Back to the village

Life is so much better in the village; what are we doing sitting around here?

Life is so much better in the village; what are we doing sitting around here? Lightening up with light

Growing up with a serene smile
I would need nothing else
Happiness and fulfilment would be mine
– Madhav Ghimire, Rastra Kabhi

In this extract from one of his poems, Nepal's 'national poet' Madhav Ghimire defines four things as essential for happiness – knowledge, leisure, growth and a sweet smile. Though most people might be unable to articulate so precisely what is needed to be happy, we are all in search of the same things. It is in pursuit of this that we undertake an array of activities – we leave our native villages and go elsewhere, we enter the city and are drawn towards even larger cities. Metropolises the world over flourish because those on the outside yearn for the conveniences and opportunities they have to offer. Those who came to the city before us, our contemporaries and those following us – everyone's motivations are the same. But have we achieved the goals that brought us to the city? Is there a guarantee of happiness in a place that enjoys such an immense share of the country's resources, means and wealth? If the city does not have the four primary requisites of happiness listed by Madhav Ghimire, where can they be found?

In Nepal, the historical idea of the city is necessarily attached to Kathmandu. Until quite recently, 'Nepal' meant Kathmandu Valley's metropolitan area. Because of Kathmandu's linguistic, cultural and political importance, Nepal's other citizens did not easily gather the courage to enter the city. As the most developed urban conglomeration in Nepal, and the country's only power centre, it was a daunting place for the uneducated, the unconnected peasantry from the hinterland. Earlier, there were two ways for people to enter the city: through a job in the city, or under cover of political change.

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Himal Southasian