This morning I woke up as usual, around 6am or so :-) and everything seemed "normal". We got the boys off to school and then Stan and I proceeded to study Nepali for a few hours before we needed to head off to school ourselves. Our language school is just a 10 minute walk from our house but that usually means having to navigate narrow one-lane neighborhood roads with bikes, cars, and motorcycles barreling through as fast as they possibly can...and did I mention, they always honk right as they come up behind you! I will have no hearing by the time I turn 50.
We arrived at school and our teacher asked if the boys were in school today. We were a bit curious and told him "yes". He then proceeded to tell us that today a "bhand" had been called. A bhand is when a particular group decides to protest something and they go out and block traffic in a certain area in hopes that someone will listen to them and they will get their way. Well, today's bhand was a valley-wide bhand and it closed down all traffic in Kathmandu. The only vehicles on the road were bicycles, a few motorcycles just going short distances, and a few diplomatic vehicles that displayed the correct color of license plate. Any other vehicles were stopped and most shops were closed.
Karen, my co-worker and friend, and I wanted to go out and do some material shopping and it ended up being a time of exercise. I have never seen a city of over a million people come to a complete stop...until today. It was very bizarre! On one of the main roads, some of the stores were "partially" open; meaning, they had their iron doors open just a little bit so that if a group of people came by that were causing the city-wide bhand, they could quickly close shop. We ended up walking most of the back roads and then circled back around so that we could just go home.
It is very sad to see things like this happen. Today many people did not make any money. Most Nepali schools were closed. Tomorrow, our boy's school will most likely be closed because they cannot run the vans/buses to pick up the children. This normally "crazy" paced city became "bizarre" and quite erie. Please pray for the Nepali people. Today's bhand was called because 2 bodies were found that had gone missing over a month ago. They belonged to one political party and that party is accusing the other of murdering them. Normally a bhand will only last for part of a day or so. This one could very well last several days if negotiations go sour or someone else gets hurt when emotions get out of control. If you remember, please pray for the Nepali people and this time of critical transition in the government. They have gone through too many years of unrest and war and it deeply affects the people.