For a nation of rote learners, we're surprisingly articulate speakers. Not so much in English, as generations of students abroad have found to their expense when fresh-faced Aussies and Brits and Americans stand up and air their half-baked thoughts on everything under the sun simply because they've been given the floor.
But ask a Nepali to speak in Nepali, and he (it's usually a he) will certainly talk. And talk and talk and talk. We're not simply talking inaugurations here, where politicians take the podium and begin pontificating on the (political) future of the country, regardless of whether the occasion is the opening of a school, a film festival, or a car showroom. Launch, roundtable, meeting, you name it, the Nepali speechifier will bust the guts of any hope you may have had of demarcating time, topic or turn.
He'll never forget to properly address his audience at the outset, as if apologising in advance for his temerity in taking up your time. Sometime later, he'll actually apologise for taking up so much time, and promise that he's all but done. And much later, he'll wrap up, the critical moment signalled by the familiar, "Mero dui sabda …(My two words …)" What cheek!
Anyone who has organised an event involving speakers knows just how infuriating the Nepali speechifier is. It doesn't matter how many speechifiers you have invited, the result is the same. The Nepali speechifier will stupefy your audience and render them, already late in arriving, even more likely to leave early.
Why is this? It is that Nepalis really have no sense of time or context, no self-discipline? Is it that they have an exaggerated sense of self-importance, that they are so focused on enlarging their own space that they forget that of others? Or is it just a harmless cultural tic? Does it really matter if so-and-so divests himself of a few hundred more words?
Probably not. I'd like to accuse the Nepali speechifier of being all talk and no action, his rambling justifying that of others, with the collective result that we are perennially unfocused on the task at hand. But perhaps it's just that even as I marvel at the Nepali facility with the spoken word, I have little patience for it when it's uncalled for. Ergo, I am an impatient, uncultured boor. Fine. But when it's called for, I say, open the floodgates! There's nothing like being in thrall to the gaphadi of the gang, as he details (over Royal Stag and sekuwa) the events of the night before, or that time ten years back in Minnesota when he …but I'm going on and on here, and it's really not the place. Mero dui sabda yahi tungyauchu, dhanyabad.