At Bhadrapur airport recently, when I told a cop I had just returned from India, he started flipping through my passport in search of Indian currency bills.
It reminded me of Kesang Tseten's wonderful documentary In Search of the Riyal. Yes, security personnel at airports will frisk you for things to keep, and why not? Training does not exist in the Nepali bureaucratic dictionary, so they think they have the right to open up people's purses and strip them like their US counterparts do. You will notice this every time you travel through Toxic International Airport (TIA). Foreign travellers are asked for a souvenir or their last rupees, since cops think the non-convertible Nepali rupee is useless outside Nepal. As Nepalis, our heads hang in shame as we watch them carry out their indiscretions right under their superiors' noses. Do they think it is their right to make hay while the sun shines because they have gotten their jobs through bhansun or nepotism?
This Beed often wonders how people can be so bold as to boast of building houses worth ten times their legitimate lifetime earnings. Perhaps it's because people are so ready to congratulate them for discovering a short cut to success.
Why is it that the troublemakers in an organisation are those who get their jobs through relatives? Those who are where they are because of source-force do not understand the value of merit. Will we ever build a meritocratic society? The fact that people will use family connections to land a job working with people they don't even know shows how indifferent they are to the perceptions of corruption.
This Beed keeps on harping on the 'two laddoo syndrome': why would people who bribe gods leave mere mortals alone? It's in our genes! However, more disturbing is how we use obstruction to flaunt power. Is this not a form of corruption too? Look at the way VIPs like the roads to be cleared for their movement. And if this means declaring a holiday on the day one leaves the country, then they've hit the jackpot, never mind the millions of rupees down the drain.
The same mentality can be seen in the Very Ignorant People (another set of VIPs) that like to stop traffic when a wedding janti or procession is going on. With weddings taking place in the thousands each family competes with other to ensure it can block the traffic the longest and create the most problems for commuters. All those who were trying to drive around this Sunday must have experienced the same.
How do we end this mayhem and bring about a change in culture? Is it a sense of civic courtesy that compels people to think about other's rights too? Can someone volunteer at wedding jantis to keep the traffic in order? Can a cop be made to understand that his job is to conduct security checks and not to fleece passengers? Can 2011 be simply devoted to ridding TIA of its toxicity and making the airport memorable for all the right reasons? And Kesang, how about a documentary entitled In Search of the Rupee that exposes all of this!