With the Security Council meeting on Friday to formally allocate a hefty budget for the expanded Monitoring Mission here and the arrival of five MI-8s from the Congo, Kathmandu is bracing itself for the Blue Team. Hotels in Kopundole are full, the bars in Thamel are filling up and the BICC has been requisitioned by monitors clad in flakjackets.
The Ass did a quick calculation in the back of a napkin the other evening and concluded that Nepal's GDP growth rate will have to revised upwards by one percentage point in fiscal 2007-8 due to heightened economic activity triggered by the beefed up UN presence. At last a UN endeavour that is actually going to contribute to economic growth in this country.
.....Having noticed the other day the number of large white vehicles with UN painted on the side all stuck in traffic at Thapathali because of some julus or other, your pet donkey got wondering about the rules governing who actually is allowed to fly the UN flag in this country. According to the UN's own in-house rules, it should only be the head honcho. That used to be the Resident Coordinator. But it never stopped the local head of every specialised UN agency from proudly flying their own flags as they sat in traffic at the Bridge. The Ass counted a dozen different flags of UN bodies in the parking lot during a recent national day reception: UNDP, UNICEF (both the South Asia office and the Nepal office), UNFPA (ditto), UNESCO, FAO, WFP, WHO, WHAT, WHERE and WHEN. And now we hear ICAO is opening a Nepal office. Enough already.
.....It's when the comings and goings become frantic that we in Nepal have learnt the hard way that something scary is brewing behind the scenes. So Karan ('The Jwaisah'b') Singh is headed back, a BJP delegation is in town, James Moriarty returned from holidays in Honolulu and immediately flew off again to DC and His Fierceness is busy touring the hill stations in his SUV.
While the Ex-Monarch of Kashmir probably wants to prevent a similar unceremonious fate from befalling his royal in-law in Nepal we understand the Americans are spooked about the Maoist gameplan in the runup to elections. But given the fact that desertions from the People's Liberation Army is now inversely proportional to the fall in minimum temperature in the cantonments, we think self-generated commie phobia may be trifle misplaced.
.....The growing AWOL problem in his rank and file doesn't seem to worry The Furious One, however. In fact, he seems relieved that there are fewer people to take care of with the Rs 24 karod he has got from the government to keep his guerrillas housed and fed. He was spotted in Jiri last week sweeping into town in a fleet of 4WDs just like past thulo manchhes used to do.
By the way, the real owners of these vehicles don't dare ask the baddies to give the cars back to them. And we noticed the new paintjob on the license plate of Chairman Prachanda's Pajero had begun to peel off, revealing a different number underneath. The only thing that is not fake in his car seems to be the Blue Book and the Red Book. Maybe Prachandababu is staying beyond cellphone reach because he has come under blistering attack from just about everyone about his cadre padlocking the Dabur Greenhouse, the Chilime power plant and assorted bottlers.
And why, after installing a strobe light and new gates does the soon-to-be-nationalised Naryanhiti Raj Darbar need a clock tower? Or is it a giant stopwatch for the royal countdown?