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A SMALL CONTRIBUTION

Tika Vidhya Ashram, school named after my grandmother
The school next door to our estate at Kiran Bhawan was for the children of ordinary folks in our neighbourhood whilst we, more privileged ones, were sent to English medium boarding schools in the Indian hill stations or, later, to Godavari in the south-east corner of the Kathmandu valley. When I was growing up, the school next door represented to me the "outside" world while I was "inside". I had to be careful whilst having any kind of intercourse with those kids and my minders constantly remained vigilant. A selected few, vetted by them for family fealty, would be allowed in to play with me. In the semi-feudal state Nepal was in when I was a kid this kind of selective inclusiveness was an every day affair.

Tika Vidhya Ashram today

The same school has been a subject of disgruntlement with us family members as the land that houses it at today's prices would be worth over a million United States Dollars. At hindsight it would be dishonest to say that I wholly agreed with the wisdom of my father in donating the land to the community to open a school. True, when he did it, the land was not worth as much but for us family members today it represents a fortune we lost out on. The school was opened in 1963 as Tika Vidhya Ashram, Tika being my grandmother's name. My father got the Queen Mother to donate, I remember, Nepalese Rupees 12,000.00, a princely sum in those days, to the school trust for its upkeep.

Recently a leading member of our travel trade fraternity, during a conversation on the prevailing tourism woes of Nepal, suddenly digressed and transported me back to those days when he was a kid studying at Tika Vidhya Ashram. He told me that like thousands of others he is eternally grateful to the benefactor who gave those children the opportunity to an education in the only school in their own neighbourhood at a time when a second was unavailable. Today the school doubles up as the voting booth during elections in Sanepa. Pampha Bhusal of the UCPN-Maoist party won the last election to the Constituent Assembly in this ward.  

Things fall into its perspective now. The fortune we lost out on perhaps would have been squandered away by us, granted we had to forego the opportunity to zoom about in fancy cars serving no useful purpose, possibly even we might have utilized the property in some profitable venture, but for thousands who have studied there and passed matriculation from Tika Vidhya Ashram a small contribution made by my father a long time ago has made such a big difference in their lives. It is an endearing thought this Christmas morning.


Comments

  1. I lived at Kiran Bhawan when my father, Jim Stone, managed the ropeway project. I knew Om & Prashidha, and met Gen Kiran. I think I played with one of his sons, when I was about 11-12 (1960-61).

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    1. Thanks for posting your memories. It would be good to get your story on your sojourn in Nepal. I remember your father vaguely as I was quite young. The boy you played with is indeed Pramode. He met with a fatal car accident in 1988 and is survived by his son and his family. They live in USA.

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  2. I think the name of the boy I played with was Promode.

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