Among various people I caught up with at the Vajrayana Conference (a very good conference by the way. Thank you, CBS), I was particularly moved to meet Dasho Megraj Gurung – a red scarf officer, and an icon of his time.
The first time I met him was in 1981 when I was studying in Kharbandi school. Me and my friends were strolling along the highway near the school when a tall gentleman jumped out of a dusty truck with a simple jola (bag). “Hey, boys! Are you studying here?” he asked us. We replied, “Yes, Sir!” “Is Father Thomas in?” he continued. Father AP Thomas was our Principal in that school that was run by the Selesians of Don Bosco. We replied, yes, and offered to take him to his living quarter since it was Sunday. We had nothing better to do anyway.
As we were walking, he continued, “I couldn’t get a seat on BGTS, so I took a ride on the back of that truck carrying potatoes,” he told us. The way he narrated had us all laugh. As we kept walking, I started thinking, ‘Who is this guy speaking a perfect English and getting off a truck carrying potatoes.’ Those days anyone who spoke good English were high officials and they always came around in a Jeep (the top pool vehicle of its time). We continued walking with him and answering to his queries about what we studied and what we wanted to be in life. It was very informal and, besides, he cracked jokes about himself and his school days – making us laugh our life out.
When we reached our destination, Father Thomas rushed out of his quarter and greeted, “Good afternoon, Dasho Megraj. What a surprise visit!” They shook hands and started talking and we were all like “Dasho?” We looked at each other, partly amused and partly embarrassed to have not followed the set decorum for a high official. So we slowly tried slipping away when he called us out again, “Thank you, boys, for bringing me here.” This time we just bowed and slowly slided away – giggling at each other.
In the years and decades that followed, when our paths often crossed in government meetings and social gatherings and academic conferences, I always looked at him with the same kiddish smile towards a person who was as humble and humorous as when I first met him – and yet had the depth of knowledge and wisdom that are second to none.
Despite his age, I am so happy to see him still active – attending academic events and smiling and making me laugh still.
Wishing him a long and a cherrful life.