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Nation Weekly June 27, 2004, Volume 1, Number 10 Upadhyay, Akhilesh 2004-06-27

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 DIVIDED CLASSES I GENERATION MTV I LOST IN THE U.S. I CHAOTIC CAPITAL
JUNE 27, 20i
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, NO. 10
www.nation.com.np
WEEKLY
% Years.
100,000 Bhutanese Refugees
Still Remain Stranded
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OF MANAGEMENT
 COVER STORY
20 Red Alert
By John Narayan Parajuli in Damak
Have the Maoists penetrated the disgruntled refugee population? Are parts ofthe population, after years of frustration and
despair, turning radical?
Opinion: For Want Of Some Papers by Bhaskar Gautam
Exclusive: Abraham Abraham, chief of the UNHCR in
Nepal
COUMVS
11 Secret Service
By Suman Pradhan
Last week's episode showed that Deuba
has not yet shed that tendency for secrecy The only people outside the Royal
Palace who knew ofthe cabinet's decision were the three members in the cabinet and the chief secretary
30 Real Mayor
By Samuel Thomas
The capital's chattering classes are busy
pushing solutions to their version ofthe
ecological   truth.   'Clean,   Green
Kathmandu' is disconnected from the
social context—it is all about aesthetics,
notjustice
18 Two Classes
Father Lawrence Maniyar S.J., principal
of St. Xavier's Jawalakhel School, talks
about private schools, student politics,
and how the new generation of students
are haunted by fear psychosis
The Visual
Generation
By Satishjung Shahi
Singers admit music videos are
a powerful medium for promoting their albums
28 Catching Rain
By Sunil Pokhrel
Water harvesting can make a
difference for parched farmers and the chronically water-
|  short Kathmandu Valley
BUSINESS
32   1905-Where You
Want To Be
By Satishjung Shahi
Innovative ideas keep
business at 1905 Boardwalk
brisk even when tourism is
down
uik
j,
38 An Overgrown
Village
By Deepak Thapa
We deceive ourselves into thinking that
we are denizens of a "metropolis," even
though the management of our civic
amenities is worse than that of a tiny Indian municipality
40 Roadmap For
Political Stability
By Kiran Chalise
In the absence of leaders with vision and
politics of substance, the responsibility
has now fallen on the hands of ordinary
Nepalis
ARTS & SOCIETY
34   Pink Urinals And
Broken Plates
By Sushmajoshi
In Bhaktapur, it is hard to shake off the
feeling that post-modernism is still very
much resting on the grand narrative of
Malla glory
36   Emperors Of Ice
Cream
By Sanjeev Uprety
Three cultural exiles from
the subcontinent in Rhode
Island escape their alienation
I   by indulging in culinary arts
DEPARTMENTS
6 LETTERS
10 PICTURE OF THE WEEK
14 CAPSULES
16 BIZ BUZZ
39 CITY PAGE
44 KHULA MANCH: IRAQI REFUGEE
45 BOOKS
46 LAST WORD
 Do we wish to emulate
Sudan where the
conflict has already
claimed two million
lives?
n
Deuba's problems
IF ANYONE WAS HOPING THAT
Sher Bahadur Deuba's appointment as
prime minister would clear up the current political mess, well, that was not to
be. "Vbur cover story (re: "Muddle Over
Middlemen," June 20, by Akhilesh
Upadhyay and Suman Pradhan) did hint
at Deuba's bagful of problems but few
were expecting the new government to
struggle for two weeks just to cobble an
all-party coalition. While CPN(UML)
has now given a clear hint that it is ready
to join the government, it's not the first
time it has done so since Deuba's appointment as prime minister. And it is not too
difficult to understand the confusion in
the UML ranks. Its problems are very
similar to Deuba's, only larger in scale.
With a very narrow popular base, Deuba
at least can keep his Nepali Congress (D)
workers in control by saying that the
Palace's continued support remains vital
to his survival as prime minister. UML
workers, whose political future depends
more on the connection with their political base at the grassroots, are far less
likely to buy top-down mantras handed
down by their netas. Therein lies the current dilemma ofthe party. It was able to
energize its ranks against regression in
earnest only in April with anti-republican rallying cries. Now it doesn't know
which way to go.
ROJAN SHRESTHA
GWARKHU
Mahat got it wrong
RAM SHRAN MAHAT MAKES A
strong case against UN mediation in the
peace process (re: "Talk of UN Mediation Is Premature," Cover Story, June 20).
His arguments, very well put, rest on a
single thesis: this will give the Maoists
SHUSHMA SHRESTHA
the legitimacy in the eyes ofthe international community. But let's turn the arguments round. Let the two sides to the
conflict—security forces and the
Maoists—keep on fighting and let the
death toll mount from the current
10,000-plus to 20,000. Then maybe 40,000
and then 100,000. Meanwhile, there is
still no election and the law and order
situation resembles that of a country
caught in a full-blown war. Teen-age
boys and girls run amok on the streets of
Kathmandu with assault rifles—all of
this, mind you, not entirely impossible
given the current state of affairs and history of countries in conflict. Will then
Dr. Mahat review his "well-rounded
thesis on why the talk of UN mediation
is not a panacea for Nepal" and that it is
premature? Just when is it not prema
ture for international mediation? Do we
wish to emulate Sudan where the conflict that started in the 50s has already
claimed two million lives.
SHUSHMA SHRESTHA
NEWROAD
IMPRESSIVE THOUGH IT MAYSOUND,
Dr. Mahat's insistence that the conflict
must be resolved internally has a missing link. If he bothers to look back at the
dynamics of two previous rounds of
peace processes, the internal forces were
JUNE 27, 2004   |  nation weekly
 unable to salvage peace when the posturing between the warring parties
reached a critical point. An international
third party, seen by both sides as impartial, would perhaps have successfully
scaled back the bellicosity and given the
peace process a much needed impetus.
Peace in Sri Lanka, brokered by the Norwegians, has seen highs and lows but it
still holds. I am more inclined to side
with Jorg Frieden, the SDC country director, who says aid has to reach the needy
if we are to avoid an impending catastrophe. Why not use the UN Secretary
General's good office to ensure a peace
corridor so that aid reaches all of Nepal
and notjust a few cities and people like
Dr. Mahat and I? It's an urgent situation.
We have little time to lose.
SUNIL GURUNG
BANESHWOR
MAHAT BELIEVES THAT THIRD-PARTY
intervention will only be needed once
"we have given enough attention to resolving the problem internally," and
"only after our united efforts fail will the
talk of third-party mediation come up."
Pray, tell, hasn't 12,000 lives lost and eight
years of insurgency, during which time
every single government failed to broker
peace, proved that enough time has been
wasted in trying to solve the problem "internally?" What united effort against the
Maoists are these politicians with petty
squabbles to settle amongst themselves
talking about? Wasn't it Girija Prasad
Koirala himself, Mahat's mentor and the
Nepali Congress president, who scuttled
K P Bhattarai's government in March
2000, just when Bhattarai was on the verge
of starting negotiations with the Maoists?
And when in power, didn't Koirala
promptly proceed to run the Maoists to
the ground? Wasn't it his actions, and initial mishandling ofthe Maoist situation
that led the Maoists to further up their
ante? Mahat talks about his party as a party
with "convictions." Does a party that keeps
waffling on its stance as regards the
Maoists—depending on whether it is in
power, in the running for power, or totally out of the race—qualify as a party
with convictions? Perhaps, Mahat thinks
that by quoting the Brest-Litovsk Treaty
of 1918 and drawing parallels to the
Maoist revolution in China he comes off
as an erudite intellectual who has a handle
on the situation. But he seems to have
missed the bottom line: with an average
of 12 people getting killed everyday how
much more lives must be lost until
Nepali intellectuals realize the country
can't take it anymore?
RAMESH BOMJON
SITAPAIIA
Poorly kept children's homes
SUSHMA JOSHES "OLIVER TWIST
Finds A New Home" (Spotlight, June
20) is just one story ofthe proverbial tip
ofthe iceberg. I have a gut feeling that
there are many more children's homes
where living conditions are as bad as
England's 19th century foster homes best
described by the novelist Charles
Dickens. The good news is that we can
draw lessons from the horrors documented in the industrialized world and
avoid similar mistakes. The bad news is
that we don't seem to be making any
progress in that direction. Kathmandu's
mushrooming, and expensive, but
poorly run private schools are perhaps
the prime examples.
MANOHARBABU
EKANTAKUNA
Overpriced art works
AJIT BARAL'S "MOON OR SIXPENCE
(Arts & Society, June 20) will hopefully
start a debate that was long due. Are paintings of some of our famous artists overestimated in an art market that is next to
non-existent? A much wiser thing for
our artists to do perhaps would be to
lower their price, let more and more
middleclass Nepalis feel "art" need not
be the exclusive territory for the rich.
SAMAKARKI
GAYANESHWOR
Troubled tea industry
THANKS FOR POINTING AT THE
plight of Jhapa's tea industry ( John
Narayan Parajuli, "Storm In A Cup," June
20). I hope you will in future be able to
look at the deeper malaise and connect
various strands that have brought down
the prices of tea leaves. The fact is that
the tea gardens are here to stay and it is in
everybody's interest to make sure that
they keep on contributing productively
to the national economy.
BINOD PARAJULI
BIRTAMODEJHAPA
nation
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Vol. I, No. 10. For the week June 21-27, 2004, released on June 21
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nation weekly |  JUNE 27, 2004
 POLITICS
SPORTS
ARTS AND SOCIETY
OPINION
Did you, too, O friend, suppose
democracy was only for
elections, for politics, and for
party name? I say democracy is
only of use there that it may pass
on and come to its flower and
fruit in manners, in the highest
forms of interaction between
people and their beliefs—in
religion, literature, colleges and
schools—democracy in all
public and private life...
Walt Whitman
 DEVELOPMENT
EDUCATION
CIVIL CONFLICT
BUSINESS
www.nation.com.np
  Meanwhile
Secret Service
Last week's episode showed that Deuba has not yet shed that tendency for secrecy.
The only people outside the Royal Palace who knew ofthe cabinet's decision were the
three members in the cabinet and the chief secretary
BY SUMAN PRADHAN
It is interesting to note how the media covered last week's cabinet
decision on annulling the work performance regulations—the piece
of law that granted King Gyanendra huge powers on appointments
and transfers of senior government officials.
We now know that on Thursday, Prime Minister Sher Bahadur Deuba
convened the cabinet which formally decided to annul the regulations
and send the decision to the Royal Palace for approval.
But Friday's headlines had wildly differing stories about the cabinet
meeting. Many mainstream newspapers reported that the three-member cabinet had failed to arrive at a decision on annulling the working
regulations. Some said that the cabinet had not even met that day. A
few reported that the cabinet did meet but the issue was not discussed.
All these reports cited "high level sources close to the Prime Minister," or
"Prime Ministers' advisors."
Now that the facts are known, it is fair to wonder how the newspapers
reacted to the truth. The indications so far are not good. None of them
acknowledged their short-comings in the next day's issues. All newspapers blared, without a hint of irony, the big news as if their mis-reporting
a day earlier had never occurred.
What does this tell us about Nepal's mainstream
press? It tel Is us that either they don't check the facts or,
worse, they are susceptible to propaganda. Having worked
in the press for a longtime, I know this isa gross generalization and not all media outlets are similar. But unfortunately, the recent gaffe only reinforces the perception
that our media is unreliable and unprofessional.
Listen to what a regular reader had to say about the
episode: "Itisdifficulttoknowwhat'shappeningin Nepal
byjust reading the papers. You have to have other sources
of information." In other words, we don't trust what is
being reported because it misrepresents the facts, misquotes or blows a remark out of context. "There is clearly
a lack of professionalism," says another reader who also
has to work regularly with the media. "This is why we
always fax written statements knowing there is little chance
of misquoting or misrepresenting. The newspapers simply print our statements."
While last week's gaffe may have exposed the media's
shortcomings, it also gave us a glimpse of how this new government
works. In his earlier innings as prime minister, Deuba was known to be a
compromiser. His jumbo 48-member cabinet was an attempt at compromise with the various parties and personalities who could have brought
his government down if not given the perks of power.
But the prime minister was also known to be a secretive person,
someone who played his cards close to the chest. Very few people
around him knew what his real thinking was on a given issue, and when
thethinkingdid come to light eventually, the decisions had already been
made or the acts were already done. This style of governance does not
work in a democracy, a system based on openness and transparency.
Last week's episode showed that Deuba has not yet shed that tendency for secrecy. The only people outside the Royal Palace who knew
ofthe cabinet's decision were the three members in the cabinet and the
chief secretary. Deuba's advisors and aides were either as much in the
dark as the newspapers or they deliberately chose to play it coy lest the
secret be out.
While this tendency for secrecy is generally unhealthy in a democratic
politician who claims to be a man ofthe people, it does have its merits.
What would have happened if the press had gotten wind ofthe cabinet
decision and blared it in the next day's papers? It is fair to say that the
Palace could have reacted in a different way because the news would
have pushed it to the wall. The important job was to get the decision
approved, and the news blackout helped by keeping the pressure off a
proud Palace.
Another area where this tendency for secrecy could have its merits is
when the government eventually decides to hold peace talks with the
Maoists. There is a general consensus now that the last two peace talks
failed because they were both conducted in the media glare. That led to
posturing and grand-standing on both sides, pushing the rival parties to
take ever more hardening positions until it all collapsed.
The next round of peace talks, at least the pre-talks talks which could
pave the way for a forma I dialogue, will have to be conducted in secret if it is
tosurvive. MightDeuba'spenchantforsecrecycomeinhandythen?  □
X
nation weekly |  JUNE 27, 2004
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^
 Capsules
Schools resume
After 12 days of shutdown,
schools and colleges opened
on Friday when the government agreed to remove the
"terrorist" tag slapped on the
Maoist student wing,
ANNISU(R). By the time we
went to press, some schools
however were still not sure
whether the ANNISU had
withdrawn the indefinite
shutdown. The school authorities said they would
continue to shut down their
schools unless they hear any-
thing definite from the
Maoists themselves.
Office resumed
Deputy Mayor Raja Ram
Shrestha ofthe Kathmandu
Metropolitan City (KMC)
and other 18 ward members
who had resigned from their
Police in landmine
At least 22 security
personnel, including
an inspector of Armed
Police Force (APF) Shiv
Bahadur Khadka, were killed
and 19 others were injured in
a Maoist ambush at Khairi
Khola in Banke. Fourteen other
APF personnel died in a separate ambush over the weekend in Bhalubang, Dang. The
security team in Banke was
dispatched from Bageshowri
APF Training Center in
Shumsheregunj to defuse a
bomb placed at Agaiya along
the Mahendra Highway.
14
posts in May returned to office. Through a press release,
they apologized for the inconvenience they caused to
the city residents. However,
Mayor Keshav Sthapit, who
made it known after he quit
that the Maoist threat had led
to this resignation, didn'tjoin
the bandwagon. Maoists have
asked all local body officials
appointed by the Thapa government to quit. Two city
mayors who defied the
Maoists were shot at, one of
them fatally. Birgunj Mayor
Gopal Giri was killed by the
Maoists after he refused to
give in to Maoist threats of
extortions and call for resignation.
IVF facility
For the first time in Nepal,
Om Hospital and Research
Center has selected 17
women for Invitro Fertilization (IVF). The hospital has
set up an ultra-modern lab to
provide rVF services to those
who fail to conceive. Ova fertilized outside the body ofthe
women will be transferred
inside the uterus 48 hours
later, Dr. Bhola Rizal was
quoted as saying by Kantipur.
Of 48 women selected for
screening tests in April, 17
have been shortlisted for IVF
:'T<>
...  *
—^
CATCH THE DRIFT: farmers get to work with the first monsoon rains
and each one of them is expected to pay Rs. 200,000 in ad-
Marathon man
A successful angioplasty was
performed on ace marathoner
Baikuntha Manandhar at the
Escorts Heart Institute in India. Renowned cardiologist of
Dr. Ashok Seth carried out the
operation. In the 80s,
Manadhar routinely won
golds in the SAARC regional
games and was regarded South
Asia's uncontested marathon
king.
Maoists arrested
Indian police arrested five suspected Nepali Maoists in
Champaran district, Bihar. Police seized three guns, homemade pistols and catridges. India has recently stepped up
anti-maoists operation
RNA's choppers
The Royal Nepal Army received two new Light Advance Helicopters from India to boost its air capabilities. The specifications
of the helicopters, which
landed at Tribhuvan International Airport last Sunday, were not revealed.
The Indian army version
of the helicopter features
a chin-mounted, three-
barrel 20mm gun and four
pylons capable of carrying
four 68mm or 70mm
rocket pods, according to
Kantipur. Nepal was dispatched two Lancer helicopters from India last
year.
SLC results
The pass percentage ofthe
SLC sharply increased this
year to 46.18 percent, up 13
per cent over last year. Of
the total 175,417 regular
students, 81,008 passed the
examination. 1,568 passed
with distinction (introduced for the first time to
categorize students who
score 80 percent and
above), 28,723 in first division, 45,445 in second
and 5,272 in third division.
Bishal Khanal of Everest
Boarding School in Butwal
topped the exams with 94.5
percent while Prathistha
Gyawali of Galaxy Public
School in Kathmandu was
the topper among girls
with 88.37 percent.
JUNE 27, 2004   |  nation weekly
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 Arts   Society: First Perso
Emperors
Of Ice Cream
BYSANJEEVUPRETI
While hunting for an apartment
around East Side Providence,
Rhode Island last summer, I
spent a few days with Dhan Singh Rawat
and Sher Singh Rawat from Gadwal.
They kindly allowed me to stay with
them till I found permanent lodgings.
My temporary roommates from Gadwal
were professional cooks at Kabob and
Curry restaurant at Thayer Street, close to
the university I was attending to pursue
my degree. I was feeling slightly
homesick as I moved in with them.
Memories of family members,
friends, teachers, students and relatives left behind in Nepal continued
to pass through the corridors of my
mind, evoking a sense of loneliness
and exile. My feelings of loss were
compounded when the Rawats lost
their jobs after a fight with Vij ay Dhar,
the Indian owner of their restaurant
whom they described as tyrannical
and overbearing. Temporarily unemployed and psychologically wounded,
they sat brooding in the apartment,
and talked of their families left behind at Gadwal. They spoke ofthe
spectacular mountains of Gadwal, of
the cool pine trees of Rishikesh, and
of delicious water dripping from the
leaves in the forest onto their dry skin
as the summer sun blazed in the skies.
"I have studied political science and
history," thundered Dhan Singh. "The
stupid owner of Kabob and Curry should
realize that he cannot mess around with
me. One day I'll go back to Gadwal and
open a much bigger restaurant there than
he has one at Thayer Street. And I might
get into politics and become an MLA
someday." Sher Singh, his younger friend
from Gadwal, asserted that with his
newly acquired green card he had a great
future in the hotel industry. "Screw Kabob and Curry, and to hell with chicken
tandoor and palak paneer," he declared.
"With hard work and luck one day I might
become the manager of a Hilton, a
Marriott, or a Hyatt, you know," he said
as he gazed at me and Dhan Singh fiercely,
looking for approval.
Despite their bravado and undying
optimism, however, it became clear after
a few days that they were not going to get
the jobs they wanted, and that they might
have to go back to Kabob and Curry and
make peace with chicken tandoor, papads
and Vijay Dhar, the irate, dictatorial owner
ofthe restaurant. Dhan Singh, despite his
degree in history and politics lacked both
the green card and other saleable skills
As we ate cones of ice cream
we overcame our sense of
cultural exile
apart from cooking. Sher Singh, though
young and enterprising, lacked the formal education and experience needed to
get jobs in big American hotels.
As they sat in the apartment watching
meaningless TV programs and drinking
beer, the mood of depression thickened;
both Gadwal and Kathmandu receded
further away even as the memories of
those places were transformed into immense shadows that flitted in and out of
our New England summer traced by
loss. TV brought us stories from around
the world of motivated generals trying
to become presidents, parliamentarians
trying to become ministers, courtiers
trying to become kings, and the rich and
the powerful trying to become even
richer and more powerful. These stories of ambition and achievement only
served to highlight the continuing failure of my friends to find newjobs.
The mood of depression suddenly
lifted one day, however, when the nagging doubts that the Rawats had about
my cooking abilities were suddenly confirmed. After I nearly started a fire in the
apartment trying to fry vegetables, the
Rawats became certain that I knew next
to nothing about cooking, the field of
their professional expertise. And from
then onwards their project began. Forgetting their recent insult at Kabob and
Curry and the nagging uncertainties of
their future, their sole effort was directed
towards making a cook out of me. They
taught me how to make curry and
rice in double quick time, how to
make an omelet using only a microwave, and how to use the grill for
outdoor cooking. The more I
fumbled with pans and pots and
spoons and spices the greater became their merriment, and stronger their desire to initiate me into
the fine art of cooking.
After they tried unsuccessfully to
teach me how to make puddings and
pies—fine intricate techniques that
my mind was not able to master despite the effort—the Rawats began a
new project, trying to teach me how
to make ice cream. They msade vanilla, pistachio, blueberry and butterscotch ice creams. Though I don't
think I've acquired the necessary
skills or finesse to make ice creams,
it was great fun participating in the
culinary ritual . As we sat on the porch
eating cones after cones of vanilla and butter scotch, we temporarily overcame our
sense of loss and cultural exile. In that
late summer of New England the consumption of ice cream made the Rawats
forget the cool glades of Gadwal, just as it
drove away from my mind the insistent
memories of the fresh fountains of
Budanilkantha and the shady groves of
Gokarna. We became the makers and eaters of ice cream in our all too real present.
As the cones broke under our teeth and a
sweet liquid pleasure made a mess around
our mouths we almost felt like emperors: the Emperors of Ice cream!   □
36
JUNE 27, 2004   |  nation weekly
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publish
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fax: 4216281    info@wordscapeonline.com
www.wordscapeonline.com
 Broadside
^  W** T
An Overgrown Village
We deceive ourselves into thinking that we are denizens of a "metropolis," even
though the management of our civic amenities is worse than that of a tiny Indian
municipality. It takes more than fancy buildings and flashy cars to make a real city
BY DEEPAK THAPA
M
[orning commuters headed towards Dilli Bazaar from the Purano
Baneshwore area of Kathmandu Metropolitan City will have
.noticed that during the rush hour, there is almost invariably a
garbage truck blocking half the road as it loads up on the trash collected
at Pipal Bot. That one truck is enough to create a slowdown all the way to
Maiti Devi as the two lanes merge into one near the truck, and even the
agile motorcyclists find it quite difficult to weave their way in and out of
the stalled traffic. It really is a wonder why the metropolitan authorities
cannot arrange for garbage collection early in the morning as would be
the commonsensical thing to do.
We deceive ourselves into thinking that we are denizens of a "metropolis," even though the management of our civic amenities is worse
than that of a tiny Indian municipality. But then that is not our fault
since it was the government that decided that the capital (and I include
Lalitpur as well) had become a 'metropolitan city' without considering if
it could really live up to that claim. It takes more than fancy buildings and
flashy cars to make a real city. And
this is not to complain about not
having the roads enough for the
growing number of vehicles. That
isa problem in all expanding cities; the issues are much more fundamental than that and I will consider just a few examples below.
Take the question of a public
library. It is only thanks to AWON
and what used to be a rather fine
British Council Library and the
American Library that
Kathmanduites could access a
proper library. The capital ofthe
country and supposedly the intellectual hub still has not found it
worth its while considering setting upa public library, a prerequisite for
the intellectual health of urban dwellers everywhere.
A visitor to Kathmandu in the pre-1950 era had described the
valley as the toilet bowl of Asia. Things have changed a great deal
since but shapely turds are still a common sight in many parts ofthe
city. So is the stink of urine at almost every nook and corner. Without
enough public toilets around, can we blame people for relieving themselves anywhere they can in this one and only metropolis of Nepal?
Where are the public parks? Besides the dirty patch of grass and
rundown walkways that still goes bythe name Ratna Park and the
Panchayat Silver Jubilee Park at Maharjgunj-Ring Road, green spaces
are non-existent elsewhere in the city. That could have somewhat been
compensated with roadside trees, but the attempts at growingtrees
seems limited to planting them and leaving the rest to chance.
It used to be quite common in old Hindi films where the hero is so
poor he cannot even afford proper lighting at home and has to study
under street lamps. Well, if such a hero were to live in Kathmandu, he
would certainly have failed in life for our metropolis hardly has any
street lighting worth the name. And where it does, the lights are not
always on, and when they are it is common to find patches of dark
where light bulbs have burnt out. Go into the alleys and one has to
figure out the way through instinct and plain luck. And Kathmandu is
said to be a metropolis.
A usual complaint of visitors to city is that there is no place fit for the
daily constitutional. That is indeed a genuine complaint. The Pashupati
area is possibly the only place which allows you to breathe dust- and
smoke-free air but it is quite inaccessible to the majority ofthe people.
Absent are the promenades where people can walk, jog or just hang
out watching the world pass by.
There was a story in a newspaper sometime back that hiring the
"kalo tempo," the three-wheeled
black smoker-belchers, for the
whole day is a favorite among lovers who cannot afford the luxury of
a trip outside the city since it is only
within the deep recesses of the
bumpy tempo that they can find a
measure of privacy. Kathmandu
just does not have any place where
the city's young lovers can just sit
together and enjoy each other's
i company without having to face off
stares and jeers from local ruffians,
and oftentimes harassment from overzealous cops.
Most striking is the absence of a public transit system. A decent bus
service that runs late into the night is an essential characteristic of a
metropolis so that people from all income groups can afford to reach
home at anytime they like, whether from work or from an evening out
downtown. Daytime travel has now been made convenient by private bus
companies, but a reliable transport system can only come from a public
body like the city office since this is more about providinga service to its
taxpayers than just making money.
Back in 1981, a college friend from Calcutta visiting Kathmandu had
called it an "overgrown village." A quarter century later, Kathmandu still fits
his description. □
38
JUNE 27, 2004   |  nation weekly
 Broadside
^  W** T
An Overgrown Village
We deceive ourselves into thinking that we are denizens of a "metropolis," even
though the management of our civic amenities is worse than that of a tiny Indian
municipality. It takes more than fancy buildings and flashy cars to make a real city
BY DEEPAK THAPA
M
["orning commuters headed towards Dilli Bazaar from the Purano
Baneshwore area of Kathmandu Metropolitan City will have
.noticed that during the rush hour, there is almost invariably a
garbage truck blocking half the road as it loads up on the trash collected
at Pipal Bot. That one truck is enough to create a slowdown all the way to
Maiti Devi as the two lanes merge into one near the truck, and even the
agile motorcyclists find it quite difficult to weave their way in and out of
the stalled traffic. It really is a wonder why the metropolitan authorities
cannot arrange for garbage collection early in the morning as would be
the commonsensical thing to do.
We deceive ourselves into thinking that we are denizens of a "metropolis," even though the management of our civic amenities is worse
than that of a tiny Indian municipality. But then that is not our fault
since it was the government that decided that the capital (and I include
Lalitpur as well) had become a 'metropolitan city' without considering if
it could really live up to that claim. It takes more than fancy buildings and
flashy cars to make a real city. And
this is not to complain about not
having the roads enough for the
growing number of vehicles. That
isa problem in all expanding cities; the issues are much more fundamental than that and I will consider just a few examples below.
Take the question of a public
library. It is only thanks to AWON
and what used to be a rather fine
British Council Library and the
American Library that
Kathmanduites could access a
proper library. The capital ofthe
country and supposedly the intellectual hub still has not found it
worth its while considering setting upa public library, a prerequisite for
the intellectual health of urban dwellers everywhere.
A visitor to Kathmandu in the pre-1950 era had described the
valley as the toilet bowl of Asia. Things have changed a great deal
since but shapely turds are still a common sight in many parts ofthe
city. So is the stink of urine at almost every nook and corner. Without
enough public toilets around, can we blame people for relieving themselves anywhere they can in this one and only metropolis of Nepal?
Where are the public parks? Besides the dirty patch of grass and
rundown walkways that still goes bythe name Ratna Park and the
Panchayat Silver Jubilee Park at Maharjgunj-Ring Road, green spaces
are non-existent elsewhere in the city. That could have somewhat been
compensated with roadside trees, but the attempts at growingtrees
seems limited to planting them and leaving the rest to chance.
It used to be quite common in old Hindi films where the hero is so
poor he cannot even afford proper lighting at home and has to study
under street lamps. Well, if such a hero were to live in Kathmandu, he
would certainly have failed in life for our metropolis hardly has any
street lighting worth the name. And where it does, the lights are not
always on, and when they are it is common to find patches of dark
where light bulbs have burnt out. Go into the alleys and one has to
figure out the way through instinct and plain luck. And Kathmandu is
said to be a metropolis.
A usual complaint of visitors to city is that there is no place fit for the
daily constitutional. That is indeed a genuine complaint. The Pashupati
area is possibly the only place which allows you to breathe dust- and
smoke-free air but it is quite inaccessible to the majority ofthe people.
Absent are the promenades where people can walk, jog or just hang
out watching the world pass by.
There was a story in a newspaper sometime back that hiring the
"kalo tempo," the three-wheeled
black smoker-belchers, for the
whole day is a favorite among lovers who cannot afford the luxury of
a trip outside the city since it is only
within the deep recesses of the
bumpy tempo that they can find a
measure of privacy. Kathmandu
just does not have any place where
the city's young lovers can just sit
together and enjoy each other's
i company without having to face off
stares and jeers from local ruffians,
and oftentimes harassment from overzealous cops.
Most striking is the absence of a public transit system. A decent bus
service that runs late into the night is an essential characteristic of a
metropolis so that people from all income groups can afford to reach
home at anytime they like, whether from work or from an evening out
downtown. Daytime travel has now been made convenient by private bus
companies, but a reliable transport system can only come from a public
body like the city office since this is more about providinga service to its
taxpayers than just making money.
Back in 1981, a college friend from Calcutta visiting Kathmandu had
called it an "overgrown village." A quarter century later, Kathmandu still fits
his description. □
38
JUNE 27, 2004   |  nation weekly
 For insertions: 2111102
or editorial@nation.com.np
Page
CITY ThisWeek
Wetter the Better
June 25. The JCS jazz trio brings you
jazz, funk and reggae at Fusion Bar's
poolside, Dwarika Hotel. For information: 4412415
EN
International Music Day
Alliance Francaise together with the
French embassy is organizing its 10th
International Music day on June 21.
MUSIC DAY: 11 a.m.- 3 p.m. Live music
The Sound of Music
Presented byMalpi International School.
At the Royal Nepal Academy Hall,
Kamaladi. 5:30 p.m. June 25-26. For
tickets and information: 4240159.
Life Skills Training Camp
An effort to equip young people with
basic life skills such as leadership, effective communication, decision-making,
empathy, creative thinking, problem solving etc. June 25-27 at Evironment Resource Center, Bhaktapur. For information: 4471415
If you're pullingall-nighters watching Euro
2004, why not have a blast while at it?
If you can't hoot and cheer to your heart's
content at home, round up your football fanatic friends and head for these
venues in town. They'll keep the midnight lamps burning for you.
HYATT REGENCY: Experience the Euro
Cup Fever at Hyatt till July 4 from 9
p.m. onwards at the Rox Bar, The Cafe
and The Lounge. For information:
4491234
HOTEL SHANGRI-LA: Euro 2004 Live
on Big Screen at Not just The Jazz Bar.
For information: 4412999.
HOTEL BLUESTAR: Enjoy Euro Cup 2004
on a wide screen at Mandala Bar with
discounts on beverages and snacks.
For information: 4228833.
K-TOO! BEER AND STEAKHOUSE: Foot-
ball Frenzy. Watch all the Euro Cup
games at dinnertime every evening at
K-Too! For information: 4700043.
nation weekly |  JUNE 20, 2004
at Alliance Francaise with French snacks
like quiches, croquet-monsieurs, French
fries, ice cream etc. on sale.
MUSIC NIGHT: 7 p.m.- 8:30 p.m. Traditional Nepali music with buffet during
the concert. 8:30 p.m.-10:30 p.m. Live
Nepali pop rock concert. For information: 424163.
"Salsando" Dance and
Fitness Studio
New courses starting every month for
modern Jazz dance, Salsa and Boxercise,
an electrifying new concept to get in
shape. For information: 98510 33895
(for prices and reservations), 98510
46430 (for Salsa courses) or e-mail at
salsa pasionnp@hotmail .com
Monsoon Clouds
A collection of paintings by well-known
Nepali artists. Includes the works of resident and foreign visiting artists.
Siddhartha Art Gallery. Babar Mahal
Revisted. For information: 4218048.
Starts June 25
Pre-monsoon Hyundai Camp
Free checkup and upper car-body wash
for Hyundai vehicles. At the AVCO Service Center, Maitidevi. Till June 22.
For information: 4413086
Summer Fun Camp
Lincoln school will offer parents and
children a wonderful and exciting summer day camp programs for ages 3-12.
The camp runs for seven weeks from
June 21 to August 6. Children can be
registered for a one-week session where
each week has a special theme to it.
There are Sports Camp, Computer
Camp and Fun Day Camps for children
aged between 6-12 years and a Preschool Camp for those between 3-5
years from 9:00 am-2: 30 pm.
For information: 4270482 or e-mail at
dgurung@lsnepal.com.np
ONqO  g
Dwarika's Hotel
Sekuwa Saanjh every Friday from 7 p.m.
onwards. Tickets: Rs. 555- plus tax per
person. Includes BBQ dinner, a can of
beer or soft drink, live music by Abhaya
&The Steam Injuns playing blues, jazz &
beyond... Lucky Draw every Friday night.
Drop your visiting card or BBQ coupons.
Godavari Village Resort
A Fishy Affair. AT The Godavari Village
resort. This season's fresh rainbowtrout
to suit your palate. Chef Baniya's gastronomy with a difference. Ban Bhoj
Lunch every Saturday & Sunday 12:30
p.m. onwards. Prior reservation recommended.
The Grand Slam Offer. The Godavari
Village Resort package of dual delight—
tennis plus breakfast. Rs.444- per person. Prior reservation recommended.
Wet&Wild Summer Splash every Saturdays Sunday. For details: 5560675.
Hotel Vajra
Dance performance of Hindu and Buddhist Gods. Great Pagoda Hall. Every
Tuesday, 7 p.m. onwards. Tea and tickets Rs. 400.
Folk tunes of Nepal-Drums and Flute.
Every Wednesday and Saturday at 6:30
pm onwards. The Explorer's Restaurant
of Hotel Vajra. For information: 4271545.
New Orleans Cafe
Blues Jam/ Open Mic Night every Monday, signup starts at 7 p.m. For information: 4224144.
 Viewpoi
Nepal's Roadmap
In the absence of leaders with vision and politics of substance, the responsibility has
now fallen on the hands of ordinary Nepalis and the world community to ask difficult
questions and make harsh comments
BY KlRAN CHALISE
The political arena has transformed itself into a "crowded chicken
farm without any eggs"—too much politicking, too little substance.
After the unwarranted loss of more than 10,000 innocent lives in
the Maoist insurgency, after a tragic death of about a dozen key Royal
family members and after delivering some ofthe most corrupted governments in history, it is "business as usual" for Nepali political entities.
Questions need to be asked: at what cost? At whose expense?
The political jostling has resulted in a triangle—an accidental King,
the Maoist rebels and a group of failed parties. Each blaming the other
for everything that has gone (and is going) wrong. A rattan basket
criticizes a palm leaf basket, a palm leaf basket criticizes a bamboo
basket and a bamboo basket criticizes a rattan basket. Still, all baskets
are full of holes. The same applies with the Nepali political scene.
In the absence of leaders with vision and politics of substance, the
responsibility has now fallen on the hands of ordinary Nepalis and the
world community to ask difficult questions and make harsh comments.
Here is the rub. What seems to be the real issue in Nepali politics
today? I believe these are:
■ firstly, the issue of monarchy or republic: whether it is necessary and
relevant to keep the monarchy or should Nepal become a republic and
■ secondly, what system of governance is appropriate in Nepal today:
for example, active monarchy (similar to Panchayat System, pre 1990s),
passive/constitutional monarchy (similar to multi-party democracy,
post—1990s) and no
monarchy (republican system without the involvement of monarchy.)
However, the three dissenting parties are not discussing the real issue but
dealing with the side-shows
such as constitutional
amendments, holding elections, etc.
So, what could be the
way forward? One cannot
be doing what one has always been doing and expect a different result. It is
time for some fresh, alternative and strategic thinking.
Perhaps, keeping with the ideals of a democratic tradition, the Nepali
people should be given the opportunity to decide on such crucial issues through a referendum. Given the complexity and nature ofthe
problem, a two-staged referendum (monitored/observed by an international delegation) should be conducted asking people to answer
simple but important questions. For example,
STEP1
Referendum 1
(Monarchy or
Republic?)
Keep the Monarchy
STEP 2
Referendum 2
(political system?)
1
Select a Republican
Political System
Active
Monarchy]
Constitutions
Monarchy
STEP 3
Implementation
STAGE 1 REFERENDUM
Question: "Should we keep the monarchy or become a republic?"
Possible outcomes of stage 1 referendum are either keeping the
monarchy or becoming a republic. Depending upon the outcome of
stage 1, a little more detailed question should be asked at stage 2.
STAGE 2 REFERENDUM
Question: "Which political system should we choose?"
If the result of stage 1 referendum is to keep the monarchy, then
the choices for stage 2 will be political systems involving monarchy
(such as active monarchy, constitutional monarchy, etc.)
If the result of stage 1 referendum isto become a republic, then
the choices for stage 2 will be republican systems without the monarchy (such as democratic republic, communist republic, etc.)
STAGE 3 IMPLEMENTATION
Adopt the chosen political system by amending the constitution,
holding elections, forming the government and taking other necessary actions.
Is there any precedence of people deciding on a political system
involving the monarchy? In November 1999, Australians went to
the polls to decide whether to keep Queen Elizabeth II of England as
their head of state or become a republic. The republicans lost by a
margin of 45 percent to 55 percent. Australia is still a constitutional monarchy. It is a nation in its own right with the Queen as
head of state.
Although there is no comparison in the socio-political context
between Nepal and Australia, the idea of using
the referendum as a tool
for a breakthrough in the
present and ongoing
stalemate is not impossible. Although a referendum will not solve all the
problems we have, it will
provide some identifiable
benefits and a direction.
It will strengthen democracy by allowing the
people to have a say. It
will test whether the monarchy still exists in the
heart and minds of ordinary Nepalis. It will determine whether the
people are happy with the way things are and would prefer to maintain the status quo. And above all, it will prove whether people are
really ready to tango with the Maoists as they claim.
What are the risks with this approach? What if the chosen system does not deliver? What if something goes wrong later on? Well,
nothing can go wrong because nothing is going right. □
Decide whether to
keep the monarchy or become a republic
f »
Become a Republic
Select a political system
involving Monarchy
* »
Democratic
Republic
Communist
Republic
O =!
z o
U
i°
S|
si
Amend the Constitution,
Hold election and Form a Government
40
JUNE 27, 2004   |  nation weekly
 Jobs
Media Advisor
The President of Centre for Victims of Torture
Nepal, (CVICT) and International
Rehabilitation Council for Torture Victims
(IRCT) is seeking a part-time Nepal based
media advisor.
Resposibilities:
■ To advise on drafting and producing media
releases, statements, speeches, articles and
other related materials in English for media
consumption
■ To help designing and implementing a
media strategy
■ Conduct surveys and analysis of news print
and electronic media
■ Liaising -with related organizations and
media houses
■ Organising orientation classes on torture
and other human rights issues for journalists
Eligibility:
■ Minimum 10 years of experience in
journalism -with substantial familiarity -with
English media, human rights and international
community and relations
■ Sound interpersonal relationship
■ Good computer skills
Please send your CV along ■with a 1-2 pages essay on your
ideas on: "Quality of present day media in Nepal" to
SG@cvict.org.np or Fax: 4-373020
before 30th of June 2004
Vacancies
We are a publishing organization willing to learn and
improve with every initiative. If you believe that creativity is a process and that there is no substitution for hard
work, here is an opportunity to join an inspirational
team of professionals.
Graphic Designer
Key Responsibility: Design various print publications publisbed by the organization.
Minimum Requirement: Competent in Computer based layout and graphic
designing with minimum 2 years of experience.
Computer Graphics Operator
Key Responsibility: Assist in designing various print publications published by the organization.
Minimum Requirement: Competent in graphic designing
programs such as, Adobe Photoshop, PageMaker, Corel
Draw etc. Pre-Press knowledge in publishing will be an
advantage.
Subscription Representative
Key Responsibility: Solicit subscription and broaden the
outreach of the various publications published bythe
organization.
Marketing Officer
Key Responsibility: Market the various publication and
services offered by the organization.
Receptionist
Key Responsibility: Manage office telecommunication, fix
appointments, file correspondence and administer front
office duties.
Minimum Requirement: Intermediate with secretarial
training.
Interested applicants must send their CV/Bio-data by E-mail,
indicating the position applied for and the expected salary.
Also mention your contact address and your day telephone
number. Successful candidates will be called in for interviews.
E-mail: jobsvacancies@yahoo.com
Tel: 2111102
Vacancy Announcement for Trainee Programmers
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For further details and application procedure please visit us at
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42
JUNE 27, 2004   |  nation weekly
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P.O. Box: 21176 Kathmandu, Nepal
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nation weekly |  JUNE 27, 2004
 Khula Manch
Alienation And
Exile In Kathmandu
Firas Al-Bakwa, a 29-year-old Iraqi refugee, has been
in Nepal for the last four years. He left Baghdad in
1999. The police fired into a large crowd that was
demonstrating against the assassination of Ayatollah Al-
Sadar, a Shia leader. Firas, who carried a wounded friend
to safety, fled after he heard Saddam's police were gunning for him. After spending some time in Jordan, Firas was on
his way to New Zealand when the immigration authorities in Hong Kong detected his fake passport, and sent him
back to his last port of arrival,
Kathmandu. Firas has UNHCR status
as a refugee but is unable to leave because the Nepali government insists he
must pay the monthly $180 visitor visa
fee that he has accumulated for four
years, along with fines. Firas talked with
Sushmajoshi of Nation Weekly about
his feelings of being unable to leave a
country which has become his prison.
Why did you leave Iraq?
I was taking part in the protest against
the killing ofthe Ayatollah. The Baathist
party came and started to fire at the crowd.
They killed so many people—100 or
more. There was blood everywhere. It
was like the movies.
You fled to Jordan before coming
here. Why did you not stay there?
In Jordan, it's worse than here-they can
always get you. They were always checking visas. They arrested many Iraqi
people with Jordanian intelligence and
sent them back to Iraq.
How did you end up in Nepal?
I was going to go to New Zealand, where
my brothers live. I had heard of Nepal,
but I didn't know where itwas. Nobody
knows about Nepal in the Middle East.
My smuggler sent me here to make it
appear like there were many steps so he
could take a lot of money from me. That's
why I hate my smuggler.
How do you find this country?
Frankly, I find it the worst place to be.
They don't even recognize refugees that
the UNHCR has. They see me as illegal. I wanted to go to a country where
there can be dignity and rights, but instead I am here.
What happened after you were
sent back from Hong Kong?
They put me in prison for six months in
Dillibazaar. Itwas the worst time. There
were other Iraqis there, and they told
me to apply for refugee status in
UNHCR. They took two months to give
that to me, after which I went in front of
a judge, and he reduced myjailterm to
four months and released me.
I have no family, no work.
I take violin and computer
lessons. But without work
it's not easy
What was jail in Nepal like?
They cheated me. They gave me wrong
information about bail so I had to stay in
jail for six months.
What has UNHCR done for you?
UNHCR is a very weak organization.
It's only for their employees, who make
a good salary.
Is your family back in Iraq?
My father, my mother, my two brothers
and two sisters are all back there. They
want me to come back. Well, they want,
and they don't. Being a young man is
risky in Iraq. My brother's car was hit by
an American patrol and they beat him
up, so it's not safe.
Do you want to go back?
Now that Saddam is gone, I would go
back to Iraq, even illegally. But now the
UN claims that they need permission
from the Coalition Forces for me to go
back to my own country.
What's most difficult
about being in Nepal?
I have no family, no work. I take violin
lessons, and computer lessons. Butwith-
out work, it's not easy. I was a student of
agriculture in Iraq. I tried to enroll in
Rampur College in Chitwan, and they
told me I had to pay $20,000. I asked
them: is this Cambridge University I am
applying to?
Do you have friends in Nepal-
international, Iraqi, Nepali?
Not really.
How have you tried to leave Nepal?
I waited 18 months to hear about my visa
application to Australia. They rejected my
application. They said I was not a refugee, and that I am not living outside my
country. Should a country torture somebody in this way? Keeping a human being
who wants to learn, to work, in this state
is torture. Not physical torture, like
Saddam, but still torture.
What's next for you?
I have been waiting to hear of my application from New Zealand for 16 months.
How much time do I have? They have
taken away a year and a half of my life. D
44
JUNE 27, 2004   |  nation weekly
 Books
All You Need Is Love
BY BISWAS BARAL
Pico Iyer's fictional travelogue
"Abandon" is a mix of romance,
mysticism and suspense. The
book's protagonist is John McMillan, an
Englishman studying Sufism in California, who travels around the world
searching for the lost manuscripts ofthe
great Persian Poet, Rumi. The manuscripts, which could be important for
McMillan's thesis, are rumored to have
escaped Iran during the revolution.
McMillan's search for the lost works
takes him to places as diverse as Iran,
India, England, Syria and Spain.
McMillan lives in California instead
of his native England to distance himself
from his emotions and his past, and to
be completely absorbed in scholarly
pursuits. But his search for Rumi's lost
work also opens him up to love. The
story about McMillan and his Califor-
nian girlfriend Camilla Jensen runs parallel to the main text, which catalogues
McMillan's travels. Although
McMillan's search for the Sufi texts turns
out futile, the realization about his love
for Jensen, whom he comes to recognize as his soulmate, is triumph enough.
After all, love and the meditation upon
its mysteries are what Sufism is all about.
The stories in this book could also
be a metaphor for the west's attempts to
understand Islam. In light ofthe
political climate after 9/11, the
Afghan war and the war in Iraq,
the deeper understanding of Islamic fundamentals has become
quite a necessity; and Iyer put
out this book in an opportune
moment. In it, he tries to explore the problems between the
west and the Islamic world created by the conflicts between
Muslims and westerners. It
highlights the eminence and goodness of
self-effacing Sufism, and Islam at large,
over the primarily materialistic ethos of
the west.
The book also underscores the need
for a greater understanding ofthe plights
ofthe many suffering Arabs. In one instance in the book, an Iranian scholar in
the United States, venting his frustrations
at the western world, and his own government, complains, "Of course you are
sorry. You in the west are always sorry,
very sorry for the sadness you have
caused. You are excited because the
'moderates,' as you call them, come on
CNN and say all the things the west
wants to hear...The 'people' (in Iran)
only think about one thing, and that is
tomorrow. How will we get food? What
will happen to our children? How will
we live tomorrow, the next day?"
While Iyer can be commended for
trying to get to the heart of how Islam
has been misrepresented, for readers, a
little clarity in plotting might have helped
his cause. The plot is a mish-mash. On
the one hand, Iyer tries to keep up the
story's momentum by presenting a romantic love story, but at the same time
the text sometimes veers into obscurity
because of its overtly complicated network of settings and confusing circumstances. Also, the plot sometimes becomes mundane and repetitious. For
example, Iyer unnecessarily describes in
detail the mountainous settings of California and the lover's trips to an abandoned house, time and again. And more
than half the novel is set inside
McMillan's BMW or Jensen's coupe.
But, despite the weak plot, the novel
redeems itself through the
exploration of its ambitious
theme—the inquisition of
love, spirituality and the
conflict between two
dominant world-views.
Even though "Abandon"
is not a work that will hook
you with a gripping plot and
scandalous prose, it is nevertheless an insightful narrative by an exceptionally
gifted travel writer, essayist and journalist. Through the elegant portrayal ofthe
deeper workings of the passionate and
pious love between McMillan and Jensen,
Iyer gives the readers an insight into the
basics of Sufism. For readers perplexed
by Islam, Iyer's book can be a starting
point for unraveling the mysteries of this
often-misunderstood religion. □
The Book of Ser
Marco Polo
Edited by: Col. Henry Yule
Marco Polo was one ofthe world's
greatest travelers. Setting out from
Venice, he undertook an amazing epic
journey to the Middle East, China, India and southeast Asia in 1271-1295. He
saw many things previously unknown
to Europe, such as paper currency, asbestos, coalandnoodles. After his return
to Italy, Polo dictated this massive account of his travels which for Renaissance Europe was to become the chief
source of information on
the world ofthe east.
For us in the 21st century, Polo's account of his
travels is an exciting reading experience about a true
adventure into the unknown.
This beautiful two-volume set has been reprinted from the original 1875 classic
edition by Henry Yule. The book is profusely illustrated with black and white
illustrations, foldout maps and lithographs. A must for every library,  n
A Question of Journey
John Brandi
A Question of Journey" is John
Brandi's celebratory collection of
vignettes compiled in Asia; a spirited
potpouri of people and places lavishly
enhanced by his visionary collages. This
is ajourney through distant lands as well
as through the continent ofthe heart. It
is rich with non-stop impressions, reflections and counter-reflections
crowding the beholder's eye—surreal
landscapes of India and Nepal; street
theatre in the deserts of Rajasthan; grim
and touching episodes from barbaric
urban ghettos; solitary journal jottings
from a Himalayan pilgrimage; and conversations with waifs and
prophets, nuns and
geologists, tillers of
the soil and tillers of
the soul. □
Pilgrims Book House Reviews 4700942
nation weekly |  JUNE 27, 2004
45
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This Just Isn't Fair
The education strike has finally
ended. And what a relief After two
weeks of eerie silence, classrooms
and playgrounds are again abuzz with the
chatter of happy students. Parents are
again lining up at bus stops to see off
their children. The children's homework and new lessons are again keeping
parents and students busy. The students—small and not so small—deserve
it all. They need to hope for a better tomorrow.
Times are difficult. And that is all the
more reason why today's students need
to look toward the future with hope and
excitement. And perhaps more than any
time before, we as parents and fellow
citizens need to help students keep their
hopes alive, nourish
their dreams with
care. We are indeed
deeply concerned
for the well being of
the new generation.
But the times perhaps call us to go a
notch beyond. A seasoned educationist
Father Lawrence
Maniyar tells us that
the new generation
of students are
haunted by a huge
fear psychosis. Continued bandas,
chakkajams and daily violence outside
the classroom are taking a heavy toll on
their mental health and sense of well-
being. Much to our chagrin, he also told
us the parents as a unit have done little
to stand up to the grave injustices and
pain caused to their children—and
them—by the forced closures by the student unions.
It was a colossal waste the last two
weeks: tens of thousands of students at
the 25,000 government schools, at the
more than 8,000 private schools and
more than 200 campuses became victims
of what would prove to be a mere fight
over semantics. The pro-Maoist student
wing ANNISU(Revolutionary) wanted
the government to remove the "terrorist" tag slapped on it. And the govern
ment relented—any civilized government would in the face of an impending
crisis. We do not like to get into the politics attached with the "terrorist" tag here;
and whether the government gained anything at all in slapping it in the first place.
But what we know for sure is that the
Maoists lost a lot this last two weeks.
Let it be known: the public is bound to
judge harshly any force that stops the
progress of their children—and their
future—dead on track. We once again
appeal to the Maoists and student unions
not to force shutdowns on an unwilling
population.
The government, however, cannot
run away from its own responsibilities
in all this. Successive administrations
have mishandled
the situation. The
members of the
Task Force that has
been asked to sort
out the fight over
the fees tell us
that the official ap-
proach to the
problem has at
best been cavalier.
One clear voice
coming out from
schools, private
or government,
the last two weeks was that successive
governments have miserably failed the
students: first in their continued failure
to draw up clear-cut guidelines on school
fees and then in following them up with
rigor.
Obviously, both the officials and the
unions have made mistakes. One in trying to wish away genuine grievances of
inequity; the other in using educational
institutions as soft target to fulfill their
political demand. But we still say this:
the Maoist students are the most to
blame—for forcing schools and colleges
to close down. The underlying politics
was right there for all to see.
y>
Akhilesh Upadhyay, Editor
46
JUNE 27, 2004   |  nation weekly
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