6-12 March 2015 #748

Holy guacamole

Nepal’s tourism calendar is filling up with exciting events, reinforcing the country’s image as an “adventure” destination and proving once more that Nepal is not for the faint-hearted. Closing the airport for four days was a brilliant move. It improves the Nepal brand by allowing the country to play hard-to-get. It adds an additional sense of mystique and exoticism, excitement and unpredictability to a Himalayan horriday. This public relations masterstroke allows us to build on international publicity after Tribhuvan Incontinental Airport was placed in the Top Ten Worstest Airports in the World for the third year in a row in 2014. This week, TIA is trending all over Buzzfeed, YouTube, Huffpost -- free worldwide publicity that money can’t buy.

But this doesn’t mean we neglect Nepal’s traditional attractions like our cultural heritage and festivals. Which is why the Maoist Million Man Long March last week was such a great tourist draw. Where else in the world (besides Pyongyang) can you in this day and age see portraits of Kim Il Sung and Stalin adorning the stage at a rally organised by a party inspired by Mao Tse Tung? Next time, Time Warp Tours and Utopian Nostalgia Travels should sell package tours to those who still think Communism is a bed of roses.

Never a dull moment in the Nepal Spring. After the May the Force Be With You Show last week at the Khula Munch, the nation marked Holi festival with two holidays: one for the Madhes and one for the Pahad. This country has already been carved into autonomous federal units, what are they arguing on about?

There has been a lot of speculation this week about why BRB air-dashed to Delhi in the middle of his party’s shindig. Whenever a Nepali leader hops on a plane heading south, people are always passing snide remarks like: he’s kowtowing to the Mughal Emperor, he’s gone to pay respects to the Delhi Durbar, he is sampling the betel nut at Yamu’s Panchayat Paan at Connaught Place, or all of the above. It’s not funny, OK. An ex-PM going to India to tattle about another ex-PM from his own party is a matter of serious national importance and a last-ditch attempt to forge a consensus between netas and babus in Delhi about what should be their Nepal policy. Luckily for Comrade Red Flag the closure of Kathmandu airport has meant he has got to extend his stay in Delhi and work some more to build that consensus.

Back home in Kathmandu, even if there is no water in the mains there is enough in the drains to splash each other this Holi. It is important to bear in mind the importance of observing and conserving Nepal’s festivals. Otherwise, pretty soon the only customs we will have left will be the one at Tribhuvan Intermittent Airport. Look, for instance, at our national past-time of partaking of a noon nap at Tundikhel. There used to be a time when Tundikhel was so jam-packed with our snoozing ancestors that it was standing room only. Latecomers had to move to Sano Tundikhel, and even that got pretty full up on some lazy winter afternoons.

But today, you’d be lucky if you saw even one person dozing there. The relentless march of time in a globalised world with its consumerist materialist juggernaut, and the rat race of our stressful urban lifestyles have all contributed to making the glorious practice extinct, and the nation is a whole lot poorer for it.

But all is not lost. Over at the CA Secretariat, there is no hurry to get the constitution finished anymore, so the entire staff has been rendered unconscious. Nearby, at the Ministry of Rest and Recreation senior civil servants have been caught napping at their desks, and keeping the tradition of national siesta alive.

This Holi Week, the Ass was glad to see that we respect our hoary past and rich heritage by getting stoned out of our minds and lobbing lolas filled with Bagmati effluent at damsels on the sidewalks totally soaking them from head to toe. Hahahahahaha! (Blood-curdling laughter.) So fun.

If, god forbid, Holi disappears we will no longer be able to dab war paint on our faces and prowl neighbourhood streets ambushing innocent passersby and rubbing toxic red powder into their eye sockets. Har-de-har-har! (Boisterous chortle and guffaw.) So laughable, yar.

However, it is my sad duty to bring to my mirthful readers’ notice that these fun and games, these magnificent customs, may soon be a thing of the past. They are now under threat from a spoil-sport administration that has announced that those hurling water balloons in the restricted area in front of the CA building will be tear gassed. Miscreants will be nabbed on the spot on a first-come-first-serve basis so that no untoward incidents take place.

Read also:

Adventure Tourism: A billion dollar industry?

Kathmandu airport closed

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