Isha Mehmood (South-Asia Partnership in Nepal): Isha graduated in 2007 magna cum laude with a BA in communication and a BS in sociology from Virginia Tech. During her undergraduate studies, she studied abroad in Cambodia where she met children who lost limbs in landmine explosions. This inspired an interest in conflict studies and human rights law. Isha interned at the National Religious Campaign Against Torture and the Leadership Conference on Civil Rights. At the time of her fellowship, Isha was studying at American University’s School of Public Affairs, pursuing a Master’s degree in justice, law and society.
In Nepal, a typical work week is six days to make up for time that may be lost due to an unexpected bandh. A common form of political protest in South Asia, bandhs are becoming somewhat ordinary in Nepal, often causing major cities like Kathmandu to reach a complete standstill.
During a bandh, no one is expected to open shop, including schools, or drive on main roads. Attempt to break the bandh, and you risk having rocks thrown at your windows, tires burned, and your car set on fire. As a result, streets are nearly deserted except for demonstrations and a small number of people on foot. Main roads, normally filled with the sounds of beeping motorbikes, are almost silent.
I know this, of course, because the Maoists declared one Monday.
In the last 31 hours, I have managed to step foot in three very different countries and time travel through the past three days: I left Washington, D.C. on June 11th. Sitting in a guesthouse in Kathmandu, it is now June 13th.
I spent last night in Doha, Qatar. Flying with Qatar Airways proved to be not only the least expensive choice, but also the most luxurious. Since my layover was so long between flights-15 hours overnight-they generously provided me with, for no additional cost, a room at The Grand Regency in Doha, dinner and breakfast, and transportation to and from the airport. I welcomed the long layover prior to departure, hoping that I would get to see a bit of Doha. Before leaving I read about beautiful white sandy beaches, the easiness for English speakers, and a city that had virtually no crime at all. Unfortunately, by the time I arrived at the hotel it was already dark. Though I had hoped to get a glimpse of more of the city than a 15 minute bus ride would afford me, I knew it was unwise to venture out at night in a foreign city, even if it was supposed to be safe. The final destination was not Qatar, but Nepal, and it would be wise to arrive in one piece.