Buy a khasi for your family: $89.99. If that's a bit steep, you can buy a boka for half that amount at $49.99. With Nepal's biggest festival just around the corner, Nepali online shopping sites are putting up their best bargains. Last year, thamel.com, one of Nepal's pioneer e-commerce sites, did brisk business selling khasis online. "It was great, seeing the expressions of surprise and delight on the faces of people while we made the deliveries," says Rajesh Joshi, CEO of thamel.com. "Some even thought the goat had flown all the way to Kathmandu. They would ask after their family in the US."
What an online shop needs to do to be a hit is play on the hold of tradition and add a judicious amount of sentimentality to the essentially soulless process of shopping on the Internet. The idea of selling khasis online was suggested by a regular customer of thamel.com who wanted to surprise his family in Nepal with a khasi delivery. And so Nepalis residing abroad were offered a chance to feel close to their families back in Nepal and involved in Dasain celebrations-by purchasing a khasi or boka online and having it delivered to their loved ones here. They (the relatives, not the goats) seemed to like the idea. Thamel.com sold 69 khasis online. Recipients of gifts could even go along with someone from the site to touch, prod and otherwise examine a number of khasi in the price range specified by the sender, and abduct it from the khasi bazar.
The growth of e-shopping sites that focus on Nepal-there are probably half-a-dozen gift sites-has made it convenient for the Nepali diaspora living overseas not to miss out on festive occasions like Dasain, Tihar, and just about anything else with more-than-Hallmark potential. For Father's Day websites saw brisk sales of gifts such as suits and shirts, liquor, cakes and sweets, while Teej saw specials on saris, jewellery, and perfume. "But Dasain is definitely the busiest time. That's when most of our 2,200 registered customers send gifts to their families in Nepal," says Joshi. Thamel.com recently upgraded its site to include Dasain specials on more than just bokas and khasis. You can now order juju dahi, sweetmeats, and even clothing.
hat began with bouquets of flowers and boxes of chocolates has extended to a wide range of goodies that the Nepali diaspora in places like UK, Hong Kong, Malaysia, Australia, the US can pick from online to send to dear ones in Nepal. Like the gift, the payoff is pretty timely too-senders are emailed a digital picture of the recipient with the gift.
The deliveries are made in Bhaktapur, Kathmandu, Kirtipur, and Patan. "We're always getting asked why we didn't start earlier," says Suresh Tuladhar, CEO of netfornepal.com, another online shopping site. "There are so many Nepalis abroad who would like to send gifts home but didn't have a medium that was quick, efficient and cost effective."
Tuladhar advertises his site in community newspapers abroad and on popular Nepali websites. "Things can only get better," he says. Tuladhar is so optimistic, he's thinking of extending deliveries to other major Nepali cities like Pokhara and Biratnagar. "Of course we can't include perishable items like cakes but maybe gifts like CDs and so on would be possible." Anything goes, really, so long as it tells senders that a Nepali life is only a click away.
Where to go to send gift a goat: