Nepali Times
Politically Cracked
Not tolerating tolerance


As we were compiling a list of 100 reasons to love Nepal for a New Year special issue of Wave magazine (which shares the publisher of this paper), one such reason came up repeatedly from both our readers and editors:
"We are resilient." Nepalis can tolerate anything.

This famous Nepali resilience has not gone unnoticed. A British friend who blogs at had this to say about Nepali tolerance, beginning with some social commentary from British comedian Dom Jolly:

"Hello! Wot? I'm in the cinema! THE CINEMA! Naa! It's rubbish!"

To make sense of the above you need to picture a man stood up in one of the front rows of a cinema hall silhouetted against the screen, which is showing a film that increasingly irate, paying cinema-goers are trying to watch. Those were the days in the UK when mobile etiquette was still taking baby steps and you can still see that now here in Nepal.

In the cinema, people will answer their phones much as they might do if they were on the street, or in their living rooms back home. This extends to concerts, meetings and even the pinnacle of business professionalism, MS PowerPoint presentations. The needs of the many are every time trumped by the needs of the individual.

Blogger Nepaliketi ranted about this a while ago. Her point was "Let's not stand for this. Who is in with me Ö" "I'm in", I said.

A few days later, and a few comments later, this message was somewhat modified under the title 'Major on the major, minor on the minor'. It's good college wisdom: focus on the important things.

But I disagree that while these behaviours are minor inconveniences, in the big scheme of things, they should just be tolerated. To me the word tolerance sounds like a virtue. That we should accept, nay embrace, others' differences, seek to understand them with empathy and live together side by side the best we can.

There is also the less compassionate side, which says "You have your rights, do what you want and I will tolerate it, but don't bother me with it." The Dutch must surely be the world leaders in this. And of course, as a youngster I heard my mother shout many times, "I will not tolerate this behaviour any longer!" proving that tolerance can often be hard work.

But then there is a list of many things that we don't tolerate in the West and society is arguably better for it. Drunk driving, racism, homophobia, misogyny, child abuse, littering, breaking the law even when no officer of the law is watching, corruption. Eating with your mouth open, spitting, not washing your hands after visiting the toilet, pissing on the street, picking your nose in public, talking in the cinema, arriving late for a meeting. Do any of these too frequently and you'll find the distance between you and everybody else slowly increasing towards infinity, but more likely someone at some point will let you know that you are being anti-social.

Is there a thread in Nepal connecting tolerance of, say holding a loud phone conversation in the cinema, spoiling the film for everyone, and tolerance of, for instance, the corruption or ineptness of public officials, spoiling the country for everyone?

Before I step further into deep cultural waters without the lifebelt of an anthropology degree to save me, I'll stop. I guess social behaviour has to find its own balance over time. I don't know why Nepalis seem to care less about each other in public. I don't know if it matters. Certainly worth further pondering.

Why do we have the stamina to put up with this? It is hard to say. But as we celebrate Anuradha Koirala's victory in CNN's online poll or Prabal Gurung for his first runway show at New York Fashion Week, we also ought to chide ourselves for not speaking up to make other things better. There is nothing brave about putting up with corrupt officials who wiped hundreds of acres of forest clean or politics that has come at the cost of new schools, hospitals and roads, or just the stench of the Bagmati River.

So, this New Years, let's give it up for a little less tolerance and more speaking up. Or, as the New Yorkers say, "if you see something, say something". We might just get some peace and quiet in the cinemas next year.

Back to Bikram Sambat, SANJAYA POUDYAL

1. Slarti
Why do we have the stamina to put up with this? It is hard to say.

I understand your point of view, but good luck with this   So, this New Years, let's give it up for a little less tolerance and more speaking up. Or, as the New Yorkers say, "if you see something, say something". We might just get some peace and quiet in the cinemas next year.

The world is not that simple a place, and I am sure some whining rant like this will also show its presence in New York, they probably say something like this

When you go to Nepal and see how much better people appear to be doing against such heavy odds, you wonder why New Yorkers can't tolerate even minor inconveniences that nobody can do anything about, say on the train, or about the queue in a restaurant.

The world is not as miserable a place as some of you big-city educated people make it appear to be.

2. who cares
nice topic..

actually there are all kinds of people,

some cross the limit while protesting against minor misconduct. and mostly just keep quiet.   

and even worst problems is those who take part in misconduct are themselves protesters. 

its govt. who should teach some manners to them, cause if public takes part, what if the guilty turn out to be ycl or some dead prince? 

it is not possible unless police are strong and have ability to punish guilty, save victim. 

(11 JAN 2013 - 17 JAN 2013)