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Showing posts from August, 2009

PHOTO ESSAY

Perhaps the Allied Victory Parade in London held on 10th of June 1946 was the Swan Song of the British Empire before it started unraveling a year later with the independence of India (and Pakistan). Looking at the photograph of the Nepalese contingent led by my father Major General Kiran Shumsher J. B. Rana marching past the grandstand where King George VI is taking the salute, I can only marvel at the empire that was! How soldiers from the Himalayan foothills found their common cause with the rest of the empire, fighting in Gallipoli, Monte Casino and Burma is well documented in history.

I recently read an acerbic columnist asserting that the Nepalese contribution to quash the Sepoy Mutiny of 1857 was the act of a vassal state. A nation must act to protect its own interest first and foremost. If our present day leaders were as far-sighted as Jung Bahadur, Nepal would not be unraveling today!

FAUX PAS

After a season of faux pas highlighted by the foreign minister's itchy throat preventing her from joining the prime ministerial delegation to India and the prime minister raising a toast to "Prime Minister and Madam Manmohan Adhikari of India" in New Delhi, it is a timely exercise to try to recall some more in our history.

The first Vice President of the Republic of Nepal took his oath of office in Hindi. This faux pas could not be overlooked by serious minded Nepalese who took it as an affront to Nepali nationhood. The Supreme Court ordered him to retake the oath in Nepali. The Vice President refused to do so keeping the President and most of the cabinet members waiting in vain at the anointed place and time. To draw on an analogy often used to describe Nepal the country, the erstwhile VP is now like a yam between Madhesi militancy and Nepali righteousness; not a comfortable spot to be boxed in.I recall Maharajah Juddha's own faux pas in his time as the prime ministe…

MINDING OUR MANNERS

This article is dedicated to Fr. James J. Donnelly, S. J. (1929-2009) and his Brown Bomber
There is an anecdotal story of a Western salesman coming to Nepal and showing his ware to prospective buyers. Every time the salesman asked whether they liked something, the Nepalese traders would shake their heads from side to side. The salesman soon left very disappointed, never knowing that the Nepalese were absolutely pleased by what they saw and their appreciative head-shake meant "Yes, we like it!" Rudyard Kipling wrote, "Oh, East is East, and West is West, and never the twain shall meet" in his eponymous ballad. Indeed our manners and mores can be confusing to others.

Westerners are alarmed by the habit of the Nepalese sticking their tongues out looking like reincarnated goddess Kali destroying the demon Mahisasura, especially if they have been chewing paan, betel leaves. They need not be alarmed; it is a simple expression of shock intermingling with relief indicating t…