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Showing posts from October, 2009

MUSINGS ON THE NON-RESIDENT NEPALIS

The "Lahures" were the first Non-Resident Nepalis conscripted in the Punjabi army of Maharjah Ranjit Singh at Lahore after the 1806 A.D. conflagration between Nepal and the Punjab. The "Lion" of Punjab was suitably impressed by the bravery and fierce-minded independence of the hill tribes of Nepal. They were the precursors to the "Gurkhas", conscripts in the British forces in India from the hills of Nepal. These soldiers, for over two centuries, have brought back their experiences, indomitable spirit and life savings to the motherland after retirement. The pension they get from the British and the Indian armies plays a significant role in modernizing the high mountain hamlets these soldiers left behind.

The progenies of the brave Gurkhas can be found in many places of the erstwhile empire. Besides India there are significant settlements in Singapore, Malaysia, Brunei and Burma and so on. These third or fourth generation Nepalese have taken local citizenshi…

RUMINATIONS ON FLYING BUSINESS CLASS

Undoubtedly one of the great signs of social comeuppance is the privilege of flying Business Class. We see a cross-section of Nepalese society from the old landed aristocracy to the arriveste class of the New Nepal, from the "banksters" to the republicans fighting for the deprived regularly flying business class. "Cattle class", as opined by none other than Shashi Tharoor the ex-UN man, now India's rising star, is how the hoi polloi fly - those unencumbered by fat bank balance, "source and force" or overarching social ambition.

Business Class to me conjures up images of roomy seating in half-empty cabins, discreet service by alluring air hostesses, the pop of a Champagne bottle uncorking, heavenly meal consisting of seafood hors d'oeuvre followed by succulent New Zealand lamb entrĂ©e. There is, of course, a choice of fine red or white accompanying and selected movies in personal screens to while away the flying time. Importantly there is this subli…

THE GHOSTS FROM MY PAST

The Headless Horseman, Murkatta in Nepali, was the bogeyman conjured up by Nimbu Didi every time she wanted to frighten me into submission. The mere thought of this Netherworld being shut me up promptly and I meekly ate the uneatable porridge, or drank the untimely glass of milk or went to sleep when it was still playtime. Murkatta was galloping amok at the Kalo Pul, the Black Bridge constructed by Prime Minister Jung Bahadur Rana bridging the Patan side of town to Kathmandu at Teku. I could imagine this fearsome creature stealing past sentries into Kiran Bhawan, my father's mansion, at midnight looking for me. I used to shudder at the mere thought of it. The Pachali Bhairab Temple near the Black Bridge was the least of my favorite deities simply because the place was too spooky to explore. They told me one of the martyrs was hanged there. Even during my teens I never dared drive across that forlorn bridge, day or night.

The Nepalese ghosts have so much in similarity with those i…

A LETTER FROM CHINA

The first impressions I had of Red China was from reading the “China Reconstructs” propaganda news-magazine periodically sent by the Chinese Embassy to my father. The magazine featured cherubic female workers and heroic male counterparts leaping forward in revolutionary pirouettes. The workers’ paradise in the making had happy looking peasants tilling the soil, a sickle in one hand and the ubiquitous Red Book of Chairman Mao for inspiration in the other. There were photographs of factories producing steel, giant excavation works leveling mountains, digging tunnels and damming the mighty Yangtse River.


Having been schooled in the English medium St. Xavier’s Godavari School run by Jesuits, I knew that what the magazine purported to show was probably not true. China was most likely a backward developing country producing shoddy goods and shameless utopia. After all we could see what was available at the state run National Trading Corporation’s warehouses and shops in Kathmandu. Mao’s th…