The country is in indefinite “strike” or lock down mode. Political parties have called the strike, to protest aspects of the proposed constitution due in 14 days. (The country is currently operating under an interim constitution). Where I am car and buses are not allowed to drive, shops and banks are not allowed to open and schools are closed to students. Last week I saw a long line of cars waiting for petrol – many of the other petrol stations had closed down due to lack of fuel. I have been called by my organisation back to Kathmandu.
I’ve been collecting a little of the word from the street over the last week or so.
- “Nepal is on strike for 15 days out of every month, that is why we are so poor” 15 year old student
- “Actually no one knows who called the bandha (strike). Just the shops are afraid so they do not open.” Businessman
- “The banda is for the poor people. The rich people can get the plane or the tourist bus” Tour operator
- “We are tired of staying home all the time, we want to go to school” 9 and 13 year old students
- “The school is afraid, that is why they close. No other reason.” Father of 2
- At the sight of a bus of protestors: “They have no work to do, that is why they are protesting” Professional
- “This office is not open to the public so no one knows that work continues during the strike” Office building owner
- “I saw the bomb explode in Janakpur. Right in front of me. People died. Now I cannot go back there” Businessman
- “We had to stop our collections because the protestors came and told us we would be punished if we collected” Microfinance professional
- “The country is in transition and everyone wants their part in it. But the problem is that if you give to one group, you are automatically taking from another.” Engineers
- “I have to walk 2.5 days to attend a government job entrance exam because there vehicles are not allowed to take to the streets” Professional and Masters recipient
- “We cannot take you to the airport because cars are not allowed to drive today” Hotel Receptionist
- “Nepal is like a doll. Everyone is just playing with it” Tour guide
Just like everywhere, I think people want to be left alone to do what they want without being bothered by a state in turmoil.