The Facebook Movement; London Edition
Have you ever had that feeling on the first day of school where you just felt sick, kasto pet dukheko jasto huncha ni? Well I had that feeling. It was 27th May 2011. We only had one day left till the constitution deadline and it was our D-Day for the heavily Facebook promoted ‘Nepal Unites – London’ protest. When Pradeep Kumar Singh (one out of my thousands of FB friends) text me late one night the text read ‘Lex let’s do a protest in London to create a similar movement here as in Nepal’, I was quick to write it off. Firstly, it was too ambitious; short noticed and the people that I ‘associate’ with simply have no clue or interest in the happenings of Nepal. His follow up text changed my mind totally. I don’t know whether it was a trick he used tara it definitely worked. ‘YOU are the face behind so many events in the UK, can’t you do this?’
Amidst my final examinations there I was huffing and puffing; endlessly sharing links, photos and writing articles regarding the proposed protest outside of the Embassy of Nepal. Pradeep, throughout the whole time was a pleasure to work with; a rare find in our Nepalese community here as most are too enthusiastic with their Nepali timing and delegating responsibilities to others. People want to be known without putting in the hard work. Now, how will that equation ever work? The both of us had no experience in doing this before yet we learned a lot in the short duration – from getting permission from the council, police, diplomatic police, embassy and observing various changes along the way. The embassy I believe wanted to shove us further away from them. Understandable. But Hey! We weren’t going to give up without a push after all this was a pressure campaign.
Even before the protest, enthusiasts started pouring in their lovely opinions ‘bidesh ma gayera Nepal ko badnaam garne bhayo’, ‘eti saro pir lagyo bhane Nepal ja’, ‘could this be one of Lex’s publicity stunt again’. Certainly an icing on the cake! I could have argued with them the whole day but ke garne, I have a thing about not reasoning with stupidity. End of. During the first few days after the event page was launched on Facebook we were astonished with such positive reactions from the mass. We believed we could gather at least 100 protestors there, a very small amount considering there are hazaarau Nepalis that reside in London but for us 100 was good enough.
My energy, enthusiasm and eagerness all died on the evening of 26th. After receiving more than a few dozen texts from people apologising for their unavailability I thought to myself ‘What the hell am I going to do now’. You know that feeling you have on a Sunday night when you go to sleep and you want that night to be the longest because you can’t face school on Monday. That’s how I felt. I pressed on my friends; well those that I usually go out and get drunk with to come support me that day. That was the least I asked (it wasn’t much) and I’m not the type needy of people’s company.
As I got up on the 27th, I rushed to the toilet three times even before reaching the destination; Embassy of Nepal. I was stressed! I wanted to disappear there and then. But a comment posted from a didi from the previous night gave me the much needed determination. She said something along the lines of ‘leaders with self-doubt aren’t worthy of leading’. I wasn’t worried about speaking in front of the crowd, my worry was whether there was going to be a crowd. Pradeep’s friends and I had put a lot into this. From voluntarily buying megaphones, printing posters, and buying t-shirts it was vital for the people’s participation to make this a success.
Surprisingly the flow of people increased and at the end of it we had 101 protestors who had signed the petition and also took part in chanting, singing, reciting poetry to giving small talks to the gathered crowd. Though I was rushing from one to another, this was the first time ever I felt the joy of being behind something. Previous experiences haven’t been so memorable. I know for a fact the moment when I held the banner alongside Pradeep and Miss UK Nepal Nabina Gurung and crossed the busy Kensington High Street with police escort that will surely be unforgettable. The ambassador even gave us twenty minutes from his busy schedule to sit down with us and talk to us regarding what our aim was and what we wanted from him. Atti ramro, I’m hoping that our guff didn’t enter one ear and leave from the other.
I felt satisfied that evening yet disappointed. I argued with myself that night, why was I so bothered with my friends not being there at the protest. The people who cared and deemed this movement as meaningful was there and I should be happy with that but nope, I wasn’t going to have that. Then again, I realized friends easily disappoint you because they know you’ll forgive them. After all, you are friends.