I once had the rather unique experience of being an invigilator for the EPS-TOPIK exams conducted in Kathmandu. For those of you in the dark, the EPS TOPIK is the official language exams that you need to clear to be eligible for employment in South Korea. Over the two days that the exams were held, I met Nepalis – by the busload – from every geographical area or, as the politicians are often fond of saying, from Mechi to Mahakali. The busload point is rather important because these folks came from far-flung areas, not in trickles but in droves, in organized systematic fashion.
It has been a feature of the eating out/dining experience in Nepal for as long as I can remember – actually for as long as I can remember since I started paying the bills. It’s one half of every Nepali’s carefully considered ‘plus- plus’ calculation – something we remember to factor in either consciously or sub-consciously when browsing through different menus or poring through different offers for events, wedding receptions, and what have you.
They say you can get a sense of the beauty of any city from the air – the bright lights, the roads, houses, greenery, landmark monuments and the like. If you are the sort of person who likes the window seat on airplanes (which I do) you would have noticed these details as you come in to land at most airports around the world. When it comes to Kathmandu, it’s a bit, err, different, for lack of a better word. Whereas in other cities you might see neat streets at right angles, well lit roads, and some semblance of planning, over here what greets you is just a grey jumble of concrete houses like Lego blocks and what can only be described as a textbook case of haphazard, unchecked urbanization. And all of this visibility is only during daylight hours. At night, it’s near impossible trying to spot anything from the air.
It might not even be realistically possible for someone to enjoy themselves even with only two weddings in a day but, at the very least, these functions should not feel like an obligation. We should start thinking of operating on a ‘invite people who matter’ basis instead of being driven by a ‘feed as many people as we can’ mentality.
There are a lot of peculiarities that contribute to making us ‘quintessentially Nepali’. Among the more stranger of these quirks, as I realized midway through a conversation last week, is our love for records. Apparently, we love our records because it gives us a sense of achievement and pride, both individual and collective that we perhaps lack from other spheres in life, say sports or science.
Our Prime Minister has been in the news recently for some rather peculiar reasons. It all started off with the ‘larger than life’, allegedly taxpayer funded bout of self-indulgence that was the posters, advertisements and billboard spaces rented for the rollout of the Social Security Scheme. Honestly, all of it might have been quite enough to make Kim Jong-Un jealous! If its intent, as many suspect, was to promote a ‘cult of personality’, then it’s safe to say that it backfired massively.
KATHMANDU, Nov 30: We love doing things with a little – sometimes a lot – of fanfare even though we may not have a lot to shout about. No, I’m not talking about our dear PM Oli’s face being plastered all over the front pages of newspapers on Tuesday and all around the city in what was a monumental waste of taxpayer’s money. You know a government has reached its low point when this is the sort of thing they have to resort to in order to make their ‘presence’ felt.
Tihar is a celebration of not only humans but also animals (dogs, crows and cows) but, over the last couple of years, it has been the day of the dog mainly that has been hogging the social media limelight. My social media feed has been peppered these past few weeks with pictures of Mexicans celebrating ‘Kukur Tihar’, complete with flowers, garlands and assorted powders.
There’s something wonderful about the approach to the turn of the year – especially the month of November. It’s not the magical lights of various festivals like Diwali or Christmas or the gradual onset of winter but the festival discounts that have come to be seen as the hallmark of the season. If you watch TV (or even if you don’t) or dabble in social media, the scent of commercialization is unmistakable – films release around this time of the year and there are bumper deals to be had on everything from mobile phones to electronics to cars.
What really is Dashain without a Dashain hangover? I’m not talking about the inevitable (for some) booze induced headaches but the general state of lethargy after the festival – the quieter streets, the slowly diminishing reserves of left over mutton and sweets, packing all the playing cards, taking stock of our expanded waistlines and the general sense of life, slowly but surely, limping back to normal.
Many people, including our decision makers, understand any type of porn, by its very nature, to be misogynistic but that is not necessarily the case. Violent or misogynistic porn is a small proportion of what is actually viewed and when you compare that with the sheer volume that is consumed, it helps put things in perspective.
It’s that time of the year again. Dashain is in the air and so are all of the season’s accompaniments – a general sense of anticipation and indolence among the working populace, a chilly bite in the air during the morning and evenings, people going about planning their travels and shopping duties and last, but certainly not the least, our government agencies conducting their annual market monitoring farce.
All of us role played some version of the game ‘chor-police’ (cops and robbers) while growing up. In our minds, there was a clear demarcation of the black (evil) and white (good) in terms of cops and robbers embodying certain values – it was always the good police vs. the bad robbers. Those were much simpler times. Now, if we fast forward to the current climate, it is really hard to tell the good guys from the bad. In every incident of note from the immediate past, whether it is the gold smuggling case or the Nirmala Pant rape and murder case, our cops have been found wanting – in terms of their character, competence, and duty to the public. In colloquial Nepali, ‘chor-police’ now sounds more like a description of our entire police force rather than a kid’s game.
How can you tell when it’s Dashain in Kathmandu? When there are no people around and it resembles a ghost town. Admittedly this phenomenon has declined over the years due to shorter holidays and the hassle of traveling, but that still doesn’t stop a mass exodus from taking place every year during this festival. This brief seasonal migration from Kathmandu is in danger of not happening at all this year, if the tussle between the government and transport ‘entrepreneurs’ is not resolved in the near future.
While a lot of these so-called helmet doctors and their affiliated hospitals aren’t exactly a credit to the profession or the field of medicine, no one deserves to work with the sword of Damocles hanging over their head.
Another year, another round of dignitaries visiting us, and another summit to host! This time it’s the impressively named Bay of Bengal Initiative for Multi-Sectoral Technical and Economic Cooperation or BIMSTEC as it is widely known. Or not! A lot of folks around here generally don’t know about BIMSTEC because unlike SAARC it wasn’t really a part of their school syllabus. It’s the sort of thing you would have an interest in if you were a specialist in regional initiatives, were directly involved or indirectly employed by them, or in my case (and I suspect for many others too) attempted the Lok Sewa exams a fair few times.
The Oli government has recently made public their list of ‘achievements’ of the last five months or so. Some big brain within the current government thought they needed some positive vibes flowing through the populace after all the negativity of the Dr KC fiasco and general dissatisfaction with the ineptitude of the government. Presumably, this was the sort of PR stunt that could not have waited even a month more in which case they would have had a little more time to actually accomplish something.
In our part of the world, protests are predated by an incident that touches a nerve with the public. The calls for justice are then followed by the usual administrative apathy or a coarse and insensitive statement from some elected official which then leads to people taking to the streets.
These days, it’s getting increasingly hard to tell what is genuine and what is not. Now we have instances of ‘fake rescues’ being carried out by trekking companies in collusion with helicopter operators and hospitals in order to swindle insurance companies.
The vibes emanating from the two opposing camps currently couldn’t be more different. As I write this, Dr KC’s supporters have continued to press their case the only way they can while the communist party sympathizers and ‘investors’ have been letting loose with their own brand of trash talk. All of this undoubtedly stems from a sense of frustration at how Dr KC’s movement has been able to ignite the public at large and, now with their backs pushed against the wall, this type of verbal garbage is all our so called communists can muster.