Tradition goes like this. People for centuries have used the shades of trees and bushes, narrow trails, and water streams for shitting purpose. Times have changed, but toilet manners remain. I wander off sun-lit trails and witness the persistence of traditions. I did not question. That’s the way of life. Out of respect, I pause and swirl back. There are remnants of the tradition along the alleys, whiffing odors and emissions. Things have changed, claims Lapton Tamang, who invites me to his house. There was a project that built toilets in every house. The efforts did not go unheeded. Now, about 90 percent of the people use toilets, but there are 10 percent elderly souls who like to stick to traditions and enjoy the open-air toilets.
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I enter his house; meet his mother and 3 siblings. Father is off to fields. Mother offers me roasted bean (bhatmas), and Lapton translates our curiosities. The house is a room with everything in it – firewood stove for kitchen, few mattresses leaned on a wall, stacked utensils, few posters of Bollywood actresses, and a tube-like room side kicked for guests. I did not dare to ask more. The room is filled with smoke, and I am coughing. The chimney is dysfunctional. Few years ago, a foreign project funded the building of chimneys. The chimneys were built, and people were happy for few months. In the peak of summer, few houses caught fire and the chimneys dismantled.
Gatlang – Part III
Reason? The roofs of the houses are made of wooden planks that have ceiled houses for hundred of years. Over time, the wooden planks were parched by sun and smoke. And the chimneys were steel made. Perfect blend! The chimneys over heated and flared the parched roofs. One house down. Two house down. People put the chimneys down. Now, it’s a decorative monument of sympathetic ignorance of foreign funds.
Text by Amit Shrestha, Nature Trail.
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