Nepali Times
Nation
Home away from home


SHEERE NG



SHEERE NG

Suddenly Nepal's expatriate population has doubled with foreign election observers, journalists and diplomats. And all this is happening in the middle of the tourist season. Hotels are packed, Thamel is crammed.

Many long-term foreign residents of Kathmandu have been part of Nepal's recent history, and have seen it all. They love Nepal, which is why they stuck it out through thick and thin. Living in Nepal they have gotten used to life being more unpredictable than in their own countries. Many have also had the time to form their own views about the complicated world of Nepali politics.

Although they couldn't vote on Thursday like their Nepali neighbours, they are hopeful about the future. "The election is good for democracy but dangerous for peace," says Michael Gallio from Switzerland.

Craig Brown, owner of a software development company, Sustainable Solutions, says the country needs a different kind of revolution. "True greatness comes from having a great heart. Great leaders of the past have understood this, and I hope the Maoists will understand it too," he says.

This week, Maoist chairman Pushpa Kamal Dahal reiterated his party's commitment to accept the election result. Japanese author Kiyoko Ogura, who wrote Kathmandu Spring, says the leader is likely to keep his promise and is confident that he can rein in his more hot-headed cadres even if the Maoists do badly.

Despite the sporadic violence, most Kathmandu-based expats have no fears for their own safety. "No one ever seems to target foreigners," says Colin Gibson, a volunteer from Scotland, "they are only concerned with fighting each other."

When asked the inevitable question about who will win, most expats say there is no way to tell. "Even two days before the elections, Nepalis hadn't made up their minds who they would vote for," says Jason Ngan, who runs the Singma restaurant in Jawalakhel.

Ngan has been a keen observer of politics here, and adds: "The UML and NC didn't live up to their promises, but I think many voters are also afraid of the kind of changes the Maoists might bring if they win."

Foreigners who have spent more time outside the Valley have encountered more sympathy for the Maoists. Another Scottish volunteer who stayed in Rasuwa, Sindhupalchok and Dolakha says she met many Maoist supporters. "These people are desperate to see change in the country," she told Nepali Times.

Whoever wins, Ngan says he hopes they will stay in power long enough to implement effective policies. When asked if he worries for the future of his business, he says he worries more about the livelihoods of his employees. "When this place is no longer nice to live in, I can pack my bags and go. But Nepal is their home and they can't leave just like that," he says.

With two uneasy weeks still to go until the final result is announced, many foreigners say there is little anyone, least of all them, can do except hope for the best.

Joakim Enegren from Finland sums it all up: "It's about time. After all the upheavals, Nepal deserves a happy ending."



LATEST ISSUE
638
(11 JAN 2013 - 17 JAN 2013)


ADVERTISEMENT









himalkhabar.com            

NEPALI TIMES IS A PUBLICATION OF HIMALMEDIA PRIVATE LIMITED | ABOUT US | ADVERTISE | SUBSCRIPTION | PRIVACY POLICY | TERMS OF USE | CONTACT