Print Edition - 2017-11-19  |  Free the Words

A look into the Wild West

  • Culture and heritage have to be preserved so we can learn about the civilisations of our origin
- UMESH SHAKYA

Nov 19, 2017-A long drive to Bonnie Springs, Nevada to see an outlaw named Mad Dog being hanged as part of a re-enactment was tiresome, but informative nonetheless. It revealed a vivid representation of the life and death situations the local Sheriffs endured every day while maintaining law and order in the towns of the Wild West. 

The place was once occupied by Native Americans, and how they lived in such an arid environment is a mystery. Looking around the area, cacti, the desert, the shrubs and spectacular views of Red Rock were the only things you could see for miles around.  

When I approached the train station, an elderly, bald headed man at the train depot on the hill waved at me and said “Howdy, partner! Hurry up, and hop on the train. The train is about to leave now.”  So I hopped on and took a seat that was rock hard. The noise of the train was so loud it made my ears hurt, and the train ride itself was also very uncomfortable. Yet despite these problems, I was grateful that this old and faithful train was still running. Fifteen minutes into the journey, the train stopped at the ‘lawless’ town—my intended stop. I was excited to be in a place where the “Wild West” glory comes to life. On the train’s platform, a cowboy came out of nowhere. He was dressed in black from top to bottom and was equipped with the standard stuff a cowboy is supposed to have: a gun, a holster, and boots with spurs. He appeared angry and aggressive. Only later did he finally reveal his identity and admit that his act had been a part of the experience.  

Back in time 

The re-enactments show visitors the grim reality of the old Wild West. I spent most of the day walking around, watching the sheriff rounding up bad guys, hanging some of them in the gallows, and maintaining law and order. Wild West items on display included old looking hotels, saloons, a blacksmith workshop, horse stables, and stagecoaches. 

I was exploring the town and taking pictures with my iPhone along the way. Suddenly, someone put a gun to my back and told me, “Hands up!”  When I turned around to see who he was, I saw another mean looking cowboy, dressed in black, pointing a gun at me. He said, “Who are you shooting at?” I froze as I tried to comprehend what he was referring to.  I did not have a gun. I stumbled over my response and said, “I’m only shooting with a camera, sir.” Hearing my answer, he grinned and asked who I was. At that point, I finally figured out that he too, had just put on an act. So, I responded, “My name is Doc Holiday, and I came from Tombstone, Arizona, to give you boys a helping hand in catching the outlaws in town.” Hearing this, he laughed and said, “Welcome to our town, partner. We do need extra hands to help us out.” 

I went on my way and stopped at the wax museum to see realistic scenes of the Native American way of life, coal miners digging the tunnels, and statues of brave Native Americans. The history of the town is well preserved in a variety of ways, including through a live performance of the hanging of Mad Dog. I went inside a saloon, built in 1871, to see everything perfectly preserved—there was a bar, a well decorated stage where ladies used to perform musical shows to entertain guests, poker tables, wooden wagon-wheel light fixtures, and even an old piano. This dusty old town mesmerised me so much that I lost track of the time. Soon enough, I had to return to catch the faithful old train for the trip back to my car. 

My reflections

On the way home, I thought about Nepal and how our county is doing too little to preserve heritage sites and our history. And also how all the effort is too late. I also compared it to the way my experience that day had taught me so much about life in the Wild West as part of that area’s culture and history and I found that such initiatives are sorely missing in Nepal. It was extremely unfortunate that the earthquake on April 25th, 2015 destroyed many of our prominent landmarks; however, had the monuments and heritage sites received maintenance and upkeep on a regular basis, the destruction might have been minimal. It is sad that reconstruction work of the Balgopal Temple inside Ranipokhari has been halted due to a dispute between government agencies and communities over construction specifications and so is reconstruction of the 11th  century Kasthamandap. 

Nepal boasts of its glorious history but falls short in preserving what should be handed down from generation to generation. Nepal could learn from other countries about the preservation, reconstruction, renovation and promotion of cultural heritages that depict civilisations of past and in their glory. Nepal has to take a page out of the books of other countries, and preserve our national culture and heritage, much like the old Wild West experience has been preserved in Bonnie Springs, Nevada.   

- Shakya is associated with the Clark County Water District, USA as a GIS Analyst 

Published: 19-11-2017 07:35

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