Whenever I find articles about Nepal, I try my best to pay attention because I want to know what’s happening back home and of course what is written about my country that could make me proud for a moment. And the fact is most of the posts disturbs me for the whole day because most of it reads “Nepal is the poorest and one of the least developed countries in the world.”
I know my country is poor and underdeveloped but hey poorest? and least developed? That is awful but I ponder- Are we that bad??? Besides Buddha being born here and the highest mountain, do we really have anything to be proud of anymore.
The question of identity is a central concern to many Nepalese as the country continues it’s rocky transition from monarchy to federalist democracy. It is in the midst of a blockade along the southern border, where a movement in the Madhesi community has been protesting against the passing of a new constitution ; provincial boundaries and proportional representation in parliament are among their concerns. Nepal is running short on fuel, medicine and other essential supplies, while the blockade is also straining relations with India, it’s southern neighbour.
The last time I went back home, I could see with my eyes what the fuel crisis is doing to the people living there. People can’t cook because they don’t have cooking gas and the price for firewood has gone up. People aren’t able to go to school and work because of the limited amount of vehicles on the road. Everyday people talk about the situation, you talk about it with everyone. The taxi driver explains why he is charging what he charges.
The people who can afford it have been able to get by okay, it’s expensive to buy an electric cooker and other things. But I think mostly about those who don’t have money or resources, how hard their lives must be right now. I don’t want to think about what will happen as the colder season creeps in, what about the victims of the earthquake? What about the sick patients who need vital medications to survive? All I can say is that our people are very resilient and we are very hospitable. Even with all the tragedies that have happened, people still share what they can, people still smile when they can. I admire that the most, their strength, their resilience, and their giving nature.
I was born and brought up in Kathmandu. I have always been aware of my mixed ethnic identity, always aware of how I felt who I am. Both my parents are Newar. And of course there are issues of class and gender. Nepal may be a small country, but it’s very diverse, with more than 102 ethnic groups that make up the population of over 27 million. I have lived abroad for almost 7 years and my identity has changed over the years. There are younger Nepali people who have written about what it means to be Nepali in a diaspora context.
As a Nepali in India and as a Nepali nationalist of some sort, it’s my identity as not only a member of a free country with freedom to return whenever but also my citizenship to the citizen of human civilization. We, me as an Aryan, are the descendants of the Persians who left to South Asia into India and into Nepal and formed the great Licchavi Dynasty and an original contribution to human civilization, language, art, architecture, many others. My roots can be traced into the greatest and the first of civilization if anyone were to challenge. I’m not a lost ‘person of color/third culture’ in a foreign land, my residence in this planet goes 3000 years and more. I’m a Hindu, the first organized religion and Nepal has some of the original manuscript of Ramayana and other ganthas which is the first sign of intellectual expressions of human kind.
We had been a monarchy for 240 years. In 2008, the king was made to step down and we had democratic elections. It’s natural for a new system to have growing pains during this process of transformation, when people are trying to figure out where they fit in.
We lived in a cocoon of monarchy where we never got the opportunity to leave the premises of our land-locked country of pessimists hence we never had any new ideas being imported or exported and certainly not from the disgruntled ‘Ke garnu’ citizens as we can see many today too. I learned civility, unbreakable family ties, great food culture of regular vegetables and fruits, the national attitude of taking things easy, endurance learned from the women of our country, the principles of fatherhood so I don’t need a book like people here do, many many many values which soar far above many other cultures I have encountered through friendship. I am 100% Nepali in my values and mentality but I’m 100% enthusiastic on adapting the progressive scientific, economic and mechanical values of society building from Western cultures which I do everyday.
I feel very much empowered to be the first generation to have the opportunity to wander abroad and meet so many people in a time like ours where things are exponentially and aggressively progressive. I see a lot of Nepalese working hard and talk about entrepreneurship everyday. They talk of restaurant building, investing in Nepal and countless ideas, community building, Nepali-neighborhood building , networking, having a community of educated and powerful youths who may someday have enough money to affect elections in Nepal by backing candidates who represent the investment and economic ideals,
I hope that NRN youths in two decades will be the Industrial giants of Nepal. We do have the opportunity and challenges but every nation has been through those stages.
As for the disgruntled Nepalese who throw their banana cloves and slip on it themselves and sit crying; try to avoid them as much as possible. There are some who have no choices and there are some who are incapable of progressing anywhere they go who I would like to call them “K garnu” Nepalese.