Call him Mr Daura Suruwal and he just smiles. For Bharat Basnet, Nepal's national dress is a tailor-made mission statement. Even the fabric says something-it isn't some imported synthetic material, but handspun kogati woven by Nepali hill women. "What's the use of extolling the virtues of good old Nepal to tourists if we don't practice what we preach?" asks the award-winning tourism entrepreneur and environmentalist.
Depending on how you look at it, Bharat Basnet is either a vanishing breed, or a pioneer in the renaissance of Nepali culture and a new eco-consciousness. But most of all, he doesn't just sit around like so many of us, moaning about how dirty the streets are, or how polluted the air is. He does something about it.
And it isn't just his Explore Nepal Group's much-imitated eco-friendly, traditional Kantipur Temple House, Bhojan Griha, or Koshi Tappu Wildlife Camp. Walk around Tundikhel on any given day and chances are you'll see Bharat and his staff with surgical masks on their faces, brooms in hand, cleaning the green.
When he saw the mounting piles of garbage and litter at Tundikhel, Bharat took it as a personal affront. He got the Kathmandu Metropolitan City to allow his volunteer group to clean it up. After they finished with the grunt-work on the grass, they even cleaned up the patinated old statues of Ranas on horses. There are now signs everywhere reminding people that Tundikhel is a litter-free zone.
Bharat would not leave even Mayor Keshav Sthapith alone until the KMC stopped using Tundikhel as a garbage dump. "People have to learn to be responsible themselves and stop gaping at the authorities every time something needs to be done," he says passionately. All things considered, the municipality took the rebuke pretty well-they recently awarded Explore Nepal their annual Environment Prize.
This isn't Bharat's first campaign. Explore Nepal helped throw out the diesel dinosaurs called Vikram Tempos, cleaned up the Valley's parks, and launched an anti-plastic bag campaign.
Twenty-two years ago when he came to the capital from Khotang, Bharat had his sights set firmly on a college degree. He got that and more. Today he's much more than just a successful entrepreneur, he's a model citizen.