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Showing posts from June, 2010

JUNG BAHADUR RANA AND THE DANCING DAMSELS - THE SOJOURN IN FRANCE

Prime Minister Jung Bahadur Rana left England for France with a rich treasure trove of memories and an ambition his experiences in Britain had fueled for his own poor and backward nation. He was heartbroken too as he had to leave behind his paramour Laura Bell. Far from the complexities of ruling a highly destabilized country coming so soon after the tumultuous Kot and Bhandarkhal episodes, Jung had truly relaxed in England and had grown fond of the young Irish lass. He wanted to stay longer but the situation back home was unfavourable. Jung was seething with anger that his brother Bom Bahadur who he left behind as officiating prime minister had not been able to take a firm grip on the affairs of state. Even in faraway England he got reports that his enemies were again trying to rear their ugly heads, he would have to smite them with the power of his ingenuity once more. He knew he could not trust his ambitious third brother Badri Narsingh and the one after that Ranoddip was an indeci…

AN ADVENTURER NONPAREIL

There is a community out there in far western Nepal that suspends matrimonial bonds for one week during the festival of Holi, the ageless festival of colors and gaiety Lord Krishna enjoyed with his gopinis in an age before ours. Anything goes, new loves are pursued, new ties are created for a brief period until the festivities end and life comes back to its mundane self. Now don't raise your hopes too high, I did not find this community; I am not an anthropologist. Dana Brown did, or so he claims in voice recorded tapes that have now been digitalized to mp3 and available over the internet!

Dana Drown is the epitome of the great, male, white hunter. In school we read about Allan Quatermain the protagonist of "King Solomon's Mines", the quintessential explorer and Africa lover forever overcoming overwhelming odds in the dark heart of Africa. Dana Brown was the latter day Quatermain exploring the jungles of Africa and South Asia in search of the great big trophies and e…

A WALK WITH FATHER

We Nepalese hiked our hills and dales long before the term "trek", originally an Afrikaans word used by Boers describing journey by ox wagon, caught on to describe a popular form of recreational activity for tourists in the Nepalese mountains. We now credit the Late Colonel Jimmy Roberts, a retired British army officer who made Nepal his home, for introducing this form of tourism in Nepal with his pioneering company aptly named Mountain Travel.

In fact for us Nepalese trekking is a way of life. Whether we are terrace farming in the steep mountain slopes, fetching water, grazing livestock, embarking on pilgrimages to the abode of the Gods, we hike, climb up and climb down as if it were as easy as taking a New York subway. Even entering or leaving the Kathmandu valley was done on foot until the turn of last century over "Char Bhanjyang" or four mountain passes: Sanga, Baad, Pati and Chandragiri passes.

Moreover until as recently as half a century back ordinary folks…

BRAGGING RIGHTS

Growing up in a military household I was privy to all the military awards and decorations my father General Kiran Shumsher J. B. Rana had received during various occasions of his eventful life. As a child I remember looking up at him when he was donning his military uniforms - khaki, olive green, white - as the particular function might warrant. Then the medals came forth from a specially made box and he would proudly wear them across his chest, the miniatures on the epaulets. The Nepalese uniforms then were magnificent, a direct copy of the imperial British uniforms before changes were made making them more modest and less expensive to go with the austere times that followed.

I know that he was justly proud of the decorations he had received. In 1950 during the waning days of the Rana oligarchy he lead a Peace Mission to the Eastern parts of Nepal and in recognition of his services was appointed Deputy Commander-in-Chief of the Royal Nepalese Army. He was awarded the Most Refulgent …