Nepali Times


The author of Elephant Polo, Cas de Stoppelaar, should be congratulated ('Dutch elephant', #373). In the same issue you have a guest column by Tobias Denskus ('Donor amnesia') which sheds a paradoxical and ironic light over the peace-consultant turned translator of Elephant Polo. Is the translator a gifted consultant, able to engage fully in understanding the complexity of Nepal and capable of translating Elephant Polo in an effortless stint at the same time?

Alternatively, is the gifted translator the embodiment of de-contextualised peace industry, which invaded Nepal after April 2006? Denskus' article seems to suggest the latter. Was the UN-consultant/translator a person aiming to engage with the Nepal-grounded, conflict-affected, fly-over people or was he more a mere spectator fly-by on a short-term, commercially attractive mission?

It seems that the real work of the UN consultant is translating Nepal's complex realities into digestible practice based policies turned fiction. This begs a question: is translating fiction for the 'happy few' more important then a thorough engagement to further what the 'many unhappy' in Nepal desperately desire: peace? Denskus would probably suggest that the 'inhabitants of aidland' at the end of the day (unconsciously) decide to please the happy few.

The translator of Elephant Polo could not be a better example of Denskus' observations and arguments about the 'peace industry' in 'aidland.' The book launch of Elephant Polo highlights the paradoxical irony that not only the author, representatives of the UN-led peace industry, their well-wishers that Denskus writes about. The 'inhabitants of aidland' cannot only produce fiction. They can present and celebrate it amongst themselves as well, perfectly proving Denskus' points. This side-story of Elephant Polo makes De Stoppelaar's novel more ironic and tragic than the reality of Nepal already is.

Frank de Lange,

. I totally agree with Tobias Denskus and his keen sense of how 'aid' for the downtrodden is actually being spent in Nepal in the name of the 'development and peace process'. It is about time there was a genuine assessment of how the spending of this hard earned tax payer's money is justified. It is appalling to see how 'aid' is being spent on extravagant purposes both by donors and their domestic partners. This top-down approach for development never worked.

S Ranjit,


After reading about the problems faced by volunteers in Nepal ('Gap year rip offs', #372) I had to write to you. Having travelled in both Asia and Africa, I was immediately struck by a sense of safety and comfort upon my arrival in Nepal almost one year ago. Though I was supposed to stay only five months, something about the friendly, smiling faces made me stay longer. I taught English, made a library, travelled around the country. Then, I began to work with INFO Nepal that organizes placements for foreign volunteers as Volunteer Coordinator. I had responsibility, freedom, and variety in my work.

Then, things went very, very wrong. I arrived at work one morning to an e-mail from two of our volunteers placed in Prabatipur, Chitwan. There had been a horrific sexual harassment incident in the home where they were staying with INFO's host family. What followed was a long saga of misunderstanding between my employers and I over the question of refunding the volunteers who pay 125 euros a week to be in Nepal. The incident opened my eyes and I saw the organization for what it was: a business, a money-making enterprise, disguised as an NGO. Volunteers weren't valued, appreciated or respected. Prior to arrival, the volunteers were promised the moon but once they got here and paid their fees, the attitude changed dramatically.

This is only a brief summary of one organization dealing with volunteers. This has resulted in foreigners, myself included, beginning to lose trust in Nepalis. Certainly not all Nepalis are this way, but I have become skeptical. This is a problem for the entire country, and thus should be taken seriously by all Nepalis.

Brittany Sears,


CK Lal's 'Pitfalls of praying alone' (State of the State, #373) is an absolute reflection of myself. I thought and wondered how you knew so much about me before writing it. Lal successfully depicts the true feelings of the Nepali diaspora and its families back home.
I have been in Australia for nine years and have never ben able to celebrate any of the festivals with my family. Though our hearts and minds belong at home, somehow we find excuses not to go back. There are four of us. My elder brother is in the US, myself here in Australia. Our two sisters, along with their spouses, are trying to fill the big gap we left behind. Thanks, Lal, for your perfect insight into our angst.


. CK Lal seems to think Girija Koirala has leadership skills ('Who is cornering whom', #374). That is news to us Nepalis. Why can't the press understand how much harm GP has done to Nepali politics since 1990? Actually it is us Nepalis who are cornered by leaders like these. We are also cornered by the media which seems to have a blind spot when it concerns politicians. So what do they do? They blame King G. Just because we won't accept the monarchy doesn't mean we will accept these failed leaders. Lal is too kind to them.

Pashupati Neupane,


I totally agree with Aruna Uprety's perceptive article ('Money is not the answer', #374). Money is nothing, but everything comes under money. So how come no one has analysed where all the money that was spent in Nepal on malaria TB and HIV/AIDS prevention went?

Dwarika Maharjan,


All right. Nepal can easily reach that longtime goal of 500,000 tourist arrivals by air by 2010. How? (Artha Beed's 'Tourism d?j? vu', #374). Drastically reduce those extremely high landing fees at TIA, get rid of any visa fee for tourists staying up to 90 days (right, you'll get heaps of backpackers flying in. Well, they drink. They eat. They need accomodation.) Get rid of all motorized traffic at Durbar Square, Thamel and other places where feet are the only means of transportation. Mainly that taxi lobby's wings have to be cut. Triple the budget for international advertisment campaigns in close cooperation with Indian Airlines, China Southern Airlines, Thai Airways, Qatar Airways, Gulf Air, Ethiad and others. Forget about Nepal Airlines completely. Declare "Visit Nepal Year(s) 2008 / 2009 / 2010".

Rolf Schmelzer,

(11 JAN 2013 - 17 JAN 2013)