One of the contemporary stories of interest for people who watch and read news on a daily basis is the ongoing saga of the Tax Settlement Commission and its one-time honcho, Chudamani Sharma. I don’t know if it’s just me or not, but every time I see him on TV or on print media, he has this permanently smug expression which seems particularly unusual for someone in his current predicament.
You needn’t bother with the next few lines of that celebrated song because our country roads are not designed to take us anywhere, never mind home. Around this time every year the monsoon lays bare our infrastructural deficiencies – whether it is the death trap‘roads’ in far flung parts of the country,the only ‘highway’ connecting Kathmandu with the rest of the country or even the major roads in the capital. I’ve been in Nepal for quite a while now and the roads of the capital, in particular, are as bad as I’ve ever seen them.
It has been brought to my attention that a lot of you ‘common’folks are getting worked up over my request to acquire a brand spanking new set of wheels to upgrade my motorcade. My demands have been labelled ‘un-presidented’(and here I was thinking this word only applied to Donald Trump), and many of you have accused me of being greedy, apparently because you pay something called taxes and resent funding my extravagance. Ooh, cry me a river!
These days I’m starting to write so much about our Prime Ministers acting like comedians, I might as well draft a template for future reference. Seriously though, what’s with our prime ministers? Does this penchant for farce come with the post or do we just have the misfortune of being led, in recent history, by a succession of unwitting comedians? By now, everyone must have seen our PM’s ‘angry old man’ performance on Sajha Sawal – a perfect example of unscripted reality TV at its cringe inducing finest. Mercifully, the whole thing had at least one saving grace to it – it made even the most devout Congress ‘bhakts’ disappear from social media for at least a few days.
Outside the gymnasium at my alma mater in Darjeeling stands an electric utility pole with a bullet hole through it – a reminder of the violent ‘Gorkhaland’ agitation that took place in the 1980’s under the leadership of Subhash Ghising. We were told of the time the CRPF (Central Reserve Police Force) had camped in our gymnasium and would often hear stories of skirmishes and bloodshed during the agitation. It’s almost three decades since the end of that campaign and now the hills are alive once again – not with the sound of music but with the echoes of protests.
Our new Home Minister finally ordered the Traffic Police to stop their fledgling initiative of fining jaywalkers. This campaign was rather short lived even after taking into account the transient nature of most initiatives that our traffic police have been associated with. Blink and you probably missed most, if not all of it.
There’s a road near my house which I refer to as ‘election’ road because it only gets maintained and looked after during the build up to elections. At other times, it is left to fall into a state of disrepair with the last cosmetic change (because that’s all that really happens) taking place during the second Constituent Assembly elections.
In life, change is usually not very welcome because it tends to cause upheavals and disrupts the security of the familiar. Politics, however, is an altogether different case. In fact, the whole practice of holding periodical elections in a democracy is to give people the chance to exercise that very right to change. In Nepal, the time is ripe now for change and for newcomers to shake up the political establishment.
On Tuesday April 25th, we marked two years since the earthquake struck Nepal but, for many of us, it felt a lot longer than just two years ago. We have all settled firmly into our normal routines and all the damage around us, the buildings propped up by support beams, feel like it has always been there.
Today should have been a holiday on the occasion of our President’s return from India but the declaration was rolled back by the government owing to public uproar and criticism over their original decision.
The volume on my motorcycle horn has been gradually diminishing for the last couple of weeks and it now sounds like the feeble screeching of a malnourished child. It has the effect of making pedestrians and other motorists give me right of way – probably out of pity. I’ve been thinking of getting it replaced with a slightly louder one but I might be saved the trouble of doing all that because come 2074 BS, we, apparently, won’t be ‘allowed’ to use our horns anymore, if the cops are to be believed.
I don’t know if it’s just me or not but of late, every time I pull up the newspaper we happen to be a part of some ranking or the other. Ok, that was slightly exaggerated but whenever these listings come up (and they do rather frequently), invariably it’s our capital city that crops up in the top tier of these often, undesirable listings. For instance, in February, Kathmandu was ranked as the seventh worst polluted city in the world among 290 cities and now we are at it again.
We, as a nation, are quite the happy bunch, or so it would seem. That is if you believe the World Happiness Report, 2017 released on the International Day of Happiness (Yes, there is such a day in case any of you were wondering) that falls on March 20th.
A few years ago, one of my friends from the UK happened to be in Nepal around this time of the year specifically the fortnight covering the ‘Shivaratri’ and Holi festivals. He hadn’t come here for spiritual reasons (although he may beg to differ), to revel in water or color fights or even to find the ‘meaning of life’ – that curious pursuit that tends to preoccupy a lot of visitors from the western hemisphere.
For as long as I can remember, I have had a particular dislike for the manufactured occasion that is Valentine’s Day and the way it is celebrated or rather, the way we are expected to celebrate it. I wasn’t particularly fond of this day through all the relationships of my younger days and was at best indifferent to it on the occasions that I was single. Being single at least meant that, on that particular day, you could sit and watch the world pass by in a red blur, smug in the knowledge that nothing is expected of you.
There is a Chinese restaurant just off Leicester Square in London that has pretty decent food (if you like the sort of Chinese food that has been tweaked to suit a British palate) but what it is arguably more famous for is its appalling service. Yes, you read that right. It is frequented by people just as much for its brusque service as for its food. Now, in a place like London, an establishment that chooses to dispense with its ‘pleases’ and ‘thank you’s’ might have stumbled upon a unique, if rather risky, selling point.
A good proportion of us, I suspect, have been involved either willingly or reluctantly in educating our older generation about technology, specifically the social media aspects of it. At some point, we might have had to play tech tutor to our old folks – mothers, fathers, in laws, relatives and those of a certain age – playing catch up with many wonders of modern technology.