Digital Tales of an Analog Society

Nepal’s urban life when viewed from an observer’s eyes is a splendid spectacle. This mixture of sweat and fume, dust and mud, abundance and crisis is self-celebratory.

There are heroes and villains, there are the oppressed and the oppressors that have made a truce to live askance in a disturbed harmony. All the while, there is an intricate fabric of all these lives or rather say a reflection of these lives floating around our electronic devices. The internet-age is hitting its puberty in our urban landscapes, and it takes almost no effort to see how things have evolved in past few years.

There’s a bleak and frustrated middle class. In the race for making a living, these people often find it hard to adjust their shoes. They toil their life out just enough to make a decent (and boring?) living. They are the ones who know what should be. It’s another story that they can do nothing about anything. They have voices, but no one’s going to listen to them. They are bound to chase things and show up, buy, clean, attend tables and forget about everything on their way back home on a jammed old public bus. The best they can do is subscribe to the cheapest of ISP, post statuses about why the ‘no-horn rule’ makes (a little) sense, or how you ought to carry at least a couple of hundred rupees note if you plan to walk around the city.

There’s an ultra-activist consortium of know-everythings that have the loudest of voices and smallest of logics. With raging hot blood in their veins, these descendants of the brave have enslaved reasons and conscience for decades. They have answers for everything- god, life, world, people, law, democracy and most importantly the economy of the dust, the crowd and the dysfunction.

Their activism is regressive: it doesn’t help change the status quo, rather it just takes one step forward and two step backwards. They say it’s okay to ruin, to thrash and to bash. They have their own set of clichéd reasons, their stories often diluted with repetition. Market and economy, freedom and progress, all these big words have been defined by them. They are the masters of definition.

There’s a nonchalant mass of hipsters and pseudo-modernists. It doesn’t matter to them if the world is falling upside down. They are there for more than just being, they are there for appearing. They hunt for the best eateries –not for the taste of the food, but for the look of it – to post it around Snapchat and Instagram stories that subtly morph others’ perception of them. They are the ones who know what to wear and when to wear, how to look, whom to follow, what to say when, when to be one and when to be zero. They can’t be convicted, they were born that way. In a way or other, almost all of us have shuttled into their sphere once in a while.

There is also a self-revered flock of tidy-suited males and beauty-boutique females that are avid weekenders. They have their own bubble to take care of. They are used to coziness, to grand things, to best breed of dogs and aged alcohol. They raise a toast to many things- to a new minister, to banks’ mergers, to marriages, to birthdays and anniversaries and to weathers and the stock market and beauty pageants. They are heirs of ‘all good’ batch in every generation. They are what the largest of population looks up to; sometimes they are envied and all other times they are applauded.

There’s a pious bunch of gullible humans that share ‘one like will save this man’s cancer’ kind of posts across social media. They do not understand, and they are happy with their ignorance. More than happy, they are proud of their ignorance. They make fasting and they offer sacrifices. They think that their sins are replenished by the un(holy) water that crawls down Bagmati.

There’s a silent mass that actually sees what’s going on, but they are clawed. Their reasons compromised because they are just a minority, their realizations deemed either unsocial or abrupt and hence never given a mark. This silent flock is made up of individuals that have somehow sustained the persuasion of societal melodrama but they are far from being understood. Their dark, true senses find refuge in the darkest of internet memes; yet this group is observant but never reactionary.

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