Cartoon: Diwakar Chettri
One collateral damage from the earthquakes (aftershocks ongoing even as we speak) is that some Nepalis seem to have lost their famous sense of humour. Seriously, we’ve stopped laughing at people slipping on banana peels. It’s no joke. Slapstick humour that used to make us LOL and ROFL till as recently as 24 April instead makes us feel like puncturing someone’s gizzard.
For example, I fail to see the humour in this alleged joke:
Q: What is the difference between an astrologer and a geologist?
A: An astrologer can predict the exact time and date of the next earthquake. But a geologist can only give you a 100-year time frame.
Don’t laugh. The Federation of Nepalese Astrologists (Locktantrick) finds it absolutely unfunny because it’s true: Nepal’s asstrologers can’t just forecast aftershocks to the exact minute and second next Tuesday afternoon, they can even predict its epicentre and Rectal Scale to the nearest decimal point.
BTW, geology and geopolitics have more in common than we realised. Geologists have now proven what some Nepali politicians had been warning us all along: that India is pushy. In fact, it seems that the Indian landmass has had expansionist tendencies for over 75 million years ever since it broke away from Gondwanaland, shed Madagascar and Mauritius along the way, and sailed northwards, ramming headlong into China. And this is where geo-tectonics and geo-politics converge because, as Founding Father of the Nation Prithvi Narayan Shah recognised long ago: “Nepal is a Bazooka Bubblegum between two large molars.”
The result of the Indian plate pushing us relentlessly against the Eurasian plate is that we’ve had no recourse but to go up. This was fine as long as it gave us the highest mountains in the world which we could climb 22 times without artificial oxygen, without underwear, and wearing only flip-flops in order to land ourselves regularly in the Guinness Book of World Records. But at the rate we are being shoved around, in another couple of million years, Nepal will be flattened to a thin zigzag wall about 5,000km long, 25km high and a 100m at its widest point.
This is already starting to happen. As India and China come closer, we have already lost Lipu Lekh. Along the Tarai, border pillars have been sometimes known to move northwards by as much as 50m in the course of one night. Nowhere else on the planet is continental drift happening at such a rapid pace. At this rate, Buddha will have been born more and more inside Nepal each passing year, and we will have to adjust our time zone to make it 37 minutes ahead of Indian Standard Time instead of the current 15 minutes. The other piece of good news is that the earthquake moved Mt Everest 1m to the south, which means the world’s highest mountain is now wholly in Nepali territory. Lose some, win some.
Political anal-yeasts in the capital are currently divided between those who favour a national unity government and those who don’t. Most of us couldn’t give a rat’s posterior. National or anti-national, either way they will purloin tarpaulin. In fact, instead of setting up a national government maybe we should have got together with Nepal’s donors this week and set up an international government.
The real question preoccupying our lameduck ultra-national leaders about reconstruction is: who will head the body? Dr BRB, who is currently headless, would have been the perfect candidate, but his arch-rival Comrade Awestruck feared @brb_laldhwoj would gain too much political capital and pulled the rug from under him. KPO suspected BRB would outshine and outlive him. And Kangresis were afraid the Doc would actually help the millions of people living out in the open and make the NC look like idiots. Now that KPO and PKD have both joined the Yellow Hat Sect, their only worry is that Jhusil Da will get too comfy and prolong his stint, or that the Prez will throw a spanner in the works by siding with the Supremo Court.
So, this is what the gobblement means by being “accountable”: kleptocrats keep careful accounts of the cuts they get from the arabs and kharabs that have been donated for earthquake relief. And since no internationals had any confidence in the Prime Minster Relieves Fund, the PMO hit on a cunning plan: get the Nepal Army, the APF, the Nepal Oil Corruption and the Nepal Electrified Authority to donate to it. So what if it’s like one hand giving to the other? At least there is now a fat amount sitting there ready to be misappropriated.
There has been a lot of criticism that GONe is indecisive. Far from it. Jhusil Da has proven himself to be a resolute and speedy decision-maker. It is under his watch that the government moved quickly to ban relief for quake victims after June 3, imposed a 30% import duty on water purification units, told Chinooks to go home, declared a one-year state of emergency in Kathmandu to attract tourists, and inaugurated buses with toilets on the Kathmandu-Pokhara route thus declaring road transportation to be open-defecation free. He also decided on lifetime car and chaufferus to ex-PMs. Besides the Education Cluster or Logistics Cluster, he may decisively decide on a Cluster on Cluster Bombs. (Oops, alleged joke.)