December 14, 2008 at 2:10 pm Leave a comment

Birganj – A travelogue
– By Mary Ogilvie
Well if its Tuesday this must be Birganj pronounced burr-gunge. Should be named burr grunge. It is in the Terai – the flatlands of Nepal, near the Indian border. Much of the food grown in Nepal is grown in the Terai. There were many rice fields as we drove in from the airport, and lots of animals as well – goats, cows, water buffalo, and other bovine species. Judging from the houses and dress of the people as we passed, this is not a prosperous area of the country. My guide book describes Birganj as follows: “unlovely would be a good way to describe Birganj”. It is also known apparently as the city of rickshaws. Certainly there are many in the streets. The drivers must have legs of steel. They go at quite a clip, often with 2 or 3 people in the chair. And they must navigate pedestrians, jeeps, motorbikes, cows, wagons drawn by donkeys, buses etc etc. It was quite a sight to look out the window of the hotel and just watch the action on the street.

The Terai is much warmer than Kathmandu, and it is mosquito country. We had a meeting at the local office, and at dusk the little damners came out in force. I brought repellent to Nepal, but did not have the presence of mind to pack it for this trip.

The hotel is a little run down, but the room is spacious and the bed is large and seems the right firmness, and it has its own bathroom, although you have to fill the tank with a bucket in order to get the toilet to flush. I think there might be internet but you need a password, and I am not at this moment up to going walking down the 2 flights of stairs to get the password.

As usual, the staff that we met with were quite impressive. They were articulate with respect to what their problems are, and very keen to have the right tools to do their work. One of their big problems is security. Land is a sensitive issue with the Maoists, who still operate in this part of the country, and they shake the staff down for money, threatening physical harm if it is not forthcoming.

We got here by flying Budda Air. The sky was a little hazy, so could not see much out the window. It was a tiny aircraft like the ones that fly to Halifax, everyone has a window seat. No one seemed particularly concerned that my backpack was on my lap the whole time. I don’t think they cared even if your seatbelt was done up. As the flight headed down the runway the attendant passed out candies and cotton batten. The cotton batten was for putting in your ears. Why? I don’t know.


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Join UPLA Padyatra for land rights of Tharus The Camouflaged State of Madhes

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