Sunday, February 03, 2008


In the dark
Kathmandu, Nepal

The people who run the breakfast place were so glad to see me, I almost didn't get to eat. My long-awaited banana porridge went cold as I answered questions. Sangeeta Didi,* when did you arrive? Where have you been all this time? LONG time you not come to Nepal! How long will you stay? Sanchai na hunccha (everything all right?)

The only possible answer for this last one is a big smile, and: "Ahilye Nepal maa, sarbai dehri ramro chha." ("Now that I am in Nepal, everything is very good indeed.")

I always feel like I'm coming back to visit a family - one that's internally highly dysfunctional, but externally wearing the perpetual stoic game-face. Even the corrupt politicians and gun-toting commandos whose photos dominate the paper are followed like wayward relatives. Hmm, there's Bhattarai, haven't heard from him in a while...what's he threatening now?

But, it's official: this country is broke as a joke.

As previously mentioned, there is no diesel and no gasoline. This is because the Nepali Government can't pay its bills to Indian Oil.

After sinking to more than one billion (that's billion with a B) Nepali Rupees in debt to its creditors, India finally cut them off.

One billion rupees, can you imagine? I bet they were like, "uh....can we get ya next week??"

At first, I just thought I'd been given a hotel room with faulty wiring. But electricity is off more than it's on; power cuts are in effect eight hours a day. This was just increased from the previous six hours a day enforced since January.

We now get power from 9pm till about 1am and 6am till noon. Needless to say the few manufacturing concerns still operating in the nation are barely able to function. I am typing now in a downtown cyber-cafe running on some kind of battery backup.

If I had wanted to be in a place with no current, I could have just stayed in Ladakh.

Full news coverage here.

I'd better hit SEND before the power goes off. Din din ne, ek naya samasya aunchhu. (Every day, a new problem comes along.)

*My real-world English name translates as "joyful religious song." The closest Nepali name equivalent is Sangeeta.

1 comment:

c said...

not keerthana? (do they actually have keertana in nepal? I only know andhras with that name)..

nice photo grasshoppa.