May 31, 2020
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Say "Sardarji", and the stereotype that pops up is positive: a man who's umbilically linked to the transport business (truck driver, auto dealer) and who's trustworthy, hardworking and brave.

"We taught the Nepalis how to drive trucks and lorries on the long and winding roads of the Mahendra highway, built in the sixties," says Mahendra Singh, who came here from India as a 24-year-old in 1958 to become the first general manager of Nepal Public Motor Service (npms). Owned by Pritam Singh, this was the first private bus service in Nepal.

So many years down the road, the 1,200 Sikhs who are estimated to live in Nepal are eagerly awaiting April 13, 1999. In Lalitpur district in Kathmandu, the 27-year-old gurudwara has been renovated and given a new coat of paint for the occasion. Gurudwara priest Charanjit Singh says: "Eight years ago when I first came here, I felt out of place because I would be the only person on the bus sporting a turban. Now I've got used to standing out."

Adds retired engineer and tricentennial celebration committee member, Hardayal Singh, 60: "The celebration may continue for seven days, but it will peak between April 12-April 14. We expect to spend about Rs 3.75 lakh." Check the roads: while some Sikhs who live in the south of Nepal will be going to nearby gurudwaras in India, there should be a steady stream of Sikhs wending their way to Kathmandu. For these seven days at least, Charanjit Singh should feel completely at home.

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