This is a country of missing people. Disappeared men. Children, dragged off to join causes they don’t understand. Women snatched away. It’s hard, sometimes, to think of Nepal as post-conflict. So much remains intact. But it is. And it is clear from the simmering anger, the daily bandhas and protests, the tyre-burning antics of college kids and the fiery rhetoric of so-called politicians that so much here, is so very fragile.
We are foreigners. We don’t understand. And maybe we never will. But sometimes we get to scratch a few surfaces. And sometimes, the simple and straightforward is so much more affecting than pages and pages of newspaper editorials, tomes of analysis, hours of high falutin’ talk.
This was what we got from our afternoon with Sarwanam. On a slope, near a village outside Bhaktapur, the theatre group drew a circle, gathered a crowd and started to perform.
The crowd swelled despite the drizzle. Everyone stayed to watch. And everyone stayed to talk. More than just being a performance, the piece was meant to trigger debate. Give those who would otherwise be ignored, a chance to ask questions, air opinions, rant. And they did. Long after the rains dried up, the discussions continued. For many, it must have been cathartic.
Yes, we may never fully understand. But this was a start. A good start.