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Reflections?A Nepalese Story! - Anup Bhandari   Category: Pub


Discreetly wiping the tears off, he turned to his wife. She was gazing out the window. Maya was dressed in red, head to toe -a sign of newlywed. She wore a gold necklace with black beads-mangla sutra which signified the vows of marriage not just for a life but seven lives and line of red vermicelli ran right through middle of her head.

This is story of a couple, Harke and Maya, who migrated to Australia in mid 2006. Like any other migrant they arrived at Kingsford Airport Sydney with ambitious dreams and colourful hopes intertwined beautifully with nervousness and fear of the unknown.

This story begins early morning, the day, it drizzled and dark clouds covered the skies. Their extended family came from far away to bless the newlywed .On the third day of their marriage they were making this journey across the seas.

The atmosphere had sweet smell of incense. Deep multi partitioned brass plate held the auspicious offerings. The prayers were to be made to their gods and ancestors for good luck. The offering plate was stashed with whole coconut, khatta (Buddhist good luck scarf), rice seeds mixed with vermicelli & curd, petals of flowers. In addition, two brass vases filled with water were placed on the either side of the main gateway. This ritual guaranteed good luck and success in the long journey that lay ahead.

Just when they were ready to leave the house the prayer ceremony began. Harke’s mother breaks the coconut on the floor and offered the coconut water to the dead and the immortals. The ritual proceeded to Tika Ceremony, the couple were blessed by their elders and in the process pasted red coloured rice on their forehead, wrapped a khatta around their necks and placed flower petals on their head.

Almost all the elders blessed to the same theme -good life in Australia! However, young cousins mockingly prayed aloud for Socceroos in the next World Cup -2010 in context to Australia’s proud loss to Italy.

The moment had arrived to make their way to the airport. As the wheels rolled over the muddy galli (narrow dirt road) tears were shed .Unable to match the watering eyes Harke waved to the family from the rear view mirror. For some reasons he knew the life would not be the same again. As they drove past muddy narrow roads of Kathmandu his memories flashed the good moments he had shared with his family and mates in this town.  This was the town where he belonged, without doubt his heart was bleeding but he knew that the right thing to do was to leave.

Discreetly wiping the tears off, he turned to his wife. She was gazing out the window. Maya was dressed in red, head to toe -a sign of newlywed. She wore a gold necklace with black beads-mangla sutra which signified the vows of marriage not just for a life but seven lives and line of red vermicelli ran right through middle of her head.

She was born and brought up in New Delhi, India and had arrived 10 days earlier for preparation of the wedding. She belonged to the renowned warrior tribe Gurung famously known as Gurkhas.

Gurkhas are best known for their history of bravery and strength in the Indian Army's Gurkhas regiments and the British Army's Brigade of Gurkhas. They had served the Crown of Nepal, Ranjit Singh of Lahore, Crown of Britain and in more recent years the Republic of India.

They have also been the main character in many British tales of bravery and loyalty .In fact, love for their family and hope of providing better life & opportunities for their children compelled them on being front-line combatants (scapegoats) in malaria infested jungles and most treacherous battle terrain around the world. Their commitment to this profession was death itself. The legendary bravery of the Ghurkha soldier is epitomized by their motto – ‘it is better to die than be a coward.’

Both Harke and Maya had defied their parents and the norms of their family. They were the first in their extended family to marry outside their caste.  As defined by Wikipedia, “caste system in Nepal is like the Indian caste system, is highly complex and continues the traditional system of social stratification of Nepal. The caste system defines social classes by a number of hierarchical endogamous groups often termed as Jāt. This custom is found in both the Hindu and Buddhist communities of Nepal. However, in Nepal people sometimes erroneously use word caste to mean their race or ethnicity.”

Harke hailed from a modest Brahmin family from hills of Naudada in Midwest Nepal. His grandfather-Prem Bahadur was orphaned at the age of seven and was forced to leave the village by corrupt Mukhiyas (head of village) who were eying on his land. The seven year old somehow reached the gigantic city of Calcutta, India .He survived the streets and eventually became a professional driver. Prem Bahadur left no stones unturned to educate his son. His son, Ram Prasad, completed his bachelors of commerce with outstanding grades at the age of 19 and took his family back to Nepal. On return, Ram Prasad bought his ancestral property.

As an educated young man he helped start a school in the village where he worked as the principal for few years .Then he eventually moved to Kathmandu to work in a leading Tours & Trekking company as a director. Next 35 years he worked hard as his career soared to the heights beyond his imagination. Harke, his son always got in troubles as a teenager. When this happened, Prem always said, “I and your mother have sacrificed our lives for you, we sweat our teeth & bones, hope you respect it”.  Harke and Maya, understood theirs roots very well .They also had a fair understanding of their ordeal their parents and forefathers had been through to evolve their families to current stage.

Maya’s grandfather was a front line soldiers who faced the swords and bullets for his British master in a war which was not his. Harke’s grandfather was orphaned and homeless at the age of seven. Nevertheless, these people worked hard to see their son become highly educated men earning both respect and wealth.

Migrating to new land for opportunities was not new to their families. What was new was their context; they were arriving in Australia as equals and not as second class soldiers or marginalised orphan. They had language, education and work skills required to succeed in their new country. But more importantly they brought with them the audacity, courage, vision and belief that “life is what you make of it.”

If you choose they learned that life of streets can be a history or hardship, obstacles are just like swords or bullets in battlefield but the good news is that it does not kill but makes you stronger. The newlywed had plans to work in their respective field for two years, adapt to new lifestyle of their new country, save some money and start their own business.

Harke and Maya were deeply touched by their friend Dorje .The couple are sincerely thankful and indebted for sharing few important Mantras (principles) of life. Dorje spent his youth as a monk. Dorje had taken the couple on a drive to the outskirts of Kathmandu few days before their marriage. They revisited the monastery where their friend had spent few years as a monk. On the way back Dorje took them to a beautiful spot with 180 degree view of Kathmandu Valley. He said, “This place has revealed life’s biggest secret to me.”“How to be a millionaire?” asked the couple.

Without much reaction, Dorje asked Harke to say out his name aloud. Harke shouted to top of his voice, Harke! Not much to his surprise, he heard a voice in the mountains repeating,” Harke, Harke, Harke, Harke...”

Oh he exclaimed this is an echo point! Without saying much Dorje continued,” As I complete the phrases, please repeat it with me, to top of your voice.” Harke agreed. Dorje said,” You are scared!” hesitating for a moment but obliged to their agreement Harke repeated the words on top of his voice the mountains screamed back: “you are scared!”

Harke told his friend to stop this child like game but the Dorje continued with the next phrase “You are kind” as Harke repeated the words aloud the mountains screamed back: “you are kind!”Then other phrase followed, “You are beautiful!””You are compassionate!” and then stopping for a moment the Dorje requested Harke to pay close attention and continued the exercise, “I am a champion!”, “I love everyone!” this time the couple were surprised to this strange act of their friend and could not understand where this was leading to.

Then Dorje stopped smiled at them and said, ”Did you guys enjoy this madness?” I thought my Guru was crazy when he unfolded this secret to me. Then Dorje went on to explain, my friends you call this an echo point, but actually this is a life point. It gives back everything you put into it. Our life is simply a reflection of our actions and giving.

Both of you stand on a very important transit of life where you are about to get married and move to new land of opportunities. Dorje Continued,” I have learned that if you want more love in your life, you should give out more love, if you want more happiness strive to give more happiness to others.....this relationship applies to everything, in all aspects of life. Life will give you everything you have given to it.”

“Your life is not a coincidence, it’s reflection of you!”

That last piece of reflection in transit was interrupted by the immigration officers at Sydney, “Good day mate! How are we today?”

Anup Bhandari is motivational speaker and writer and CEO of Nirvana Groups. He can be contacted at

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