Nepali Times
Moving Target
On the Lam


Living in Interesting Times takes its toll on us all, even insensitive types like the Hand get worn down by the relentless flow of bad news and nagging uncertainty as to what comes next.

Reading the morning papers is often enough to skew the day irreparably, while staying one step ahead of marauding demonstrators and wildcat strikes seems like a full-time job. By increasing stress levels in an already hectic life, political instability undermines mental stability and peace of mind, especially when the potential for chaos and carnage looms large.

Any hopes that the signatories of the historic peace treaty weren't lying, and their signatures actually meant peace, are now dashed as the New Nepal proves to be less stable and more unpredictable then the old. Just trying to keep track of the empowerment of everybody and politicisation of everything all at once can leave one bewildered and exhausted.

All this makes leaving the country more attractive than ever, and sticking around a potential health hazard. The Hand has identified several syndromes to look out for and strongly suggests fleeing should they appear.

Rhetoric Fatigue: Over-exposure to speeches, threats and ideological drivel can lead to irritability, sleep loss, and delirium. The victim feels harangued and bullied into towing the party line by everyone he meets, while suspecting friends and family are actually undercover politicians out to ruin his life.

Obsessive Analysis Disorder: Reading between the lines of every available newspaper becomes compulsive and time consuming. Symptoms include stuffing pockets with news clippings to show cabdrivers and buttonholing strangers for their opinions on current events. Nervous twitches may occur at the sound of Radio Nepal's hourly beep and when passing newsstands.

Betrayal Rage: Symptoms include cursing out authority figures on street corners and throwing objects at the television. Sufferers feel tricked and manipulated by unseen forces for unknown, nefarious purposes. Chronic Lassitude: not wanting to get out of bed in the morning is a primary symptom, accompanied by an overwhelming sense of resignation that whatever you produce will be nationalised and we'll all end up in re-education camps anyways, so why bother?

Upon recognising several of these symptoms recently, the Hand fled abroad for a cure. The whole world feels like a spa after this place, and it came as a huge relief to confirm that there is, in fact, life beyond bad politics. Getting away is good-just ask the millions of Nepalis who have already left and unlike the Hand, aren't coming back anytime soon. While the politicos squabble and undermine each other, the economy stagnates, filling outbound flights with young men desperate to work for minimum wage. More discretely, developed countries select the best educated and most qualified from among the mobs of visa applicants, fuelling the downward spiral. There is no blame in anyone searching elsewhere for a better harvest, but the longer this brain drain continues the worse off
Nepal ends up.

The Hand fondly recalls a bygone era when politics played a marginal role in most people's lives, the economy functioned normally, and everyone was allowed to go about their lives without hindrance. No extortion/ donations, no angry rabble snarling traffic, no kamikaze trade unionism, and much less posturing to the backbeat of menacing rhetoric. This freedom from political stress and interference that is taken for granted in most countries would be highly beneficial here after so much politicisation, and the very least we should demand from our rulers is to be left to our own devices. Perhaps that's all it would take to make fleeing less appealing and give Nepal the chance for a decent future.

(11 JAN 2013 - 17 JAN 2013)