Kathmandu Diary: From Dr. Ason


Photo Dr B Metters

One of my wife’s brothers has a small business in Kathmandu and he has started to keep a diary of his “daily life”. Here’s the first of a series of his notes that may interest folks who are away from their home.

Saturday and today is “Holi” day so my factory is closed. Having woken up early, I decide to go for a walk around Swayambhu, then realised that I can’t! The problem is that I need to get there on my motorbike and I have no fuel for it, so I decided to go to Tundhikel instead. The problem was, so did everyone else and it was all quite crowded. Probably people like me getting out early to avoid the often violent throwing of paints and dyes by lots of uncontrolled hooligans in the city after midday. Anyway, the main blessing today is that it is an “electricity holiday”! What this means is that today there will be no power cuts, unlike the other six days of the week when we lose all electricity supply for 6-7 hours a day. This is starting to cause me real problems for my small factory, I don’t seem to be making enough now to pay the workers fully.

Sunday, thankfully no traffic problem in Kathmandu today, but it’s back to power cuts. The Madhesis (MPRF) who are creating all sorts of problem by calling Banda (strikes) in the Terai region and have declared that there won’t be banda on the 3rd, 4th and 5th of March to allow people to enjoy Holi, but Transport Workers called for Banda on those days to protest against all the Bandas called by various political parties and ruining their livelihood. Therefore, we now have anti-banda called to stop original bandas. Fantastic, how is this helping ordinary people like us?

Monday, and it’s back to our normal chaos. After few days calm, there are again demonstrations and a blockade of traffic in Maitighar near Singhdurbar. So, people like us living near have to suffer traffic jams for several hours. Traffic is so packed it is even difficult for pedestrians to walk around. It is like this almost every day since we had Loktantra i.e. People’s Rule, following the king restoring parliament last April. Since then, people seem to think that they can do whatever they want and thus ignore normal rules and regulation and become much undisciplined. Our supposed political leaders are so busy scheming and bargaining to get power and benefits for themselves, they completely ignore the welfare of ordinary people and the country.

Tuesday, and from today, there is an indefinite strike in the Terai declared by MPRF. If Govt. and MPRF does not come to some sort of agreement soon, there will be again a shortage of all essential items especially in Kathmandu. Everything has to pass through the Terai to get to the rest of the country so they can hold the country to ransom completely.

There seems to be a lot of protest from Business, Industrial sectors and Educational Institutes all trying to defy the strike, but due to violent action like burning of vehicles, looting of shops by MPRF and making life difficult for ordinary people in the Terai region it just doesn’t seem possible to stop them. The Government and the MPRF are not serious about talking and coming to some sort of agreement to stop all these problems.

I’m starting to sense that people are getting really worried about the arrogant behavior of Maoist Leaders and their party workers who do not pay heed to law and order. They seem to think they are above rest of the people and behave in whatever way they like. They have not stopped taking forceful donation, extortions, kidnapping or their general violence. So now, people are starting to support and to trust Girija more than Prachanda. The Maoist leaders especially Prachandra, Bhattrai, and Mahara are very arrogant in TV interviews. They excuse the behaviour of their cadres saying that these things happen in transitional and interim periods such as this. They won’t even say they will control it. These top leaders go around in luxurious vehicles, dine and stay in expensive hotels and wear expensive clothes, (one can notice these in the TV news) while the recent Maoist Parliamentarians have to share a room with a group of 12 or more in a three storied building and get Rs. 500/- every month for personal expenses. Why the difference? Are these real communist traditions? Therefore, most people are expecting lots of violence and intimidation from the Maoists if elections occur in the near future. It is rumored that there are still about 60,000 small arms with the Maoists, which they have not declared, despite what the UN’s monitoring people say!

Dr. Brian Metters is the Chairman of Trustees and Co-Founder of Nepal Schools Aid, a UK registered charity supporting education development in Nepal. His role is to develop and implement the overall strategy from fundraising to the creation of strategic partnerships to improve the quality of education in Kathmandu primary schools.