Belji of Dhulikhel
Belji of Dhulikhel
I first heard of Bel Prasad Shrestha five years before I met him. An article in the Nepali Times lauded his efforts to establish a water system in the town of Dhulikhel while he was its mayor. I clipped it and set it aside. Fifteen miles from Kathmandu was a municipal utility that put Kathmandu’s to shame. I wanted to know more. Perhaps I saved Bel Prasad for last, expecting the visit to Dhulikhel to be a pleasant excursion—a hopeful encounter that would show me that the break down of urban management I saw every day in Kathmandu was not an inevitable part of development in Nepal. After all those discouraging discussions about Melamchi and about Kathmandu sewage and water supply problems, perhaps I was going to meet a Newar who had a gift for water like his ancient forebears. I went to Dhulikhel the day before May Day, 2010, when Nepal’s Maoists were planning to outdo their usual May Day celebrations with protests all over the city. They were massing their cadres in Kathmandu, ostensibly to pressure the prime minister of another party to resign. On a Friday morning I set out with my friend Ram, a Kathmandu taxi driver who was always available when I needed to venture out on a longer excursion. The shocks on his little white Maruti Suzuki were shot, as they were on most taxis in Kathmandu, but Ram was a good driver who knew all the roads and backroads. Aside from worries about being able to return to the city in the face of demonstrations and roadblocks—or perhaps the complete countrywide shutdown that the Maoists were threatening—Dhulikhel was a green and quiet escape, a fine place to wait out urban riots if any were to materialize. And I found a charming host in Bel Prasad, a unique and now elderly gentleman who had straddled the wide gulf between the rural Nepal of his childhood and the world he had seen in visits to Europe, America, and Japan.
Oxford Scholarship Online requires a subscription or purchase to access the full text of books within the service. Public users can however freely search the site and view the abstracts and keywords for each book and chapter.
If you think you should have access to this title, please contact your librarian.