Jung Bahadur had decided to cut short his European sojourn by leaving Germany and Imperial Russia for a second visit. France was all that he would be able to manage for now. He was an ardent fan of Napoleon Bonaparte who Jung believed forged a great nation out of the quagmire of the French Revolution. Jung Bahadur Rana had started to model himself after the great conqueror to make Nepal united and strong. He also knew that he might have to forge a stronger relationship with the French should the British back stab him and break the treaty signed at Sugauly in 1816 AD. Jung was born a year later. As a small wide-eyed lad Jung had sat on his maternal grand uncle Prime Minister Bhimsen Thapa's laps and listened to stories of the Anglo-Nepal Wars with tears of frustration and humiliation streaming down the old man's face. Jung had taken a solemn oath that he would never allow Nepal to be further drawn and quartered during his watch. Jung was thus delighted that he would be meeting the nephew of the great man himself to forge ties! Prince Louis Bonaparte had been elected the first President of France in 1848 A.D. and now, two years later, Jung was being feted with state honours by such an historic personality.
|Jung Bahadur being welcomed by the French President|
Jardin Mabille was the place gentlemen discreetly went to see the courtesans and the dancing girls. It was the center of fashion and a garden of pleasure. Gorgeously dressed high society ladies bedecked in fine jewellery were seen promenading. There was music, gaiety and a circus. Jung Bahadur did not demur when his kind hosts suggested that he visit this place with such a wild reputation. It was a matter of "noblesse oblige" for the eastern potentate whose reputation of profligacy had crossed the English Channel before him. What Jung did not anticipate was that there might be a few more Laura Bell wannabes waiting in ambush.
An affair followed to the chagrin of Jung's retinue including his brothers Jagat and Dhir who thought it best to hush it. Henceforth, wherever Jung visited Lola was not far behind. In a short while she was already a part of Jung's Nepalese contingent. It was rumored that Lola spoke broken Hindi, perhaps her parents had served in India, which made Jung's conversation with her less tiring than with Laura Bell. Jung had a lighter step henceforth.
Jung Bahadur was invited to the famous ballet running at the time, "Le Violon du Diable". The dancing star was the famous Fanny Cerrito, the Italian ballerina much sought after by ballet aficionados of the period. She had started her career in Naples in 1832 and then danced from the Russian Imperial court at St. Petersburg to a command performance of Queen Victoria in London. To the delight of the dancer and surprise of the hosts, Jung Bahadur presented a baju bracelet studded with expensive jewels to the star dancer. Tongues started wagging.
But all good things had to come to an end and after spending two delightful months of August and September 1850 A.D. in France, Jung finally set sail from Marseilles to Alexandria. From his historic visit he brought back European manners and mores, their architecture, the Civil Code (Muluki Ain), and a conviction that Nepal must look outward and transform itself into a great regional powerhouse. Or else Jung concluded, watching the Egyptian coastline slowly appear over the horizon, the Gorkhalis would be history just as the Pharaohs of Egypt had become.
|Jung Bahadur Rana in a French newspaper of the time.|