A week later, few in tents, fewer leaving, and wait for a cinema hall
Exactly a week after the quake, a girl outside her damaged house in Gokarneshwar, 10 km from Kathmandu. Her village is yet to get any relief. (Source: Express photo by Vishal Srivastav)
It’s 11.46 am Nepali time, exactly a week after the 7.9 quake hit the country, leaving nearly 7,000 dead. L N Subedi sits inside his small garments shop near Pashupatinath temple that he terms a “remix of Nepalese, Chinese and Indian”. “We’re still scared but what will I feed my kids?” says the 41-year-old. “I felt two aftershocks even today.”
His is a rare commercial establishment open in the city. Most of the shops functioning in Nepal’s capital right now are general stores, pharmacies, cafes and restaurants; schools and commercial establishments remain closed indefinitely.
Prabha Poudel Khadka, 36, who owns Shraddha Hotel, says for the first time since the quake, they slept in their rooms on Saturday night. “We’re still scared,” she says, as her son, Prasun, 9, laughs at her fears.
While fruit and vegetable vendors were the first to reopen business, Jeevan Kafile, 32, says it will be a long time before things are normal. “Earlier I would have over 200 customers daily, now I barely get 30. People have left Kathmandu. Or they are now buying only rice, chiwra, daalmoth and biscuits.”
Madhav Timelsina sits equally glum inside his garments shop. “Earlier I would sell 20 items a day, now people are just buying socks or sandals. Can’t say how long it will last,” says the 32-year-old whose home in Kavre district was destroyed.
On the crossroads near Gaushala, one half of the road in front of an old building has been cordoned off to minimise damage in case it falls. Most of the shops along the upscale Durbar Marg in front of the Narayanhiti Palace, which once served as the residence of the country’s monarchs, are also closed. Only three cafes are open.
Every now and then, as a siren wails and an ambulance passes by, people stop to look. Still, there are signs of a city gradually settling down. The rush of those waiting to leave at the old Kathmandu bus stop has fallen to a trickle, while tents are being folded up as people move back into homes.
Two days after the earthquake, there was no space inside an open theatre near Bir Hospital. Now, just about 10 tents are left there.
Standing next to a makeshift toilet giving off a nauseating stench, Maneka Khati, 35, whose house had collapsed, is among those left here. “We haven’t been able to find a room yet,” she said.
Her son Sudeep, 14, says he is on extended vacation. “Our school owner has said repairs might take a month,” he says.
At the trauma centre in Bir Hospital, which was the nerve centre for treating the injured in Kathmandu, the triage now holds just around a dozen patients. “Our remaining patients are in special wards and most of them are undergoing treatment for fractures, spinal injuries or a brain haemorrhage,” said Dr Bikesh Khambu, 32.
Volunteers have been pitching in, operating from a camp just outside the entrance of the trauma centre, and at last count, numbered at least 600. On Saturday, Mandeep Chhetri, 23, enrolled as a volunteer. “My 12-year-old sister died in the earthquake, my grandmother is still critical. But then your country is also your family,” he said.
But the biggest sign that Kathmandu is moving on is the reopening of BigMart mall, though with curtailed hours. Kamal Dahal, 53, a security supervisor at the mall, says of the over 90 shops, only about six are open, adding the staff has run away.
Gyan Lama, 30, head superintendent, is hopeful the cinema hall will reopen soon. “The mall has three screens; one of them was playing Resham Filili. I think they’ll play it again.”
Source:: Indian Express