I am one of those growing number of ageing Nepalis that have lived abroad for a long time. All of my information on Nepal is from the Internet, local cocktail parties, and episodic visits to Kathmandu where I end up in Thamel at Kilroy's most of the time. In other words, I am an ignoramus about Nepal and perhaps other things as well.
But despite all this, I am told I still rank a couple of intellectual notches above the politicians, monarchy and the Maoists combined. So I don't feel so bad now. I might even start calling myself an intellectual.
After going through readers' comments on my last piece ('Unilateral fatalism', #226) I have new respect for Nepali Times columnists like Lak and Lal. How do these guys do it week after week? And the abuse you get. Mostly, I received unprintable responses like: 'Hey Pravin, give it up. Haven't you feudalistic, reactionary, harem-keeping Ranas already messed up Nepal enough? Here you are, you &#!***, showing zero respect for people that churn out heavy-hitting articles week-in and week-out and they look a lot better than you. Stick to your regular job you &#!***.' And that was just my wife.
So the UN disappearance team was in town, I see. What qualifications are necessary for that job: psychic abilities coupled with an affinity for mind-boggling bureaucracy and doublespeak? As they compile their report, I hope they take into account that some disappearances are an everyday aspect of Nepali culture and do not necessarily involve security forces or the Maoists.
For example, one of my uncles (like most Nepalis, I have about 40) disappeared when I was five only to turn up 10 years later with two Bengali girls in tow. Turns out he'd been carousing in Calcutta the whole time squiring beautiful Bengali girls. I asked him how I could disappear. Then there's my aunt (among another 40).oh well, you get the idea.
One of the UN team's findings was that in some cases security forces didn't keep a list of the prisoners in detention. Well, that one's kind of hard to explain away in a press conference. Since Donald Rumsfeld may be out of a job soon, they might consider hiring him as spokesperson. He knows how to drive reporters and about half the world crazy. "Well, you have known lists and unknown lists and at any given time during the process you might even have unknown unknown lists. But you have to go with the list you have. Unless of course, you don't have one. Next question please."
The only people that do not need a list are those that were part of the UN Oil-For-Food (Note: replace food with luxury goods, weapons and ostentatious palaces) Program. This I know because I regularly read the UN Charters and I bet Kofi Annan wishes he could make his son disappear right about now.
Reminder to self to add to my shopping list when I next visit Nepal: multi-function shoelaces (also known as a low-tech Maoist substitute for cyanide capsules) of the type used by the Maoist's Chief Extortionist, sorry, coordinator for Kathmandu Valley, to commit suicide while in detention.
Ok but let's be fair, we have to hand it to our security forces for fighting a thankless war while dealing with relentless pressure from just about everyone: human rights groups (about 100 of them); people that use the word 'regression' ad naseum; Manjushree "why can't we ALL be leftists" Thapa; Girija "I really, really hate that guy Deuba" Koirala; Krishna "Babe-magnet" Bhattarai; a certain Canadian columnist who shall go unnamed.
So go ahead, you try to fight an insurgency while these guys have you in their collective crosshairs. It's enough to make you want to go to Iraq.