I was a bit late in hearing the news. I had spent the previous few days lying in bed with the flu and failed to realize that the world was continuing its course, whether I was healthy or not. When I returned to the office on September 3rd, the first thing my German colleague, Matthias, asked me was “Are you okay?” followed by “Did you hear the news?” Not having taken the time to read a newspaper while I was ill, I had no idea that three almost simultaneous bomb blasts killed two and injured dozens of innocent citizens just a few kilometers from where I live and work.
The next few days I kept my eye out for anything suspicious, unexpected, or remotely shocking in Kathmandu. What I have seen so far though has been definitely unexpected and somewhat shocking. Many people are continuing their lives like nothing happened. Colleagues joked about near death experiences (as many of them were in the vicinity of the targeted locations within minutes of the blasts) and went back to work as usual. Traffic is still busy as ever and shops and local businesses in my area continue to operate without a hitch. Other than a protest near the United World Trade Center – a popular shopping mall in Kathmandu that was affected by the blast – which delayed my travel to the bus station a few days ago, I have not experienced anything that has changed my day to day life. (And considering that protests happen here on a daily basis, I would hardly consider the protest at the UWTC out of the ordinary.)
And why? If this had happened in a US or European city, there would undoubtedly be a significant degree of panic followed by propaganda. Perhaps I am too removed from the people who were directly involved and immune to the politicization of the whole event (partially because I do not know Nepali), but the reaction to this tragedy seems far more relaxed than I expected.
Could this lackadaisical response be the result of 10 years of civil war? After all, if such events happened more frequently and caused even more damage in the past, it makes sense that “another attack” would just be drops of water in an ocean of insecurity and violence. Or could the fact that the concept of fate, being so prevalent in Hinduism, had made people think that this event was destined to happen (and those individuals were meant to die) in accordance to divine, supernatural laws that no one can control.
Or could it be that I have lived in such a safe and protected environment that I unrealistically expect people to react with a bit more concern and even panic?
Posted By Ted Samuel
Posted Sep 7th, 2007