SAARC Summits are like a mirage, the closer we get to it the further it seems to recede. The last time two years ago, the countdown had begun, half the airport road had been repaved, the flagpoles had been painted over and fresh chrysanthemums planted at the Birendra International Convention Centre. Then Atalji decided he didn't want to shake hands with the General and that was that. We Nepalis went back to sleep. For months afterwards, the airport road remained half-paved. No one thought it particularly necessary to pave the unpaved half.
This time, the SAARC Summit preparations are happening during a state of national emergency. The deconstruction of Kathmandu's traffic islands is therefore being carried out on a war footing. If only the rest of the country's development could happen with as much determination, resolve and speed there would no trouble at all for us to catch up with Uganda.
In one sense, all this demolition, flower planting and street widening would go to waste if Atalji once more decides not to shake hands with the General. But with Uncle Sam breathing down both South Asian necks, this time we may actually have liftoff.
But even if the SAARC countdown is once more aborted at the last moment, all is not lost. We will have one more opportunity two years from now for demolition, flower planting and street widening.