Shubha Bala

Shubha Bala (Collective Campaign for Peace - COCAP): Shubha was born and brought up in Toronto, Canada. She completed her undergraduate studies in computer and electrical engineering at the University of Toronto. After graduation, she worked for three years as a business consultant in a software firm. At the time of her fellowship she was studying for her Masters in International Affairs at Columbia University’s School of International and Public Affairs with a focus on economic and political development, and media. After her fellowship, Shubha wrote: "In the development sector, I reminded myself of the practical limitations in achieving ones desired outcomes, and the need to work within the environment presented to you. I also re-observed that each country has unique limitations to be addressed. I gained huge insight into transitional justice issues, as well as the overall political climate in Nepal. I questioned the impact of donors and free labour from the West in developing countries that have traditionally been extremely donation and volunteer dependent."

Non-Republic Day post

01 Jun

Two weeks ago I was anxious about living for 2 ½ months in a rural area with no internet access and a slow life pace. But then I arrived in Thammel, Kathmandu. Mostly Kathmandu reminds me of Madras but with friendlier people. Thammel is almost like Jaco, Costa Rica. It’s unlike any tourist strip I’ve ever been to in South Asia. If you’re lost in Kathmandu and wander around enough, eventually you will see a “Tattoos, Piercings, and Dreadlocks” sign and know you’re on the right track. After the week spent there, I now look forward to the peace and serenity of Baglung where I am headed next Monday. Until then, I’ve happily resigned myself to eating pizza in Nepal, recognizing how much I will soon miss it.

My second reason for being excited about Baglung is that, as someone who still can’t get her bearings in the New York grid system, the unnamed, windy streets of Kathmandu are a nightmare. And when every other store is a convenient type store, landmarks are impossible to come by. I bet even I can’t get lost down the one road in Baglung, although perhaps I overestimate myself.

Many things have surprised me here based on my expectations I formed with India as a baseline:
1. There is a dearth of cockroaches. I’ve only seen two so far and one was already dead
2. I have only used one non-Western toilet in the whole week I’ve been here, although I have mostly been in Thammel
3. Nepali food is sort of like North Indian food but with a few things forgotten. For example, they sell roasted corn on the street, but omit the chili powder. They make lassis with curd not buttermilk, so even the salt lassi is basically sweet
4. Kathmandu is much more expensive than I thought it would be. I’ve decided to push most of my shopping out to Baglung

However, on the predictable side, the Canadian-Indian issue has already come up many times. I receive looks of disbelief when I claim to be Canadian. Last night, out of pure exhaustion, I stopped explaining when people told me I was Indian and stumbled across a great secret: if I define myself as South Indian then it apparently explains away my funny accent, clothes, and lack of ability to speak Hindi. I dread the day when I get outed by a Tamil speaker, a mother tongue which sadly I don’t speak either.

Posted By Shubha Bala

Posted Jun 1st, 2008


  • Amy Burrows

    June 5, 2008


    Great humor Shubha! I want to know: did you get lost on the one street in Baglung? 🙂

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