Nepali Times
From terrorism to tourism


Now that an agreement is near on arms management, what we want to know is who is negotiating on pressure cooker management. When are we going to turn socket bombs into water taps in this country?

While the negotiations reach a climax this week, comrades throughout the kingdom are giving us a preview of what they think a peace deal will mean: occupying Nepal TV's Kohalpur station, taking over the Hetauda Spinning Mill, trying to extort Rs 1 million from an orphanage in Thankot and lobbying to get relatives of top comrades to head corporations. We're not making any of that up, we crosschecked all the facts.

Meanwhile, the Eastern Command has put up a toll collection kiosk at Phakding right next to the entrance to Sagarmatha National Park and has started collecting parallel taxes. Trekkers were more bemused than angry, with some of them eagerly lining up to take pictures of themselves being extorted. The Maoists are also organising a cultural program in Lukla offering half-price airfare for those flying from KTM. But guess what, the tickets to the show cost Rs 25,000. This is standard Maoist operating procedure. In Dharan last month the Maoists were forcing businessmen to voluntarily buy tickets at Rs 100,000 each for their cultural programs.


Some tourists from the former-Soviet bloc who thought they had finally seen the sun set on the communist empire back in 1990 are not very amused by Asiatic commies who adorn their receipts with portraits of Stalin.

Last week, a Polish trekker on the Annapurna circuit told a Maoist extortionist to go stuff it. He was so severely beaten up by local comrades that he needed hospitalisation. A Czech mountaineer who has a severe allergy to anything that is Marxist-Leninist let loose a string of choice unprintable expletives in his native language which the baddies thought were Maoist slogans so they nodded, smiled and raised the red salute. That is why when we hear that the Maoist militia is conducting patrols along Kathmandu's streets to reduce the crime rate we really get the feeling it is like a fox guarding the chicken coop.


While all this is happening at home, the international Maoist roadshow goes on. Dinanathji and Ale Magarji were in Paris this week and apparently joined a guided tour of the site of the storming of the Bastille at the Rue Saint-Antoine. Which reminds the Ass that the Comrades have suddenly gone really quiet on their \'October Revolution\' rhetoric. Is it because we're already in November?

Comrade Terrific declined an invitation to talk at the Hindustan Times Leadership Summit not, we are told, because he was hankering after the glamour of, say, Paris. The Ass hears that he\'s actually occupied playing agony auntie to the PM\'s political pals who have been complaining to him of Girija\'s \'high-handedness\'.

However, in deciding against travel, he may be putting his newly minted title of Extraordinary World Citizen in jeopardy. Lately it\'s been all about global accolades for our Dear Leaders. The VHP seems to have missed the memo on King G\'s local lack of popularity, and decided he\'s ready for world domination, declaring him World Hindu King. Girija babu, as astute as ever, has realised his best bet for posterity is in the virgin pastures of Buddhism. He\'s promised to erect the world\'s largest statue of the Buddha on fruitful completion of the peace process. Wonder how religious tourism will fare in the Communist Republic of Nepal.


Yesterday's terrorist is today's tourist in more ways than one. The Awesome One was spotted taking the Manakamana Cable Car up to the temple over the holidays, the same ropeway that his local cadre in Gorkha have extorted millions from and even bombed one of the pylons of. This must mean bygones are really bygones. The Ass's source tell him the Fearsome Fellow didn't decapitate any goats, though, but he may have made a few secret wishes, which we will tell you all about some other time.

(11 JAN 2013 - 17 JAN 2013)