Part I: Radhika Lama
Friday evening. Finished work quite early. No wish to go home early either. Called up DR. Together, went to Basantapur Square Durbar. Evening… cool breeze. DR – “Oye, let’s get drunk”. Me –“Why not. My treat, ok?”
Thought it would not be cool to walk around Basantapur with beer bottles in our hands. Bought Passion – label says “17% alcohol”. Heck, it’s better than beer then. Bought two plates of street momo, climbed the stairs up to the balcony of a temple. Passion, momo and cameras. Two enthusiasts without any destination.
DR starts clicking. I do the same. Been doing a lot of black and white photos lately. A photographer during a presentation at Photo.Circle said – “Black and white photos do not discriminate.” Black, white and gray – rich people, poor people, educated, illiterate. Just black, white and gray.
DR – “Oye keto, yo ta kadaa po raicha ta”. It’s not 17% alcohol for nothing. Momo delicious.
Some trials with light trails. It’ just a freaking compact digital camera – you can’t adjust shutter speed or aperture. Everything’s a fluke then. Zoom and flash are just ceremonial.
“Dai hamro pani photo linu na (take our photos too)” – some girls come near us.
First thought – sure, why not. Second thought – No, get the hell away. First thought wins.
These girls are chatter machines. Tyaar tyaar tyaar tyaar tyaar tyaar. They talk endlessly about children nonsense stuff. Damn, we have gotten older. These kids are still talking, dreaming – and happy. We are not.
Passion starts hitting me as well.
“La bahini, pose deuu (Give me a pose)”and I start taking some pictures of this girl. “Keep still okay“. Excellent. Except for the snot still stuck under her nose.
Wanted to know about her. Radhika Lama – 8 years old. Mom sells vegetable, dad does nothing. Two brothers, two sisters. The eldest of the two brothers, works in Malaysia. The second one beats sisters. “Malai mukma ragat aauney garera pityo dai le asti, dherai jasto malai teshai pitcha” – Radhika mumbled. Didn’t even ask her to tell me all those things. Felt like punching her brother on the nose. Why would someone beat up these joyful angels! Radhika is not sad at all – she has already forgiven brother. Forgiveness. Hmm. Radhika, my hero.
She goes down, where her mother has laid up vegetables shop on a corner of the road.
“Do you still need to eat something?” DR – “Yeah”.
Climbed down the stairs. Bought two sticks of fried sausage. Delicious.
Looked around. Radhika was talking playfully with her mother. My hero – blissful, innocent, mischievous and godly.
Part II: Pimp and One in Red Skirt
DR – “Let’s hit Thamel”. Just didn’t want to return home yet.
Thamel, typical, Friday evening/night. Band playing cover songs on every restaurant and bar. Sheesha was overcrowded. Suzie Q, Roadhouse Blues, Sunshine of your Love, No Woman No Cry. Same songs, different bands. Lots of lots of foreigners, tourists. Khatey tourists! Snooty tourists!! Just strolled around almost all the roads of Thamel.
Decided to rest – lane down the Java Café (sic). And “they” started trotting to and fro. Beautifully dressed, full make up on, Jennifer Lopez hat (overheard this), queuing up on the side walks, catwalks, prowling on the possible customers – the lavish and dark world of the Third Genders. One even looked like a lead character of the “Between the Lines” documentary.
DR seemed fascinated. One passed through us “oh, kasto handsome keta hau”. Bursted into a laugh. Never been this close to any of these Third Genders. Freaky. Spooky. We both forgot to take out cameras.
“Oh dai haru, ke hijada haru lai heri rako? Real keti khojeko ho? Ma milai dinchu?” approached this guy who said his name was Niraj.
Did we look like we were hunting for prostitutes?
“No, bhai, we are just passing time here.” But DR’s journalistic instincts took over him. It could be a nice story for the paper he works for.
Niraj kept insisting. “The girls are young, plus 2 students. Dai haru lai sure nai ekdaam maan parcha.”
“Where are they at?”
Niraj – “In a guest house, 10 mins walk away.”
“You said, plus 2 students?”
Niraj – “Yeah, the girls study in Lainchaur, at night, they work at our guest house.”
DR and me.. exchanged looks. We were talking with a pimp, barely 15 years old. More “third genders” pass by and crowd up at the corner of Garden of Dreams.
Niraj – “Dai haru lai ma ek hajaar (Rs1000) ma milai dinchu.”
DR kept smiling. Must have been thinking something. Couldn’t figure out. Silence.
Niraj – “Ok, 800 then.” Oh, the rate started dropping.
“Heraa bhai, we are not looking for girls.”
Niraj – “Kasto dai haru pani, and if you think police will raid the place, be assured. They are our customers too.”
Hahaha, what the hell!
DR must have been thinking the storyline.
Some awkward moments.
Niraj – “Dai haru, do you know who is the most CHWAAK keti in Thamel area?” DR shook head, I pouted my lower lip.
Niraj – “My sister!”
Niraj – “Yes. She is a dancer at the Go Go Bar. Want to go meet her?”
Niraj – “Com’on dai haru, why are you so afraid?”
DR- (to me) Oh keta, story garna paye ta daami hunthyo hai. Plus 2 ko students in prostitution. Yeah, I said.
“Give us your mobile phone number. We will come next day.” DR must have been thinking of a plot. Cunning as he was, Niraj instead asked our numbers. He complained, “Everyone asks me for my number and no one ever calls.”
By this time, almost 50 of the third genders have gathered. Singing, clapping, trotting to and fro in high heels. Some talking with “persons” inside big SUVs and nice cars. Some whistling to the ones walking by.
Getting noisy. Niraj’s frustrated look. My stomach – big gurgle. Momo consumed earlier – totally digested.
“Bhog lagyo, nindra pani lagyo. Ghar tira janey hoina?”
“Yeah, story sistory bhanya testai ho, let’s go home for now”
Took out my bike from the parking area. One in a red mini-skirt and black top almost blocked me, “Oyeee handsome, take me with you.”
Fuck NO. My bike was already speeding over 70 KH… with Narayanhiti Palace on the left, transient, looking bleak and pale.