Lak is right on track about these Aidwagons (Here and there, #172). It is an irony that people who drive SUVs to shop in Bluebird also preach about clean air and poverty alleviation. SUVs not only encroach the narrow streets of our cities and towns but also increase the administrative cost of Nepal's Foreign Aid/Grant that sustains our moribund economy!
. I want to thank Daniel Lak for bringing up the subject of the ubiquitous "aidwagon". Although there are many more important issues to be faced in Nepal at the current time, I feel that you do raise some valid points that both INGO/ diplomatic workers and Nepali politicians would do well to consider. When I lived in Nepal as a student, the antics of the Pajero classes never ceased to amaze me. The very fact that such vehicles have been the subject of political corruption scandals in the past, should have been warning enough for Kathmandu's wealthier residents to be a little less ostentatious.
In 2002, I lived in a block immediately behind the British embassy and could see into their compound from our roof. Water was supplied to our building twice, at 4AM and 4PM. After two months, the water supply to Lainchour was cut off altogether. It took people 10 minutes to carry water from the communal pump in the neighbourhood. On the other side of the wall, we could see the entire embassy fleet of Land Rovers being liberally cleaned with pressure hoses (they were never even that dirty).
As a British citizen, I felt rather embarrassed by my attempts to explain this to my landlords: something about how the ambassador had to make a good impression and the vital importance of spotless vehicles to that end. At one point, I gave up trying and griped with them instead.
I know all these things are minor in comparison to what goes in Nepal, but it is important that foreign communities consider more carefully the effects of living like kings in Nepal and the longterm effect that this will have on how Nepali people view us.
RCA South Asia