Nepali Times
Under My Hat
Updating proverbs to suit the Times


Let me first say by way of preamble that I am neither pro-verb nor anti-verb. As journalists we are not supposed to take sides and are neutral on this and all other issues, which means we never have to make up our minds about anything, ever.

In fact, waffling is a professional requirement in this field. That is the beauty of being a member of the press corps: our neutrality doesn't allow us to chose between right and wrong, so we never bother.

But I digress. The problem with proverbs is that they are getting fast outdated. For example, take the saying: 'Early to bed and early to rise makes a man healthy, wealthy and wise'. So, what about women during the holy festival of Tij? Does that mean they can go to bed late and get up at noon? No fair.

Personally, I have been going to bed with the cows (let me quickly clarify what I mean is that I go to bed concurrently and at approximately the same GMT as the inmates of the neighbourhood dairy) and waking up with the cocks (don't you dare laugh) ever since I was born. Yet I am not yet wise, and my health and wealth still leave a lot to be desired. Whoever made that prehistoric proverb, and I am sure it was a woman, please see me during the break.

Just to show you how obsolete some other prevalent proverbs are, let us now turn our attention to a few examples and collectively suggest amendments to them so that they are relevant to the interesting times that we live in:
'To find oneself between Scylla and Charybdis'

Now, I have done a Google search and I can find no one named either Scylla or Charybdis. Who on earth are they, and why should anyone be ensconced between these two ladies, if indeed they are ladies? That is why we need to update this proverb by altering it to: 'To find oneself between India and China' which means, basically, that we are, for all intents and purposes, squeezed between a rock and the deep blue sea.

'Beggars can't be choosers'
Oh yeah? Since when? Ever since this country overthrew the Rana Yoke and replaced it with other governesses, we have been beggars and we never gave up our fundamental human right to beg to make our ends meet. We could have chosen to make this country great, but being beggars, we chose to ride horses instead. This proverb should therefore be altered to read: 'Too many beggars spoil the broth'.

'Barking dogs seldom bite'
I know from past experience at the Great Chakupat Garbage Stockpile that this is hundred percent not true, and I have a gash in my shin to prove it. The really dangerous street dingos these days are the ones who are in the payroll of the agitated parties and don't just bark but also burn tyres which are still attached to their vehicles. Therefore, unless I hear a voice of dissent, this proverb has henceforth been amended to read as follows: 'Let sleeping dogs remain in their respective mangers refrain from telling the truth'.

'Every ass loves to hear himself bray'
Present company excluded, I have met a lot of asses in my life, but not one has been what you might call garrulous. In Upper Mustang I once came across a herd of rare and endangered Tibetan Wild Ass, but they were all quietly munching the grass or chewing the cud or whatever it is they do to while away the time up there on the plateau. But nary a syllable escaped their lips. This proverb is completely erroneous, it is misleading, and an insult to assdom. It should, without any hemming and hawing, be changed to: 'An empty vessel is the devil's workshop for a horse who can be lead to the water but still doesn't want to be prime minister under Article 127'.

(11 JAN 2013 - 17 JAN 2013)