A couple of gender-sensitised readers have written in pointing out that the cow we used as a model in this space last week is actually not a cow at all, but a bull. We immediately launched a thorough investigation, threatening Nepal\'s greatest livestock photographer with dire consequences, and have come to the painful conclusion that, yes, the cow in question is indeed an ox. A bull he is.
In fact some of you may have recognised him as none other than the Resident Alpha Male of Chabahil Circle. And we owe a debt of gratitude to the observant readers who seem to know their oxen. (Always wondered about that one, why not oxes, or why not: "Where do I put these boxen?") Nepalis are grateful to the Prime Minister that at last "smuggler" is not a bad word anymore, and the bandicoots of contraband will now get the recognition they deserve. This great national pastime and a lynchpin of our economy is finally coming out of the closet. At parties across Kathmandu last week, well-known smugglers were finally not shy to introduce themselves:
"Oh, have you met? He smuggles ball bearings."
"Pleasure, I\'m sure, we smuggle motherboards."
"Hello. Cell Phones."
"Hi, pleased to meet you, our family has been in money laundering, but we will soon be moving Russian uranium."
At last smuggling is getting multi-sectoral official acknowledgement to make it as easy as possible for foreign joint ventures. The first signs of change are already visible. The airport arrival now has the Red Channel (something to declare), Green Channel (nothing to declare) and the Back Channel (pre-paid smugglers with prior arrangement).
Royal Nepal Airlines used to serve Teacher\'s whiskey in its Shangrila Class. Now, moving with the times, there will be the fine single-malt Old Smuggler on offer. There are plans to have three classes: Economy Class, Chyangra Class and the premium Smuggler Class near the cockpit. A special cargo hold has been set aside for contraband so that traders don\'t have to flush gold bars down the toilet for later collection anymore.
The yellow arrival card for Nepalis will soon be amended.
Occupation (tick box):
Nepal should resist becoming a member of the World Trade Organisation. The biggest enemy of smuggling is global free trade. The soon-to-be-set-up Ministry of Smuggling and Human Resources is ex-pected to accord due priority to this sector by announcing a one-window arrangement and an incentive package that includes working visas and a five-year tax holiday for non-Nepali smugglers who want to set up shop here. Only by opening up smuggling to international competition will Nepal as a nation benefit in these challenging times. Otherwise we may be forever stuck to taking bulls across the border.