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काठमाडौंमा वायुको गुणस्तर: १५२

40 years ago, a Norwegian couple set out to bring electricity to rural settlements

The Vestol family is happy that their family has been able to connect with the development of Nepal in one way or another.
A lot has changed since we were in Nepal. The road was built, lights reached many places, everyone has a mobile phone. But human-to-human relations have declined: Dorothea Vestol

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A foreign woman was chatting in Nepali with her guide while sipping tea in the dining hall of the Pike Shangrila Lodge and Restaurant at the Pike Peak Base Camp in Solukhumbu. Along with him, an old foreigner with white beard and hair was also talking in a low voice in Nepali. After listening to their greetings for a while, I was asked, "Both of you speak Nepali language well." The young lady smiled and replied, "Thank you." We try to speak. But not all come.

40 years ago, a Norwegian couple set out to bring electricity to rural settlements

Chait was trying to hit the base camp of Pike in the last week of March. Just then, the old foreigner said, 'I came to Nepal about 40 years ago. I lived here for almost 15 years at that time. She is my daughter. She was 3 years old when she came here. She also studied in a Nepali school. It was a Norwegian family found at Pike's base camp.

Magne Vestol and Dorothea Vestol from Norway came to Nepal for the first time in 1979. 30-year-old Magne and 28-year-old Dorothea recently got married and came to Nepal. After spending two months in Nepal, they returned to their country. However, both of them could not remove the image of Nepal from their minds. Then they returned to Nepal in 1984 joining the United Mission to Nepal (UNM) with their two daughters aged 3 years and one and a half years. Magne, a civil engineer by profession, got a job at the Andihola hydropower project in Galang, Syangja. At that time, he was responsible for laying the transmission line along with the construction of hydropower.

At a guest house in Jhamsikhel in Lalitpur, father, mother and daughter were together. It is also known from the conversation in the PK base camp that Magne speaks slowly and speaks less had happened. His wife Dorothea was from Farasili. "After learning the normal Nepali language for two weeks in Kathmandu, we had reached Syangja at that time. Initially, our stay was in a mud house in a community of Brahmins," she said. "We arrived only in the evening. There was no light. It was all over the place. He fell asleep because of fatigue.'

She said that when she woke up in the morning and saw the condition of the house, tears fell from her eyes. "After coming to Nepal, my eyes watered for the first and last time," she said with a smile. A pile of mud left to be cleaned in the kitchen. At first, I was thinking about where it came from. After that everything went fine. It is being arranged.'

Magne and Dorothea had a different kind of glow on their faces as they recounted their experiences reminiscing about the old days. They came to Nepal because of the inspiration of Norwegian Aud Houghton, who built many hydropower and hospitals in Nepal. Aud Houghton was also an engineer. Hufton, who came to Nepal in 1958, established the Butwal Technical Institute and also built a mission hospital at Tansen in Palpa. He also contributed to the construction of hydropower projects in different parts of the country. Butwal Power Company was established under his leadership. Which is still working in the field of hydropower.

Words cannot describe the difference the Vestol family felt when they migrated directly from the developed society of Norway to the Brahmin community of Syangja. However, this couple, who came with the intention of doing something in Nepal, slowly adapted the differences here. Magne built a bath near the house by attaching a pipe to the drum. A helper used to bring water from Pandhero. She could not speak,' she said, 'When I went to the stream to get water or bathe, everyone looked at me. It seemed very difficult at that time.' According to

Magne, at that time, when people were called mission people, everyone associated them with religion. However, according to him, they never talked about religion within the community. That's why I never had a bad relationship with anyone while working in an area dominated by Brahmins for two and a half years and the Magar community for the next three years.

Magne, who was often outside for work, did not find the many problems of living in the rural Brahmin community at that time. But for Dorothea, it was a challenge. As I slowly became able to speak Nepali, I got along with the neighboring women. They were all well behaved. But, he never let me enter the kitchen," she said. "At first, it felt strange. However, later it came to know that this is the tradition here. Later, only two houses did not allow me to enter the kitchen, all others gave easy access to the kitchen.'

Magne also remembers the past when he went to different places to pull the lines to deliver the electricity produced by the storm to the surrounding areas. He narrated the experience of pulling the wire through Tansen, Sandhikhark, Pyuthan to Dang at that time. He said that there was no reason to fear even though his wife was in Syangja with two minor daughters while he was out of the house for several days to pull the transmission line. There was no phone at that time. I left saying I would come back on Monday but when I came back it was Wednesday, Thursday. When I left home, I told him to worry only if he returns on Monday but doesn't come till Friday,' he said with a laugh, 'It was not a big deal to stay on the rural roads of Nepal for a day or two. Stay even if it rains. According to him, at that time, one had to travel by local bus to go back and forth from Kathmandu to Syangja. Sometimes I got a ride in the project vehicle, but it was not always available. However, he used to ride a motorcycle in the village. I used to ride a motorcycle in the village. Children used to run behind to see the motorbikes running,' he said, 'times were different at that time. It was a truly rural setting. Now it seems that there are no villages in Nepal. Glad to see the development. However, along with it, environmental destruction has also happened.'

According to Magne, his family moved to Jhimruk after the transmission line of the Andihola project was built. While living in Syangja, the eldest daughter Ingvild studied up to class 1 in the local school there. After class 1, she boarded a Norwegian school opened in Lalitpur. While they were working in Syangja, their third child, their youngest daughter, was born. "The youngest daughter was born in the Tansen Mission Hospital," said Dorothea.

Ingvild, who grew up in a Nepali environment, felt that she was a Nepali of a different color even after a long time. I used to ask my parents why my color was different from other friends. Teachers preferred me when teaching at school. Why did that also seem to be the case," she said, "Even after going to Norway, it was very difficult for me to blend in because I am half Nepali and half Norwegian. If something we did here did not match, he would laugh and teach. But it's strange, he used to say this.'

According to Magne, they enjoyed living in the Magar-dominated community more than in the Brahmin community. He said that while living with the Brahmin community, they feel a special kind of ease, even though they are very close to each other, but in the Magar community, they do not care. "We didn't want to annoy anyone by staying in the community. That's why they did what they said," he said, "but living with the Magar community didn't make any sense."

The Vestol couple said that the discrimination between upper and lower castes in Nepal is more than the caste system, which makes them very sad. We had to go with a big team to bury the pole for the transmission. Most of our cousins ​​belonged to a community that was considered to be a low caste. Because of that, it was difficult for the people of the Bahoon community with us to eat," he said with a laugh. But after carrying the pole for a few days, he would forget casteism at the beginning of fatigue. I enjoyed watching that scene.'

The Vestol family moved to Jhimruk after living in Syangja for about five years. However, they remember Syangja more than Jhimruk. This time when they came to Nepal, they again visited their neighbors with whom they spent half a decade. "It has changed a lot now compared to when we were in Nepal. The road was built, the lights reached, everyone has a mobile phone. But the relationship between people has decreased,' said Dorothea with a sour face, 'almost all the young people of the village have stayed outside. Now everyone has money at home. But no satisfaction. It seems that there was no money then, only satisfaction.'

According to Magne, it is not unusual to go abroad to see the world. However, he said that the knowledge and skills he learned there did not feel like he had entered Nepal. The village has become a city. But there was no concrete change in the lives of those villagers," he said. "Even when we were there, there was talk of political change. It was hoped that it would develop. They do the same thing now.'

Magne's family returned to Norway around 1997. However, in 2011, he again came to Nepal for the construction of Okhaldhunga Hospital. Even then his wife Dorothea came along. They say that when they came back after a gap of one and a half decades, there were many changes in the country they had seen then, but they did not see any change in people's lives.

The Vestol family is still proud that their family has been somehow connected with the development of Nepal. We came here from a developed country and worked. We stayed here. Children grew up here. So we feel like this is our next home," said Dorothea. "The people here accepted us easily. Made part of his family. We never felt like we were outside the country.'' The Vestol couple feels that casteism and untouchability in Nepal are less than before, but the gap between the rich and the poor has deepened. "Untouchability has decreased a lot. However, the gap between the rich and the poor has increased," she said. "The poor are drowning in debt. The rich have become richer by paying usury. I felt the same when I met and talked with my friends at that time. How true that is, I don't know.'

They think that if human development was combined with physical development in Nepal, it would have smelled like gold. However, the growing negativity in the society during their one-month stay and wandering has afflicted them. There was not so much negativity in Nepal and Nepali before. They are cheerful and helpful," Magne said. "Now the lights are on in people's homes. But sometimes the light inside my heart seemed to be dimmed.'

Magne, who lives a quiet life in the Norwegian countryside, is retiring after turning 70 in a few months. His wife Dorothea also passed away by 68 years. They want to see the country where they spent their youth developed and happy. "We love the beauty of Nepal. Even in Norway, when we meet a Nepali, we start talking in Nepali,' said Dorothea, 'people here are always happy. My best wishes.'

प्रकाशित : वैशाख ७, २०८१ १०:१४
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