The Feeling of Nationality Beyond the Boundary of
Copyright 2021 by Milan Rijal
Photo by Rach Teo on Unsplash
Bangla Aircraft crash in Tribhuvan International Airport reminded me
of my trip to Thailand. It was a matter of pleasure and honor for me
to have the opportunity to represent Nepal in the international forum
as a young apprentice. It was back in October 7, 2017, I was making
my first international flight heading to Bangkok. My flight had been
reserved in the Thai Airways by the travel agent named 'Sunshine
Travel Agency' of Jawlakgel.
aircraft TG 313
took off onto the air at 11 am from Tribhuwan International Airport,
Kathmandu. The passengers were heartily welcomed into the plane by
the beautiful Thai air-hostesses saying 'Sawadikurp'.
mixture of happiness and wonder was in my head. I got my stipulated
seat and placed my handbag onto the storage case. I sat down and
fastened the seat belt and turned my mobile phone into flight mode.
It was my first experience in the flight, however everything was
going well. I payed attention to the instructions and demonstration
being announced and displayed. I was so excited and taking selfie.
little bit of fear
grew in my mind as the aircraft was speeding at its highest preparing
to take off. I experienced a bit of dizziness during the course of
double take off. After some minutes, it was signaled that everything
was normal and the passengers started to go to the restrooms. The
crew (airhostess) began serve the food. I was excited in viewing and
taking pictures outside the window, of clouds, cities, rivers, plains
witnessed the Thai
cuisine for the first time. I enjoyed the Thai food a lot. I helped
myself how to use the monitor (behind every seat) and explored almost
everything in it. I enjoyed the Hindi movies and songs. Time and
again, the signal and announcement to be cautious would make me
scared. There was a sense of relief as soon as the signal of normal
was displayed. I drank apple juice. Then, I went searching the
washroom because my body was signaling the need of excretion and my
mind was eager to explore and experience the washroom of the plane. I
came back to my seat. The imbalance of the aircraft would make me
our journey was
coming to an end, a beautiful night view of the city could be viewed
from the window. The journey of about 3 hours was almost like a
journey by a long bus in a graveled road. I was once again frightened
at the landing of the plane. Our plane landed in "Shubaranbhumi
International Airport", Bangkok. The local time was 6 pm then.
It was raining and very hot with high humidity. The airport was so
big and beautiful. I wished if our airport too was as beautiful and
well facilitated as that of Bangkok. During the immigration
procedure, I was a bit afraid with the questions of the
custom-officer. I couldn't understand his language which made him
angry (furious). Then, he started to add sign language as well. After
enduring this session, I took my baggage and went out. A friend came
to receive me who helped to get a hotel for the night.
reached the airport at 5. I bought a cold coffee for myself while
waiting for the plane. At 8:00, I began my journey to Chiang Mai,
another famous city in Thailand which is about 1 and a half hour air
distance from Bangkok. The sky was clear after the rain. The
craft was comparatively smaller than that of international
flight. During the journey, I enjoyed the Thai food and Indian
music in the plane. I drank apple juice. I felt like taking more and
I asked for one more cup. After a while, I started experiencing some
discomfort. I didn't realize that AC was being operated at its
lowest. I hadn't covered myself with the blanket. As a result, I
became blue and nearly unconscious. When I saw the vapor of the cold
air, I took the blanket and covered myself. It was more than that of
a refrigerator. It took a long time for me to come back to the normal
didn't notice when
our plane landed. The plane had already landed and was preparing for
parking. I wanted to drink something warm but was in dilemma whether
to ask for it or not. As I got out onto the hot humid air, I was
gradually recovering. I learnt the lesson to keep myself warm inside
the plane. When I shared about it to my sister back home, she scolded
me for being careless towards my health.
I headed to the
venue which was the primary reason of the trip. I met the people of
diverse nationality (nationalities/ backgrounds) in the conference.
We got introduced to one another. Many of them were in their national
dress representing their countries. It was like the global
village but with differences; differences of culture, language,
appearance, costume, ideology food habits and way of thinking.
However, there was the acknowledgement of the respect towards the
differences. I really felt honored to wear the Nepali dress
which I hadnít valued much in the country
felt that the feeling of nationality becomes extreme only outside the
political boundary of the country.
conference, I visited the local markets and bought some Thai gifts
for my near and dear ones back in Nepal. I enjoyed the local trip by
taxi, tuk-tuk, metro, tempo and walk. The Thai king had recently
died, almost a year ago. Hence, there was not much merry making and
public celebrations. One can feel that the Thai people are very
hospitable and always smiling. Their English is 'Thai-English"
which was quite difficult and funny for me to understand. I found
that many of them even didnít know that "Thai-English".
I became steadily used to as I stayed there for some days and
interacted with the people. I was astonished by the infrastructures,
disciplined drivers and sanitation. However, I was shocked to know
about the legalized prostitution. During the walk to the evening
market I was lured and dragged into the dance bars and brothels. I
said that I had no interest in such activity and pleaded them to
leave me off. The outside temperature was so hot and humid. I could
get relief only inside my room with AC.
the stay of
about a week, I came to Bangkok for I had to attend a marriage
ceremony of my English friend who was to marry a local Thai girl. I
sang a wedding song for them. During my trip from Chaing Mai to
Bangkok, I encountered a passenger who seemed like Mike Tyson (with
big eyes, black complexion and well built muscles). He sat by me.
During the journey, I placed my arm at the arm-rest. But he looked at
me with his Big-Big (widely
opened) eyes. I was
really scared. I retreated and placed my arm down. When the plane
landed, the passengers began to board off the craft. I reminded that
guy about his headphone which he had placed in the seat. But, he took
it and wasnít thankful for it as if he hadn't forgotten that he
had placed it over there.
I was wandering
at a night market nearby my hotel, I heard some Nepali phrase.
Firstly, I ignored them thinking as if it was just an illusion but as
I heard that repeatedly I turned around to find its source. A Nepali
couple appeared to my back (facing opposite to me). Normally, the
British accent sounds pleasant to my ears. It was the second time
when Nepali language sounded pleasant to me. It sounded so beautiful
and fascinating in the midst of other languages in a foreign land. My
first experience of this kind was long ago in Assam, India when I was
feeling heart burn and the pain went off as soon as a Nepali girl who
was beautifully attired in a Nepali costume served me a meal.
As I kept on exploring things in the market in Bangkok, I heard
another person calling, "ke chhahiyo dai?" meaning
"What do you need brother?" I went closer to him and asked
about his origin. I came to know that he was from Burma and a number
of Burmese could be found in the city. Although he wasn't from Nepal,
there was a sense of brotherhood. I assume if I found any person
speaking in Indian tongue, I would have the feeling of
neighbourhood. I wonder how the Nepali language brought us
closer. It was clear for me how the language can bring people closer.
It has got a strong power in it. It is not just the mode of
communication of the information and ideas but also the
was a bitter
experience as well. Beyond my expectation, I found some Thai people
inhospitable as well as fraud. As I was taking selfies as
tourists(outsiders) normally do, I was asked by the business owners
if they could help me. I inquired about the MBK Centre, one of the
biggest malls in Bangkok, for it was nearest to my hotel but I was
told that the market was closed for some days due to funeral ceremony
of the former king. One of them offered to provide me the guidance to
another market so that I could buy the desired goods. I crosschecked
regarding the information with other passersby but found the
information to be incorrect and fraud. I think it was with the
business motive more than that of having me into a problem. After a
while, I visited MBK. I found it so big to explore each corner within
the same day. After my visit to different places in Bangkok, I
prepared my journey back to Nepal.
there. So, I had to do everything myself. Although I had no reason to
be afraid, I was afraid about the language barrier and rude
custom-officers. After the sophisticated custom check, I got into the
craft, TG 319 heading to 'Tribhuvan lnternational Airport', being
warmly welcomed by the beautiful air-hostesses. There were quite many
Nepali passengers in the flight. I got my seat and began filming the
scenario of the airport. The storage of my phone was almost full and
not functioning well. I moved the files from my device to the pen
drive so as to make some space so that I could take more picture and
videos of the land and the air as well.
was much careful
to follow the instructions as the plane took off. I was aware not to
repeat the mistake of the previous journey. I kept myself warm
covering my body with the blanket. Although I was already fed up
taking Thai food for twelve days and hated the smell of the food from
the street stalls, I enjoyed the Thai food for it was the last Thai
dish of my trip.
clear. The craft lost its balance time and again. I was frightened so
much. I felt like going to the restroom but the alarm was signaling
the passengers to be remained at the seats. The crew and screen
regularly announced about the outside temperature and wind. There was
complete silence among the passengers. It was for more than 30
minutes, signs of fear could be seen in our face, red and pale cheeks
and dry lips. People were wishing and praying for their safety.
was recalling the
instructions regarding how to wear the life jacket in case the craft
has to make an emergency landing on water. I didn't want to die
young. More than this, I didn't want to die on foreign land or
international waters. It was okay (better option) for me to die on
Nepali air or land. I could experience goose bumps thinking this, an
extreme feeling of nationality and the wish to die and get buried on
an hour the
sky became clear and the Himalayas began to appear. It was okay for
me then, even if I died on the lap of Himalayas. When the pilot
announced that everything was normal, the signs of hope were seen in
everyone's face. People began to trap the beautiful landscape of Mt.
Everest in their electronic devices.
safely in Nepal at 2 p.m. Although, the journey was delayed for an
hour than the estimated time, it was a great blessing to remain
breathing. I thanked God for his protection. I hired a prepaid taxi
to my home. As I recall the bttrip, it was full of mixed experiences,
lessons, excitement, and memories. This trip will always remain in my
heart and memory. I anticipate that I will visit other destinations
such as lakes, beaches, islands, national parks, cultural heritage
sites, etc. in the next trip. I hope that there will be at least
some infrastructural advancement in addition to the
the facilities and services at the Tribhuvan International Airport.
Rijal is a writer,
teacher and music composer in Nepal.
of the message
won't know where to send it.)
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