Some of you are displaying an insalubrious interest in whether the much-anticipated March of the Naked Babas in Support of Monarchy on Friday will come to anything. We think not, high and spirited though they may be.
And despite Ram Sharan ('Gloom and Doom') Mahat's whining, the country's short- and medium-term prognosis looks very bright since PKD is determined to turn Nepal into the "richest country in South Asia" by the end of the decade and a "Switzerland" soon after. The fact that he was standing behind portraits of Marx, Lenin, Stalin, and Mao when he says this must mean something. Apparently he listened to tapes of Madan Bhandari's speeches from 15 years ago to take cues on delivery and rhetoric for his coming-out address on Monday.
More interesting is to see the personality cult manifestations of His Fearsomeness on posters, hats, billboards, and even Young Maoists' smocks. (The Ass can take a lot, but not the sight of revolutionaries in smocks collecting money by the roadside.)
.....The Ass has decided to give up trying to figure out who is stabbing whom in the back. Thursday's bund was ostensibly to press for janajati demands, but it had the tacit support of the Seven Plus One parties who wanted to prevent the arrival of Hindu fundos from down South for Shivaratri. And then Upendra Yadav is not, as it may seem, for madhesi representation so much as the resignation of the Home Minister Krishna Sitaula. Comrade Awesome is Sitaula's main protector in his struggle against First Daughter Sujata, who wants Sitaula's job-a quest for which she is telling everyone pretty openly that she has the backing of the Americans and the Indians. So how come Upendra Yadav goes to the Reporter's Club in Sujata's Pajero?
.....Sorry to have jumped the gun on Devyani's wedding last month, your favourite Ass was getting somewhat ahead of himself/herself about this jinxed nuptial which is once more in doubt because the poor girl is in hospital with meningitis. The selection panel for the invitee's list at Bijaya Bass apparently decided to invite His Erstwhile Majesty to Delhi after all. But Baluwatar, which didn't even allow the king to go to Hetauda for the winter, has not yet given the nod despite shuttle diplomacy to put pressure on Singha Darbar via the Delhi Darbar. The 7+1 seem to have decided it would be politically problematic to allow him to go to India at this time although it seems to have no similar qualms about letting four-time-PM Deuba and Arzu go.
The Ass's opinion, for whatever its worth, is that since the wedding is going to be a royal bash of Indian maharajahs-turned-politicos we should insist Kingji go so he can see that even if Nepal soon becomes a republic he could become a politician.
.....So our jaundiced Cabinet finally decided after a heated debate to replace the Buddha (who replaced King Gyanendra) with Mt Everest in the Rs 10 banknotes. Nepal has a long tradition of naming airlines after the pantheon (Sita Air, Buddha Air) but emblazoning banknotes with portraits of the Compassionate One could irreparably harm relations with fellow-Buddhist nations. The Cabinet, however, is still deadlocked on who to replace KingG with on Rs 500 and Rs 1,000 notes. So besides the diesel shortage, electricity shortage, water shortage, and LPG shortage, we're soon going have a shortage of banknotes.
Which maybe just as well because there is nothing to buy anyway.
For decades, a British mint has been minting money by minting our banknotes. In anticipation of another large order from the Rastra Bank, it sent a former British ambassador as its salesperson here recently. But the Cabinet's inability to decide on the design for the notes means the whole deal is now up in the air. As for the Rs 10 bills, they are going to be fittingly printed in Indonesia, a world leader in depicting social volcanoes on non-polymer banknotes.