At 73, activist-journalist Bhairab Risal has the energy that leaves today\'s young reporters panting far behind. When not doing his twice-weekly live talk-show on Radio Sagarmatha, he may be recording another of his weekly interview programmes with senior citizens. When he takes time off from his radio programmes, you can be sure Bhairab dai is hiking in the hills of Humla or walking knee-deep in a paddy field in Kapilvastu. Last week he spent his 73rd birthday in Chitwan. Born in Thithali, Bhaktapur, in 1927 Bhairab dai studied literature and economics in Sanskrit, and worked for the national news agency, RSS, from 1963 to 1985. A year later, he was jailed for criticising the sacrosanct Panchayat slogan for Nepal to reach "Asian standards". In jail, Bhairab kept a diary which was later published as the Sadhu lai Suli (Skewered Saint). A free man, he contested parliamentary elections on a Nepal Workers\' and Peasants\' Parry ticket in 1991 and lost by just 1300 votes.
Bhairab then turned into an environmental activist with a passion he had reserved for politics. Bhairab toured Nepal, spreading the word about sustainable development and is one of few Nepalis who has set foot in all the country\'s 75 districts.
"I think it is my company of young enthusiastic journalists that re-energises me all the time," says Bhairab dai. "I feel younger every day."
Bhairab\'s Radio Sagarmatha interviews have been published " Uhile Bajeko Palama (In Grandad\'s Time) and he is working on Logne-Swasni ra Kehi Mitra Hanika Chithi (Letters between a Husband and Wife and Some friends Bhairab dai and wife Sushila are also among a handful of Nepalis who have donated their bodies to a medical college to be used for both organ transplants and dissection. "When I heard that Nepali medical schools import corpses from India, I wanted to set an example," he says.
Other Bhairab projects: a scholarship scheme for married women students with a Rs 24,000 trust fund, and raising Rs 200 from every friend and well-wisher to help students of a primary school in his village to buy school uniforms.
Happy Birthday, Bhairab dai.