Tassos Coulaloglou

Tassos Coulaloglou (Collective Campaign for Peace – COCAP): Tassos was born and raised in New Jersey. He attended the University of Wisconsin (UW) and graduated with his BS in Political Science in 2001. Tassos spent one year studying abroad at Utrecht University in Holland while in his final year at UW, After graduation, Tassos moved to Lithuania to become a freelance journalist and teach high-school history and English as a second language. In 2004, he returned to the States to work as a team leader with the League of Conservation's Envirovictory political campaign in Milwaukee. He returned to Eastern Europe the following year and resumed writing before starting graduate school. At the time of his fellowship, Tassos was studying for a Master's degree in International Relations and Diplomacy offered jointly by Leiden University and the Clingendael in Holland. After his fellowship, Tassos wrote: “...now in class, I try to break the Euro/America-centric positions that seem to dominate and ask what the Nepali view would be…this fellowship pushed me to understand a people, to think in their terms."

Day 4: The Road Home

05 Jul

I bid farewell to Nishi in the background and get a friendly goodbye from the water buffalo.

After speaking with Yogendra last night, he explains to me what the day’s program will be. The general theme of the talks regard the restructuring of the state via the new constitution to be drafted after the CA is formed.

First will be Lalbahadur again discussing the political positions of the various political parties. Next, Mankumari Budha, a member of the Nepal Magar Association gave a discussion on women’s rights. Tajendra spoke about the separation of powers and the federal state, while Yogendra finished with voting rights and the electoral system.

Interspersed between the hour discussions, the villagers were divided up into two groups the day before to take care of some of the logistical issues. One group dealt with the food, cleaning of the school hall, and reporting on the lectures. The other group was about keeping things lively. They were in charge of telling jokes, singing songs, and dancing. I’m definitely upset I missed that all.

Needless to say, my day involved a lot of hiking (with no food) followed by a lovely 4X4 ride to get as close to Balgung as possible before sun down. Along the way, I did come to a startling realization while I searched – unsuccessfully – for bottled water along the way. Everything in these villages needs to be carried by human or by mule (I touched on this briefly in a previous entry).

Why wasn’t there soda or even bottled water in Nishi? Well, who’s going to bring it? Or pay for it?

How about gas for cooking? The woman at the guest house coughs like an 80 year old smoker for life. It’s probably because this non-smoker in her late 20s to early 30s spends half her day in a kitchen filled with smoke.

Every now and again, you see the damnedest things along the way. This is about 6 hours away from a “road”.

And just as inconspicuous as the consumer goods was any sign of police or government services. These people are truly on their own: they live on less than 2 dollars a day and therefore categorized as some of the poorest people on earth.

Taking a shower…Nepali style.

And if you are looking for a hospital or doctor, the closest you’ll get is the local witch doctor (who I missed “healing” somebody in the village by 5 minutes). I was also introduced along the path to a Nepali ambulance. This is a small wooden seat that has a rope cloth attached. This is so that people can carry sick people on their back more easily.

Another indication of how remote we were was how dirty the villages were. Every time I tried to find a garbage bin to throw an empty drink into, Yogendra would take it from me and just toss it onto the ground. This unimaginably beautiful country is littered with trash. What would we do with our refuse if there were no garbage trucks coming like clockwork twice a week? Often they just burn it.

But can we expect a government to have services in such remote locations? I’m not sure the rulers of Nepal have even asked themselves that question, let alone tried for hundreds of years. I can’t imagine having another (failed) system of government in Nepal where power is centered in Kathmandu. As I mentioned before, there are hundreds of NGOs in Baglung district. Perhaps with a decentralized federal state providing resources to the localities, Nepalis can turn some of those NGOs into governmental organizations that actually serve the people.

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Posted By Tassos Coulaloglou

Posted Jul 5th, 2007


  • vincent

    July 5, 2007


    excellent Tassos! Makes Indonesia seem organized and developed as, say, Scandinavia. Good reading!

  • heather

    July 17, 2007


    Tassos, I absolutely love these photos. It looks amazingly beautiful. These alone have convinced me that I have more of Nepal to explore besides just Base Camp!

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