A road rage incident a few months ago compelled me to face up to my anger issues. The incident in question didn’t involve me – I witnessed it from afar – but being a spectator to the ensuing eruption of rage and hot tempered exchanges, I couldn’t help but recognize myself. I’ve got a problem with anger – being both easily irritable and also susceptible to angry outbursts that almost always seem to come out of the blue.
My fellow, long-suffering Kathmandu valley residents! Have you heard the good news? Well, fear not if you haven’t because yours truly is going to take the trouble to summarize it all for you. Are you ready? Ok then, here we go!
Monsoons in Nepal are a bit like the Hollywood film, Groundhog Day. The basic narrative of the film is that a weatherman finds himself reliving the same day over and over again. In our case, it’s us reliving the monsoons in exactly the same manner – year after year, after frustrating year. The monsoon brings with it a deluge in more ways than one – not only in the form of floods and landslides but a steady stream of bad news as accidents and weather related tragedies and stories of displacement unfold in various parts of the country.
Now all of us in Kathmandu can add one more item to the list of things that could potentially kill us. If the air quality or the killer roads don’t get you, the fruits and vegetables surely will! But we already knew that.
In our country, civil servants have traditionally had it good and developments over the years are a testament to that fact. They enjoy the sort of job security that can only be dreamt of in the modern age, year on year increments in every budget, a mind-boggling array of allowances to milk the state for and protection through the newly formed employees union (political neutrality be damned) – to name just a few.
The battle may be won but the war is far from over – not only the struggle for preserving culture, tradition and a certain way of life but also for freedom of expression, justice and rule of law, which are all under threat.
It’s that time of the year again when we start to fret about the condition of our roads. To be honest, we do that all year round anyway but with the monsoon almost upon us a sense of despair takes over. Where roads exist, even the slightest downpour turns everything into a dirt-filled lake and where roads don’t exist, it’s all just muddy slush and dangerous conditions.
It’s a sensitive age that we seem to be living in. I was following the flare up between various representatives of the Nepali film industry and the aspiring comedian Pranesh Gautam, resulting from the latter’s less than flattering review of the film Bir Bikram 2.
This Republic Day passed just like all the other days that we designate to commemorate important national milestones, with the sort of lukewarm remembrance that borders on indifference. Apart from presenting the budget of the government, by the government, and for the government, there wasn’t a whole lot that happened during the day.
My social media feed these days is full of images and snapshots of the more picturesque parts of Nepal. A lot of young people over the last few years seem to have taken up traveling – off the beaten path and away from the traditional Kathmandu–Pokhara–Chitwan–Lumbini circuit into more of natural Nepal.
Not the temples, nor the monasteries, palaces or even the historical architecture – it’s the all-permeating dust that has come to define us. When we leave Kathmandu, we heave a sigh of relief just grateful to be away from all the dust. Conversely, when we re-enter the capital, the overwhelming feeling is “here we go again with all the dust and pollution”. This dust is something everyone in the valley quite literally feels – as fine grit in our teeth, face and hair and covering just about any surface anywhere.
As we celebrated World Press Freedom Day on May 3, Nepal’s position in the World Press Freedom Index – an assessment of the entire eco-system in which journalists operate – remained unchanged at 106 out of a total of 180 countries.
This country is going to the dogs and, if anyone needed any convincing, then a brief glance at the news over the past year ought to do it. Our news feed seems to be filled with a never-ending assortment of scams. Over the past week it has been all about land – from the Lalita Niwas land scam to the blatant appropriation of public space at Khula Manc
At first, the kid seemed like any other kid his age – head down engrossed in his mobile phone as we sat in a hotel lobby. Then started what can only be described as frantic, almost hysterical screaming at his phone as he started relaying instructions to someone via his earpiece imploring them to go left, right, or kill.
The road near my friend’s house has been dug up and left as it is for the last few months. Every time I ride my bike through that road, all I can think of is what a nightmare it is going to be during the monsoons and if anything at all is being done about it. I’m not alone in wondering if anything is actually being done for the capital at large in terms of managing roads and general maintenance of public property and spaces.
Our President recently made a trip to the United States to attend a high level UN summit and one only hopes, for the sake of the taxpayer contributions used to fund the trip, that something actually materializes out of it. However, the most intriguing aspect of her trip for us common Nepalis was not so much the flight from Nepal to the US but the short trip – well, at least for her – from Sheetal Niwas to the airport.
Today is International Women’s Day and as working women all over the country kick back and relax (hopefully), it’s time to re-visit the recurring theme for today. In the case of Nepal, it is the same every year – a commemoration of our journey to this point in time or, in other words, a reminder of just how far we have come in terms of women’s rights and empowerment.
This week saw yet another tragic case of a Nepali student drowning in Australia. Over the past few years, we have read and heard about what seems like more than sporadic instances of drowning deaths in other countries – of young lives lost either due to misadventure or a lack of grounding in water related activities.