DR. AJAY RISAL
Newcastle—a city in the United Kingdom—is a city full of bridges. I spent one week in the city recently. Similar to our capital city which has rivers like Bagmati and Bishnumati, Newcastle has Tyne and Wear Rivers with their magnificent bridges. The Millenium Bridge and many other bridges with the symbol of the London Olympics 2012 attached keeps me nostalgic even today as I had unsuccessfully attempted comparing those bridges with the Bagmati Bridge, Balkhu Bridge and Manohara Bridge.
My visit to the UK (rather it was a trip to two important cities—Newcastle and Liverpool) of very short duration (only ten days) was an academic one (an International Congress at Liverpool). It was supplemented by two occasions; a family visit at Newcastle South Shields and a meeting with a teacher (who taught me native English in my eighth standard) at Liverpool.
The days I spent on British soil has brought forward many beautiful insights within me and remain as a memorable and educative period in my life. I have been enchanted with the manmade creations in these cities which motivated me to write some paragraphs.
Borrowing the words of my sister-in-law working at one of the hospitals in Newcastle, nature has cheated the country as the weather here is mostly gloomy and cold (while I was there, despite being in the peak summer season, the days were mostly dark and drizzly and the evenings were bright and sunny). There is neither any beautiful landscape nor the charming seasons as in our country Nepal, but whatever man has done is a laudable job.
Overlooking the bridges over the Tyne River, foldable Millenium Bridge, ships passing underneath the bridge on specific time at Quayside in the evenings, I was really in the mood of deep meditation and devoted in the thought of my own country. When will we develop a millennium bridge over our Koshi and Karnali? Which five year plan is required so that steamers and ships start carrying cargos and goods through the Narayani River?
Similarly, SAGE stadium at Quayside and Stadium of Lights at Sunderland were holding their heads straight with effective management. I always felt like they were teasing our Dashrath Stadium at Tripureshwor and the Sports Complex at Satdobato. I remained spellbound when I spent three hours at the pedestral of a swimming pool watching children and youths enjoying Saturday morning during their summer weekend.
The glass factory at Sunderland is not only a tourist centre but also an academic hub for all students wishing to learn everything about glass. Durham stands as a historical spot with a magnificent Cathedral and University Building, though we could only distantly visualize them because of the midday heavy rainfall.
Metro centre and city centres are examples of some expensive bazaars where we can get anything we want if we visit with a loaded purse. Though such bazaars are coming up in our city too (e.g., Bhatbhateni Supermarket, Namaste etc.), we should learn to manage them systematically and effectively as public-friendly enterprises.
Underground metro-train service connecting different corners of the metropolitan city with the city-centre shows an example how public tax has been utilized transparently and is service-oriented. Computerized ticketing service and law-binding citizens jointly run such systems efficiently. It pinches me whenever I think of the demise of Sajha Yatayat and the trolley-bus services in our own country in just a duration of 25 years.
Liverpool, considered as the cultural capital of Europe, was also a great place to visit. The big cathedral and the tower on top of it gave an excellent view of the beautiful city which made me intensely euphoric. I tried with great effort to compare the view of Kathmandu city from the Dharahara tower. The concrete jungle of our capital cannot be compared with the beautifully designed Liverpool city. I am very much sad to express that truth.
The Mersey River and the waterfront overlying it displaying a beautiful picturesque view of a ship full of cargo and goods made me stand still and click my camera multiple times. I was thinking of my visit to Devghat (which is one of the beautiful places I visit repeatedly in our country) at Chitwan on the bank of Triveni (confluence of three rivers- Narayani, Trishuli and Kaligandaki) a few years back. It has now been developed as a pilgrimage hub by the public, but a lot more has to be done to build it as a tourist destination. Rafting in Trishuli River is a positive step being taken towards that direction.
I was in fact fascinated with the idea that bridges in these cities can set many examples to improve the conditions of the bridges of Kathmandu Valley. Similarly, the insights obtained from this powerful and developed country can be adopted in order to make our Bagmati, Koshi, Karnali as pure, as pious and as productive as Tyne, Wear and Mersey Rivers of the United Kingdom. Hence, bridging the bridges needs to be our motto and objective so that we can learn to nurture the nature freely available to us seeking the example from the United Kingdom where man has built such a beautiful heritage accepting the challenges of nature.
Dr. Risal is a psychiatrist at Dhulikhel Hospital