Lukla in moral chaos
I have been working in Nepal for the last three years, so I am not technically a tourist and I can speak some Nepali, so maybe I was slightly more in touch with how things were going in Lukla last week.
Everyone had their own story and everyone was, of course, dealing with it in their own way. As a traveler on my own, I was open to listening throughout the four days of waiting to the kaleidoscope of responses to the unfortunate delay in flights back to Kathmandu. Strategies to deal with this kind of hold-up were available, but delayed and without a system.
The tension in the village on my arrival two days before my confirmed flight to Kathmandu was undeniable. To counter this I looked for supportive smiles and found none. I looked and listened for supportive and appropriate alternatives and heard none. I searched for an authoritative person but witnessed only individual hype as every guide or guesthouse owner was desperately trying to persuade his clients to spend exorbitant amounts of money to secure a seat whether it was US$1,400 on a helicopter or US$500 to chuck someone already holding a confirmed ticket off their flight. A guide with some British tourists could not get his head around their refusal to sign a hospital bill reflecting their fabricated illness the insurance company's investigation apart, the illegality and falsehood was outside his comprehension. All was a scramble for personal gain...as the profits from this type of corruption (and can we call it 'heartlessness' to take from those in distress?) would trickle down from one secret and idle hand to the next.
The incident of 'the flying chair' was unsettling. I witnessed that from where I was sitting on the bank overlooking the airstrip. To see a chair being flung through the glass of a top window was frightening. Of course the full story was not known. One can only guess at the build-up of fury and frustration of the two budget travelers who had had their seats handed on to those with sufficient funds to bribe. I was told they had now run out of money to pay for the incredibly expensive food in Lukla (Rs 150 for one slice of toast!?). What a disturbing memory to carry away from Nepal. I am so sorry.
Those that profit from these possibilities in Lukla know that people the world over will still flock to the most beautiful and famous mountains in the world , regardless of Nepal's unpreparedness for Tourism Year 2011. How sad that they do not show some pride in their heritage and share the joy of it with their treasured visitors in hospitality and open honesty.
Lukla is the richest village I have visited in Nepal and it has confirmed to me that riches, when quickly and viciously grabbed, can eclipse a national character of welcome and replace it with stony-faced indifference to the 'goose that laid the golden egg'.
Nepal's heroes - I
Bravo Anuradha! You are the the true hero of Nepal ('Anuradha Koirala wins', The Brief, Nov.21). This is a great, great day for Nepal and Nepali women. Leaders of the Govt. of Nepal, what will you do now? Will you do anything to help this cause? You cannot even pass a law to punish the people who sell your sisters and daughters. You cannot prosecute the filthy animals that sell these innocent children and young girls. Nepali leaders, what you could not do with your positions of power of position, Anuradha has accomplished single-handedly does that not make you feel ashamed?
Sandra Anne King
Nepal's heroes - II
Jason & Roshani, I'm happy you guys have fulfilled the dream which you had five years back ('Resurrection Achham', Paavan Mathema, #528). I haven't forgotten when you guys returned from Achham with fever but satisfied eyes. Thanks to all the team who did a very good job in that remote area.
Governing by morality?
Your argument that only individuals can be their own moral agents is not convincing ('Roll the dice', Indu Nepal, #528). If that is so, why do we need a government? When Locke, Hobbes, Rousseau talked about the rationality for a government, it was for the very reason that society could not be left to the individual's moral compass.
About gambling, just to get some revenues, should the government legitimise gambling? If so, how about brothels? The government not legitimising them hasn't stopped people from getting involved in it, so by the same logic are you fine about legitimsing brothels?
People miss the point that 'industries' like gambling, prostitution, drugs, porn, etc are not moral issues. They are economic issues. No one can ever eliminate them but they can be curtailed by economic incentives or disincentives. Morality cannot be policed but actions can be encouraged or discouraged through economic policies. Making such issues about morality just makes these 'industries' more glamorous, like anything that is anti-establishment.
Prashant makes a mistake by placing Nepal amongst the enemy states of India ('The notional enemy', Prashant Jha, #528). He mentions the first prism as being countries that can help India with technology, education, energy and infrastructure and the second prism as being unfriendly countries such as Pakistan. I think Nepal should be placed in a third prism. It is India's mixed bag of haphazard foreign policy strategies that has hindered Nepal's 'growth story'. India's foreign policy is a confused one and clearly lacks vision and leadership.
It is the same with countries like Bangladesh and Sri Lanka. Indian geopolitical strategy is a reactive one. When China proactively pursues interests in our region, India backtracks and reacts.