. The opposite team had: Nitya dada, Utkrishta, Neeva, Aarshiya and Pukar. Our team was in lead from the beginning as we had better players then the other teams. The other team was also good. Aarshiya did not play long so the opposite team had a disadvantage. After 10 minutes we scored a goal so Bidhan sir gave our player Susmita to the other team. Then we played for a long time and tried to score another goal. The match was about to end when Shaswat passed me the ball and I scored a goal. The goal did not count because Shaswat had got the ball by pulling Nitya dada. I was sad. Then we again had shooting practice. After some time we returned back to our school to eat lunch. I hope that we learn football tricks everyday and be good at football.

by Kusma Gongba
28 December 2016, Wednesday

Tuesday, December 27, 2016

Pahunch program

Introduction and Experience sharing 
by Kusma Gongba

We were invited to a program to blow our flute in Labim mall. The program was organized to celebrate the International Peace day and the launch of the production of the new reality TV game show named “Pahunch”. This game show was produced by Search for Common ground and was funded by UKAID. The program “Pahunch” was made as a bridge between the common people and the police so that the people can communicate freely with the police officer. This show intended to improve the relation between the public and the police officer.  We all were very excited about the program because we were invited for the opening ceremony of the show. We went to that program at around 4 p.m. We played our national anthem on our flute. Everybody in the hall stood up to respect the national anthem. I felt very proud that we were given opportunity to perform in front of such a big audience. We had to perform in two halls. There were Deputy Superintendent Police, Inspectors present in the program as chief guests. I was very nervous while performing in front of more than 200 people.
Our flute performance
Art by Kusma 

Full event 
by Nitya Poudel

We played our national anthem on flute. My parents were also invited to the program. I was the one to go and introduce us and our school to the audience. I was a little nervous in the first hall but I did a lot better in the second hall. We watched the first episode in the screen of the hall.

There was a screening of the first episode of Pahunch in the hall. In the game show, a real life like scenario was recreated. There had been two homicide cases in the place called Ranibari. The inspector briefed the contestants about the situation, how the police would analyze the homicide case and make the detail case report about the murder. There were 8 contestants. The contestants were from different walks of life; they were aspiring actors, ex maoist combatants, sportsperson etc. They introduced themselves. The Deputy Superintendent divided the contestants into two groups. The leader of the first group was Shanta Nepal and the leader of the second group was Gyan Bahadur Lama.

There was a time limit in the game. When the time started, the leader assigned their team members specific responsibility. The first group went near their dead body. After they reached there they put the crime scene tape all around the dead body. Then they investigated the dead body with the tools they had brought with them. One of the team members talked to the witnesses who had reported the case to the police and people near the crime scene. Another investigated the environment of the crime scene and next contestant wrote a detailed report on the murder scene. Some of them were angry with their team mates as they did not work as they were told. As they were investing the body their time was up. Then it was the turn of the second group. The second group did the same as the first group did. They put on the crime scene tape and they asked the people different things but there was unusual thing about this dead body. The man was not killed using neither a knife nor a weapon. The man was killed using a stone and some bottles of alcohol. The contestants got the man’s purse which had his identity card inside it.

After the episode ended the host invited all the participants of the Pahunch. Everybody shared their experience of Pahunch. They said that due to the show they were now aware about the duties of the police officer and had grown respect for the profession. They all were very excited about the launch of the program.

There had been a photography and videography contest for International peace day celebration. The host gifted the winners of the photography and videography contest and showed the photos and the videos that had won the competition. My school hostel friends left as it was already late but I stayed and watched the video with my mother. 

Thursday, December 22, 2016

Gods, Artists, and Physics

by Nitya Poudel
20 December 2016, Tuesday

This is a special day. We are going on a new journey. It is in the form of a very fat book. How do we begin? We begin with what science is about. We make a chart. It was like this: we learn that science has many branches of which three form a base. First is physics, in physics we learn about mechanics, matter, and more. There are neutrons and electrons and waves and fields. Second is chemistry in which we learn about acids, chemicals, and other more. The third is biology which is the study of plants, animals, cells and other more. You may have seen the experiments that we have worked on dissections of fish, ducks, earthworms, chicken, dove, rabbits, mice and more. We plant things that grow and give us food and money. There is also the study of the sky and stars and moons and planets and galaxies. It is called astronomy. There is also the study of the ground and planets and more called geography.

Our new journey, however, will focus completely on physics. We started our studies with a chapter named “Scope of Physics”. This is what we were able to learn. Albert Einstein, who is one of the best scientists in the world, used to say when we do not understand something we try to learn that thing using art, religion and science. He said he too was religious for science is based on facts, religion is wider and deeper for we cannot explain everything, and art is used to express thoughts.

After that we read about Edwin Hubble who made the most powerful telescope in the world. “For as I can end as I began.” He said. From earth we look far into space was what he specially used to say.

Then we heard a story. In Greece, a great civilization with wonderful philosophy, when science was still very young, people believed that Helios, who is the Sun God in Greece, in the morning sat in his chariot and went around the whole Earth. His chariot was pulled by winged horses which breathed fire. Evening came when he reached a ship in the sea that was waiting for him. He would land his chariot in the ship and that ship would take him back to where he had started his journey.

The human being always finds a reason to explain things. Then we heard another story of Harati Mata. Swayambhunath lies on a hill of Kathmandu Valley. There is a small wonderful temple at the side of the Swayambhu stupa. This is the temple is the Harati Mata Mandir. The story of Harati Mata is: a long time ago, in Kathmandu Valley, Swayambhu hill was covered by dense dangerous jungles filled with wild scary animals. The children of the Kathmandu city would play near the New Road area. One day a boy went to play, he didn’t return, the next day another child went to play but she also didn’t return. This happened for many weeks.

The villagers found out that a woman would steal them and eat them. She lived on the hilltop of Swayambhu. The villagers became angry and went to their king for help and also to express their tensions. If he did not solve their problem, they would remove the king.

The king was worried, he ordered his courtiers to go and tell the wild woman to stop eating children. If she did that, he would give her food as she needed. The courtiers went to the hill and told the wild woman what the king had said. They were very afraid. The jungle was deep and scary. Thankfully the woman did not harm them and agreed and she got food delivered to her hut/shelter regularly though the people who went to deliver the food were very scared.

After many years the woman died but the villagers were scared that her spirit would kill them so the courtiers and the people still went to that hill with food and offered it to her empty home. After a hundred years and more, the villagers started to believe that if they did not go to the hill their children would be in danger and that if they went there, the spirit of the woman would take care of them so she became the god of children. And the practice continues today.

After listening to these wonderful stories of how people think, we learned about the sun. The sun is mostly made up of hydrogen and helium. Hydrogen converts into helium through nuclear fusion (which we will hear more about) and because of it heat and light form and that energy is transmitted across the universe through electromagnetic waves. Then our physics class was finished but I hope to learn more about physics. By the time we finish this book, we will be more knowledgeable. I love science.


About Rai People
by Abin Rai

In the beginning of the Rai community, Rai people lived like the early humans. They needed to go hunting for food. Some went to hunt animals early in the morning and returned late at night with food they got. The earliest settlers of the Kathmandu Valley are believed to be Kiratis, the Rai and the Limbus. If they did not find any food, they could go hungry. Rai people have an interesting religion. They worship their ancestors as their gods. If someone died in their community, they believed that the dead person would turn into a spirit and protect their families and their community.


About Tamang People
by Kusma Gongba

A long ago, Tamang people lived in the Tibet. They were brought to Nepal because Prithivi Narayan Shah needed troops for the battle and Tamangs were very good horse warriors. After Prithivi Narayan Shah won the battle, Tamang’s settled down in the middle mountains. It was very difficult for them to grow food in the mountains. They could grow millet and they could make many things but the people used it to make chyang and it was not uncommon for them not to have much kodo to eat. Kathmandu had really good soil, anything could grow and there was plenty of food. Tamangs who had farms worked hard to live off the land. Tamangs are a very important ethnic group of Nepal. They are usually Buddhist and some are Hindus. I hope that the Tamangs increase in Nepal and I see more Tamang people coming together.


About the Sun, Moon, Rain, and Fire Gods
by Pukar Gautam

According to Hindu Vedas, we learned that Surya is the sun god. He gives warmth and light. The other god is the moon who is called Chandra. When he rises, threats such as leopards, tigers, snakes can be seen. Water is needed to bathe and wash and to grow food. When farming started the rain god Indra became important. Agni the fire god was also very good as he gives heat and wild animals run away. Greeks, Romans, Vikings and many other people have such gods such as Helios who we read about in physics.