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Hitesh Karki


The Nepali in me

-Hitesh Karki

I get irked and peeved with no one but myself. And quite frankly I do not think anyone needs any reason these days to feel irritated for that’s the only thing you can find in abundance, every thing else is in short supply. In the course of last couple of days, I had a chance to catch up with two of my closest friends from college, one a financial consultant in Melbourne and other a project manager working in some software firm in Boston. I am sure you would not be interested in knowing what the long lost friends discussed over cups of coffees and mugs of beer during that period and hence would not attempt to do so. However the thing that came up after the discussions is something that prompted me to get started with this writing. And that’s how I got irked with myself again.

May be it’s the whole situation, or the ageing process, that unlike yester years where politics was something that featured least in our conversations, these days its something we just have to discuss. Even if it means we end up laughing at each other, which often is the case, we do discuss these issues.

And quite frankly it’s not the constituent assembly elections that we talk about but the caucuses and the primaries; it’s the Super Tuesday and Obama’s ‘hope effusing’ website. I know the dates of those elections and local elections are something I do not think will take place at all and hence I easily forget the dates of this third attempt election. Seconds later we take turn to give each updates on the work. The servers I work are in America and I he good fortune of reminding him of the Memorial Day holiday and yet not know when exactly the Martyrs day is.

Days later after both of them have left, the whole local vs foreign thing sticks in my brain just in the manner Malcolm Gladwell describes ‘stickiness factor’ in his book. In my ride through the streets of Putalisadak all I notice is Shankar Dev getting lost in the crowd of Australian and American college agents offering all kinds of what not degrees. I look at the throngs of hopeful students with copies of Graded Test books in their hands. I get this feeling that they probably would know the intricate details of admission process of those colleges and probably are completely oblivious as to how one gets into one of the TU colleges. I pause to think for a moment only to discover that neither do I.

On one of the occasions I get a copy of form to fill in a typical Nepal government office and all I care about is why the form is in Nepali, where is the English version of it. And moreover it’s not the fact that information that not in English version of it that irks me but the fact that why it’s not available online! Bored to death of the fact that it took me almost a day to get this particular certificate from that office I go home to watch some telly before dozing off. I just flick through the channels, subconsciously remembering Springsteen sing his song “57 channels and nothing on”, and it’s not any one of the half a dozen locals channels that I end up with. It’s bound to be some stupid breaking news of some place, more than often it’s CNN or some foreign.

Reading a daily sports update from a daily before getting started with day’s work or watching some sports round ups, all you care to know is where Beckham is hanging around these days. You get to know that he is with Arsenal hoping that Cappello will include him in the England squad, and you still have no clue what is happening to your own domestic league. And the big photo of some Kesari Chowdhary does not hold your attention. Rather your sympathies are with Marion Jones who you care about, for she’s not only happens to be someone whom you not only are but also know very well.

Often you feel the rage as why exactly things are not happening but the way people are, often the students, are reacting the way they are buy turning streets into a fireplace. You wonder as to how people can even afford to spend their entire day roaming thru the streets, shouting some slogans depending on the flags they are carrying and, not worry as to what their bosses might say.

You have this master slave attitude etched in your head and cant help wondering how life can be so simple and free without you having to take the pains of reporting your work by eob to your boss. To you, it just looks completely irresponsible and more over a jobless herd. For you, the prices of fuel should be hiked up anyway as the current structure defies basics of economics, buying price always greater than the selling price. And if someone asks you how you think those thousands of Nepalese, if not millions, will survive, with a full day’s earning spent on a liter of kerosene, you have no logical answer and resort to fumbling in a similar fashion of those politicians. (Who you always think are bunch of thugs)

The terai is burning. That’s the notion, in fact the only notion that you seem to have of terai, nothing more and nothing less. Bandh or no bandh, you begin to get this notion that terai is always a bandh. And quite frankly you do not seem to give a thought as to what all is going on. Bombs, shootings, they are a commonplace. At work, you rather choose to talk Heath Ledger’s death. So sad, he was so young and promising.

The movies certainly would be the last thing you would identify with. Rajesh hamal looks so funny for he looks same in every other movie, the same hair do, and same dialog. It forces you to think how people can throng to cinema to see the idiotic antics, of the ‘paakhe’ heroes and ‘vampish’ heroines. Minimum, you feel is, something that should of kagbeni standard. Do they have the same audience outside of the Kathmandu; you really don’t care for if it’s Nepal it should be inside the valley.

They not just changed the national Anthem, it seems they muted it for it has now long ceased to resonate. That does not worry you after all you won’t feel even an iota of shamelessness to proclaim you don’t know the wordings.

If there was ever a time where I was soul searching and trying to identify myself with my country, this probably is the ‘perfect wrong time’ to do so. I just fail to find any ‘neapliness’ in me. It’s just the pains, the shortages and dust in the air that’s Nepali in me. And I don’t think I am that painful neither my circle of friends.
(Published on the Sunday edition of The Kathmandu Post, 17/02/2008.)