Nepali Times
Under My Hat
The essence of chicken


If all the various species of jungle fowl that mankind has domesticated over the course of its history, none have had such a profound impact on human civilisation as the factory-bred broiler. Take our own country, where the chicken may not have the same status and flamboyance as the national bird, the danfe, or the national bird-in-waiting, the monal, but our poultry industry has almost as many patriotic songs written in its honour as those rare and resplendent pheasants. For example, the popular ballad, An Ode to a Deceased Cock that goes:

Rato bhale kwae kwae.
Sutkeriko nama gari
Tauko maile khaye
Hey, hoina maile dhanteko
Satte satte dharo dharma
Jhuto kuro chhaina boleko!

Now, we all know most Nepali folk songs are made for dancing, not translating. But this one has to be turned into English to give us a flavour of the high status that we have traditionally accorded chickens in Nepal's socio-cultural milieu. In fact, if most of our intersections didn't already have statues of various national heroes adorning them, it would be fitting that a bust in honour of the unknown hen be put up urgently at the Chabahil Roundabout. All together now (sung to the tune of Rato bhale):

Red rooster,
Cock-a-doodle-doo to you, too!
I fed you to the mother of a newborn babe
But I ate your head,
I swear. (And I'm not making this up!)

Some of you more alert readers will have noticed that chickens have been in the news lately. Prominent members of the poultry community were invited this week to the Meet the Press program at the Reporters' Pub where they spoke up on a wide range of issues of national and international importance that are now coming home to roost.
Hungry for news, the gathered journos badgered the fowl leadership with tough questions which they fielded with equanimity, poise, aplomb and, yes, even guano, from the podium. We have just retrieved a transcript of the Q&A session of the press meet and, in the interest of transparency and the public's right to know, we present below a short excerpt after carefully deleting expletives, anti-monarchist slogans and bird droppings:

Rishi Dhamala: Welcome everybody to this session of the Reporter's Pub. We are glad to have with us today a delegation of the All-Nepal Federation of Fluless Feathered Friends to assure us that they are in the pink of health, and we can safely eat them without dropping dead in the process. As proof, our panel of speakers today have kindly agreed to have their heads chopped off and be grilled by members of the press corps. OK, who wants to go first:

The Fowl Times: Mr Chicken, sir, we have eye-witness reports that you actually crossed a filthy road twice this morning. Why did you do that?

Chicken McNugget: Because I am a dirty doublecrosser. Harharharhar. Just joking.

FT: As a followup question, what is your response to chicks who claim that it was they who came first, and not eggs?

CM: I think they are reactionary running dog lackeys of global imperialism, and you can quote me on that. However, I don't want to get into a polemical debate on this issue. All I want to tell the higher-up authoritarians is not to underestimate our potential to create havoc and not to make the mistake of counting us before we hatch.

Dhamala: And that about wraps it up for today. Thank you everybody. Dinner is served.

(11 JAN 2013 - 17 JAN 2013)