The Maoists and the Seven-Party Alliance have come to an historic agreement (not on every point, but they're getting chummy). The Maoists' unilateral ceasefire, which everyone from the common people to the UK to the EU asked the King to reciprocate (he refused) ends on December 3rd; a major demonstration is planned for December 2. Tension is mounting as the new strange bedfellows wonder if they'll have to throw down with the King.
What will His Autocracy do next? It's hard for an outsider (or anyone) to assess the goings-on. Opinion on the street and in the press appears to be that the King is not planning to compromise, but attempting to consolidate his power. Rajendra Baid, the journalist who had been in Delhi on a hunger strike to the death demanding a return to democracy and media freedom, a few days ago called off the strike at behest of his colleagues. Former Nepali Student Union leader and outspoken democracy advocate Gagan Thapa is out of jail, for the moment.
The ceasefire, while it did take a bit of wind out of the royal sails (keeping peace? that's supposed to be my job), was welcomed, but was not exactly a complete stoppage of violence. There were plenty of reports that the Maoists (and teenagers with guns calling themselves Maoists) continued to abduct and "disappear" rural people including schoolchildren and their teachers; demand donations, and otherwise carry out their usual activities, as did the Army.
This blogger isn't taking any side or advocating anything at all; just commenting on the complexity of the situation. The average foreigner's experience here, after all, is not even the tip of the iceberg - just the maraschino cherry on the tip of the ice cream scoop atop the iceberg, or in this case, glacier.
In modern America, and even in Kathmandu city, it wouldn't mean quite so much just to shut down FM radio - newspapers and cable TV are everywhere. But when visiting villages on the outskirts of the Valley, one realizes the significance of the airwaves crackdown. Many of the villages do have electricity (evidenced by the unsightly wires in my photos), not to mention transistor sets. Radio programs -Nepali folk music or the occasional Bollywood hits- blared from many a cottage as people participated in the fall rice harvest, winnowing, threshing, pounding and sifting golden grains. Newspapers are available only by slogging all the way down the roadless hills on foot, into the nearest "town" with a high street and a shop. And the older, rural generation often doesn't even read Nepali. Literacy outside the cities is quite low. To censor radio is really to deny the villagers access to word from the outside world.
...desperate measures. Is anyone else as hooked on Desperate Housewives as I am? Never thought I'd have anything in common with Laura Bush. It's equal parts American Beauty and Twin Peaks, the Danny Elfman score adds brilliant tension, and I love the narrative voiceover, done by the ghost of the dead neighbor who pulled a Hemingway in the pilot. But I personally can't believe that even a stupid materialistic bitch like Gabrielle would stay with a beastly, abusive pig like Carlos....
This just in.... Radio Sagarmatha has resumed transmission following the favourable Supreme Court order.
Somewhere between Kangra, Kashmir and Kumbakonam, India
Sirensongs moved to India in 2002 to complete her six years' study of the ancient temple dance, Bharatanatyam. Apprenticing with a revered master in Madras, she learned a great deal; however, most of it was not about dance.
Disillusionment and childhood memories of "Tintin In Tibet" have led her to adventures as a spiritual investigative reporter throughout India, Nepal and Sri Lanka; as documented on this blogsite, her Flickr photo portfolio and various newsmedia (see sidebar).
She holds a certificate in Spoken Sanskrit from Rashtriya Samskrta Samsthan (deemed university, New Delhi) and is a lifetime member of ABHAI (Assoc. of Bharatanatyam Artists of India). Sirensongs is inordinately proud of her ability to read street signs and argue (successfully) with taxi drivers in Malayalam, Hindi, French and Nepali languages.
Her Tibetan, however, is still a total disgrace. She's working on it.
Quote: "Why do people go to India to find themselves? India is where you go to LOSE yourself."
Unless otherwise noted, every word and photograph on this website, including the phrases "Spiritual Investigative Reporter" and "Indologist at Large," is original and copyright from 2005 into perpetuity by Sirensongs (yes, I have a real name I use for legal purposes). It is not public domain. It is not there for the borrowing. If you would like to use it, write and ask nicely. Karma is a bitch. Thank you.