He kept his hope fervently alive. In return, he got helping hands from the strangers.
How did I meet David?
"Shanti! Shanti!” I was greeted by the voice as I stepped into the tea shop from the corner table early that morning.
“Om” I replied and walked out.
The following morning, I called on to the shop. I heard the same words from the person sitting on the same table.
“Om,” I replied, waving my hand, I walked out.
I got into the tea shop for the 3rd the time, I coudn’t meet Subhash.
For I wanted to congratulate him for his melodious song he had sung four days ago during Deusi in Tihar in front of a house in the neighbourhood that chilly evening.
My eyes fell on the gentleman on the same table again.
My eyes got caught up on the words “Keep Walking” on his white T- shirt. A cup of tea on the table waiting for him.
Unable to meet the lad, I looked at the gentleman, I asked him, if could join him. However, my mind waited for the lad.
He raised his hand to welcome me and I sat down.
“ Ek chai,” he asked the owner.
"Are you studying Buddhism?” I ask him after a pause.
"I’m a photographer.” He replied. His camera on the table proved it.
"London.” He added, without asking him.
“Besides photography, I help children and anyone who is interested to write about himself.” He said with quiet voice.
Before the tea came, I told hold him, "Sorry, I can sit with you only for half an hour. Bcause I’d got to attend my paralytic dad at home."
Half an was over.
Thanking him for the tea with a promise to meet him the following morning, I left.
As promised, I called on the tea shop the following morning. He had been already there.
He then took out his notebook and a pen. Then he scribbled on a blank page about his writing project.
After listening to his chat and reading the words on his notebook, I felt that the children in the schools could learn from this.
I suggested him he could visit schools and colleges. Hearing to my suggestion, he told me that he had been already doing that.
Meanwhile, I informed him I had taken a long leave from the school as a teacher.
He Scribbles Rather Than Talk
David flew back from India in the summer of 2017.
I met him the very next day in the same tea shop.
We had tea together. But his chat was still the same about his writing project. He would take out his notebook and start drawing trees. And would talk about seed till the fruit. Next he talked about team building.
Every morning he talked about his project. After some days, I bought a notebook for myself where he could scribble his ideas.
Charity Home in Swayambhu
"Why do you choose Nepal for your writing project?" I asked.
"I've seen massive potential here in everyone." He added in a quiet voice.
"Why not in other countries?" I instisted.
They also have. But I prefer here. It's calm and peaceful here.
I want to spend rest of my time here." He said in nostalgic voice.
"You know the rules if you want to spend longer time here." I enquired.
"I know the rules. But I'm not a businessman or a charity." He chided.
"But rules are made only to be broken." I pushed him further.
"I know it. I respect the rules. I've never broken any rules in my life. I will never." He said with confidence.
"But someone you trust might break the rules for your money." I said as an alert bell.
"I am aware of that. That's why I never muddle my head in any complex things." He said laughingly.
Taxi Ride to Charity School in Pashupati 2018
I saw David sitting alone on a cane stool and sipping tea while his walking stick leaned on the wall in the Coffee Shop at 9 O'clock on the first Sunday of July'18.
I thought he had gone for his Nepali Language class in Biswha Basha Campus.
Wanting to know why he didn't go to attend the class, I strolled upto him and asked.
He informed me that Sundays were a holiday. He had 5 days of classes only.
So, his plan after the coffee was to visit a charity school in Pashupati.
He told me that he had explained about his writing project to the Principal, she understood differently.
He had visited the school twice.
In his first vistit he briefed the Principal what the children were to write, how much time it would take them
In the second visit, he organized the writing itself.
To his surprise, after reading through the papers the children had written, were of the same sentence structures, except the names.
He understood how the children were told to mug up what the teachers had told them to write in the previous days.
He faced difficult time explaining to the Principal how and what should be written within a given time limit.
I listened to his problem, then I asked him if I could join him. He agreed and took a taxi ride from Boudha gate.
David Visits 13 Schools
Next morning, we met in another tea shop and shared my plan to visit schools.
I visited the schools a week in advance, to ask the Principals if their schools would be interested in David’s writing project.
At the end, I figured it out that I had visited 13 schools to the east of Kathmandu Valley and collected 900+ writings from the children in 13 Sundays.
David has bought plastic files for each school’s writing and tucked them on his shelf as a gift from the children in Nepal
However, we missed two schools. We arrived at school gate by taxi only to find the school closed.
Had the school authority informed me the previous day, we’d have saved time and money.
Despite this, David was happy to be fooled.
Those 13 Sundays were exhilarating and memorable ones.
Children Write About themselves in the Charity School in Pashupati
After the Principal understood, we called in the children in her office and we gave them sheets of papers. As each time, 4 students stepped in, they sat on the benches.
I briefed them:
I am sad today...
I am happy...
I am angry...
I am a bird...I can fly....
Write what you feel about yourself today.
I read in class...
After listening to my talk, the chilrdren then started scribbling, finished their works within 2 minutes or so and went back to their classroom sending the next group.
Meanwhile, I gave each written copy to David.
He was delighted to read each one of them, though they were just one line of sentence or more. They were all differently written.
After one and half hours, they were done, David thanked the Principal, collected the writings of the children and took a taxi ride to Boudha.
This is a simple self-awareness initiative that helps all involved, become self aware. Once any become self-aware, they then have the basic ingredient to make a life for themselves and then maybe impact others.
It involves any member of the public, regardless of age, status, sex.
Anyone wanting to write a statement about themselves to be read by the strangers.
In no way, he encourages people to be writers, politians, or academics through the writing process of self expression.
As soon as the seed is sown, it can grow and bear fruit of any proportion.
He in a way, tries to be anonymous. He is a silent helper, not the noisy helped kind.
Anybody can benefit and the project workers themselves benefit, as they, each moment become more self-aware.
Concurrently, his dream, for it to be recognized as an approach to learning differently in a creative way.
He has an opinion that all should participate regardless of academic background, Schooled, unschooled, trained, or untrained.
All can know about themselves, like health care, it’s vital to be pro-active in pursuing what becomes apparent in front of a mirror about the self through words.
Not bad for a man of 66, who is semi-retired, a professional photographer whose work had been printed in educational books and magazines, organized photo exhibitions, shared his experience in schools and colleges including the charities in London.
He loves sharing his passion to be a catalyst for helping anyone in Nepal to share about himself/herself.
Additionally, he's man of other ability, with slipped hip disk and his is a self-financed project.
I’ve seen him share his idea passionately with the children and the teachers or anyone who don’t shy away from him. Even in the tea shop!
I believe his time with the children in the schools was a memorable one. He just prefered to be a catalist.
© 2020 gyanendra mocktan
gyanendra mocktan (author) from Kathmandu,Nepal on January 08, 2021:
I've not visited David for weeks. But I've seen David walking around stupa with two walking sticks head with optimism.