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Politics Nepali Style

Politics Nepali-style is a bit like Korean food – a mish-mash of parties strewn about, thrown into a parliamentary pot and left to stew indefinitely. These days it seems the ultimate pickled party is the Maoists, a Communist party that fought a People’s War from 1996-2006 to reform the ruling monarchy, but have been since booted out of the government. It turns out incorporating an army of guerillas into a regular military is kind of tricky.

Kristin and I have witnessed first-hand the thuggery of the military. Stepping out of the Kathmandu Guest House and into the clogged arteries of Thamel, I saw a truck full of young army boys pull up brandishing rifles. They hopped out and apprehended two Nepali teenagers. It’s unclear what the kids were doing, perhaps committing the cardinal sin of accosting a Westerner. They were immediately thrown into the back of the truck into a den of waiting and smirking soldiers. One of the soldiers donkey-punched one kid from behind repeatedly, while another kicked the other in the face. As the truck pulled away the sounds of fist-to-face faded into the night air; TNT by ACDC played, smoking out whatever serenity was left in the streets. I turned in disbelief to a guard who had watched the entire thing. He simply shrugged. His partner was half-dressed, undershirt covering his unmoving body.

Today, June 01, is a strike for the Newaris, the indigenous people of the Kathmandu Valley, who want their own nation state. No cars are allowed on the streets, and as Kristin and I walked from our oasis, the Himalayan International Yoga Academy, we caught a ride into town on a tiny trailer attached to the back of a bicycle, usually used for transporting produce.

Nepal's finest hard at work

Nepal's finest hard at work

Strike roadblock

Strike roadblock

Newari striker

Newari striker

Nepalis love a good strike, and today is no exception. Kristin took these pictures today as we walked down a street filled only with crowds swelling as vehicles were stopped. Two young men who drove up in a motorcycle were first yelled at, swarmed, then threatened at close range by a stick-wielding self-loving Newari. After a couple of seconds, the Newari smashed his stick down on the front of the man’s bike. Two boys watched nearby, one with an arm draped around the other. I asked what they thought of the whole scene. “We don’t really care. It’s all for the Newaris. Welcome to Nepal.”

Trying to establish order

Trying to establish order

In search of nirvana

In search of nirvana

Pathos

Pathos

Welcome to Nepal, where the Himalayas cast a natural shadow over the Kathmandu valley, and waving red flags precipitate incoming storms. Without exception, every Nepali I’ve talked to has expressed zero hope for the incoming government. Here, the biggest agenda is just to get a constitution together, something which was supposed to be done last year, but will certainly not get done until next year. On the plus side, Thamel’s clogged streets are clear today, but the honking taxis and careening rickshaws will all be back tomorrow, as will the certainty of politics as usual.

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