After buying a new cycle, he started going for short cycle tours to the outskirts of the valley, away from the bustle of the busy and wearing city life.
AIGP Singha Bahadur Shrestha, AFP, Nepal: the name sounds daunting, right? I felt the same when I was assigned to take his interview. Nervous and irresolute, I entered the interview room. I saw a well built, cordial man smiling at me, the AIGP! I was so relieved to know that he was not anything like I doodled in my imagination, or how most of us imagine an AIGP to be like. On talking to him about the issue, the cycle issue, he was so enthusiastic, and had a lot to share about his cycle experiences.
It all started for him seven years ago, when he went for his first mountain biking to Panauti with a group of friends. It enfeebled him for a week. But, the first tour made him realize that owning a mountain bike is a must, although they are pretty expensive, and they wear you out. After buying a new cycle, he started going for short cycle tours to the outskirts of the valley, away from the bustle of the busy and wearing city life. The magnificent views of hills and mountains, lush surrounding, fresh air, the desire of watching the horizon closely from challenging heights—all these encourage him to cycle more often. The most exciting part of cycling, to him, is conquering almost unattainable hills, and feeling accomplished and motivated.“It feels like you have conquered your fears and there is no ascent you cannot attempt,” he says. Cycling is also a motivation therapy for him, and choosing a cycle means choosing health, contentment, and confidence.
Cycling is any day fun, but when asked about his most memorable experience, he smiled as he recollectedcycling all the way to Hetauda through the trails of Makwanpur and Jitpur with his friends. On reaching Jitpur, it was already dark, and they had to stop for the night. The only place they could find was a motel that offered only typical Nepali food,dhido and gundruk, and they had to sleep on straw mats, sukuls, which was definitely undesired after a strenuous ride. His memorable cycling experiences also includes his journey to Melamchifrom Kathmandu alone. However, he had made sure that he had all the preparations done, like cycling in full cycling gear, carrying enough money,some chocolates for instant energy, and taking all safety precautions. He takes care of all these things almost every time he goes for a ride in his cycle.
The AIGP also wondered why Nepali people don’t find joy in cycling, for Nepal is such a beautiful country; the landscape is so enthralling and so challenging for people seeking adventure. Tourists visit Nepal to experience the adventure that lies in her lap; mountain biking is so popular with them, but so unvalued by fellow Nepali people. Nepal is a mountainous country, and mountain bikes are made for places like Nepal. We live in a country where nature is just a cycle ride away, but we look for liberation in fancy and shallow things.
On traveling to remote places in Nepal on his cycle, most people welcome him happily, andmany mistake him to be a foreigner. He feels people find him more familiar and trustworthy when he visits them all geared up in cycle, rather than when he meets them in his uniform and jeep. I was more than delighted to know that he likes meeting and interacting with people, and cycling to places where he can hear what people have to share with him. “If only it was not about security issues, I would happily cycle around the city,” he added. He also stated in between the interview that cycles can be used by most police forces during surveillances around the city. Lane discipline is one of the most important elements in managing Kathmandu’s traffic today, and it would be great if traffic police rode on cycles to manage the traffic.
The post of an AIGP is a huge position, and with position comes huge responsibilities. One has to be mentally and physically active all the time. Amidst all his responsibilities, he makes sure to use his cycle often to commute. He says, “People these days think cycling is old-school and not cool, but I believe commuting on a cycle is the new cool. You save the environment and stay fit at the same time.” According to him, we are living in a society where prosperity is determined by what vehicle one owns or how one commutes. Most people today prefer cars and motor bikes to cycles, but they tend to forget that cycles run on fat and save money, but cars run on money and add fat to your body. Cycling has all pros, you save a lot of money on gas and parking, you stay fit and travel at the same time, and most importantly, you are saving the environment for generations to com. Albert Einstein once said, ‘Life is like riding a bicycle, to keep your balance you must keep moving’. So keep moving, keep cycling!