Nepali Times
Under My Hat
Country life is better than city life


One of the ways the wisdom of the ages gets passed down from our generation to generation next is through our hoary tradition of doing our morning business in the wild yonder in groups of three or four. Even today, if one ventures to the rural areas, one sees villagers waking each other up at the crack of dawn, filling up tin cans with water and (treading carefully so as not to step on previous droppings) heading off to a scenic spot to participate in joint exercises.

By suffering irritating bowel syndrome together as a community we show that we stand by each other through thick and thin. We suffer together, exchange notes and analyse the situation by carrying out a free and frank exchange of views as we prepare ourselves for a brand new day. By doing it together in Nepal's great outdoors, we engender a spirit of solidarity with our fellow men and show that we will always be there when we need each other.

Not only is this a great way to fertilise the fields and restore valuable nutrients to the soil so that we can practice organic farming on the radish patch, but it is also a great way to save water. Just for your information, an average flush uses 8 litres of water. If every Nepali didn't flush once a day, this county would be stinking to high heavens.

No, seriously, we would save 200 million liters of water, which is the same as adding a new Melamchi Project to our national coffers daily. Just thinking about it makes me go all queasy in my soft underbelly. Since we, as a nation, can hardly ever keep our mouths shut (even while attending to calls of nature in open-air theatres during the wee hours) collective sanitation is also a valuable way to preserve the grand oral tradition of yakking our heads off from dawn to dusk.

But (and this is a big butt) With the advent of the modern water closet, this bit of Nepali folklore is in danger of becoming extinct especially in the urban areas. Today, we live in a self-centred and egocentric age where we lock ourselves up and go solo, selfishly eschewing the myriad benefits of kinship that have knit our social fabric together. What a wasted opportunity, what a loss to the national development process that we callously fritter away the chance that nature gives us daily to bring back people's participation and capacity building at the grassroots. Unlike in the villages, today in the city it is every man for himself or herself.

Urban solitary confinement also deprives the nation of downstream benefits such as the multiplier effect in ancillary industries and makes Nepal more dependent on imported chemical fertilisers. Just calculating the opportunity cost of phosphorus and nitrogen that goes down the drain nationwide scale adds up to a colossal 2.8 million tons daily loss in Gross Domestic Products, not to mention the unnecessary paperwork and other overheads.

That is 500 words, and I have another 50 words to go. In conclusion I would like to crave your indulgence, dear examiner, because I have to run to great open spaces to attend to an emergency. You can join me if you want. Ten more words to go. Five, four, three, And we have liftoff.

(11 JAN 2013 - 17 JAN 2013)