After the searing speeches at the pro-democracy demo in New Baneswor, a sudden downpour doused the crowd. Then a soothing voice wafted through the rain. The words were simple, the melody sweet and it urged everyone to stand up.
From every village, stand up
From every hamlet, stand up
To change this nation's face, stand up.
Gaun Gaun, Basti Basti has become a sort of alternative national anthem and clenched fists rose up from the crowd and others clapped to the rhythm of the famous song. Here to sing his 30-year-old hit was Raamesh. For the greying warriors of democracy in the crowd, it was yesterday once more.
Fifteen years after the People's Movement, the Nepalis' aspirations for liberty and progress remain unfulfilled so Raamesh has to come out once more to sing the songs of freedom. And Raayan is there to accompany him. The scene is repeated at Basantapur a week later. Here, thousands chant "Once more, once more," so the duo sang Gaun Gaun, in Newari this time. The people's singers are with the people. Something has begun to happen--where it leads remains to be seen.
Schooled in the company of Jhapali communists, Raamesh' story starts in the early 1970s when he, Raayan, Manjul and Aarim began to sing 'for the people' under the tutelage of iconic leftist litterateur Parijat. The verve and vigour of their voices shook up the complacent music scene with raw energy and novelty. After 1990, the group drifted apart, got disillusioned with their political leaders and lost confidence in each other.
Raamesh ended up running a school in Bhurunkhel where he sings to kids. "I believe in the wisdom of the people, they are much more informed and aware now than when they went from village to village 30 years ago," he says.
Born in Palpa, brought up in Doti, educated in Sindhupalchok and Kathmandu and groomed at Okhaldhunga, Raamesh is one of Nepal's few renaissance men. He combines the complexity and completeness of an entire generation and transmitting them to a nation with songs redolent with struggle and hope.