Monday, March 10, 2008

The Waiting Land

Scenes around town
Kathmandu, Nepal

Dervla Murphy wrote a great book about her travels in Nepal, called The Waiting Land. Some twenty-five years later, Nepal still has that feeling....of waiting.

There was no pro-Tibetan action at the Chinese Embassy today, for Tibetan Uprising Day - but there were a whollllle lot of Nepal Army and Armed Police guarding the Embassy building, for several hundred feet in every direction at every chowk (crossroads). I took one photo of the guys hanging out with their riot shields and then a guard stopped me.
The king may have been sidelined, but he's still in his
palace. It's protocol as usual at the western gate of Narayanhiti Palace, aka scene of the 2000 Royal Massacre. As far as the loyal retinue are concerned, the king's still an incarnation of the Hindu deity Vishnu. These dapper fellows in traditional dhauri-suruwal and topi are the Pravesham Patra (entrance protectors), along with the world-famous Gurkhas, of course - one of whom cracked a shy smile for me.

::These two brothers were doing temple duty collecting used lamp wicks at Bhatbateni Devi mandir this morning.

::Election posters dot the city, explaining the process to Nepali voters. There hasn't been a proper election in Nepal for nearly 12 years. Despite the fact that it's a multiparty election, the only party logos and advertisements I see around town are CPN (Maoist).

People who've seen the new jillion-dollar US Embassy Compound say it's a literal bunker, going six storeys underground. Evidently I am not alone in believing that Nepal will likely be a staging area for the coming showdown between India and China.

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