Nepali folk songs are a fascinating blend of rhythm, melody and poetic lyrics. And it is the harmony of these three important musical elements that makes departing tourists hum ‘Resham Firiri’ under their face masks even when a thermal gun is pointed at their foreheads. What makes the song so hummable is that the beat goes exactly like ‘Buffalo Soldier’. But it may also be the deep symbolism in the lyrics, as seen in this second stanza of the chorus:
एकनाले बन्दूक, दुईनाले बन्दूक, मृगलाई ताकेको,
मृगलाई मैले ताकेको हैन, मायालाई डाकेको ।
One-barrel gun, two-barrel gun, aiming at a deer.
I ain’t aiming at no deer.
I’m aiming at you, my dear.
The words are laden with latent longing, and the poignant juxtaposition of gun violence and love lends the song an ominous sense of foreboding in these troubled times. Another vintage folk song evokes nostalgia for a time when the world was young, and love was innocent:
ए कान्छा, मलाई सुनको तारा खसाइदेऊ न,
त्यो तारा मात्र हैन, जून पनि झरी दिउँला ।
She: Hey Dude, get my gold ring through the metal-free x-ray
He: Not just your ring, I’ll even smuggle 33kg of gold for you
See? Nepali folk songs may sound like they are all about love, but they carry hidden messages. Another popular tune imparts information about the significance of the birds and bees in cross-pollination:
म माहुरी हुँ राधा,
तिमी आँप मञ्जरी हौ ।
Radha, I am your honey bee
And you are a mango tree.
And there is this one:
रातो टीका निधारमा टलक्क टल्कियो,
छातीभित्र मायाको आगो सल्कियो ।
Red dot on your forehead shining brightly,
Flame of love in my chest burning fiercely.
Oh, electricity wire, wire, wire
Let’s meet on Saturday, if you’re not tied up already.
A song seemingly about unrequited love actually underlines the importance of high-voltage transmission lines in the MCC, and how without grid connectivity we may face load-shedding again on Saturdays. Hydropower is a recurring theme in Nepali folk songs, as we can see in this next one:
माया तिम्लाई सम्झन्छु दिनको रात
मस्र्याङ्दी सलल ।
Beloved betel leaf,
I think of you day and night
In the Marsyangdi powerhouse.
Even this smash hit has a hidden message:
घाँस काट्ने खुर्केर, आयो जोवन हुर्केर
कसलाई दिउँ यो जोवन ?
I have grass, pot is legal again, yay!
Want me to roll you a joint?
Some folk songs are about river beds ideal for boulder mining:
ढुङ्गे बगर दाजै, ढुङ्गे बगर
माया छँदैछ, हल्ला नगर ।
Rocky bugger, bro, rocky bugger
Sign the MoU, and I’ll pay you hush money.