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Showing posts from March, 2009


Ex-Crown Prince Paras gave an interview to the Singapore based The New Paper on Sunday trying to explain the motives behind cousin Dipendra's actions of blowing away the Nepalese monarchy. A combination of frustrations had befuddled the mind: an ill-starred matrimonial proposal, a lucrative gun deal that would not transpire and a monarchy that was withering away due to a calamitous, in his view, inaction of his father. The interview seems to have stirred a hornet's nest with old palace officials like Sanu Bhai Dangol, an un-named retired lieutenant general, a military secretary in the palace who was fired and the Maoist leader "Ananta", et all throwing in their two-bit insight. What is significant here is that the conspiracy theory refuges to go away with the prime minister calling for a new probe commission into the palace massacre 8 years after the incident took place. When the truth is stranger than fiction it challenges credibility.

There are other famous stories …


There was a loud drone of an aircraft as it flew high above our campsite close to midnight. "Where is this plane coming from?" asked my father rhetorically. Of course, no one knew the answer in the Nepali night sky of 1971. It was not a commercial flight. Night flying then was not allowed as the airport in Kathmandu was not fitted with radar. We were in a hunting camp near Butwal. Actually, I remember that we were in between two camps, an earlier client had finished his hunting and we were waiting for the next client of the season.

After retiring from the military as Commander-in-chief of the Nepalese army back in 1956 my father General Kiran Shumsher J. B. Rana secured royal permission and started a hunting company named Nepal Shikar Pvt. Ltd. It was licensed to conduct hunts in selected hunting reserves for the big game hunters coming from America and Europe. It was both a business as well as a pastime for my father who was an avid hunter.

In the capacity of the military c…


You know something is wanting in personal aesthetic standards when you start finding Dhaka beautiful or it may be on account of how far Kathmandu has fallen from the Shangri-La of yore. During my recent visit I noticed that Dhaka is green today and relatively clean, adjectives we can seldom use to describe our own city. The promise of Nepalese tourism is put on hold when the journey is better than arriving, an irony not lost on the travelers convinced that Nepal has three religions, Hinduism, Buddhism and 'Tourism'.

It was not always so. Probably the first traveler to arrive in Kathmandu and leave behind memoirs about his travel was the Chinese scholar of Buddhism, Huen Tsang (603-644 A.D.), who arrived in Kathmandu in the 7th Century. Suitably impressed he describes Kailasa-Kuta Palace of the Licchavi rulers in Deopatan, located somewhere in between Bodhnath and Pashupatinath. The king Amsuvarman had built an imposing seven story structure and ornamented it with gems and pea…


For five hundred years after the completion of Leonardo da Vinci's masterpiece debate raged in art history circles on just who might the lady with the enigmatic smile be. Was she a historical figure or just a figment of da Vinci's imagination? Only in 2005 did experts at the University of Heidelberg ascertain that it was the painting of Lisa Gherardini, the wife of a wealthy businessman in Florence. Paeans galore have been written about her smile but the song by Nat King Cole best describes the enigma:

Mona lisa, mona lisa, men have named you
You’re so like the lady with the mystic smile
Is it only ’cause you’re lonely they have blamed you?
For that mona lisa strangeness in your smile?

Do you smile to tempt a lover, mona lisa?
Or is this your way to hide a broken heart?
Many dreams have been brought to your doorstep
They just lie there and they die there
Are you warm, are you real, mona lisa?
Or just a cold and lonely lovely work of art?

In our own family there is a mystery I am …