Diary of a strike

After the end of the ceasefire between the Maoists and the government, the Maoists called for a three-day bandha across Nepal. All shops, offices, and schools are to close and all transportation is to halt during a bandha.

Bandhas in Birganj are typically not observed, and most shops remain open; however, most transportation pauses since traveling requires passing through areas more closely watched by the Maoists. But the bandha have a more human cost. Let us look closer.

  1. 17 Sep. 2003

    Day before three-day bandha

    1. 1600: Met Kate at Himanchal Cabin. She had a bhoj she had to attend so we had coffee and discussed what food we’d need to buy for the three-day bandha. Accidentally knocked over a kid carrying apples while riding to the bazaar, which was bedlam.
    2. 1800: Finished shopping. Bought a couple kilos of tomatoes, potatoes, onions, okra, and bananas. Also bought spaghetti, baked beans, eggs, and bread. The bazaar was crowded with people and I felt like it was Y2K all over again, except this time the shops really wouldn’t be open the next day.
  2. 19 Sep. 2003

    Day 1

    1. 08:00 Woke up late to phone call. Last night Kate and I stayed up late since we knew we had no where to go the next day. Usually we both get up around 7 o’clock. After my phone call, went back to sleep.
    2. 11:00 Kate and I sat in the kitchen silently for half an hour, trying to think of what to do with our day. Came up with the following ideas:
      • Clean
      • Plan up-coming three-day work week
      • Cook something
      • Write letters
      • Study Nepali
      • Have some more coffee
    3. 11:05 Made the coffee and drank it while trying to come up with some better ideas.
    4. 12:00 Jittery from the coffee. Kate and I chatted, relating our situation to being snowed inside a cabin in the mountains. Contemplated whether I would or would not eat Kate if an emergency arose. Decided I would not eat Kate.
    5. 13:30 Sat on the porch and thought about Thailand. Noticed the semi-blind shop keep had opened his store. Stroked my beard.
    6. 14:30 After zero customers, the semi-blind shop keeper clumsily closed his shop and tripped on the stairs down. Crazy from cabin fever, I laughed so hard the shop keeper looked in my direction. Wondered if he saw me. I mean, heard me. Whatever. Decided to go back inside and stare at the wall.
    7. 19:00 Cooked pasta with sauce for Kate and myself. Over dinner, we talked about steak. Depressed, we stopped and silently finished our pasta.
  3. 19 Sep. 2003

    Day 2

    1. 08:00 More coffee. Beard starting to itch. Started to regret not getting a shave at a barber before the bandha since I don’t have any razors.
    2. 11:00 Kate and I went a short walk around Ranighat. Found the nearby river, which is mostly used by locals and a garbage pit and toilet. Found a sketchy daal bhaat place overlooking the cesspool and made plans to come back for our evening meal. Yum.
    3. 14:00 The boss’ daughter from the NGO where Kate works came over. Played Uno. Kate went insane and began a full-on assault against me. I mean, three pick-up four cards in a row? Really. Reconsidered if I’d eat her.
    4. 14:10 Stopped playing Uno as I was about to strangle Kate. Maybe it’s the coffee. Remind myself to get decaf while in Thailand.
    5. 18:30 Went to the sketchy daal bhaat place.
    6. 23:00 Started raining very hard. Water began pouring into my room from the porch under my door. After half an hour of torrential rain, my room had around 2 ½ inches of standing water on my floor. Laughed. Tried to block the flow of water but to no avail. Moved things off the floor and went back to sleep, water gushing in from outside.
  4. 20 Sep. 2003

    Day 3

    1. 10:00 Finished pushing out the remaining water from my room. After using the squeegee, my floor looks reasonably clean. Drank coffee.
    2. 1200 Kate made breakfast/brunch/lunch: fried tomatoes with onions, baked beans, and fried eggs. Had another cup of coffee.
    3. 14:00 Taped some photos to the wall in my bedroom.
    4. 14:10 Photos fell off the wall. Decided not to put them back up.
    5. 15:00 Kate left to go to my old deraa to make a phone call to Australia. Finally, the place to myself.
    6. 15:50 Began making a list of questions to ask Kate when she gets back, including:
      • When was the last time you were stuck without anything to do for three days?
      • What did you do for those three days?
      • Do you think it’s strange to sit and do nothing for, let’s say, three hours?
    7. 16:30 Went to the roof to watch the sunset. And for Kate to get back. Translated the aforementioned questions in Nepali, in writing, for no apparent reason.
    8. 17:00 Kate returned, unable to make her phone call. She began cooking and I watched very attentively. Just before asking, I realized how insane my questions were. Went back to room and threw away the paper where I’d translated questions in Nepali to Piglatin. Swore off coffee.
    9. 23:30 Checked my email using Kate’s NGO‘s Internet connection at home, somewhat under false pretenses. Read The Onion and strangely didn’t find it funny. Need to shave my beard.
  5. 21 Sep. 2003

    Day after bandha

    1. 07:30 Got up. Had coffee. Wondered what to do with my day.
    2. 08:00 Had another cup of coffee. Is there rehab for cabin fever?