Nepali Times
Under My Hat
From the fire into the frying pan


After the past month of turbulence and turmoil when many of us had to go without regular Friday nights out at the neighbourhood watering hole and being deprived of our periodic eyebrow plucking sessions, it is good to see things finally returning to a semblance of relative normalitude in this nation of ours.

The most vivid sign of the return to a vibrant democracy of course is the introduction to eagerly awaiting consumers for the first time in Nepal of the vibrating condom (Strapline: 'No side effects') which means those of you using your handsets for purposes other than mobile telephony can now stop doing so.

The other sign that things are limping back to normalcy is that road centerline painters are busy painting lanes and zebras in the middle of rush hour on the Jawalakhel-Lagankhel stretch. What a relief it is to see that despite the monumental transformation of the country's political structure and handing power back to the streets there is still optimism in the Department of Roads that people will actually follow traffic rules and drive on the right side of the road, which of course is the left side unless you are overtaking street fauna, which is most of the time.

It's good to see that the wheels of democracy are turning again at their own exorable pace and that Sajha buses have been banned from Baglung because they had been providing a cheaper service than private bus operators. Bravo. The next thing we must do in the name of people power is to shut down the Sajha gas station in Pulchok because it refuses to adulterate petrol with kerosene like all the other private pumps.

It's been a month and our skeletal cabinet is physically incapable of expanding itself. I've heard dark mutterings about this on the op-ed pages from some chronic whiners. But please understand that if six ministers can't agree, you think 22 ministers can? Imagine the inefficiency with a three times bigger cabinet. Why break something that ain't fixed yet?

Those nostalgic about the glory days of throbbing democracy of the 1990s when parliament used to be paralysed by pyromaniacs on the streets had a chance to relive the past with tyre burning in Thapathali last week. We are making progress, though, because this time the tyres were set on fire while still attached to their vehicles.

We were also glad to notice that democracy is back with a vengeance because we have gone back to our old habit of declaring a national holiday whenever we feel like staying home. Learning from our past mistakes, we have improved on procedures by announcing the holiday only after people have arrived at their schools and offices. Forthcoming national holidays, including a day off to celebrate Mao Zedong's birthday, are a closely guarded state secret and information on these will be provided only on a need-to-know basis at the last possible moment to prevent workaholics from setting a bad example and actually slinking off to work.

Speaking of our Mao Buddies, it is good to see that they have hit the ground running with doublespeak by justifying extortion and then vehemently denying they ever demanded Rs 100 million from Dabur ("We only demanded Rs 85 million."). We owe the comrades a debt of gratitude for giving us a sneak preview of the future of our vibrating democracy.

(11 JAN 2013 - 17 JAN 2013)