A newspaper in Kathmandu costs 5 cents and is a wonderful companion to a Nepali breakfast of milk tea and limki (chicklet shaped pastry). It treats you to news that seems incredibly distant and at times fantastical. Apparently, tigers are still sneaking into villages and stealing children. For a guy who spent his last year in DC, it seems odd that tigers still live outside of cages in zoos.
It’s also extremely clear that a new part of the world hosts a set of issues that don’t always make it to the Washington Post. Bhutanese refugees await repatriation on the Indo-Nepali border while child soldiers await reintegration to their families. Rhinos on the throws of extinction are being poached because even the most protected will soon bear the brunt of conflict and poverty.
But the real culture shock derived from the pages of The Himalayan is not from news of exotic animals or passport theft. It is from the intense depiction of Nepal’s political climate while an uncertain future unfolds.
No matter how well one thinks they understand the moving pieces of Nepali politics, it’s difficult not to be challenged or utterly capsized in a sea of acronyms. The EPA, PM, YCL, CA, IC, NC, NC-D, RPP, APF, NEFIN, SPDC, NLD, CPN-UML, JTMM-Goit/JTMM-Jwala, and NSP (to name but a few). Each makes multiple cameos in the 12-page publication and will serve to either buttress or baffle one’s conception of the issues. I’ve always been one for brevity, but RUKDING?
Having had elections pushed back from their highly anticipated June date, there are currents of electricity lining expectations of what will happen next. Every day the playing field changes as splinter groups such as the YCL (Young Communist League) tire of the waiting game. “Bandhs’, or strikes that shut down schools and services weekly, happen so often that locals don’t always know who called it or for what reason. But I guess that’s what the paper is for –when your daily plans were crippled or you were unable to get into town, at least you can read and find out why.
Posted By Devin Greenleaf
Posted Jun 13th, 2007