Nepali Times
'Nepali le maya maryo'


GOLDEN OLDIES: Singha Bahadur Basnyat with Peace Corps volunteers Chris Cluett, Jesse Brandt, Stu During, Stu Ullman and tony Drexler singing old Nepali songs at their 50th year reunion in Washington recently.

As a young liaison officer at the Peace Corps directorate in Kathmandu, I was assigned to the second group of 39 volunteers in 1963.

The last reunion was in 2008 when we met for the 45th anniversary in Washington state which ended with the volunteers singing Nepali folk songs from 50 years ago. It was this experience that led me to the idea that the 50th anniversary should be marked by a musical get together.

I travelled to the United States in September for the 50th Peace Corps Reunion, accompanied by guitarists Anil Shahi and Gaurav Basnyat. Since the last reunion, 10 volunteers had passed away. Yet, it was a nostalgic get together in which the most surprising was that volunteers remembered the lyrics and melodies of golden oldies like 'Ke Bho Ke Bo Hijo Aja', 'Balaju ko Baise Dhara', 'Nakkali lai Bhagai Lagyo Jhilke le'.

At a reception hosted by Nepal's ambassador to the US, Shankar Sharma, 100 former volunteers gathered at the embassy in the presence of Finance Minister Barsha Man Pun who joined the group to sing Dharma Raj Thapa's 1960s hit: 'Nepali Lai Maya Maryo Bari Lai'. One volunteer even sang a solo of 'Tada Bata Bola Ko Timilai Nai Ho Maile'.

Finance Minsiter Barsha Man Pun with Ambassador Shankar Sharma at the embassy in Washington recently at the Peace Corps get together.
As a Nepali diplomat who pushed 'cultural diplomacy' during my assignments in the US and UK I felt I was just continuing on with my work, making musical connections with a Nepal of 50 years ago. What was surprising to me was how the volunteers still remembered the songs, and how the music and lyrics seemed to link them to rural Nepal so many years later.

The American Peace Corps Nepal Reunion Newsletter wrote, "The group sing along of Nepali folk songs was accompanied by a motley crew of volunteers. They actually remembered the words. No comment about their singing."

Taking his cue from Terence Bech whose collection of Nepali folk songs was donated to Madan Puraskar Pustakalaya in Kathmandu (see Nepali Times, #582), a former volunteer Stu Ullman has sent back his collection of the lyrics to 40 songs he used to listen to on Radio Nepal in 1963.

The happiest news for many of us at the reunion was that the Peace Corps is returning to Nepal in 2012. The Peace Corps helped with education and development in rural Nepal 50 years ago, but it is also worth remembering that it continues to serve as a cultural bridge between Nepal and the United States.

Singha Bahadur Basnyat was Nepal's ambassador to UK in 1997-2003 and served five years in Washington.

Read also:
Barry aka Bir Bahadur, ROSHAN SAWA in ILAM
Barry Bialek still considers himself a Nepali at heart

1. armugam
Does any one remember or know about "Don Pierce" (or someone similar) who used to teach us Physics in Tri Chandra in 1963?

2. Hollandus Erzs�bet
Mr. Armugam, unknown but heartly for Nepal.Please explain me words " le maya maryo"
if not disturbe You 

3. Joker
'Nakkali lai Bhagai Lagyo Jhilke le' that was my most favourite song when I was in the Nepal in the early 1980s. Just can't forget the tune and the hilarious lyrics. Hollandus: Nepali le maya maryo is part of a longer song that means: "Nepalis have forgotten their motherland..." or words to that effect.

4. 'Bir Bahadur'
And I recall there was a talkative volunteer, self claimed agri expert, who planted 2 dharnis of aloo in a Trishuli terrace as a demonstration in an improved way of agriculture. Turned out it reaped less than half a dharni. Not to mention, the villagers were not amused. 

(11 JAN 2013 - 17 JAN 2013)