16 Feb 10:20:59 me: hey, how is it going? working on a saturday?
16 Feb 10:21:55 him: all fine here..except lack of water, electricity, petroleum products, etc.
I thought what an optimist this friend of mine is! Then came the crucial point -
16 Feb 10:32:49 him: it's really hard in nepal now...if u r thinking of coming back, think not twice but 100 times
16 Feb 10:33:10 me: yea, thats the advice from everybody
16 Feb 10:33:19 me: except mum of course 🙂
Well, everybody has his/her limits, limits of toleration, limits to adversities in life - and I guess my friend is also approaching his pretty soon. If not within months, I think he'll be somewhere else within a year! This actually comes only a couple of days after I received an email from my brother suggesting not even to think of coming back to Nepal! I think I'll leave this issue of returning back/running away for some other time.
Life's a mess...here, there, everywhere...
Anyway, the issue of fuel and fuel-politics is not new, and definitely not confined to Nepal. You just have to look at Russia-Ukraine and Russia-Georgia fuel-disputes in recent times. Ukrainian president was successful in buying more time before Russia cuts the oil supply, but returned with a threat of missile target if Ukraine aligned itself with NATO. But global fuel-politics aside, Nepal's situation does look bleak indeed - in a season when there is already more than 8 hours of load-shedding, shortage of petroleum will mean almost no energy at all for a third of the day!! How will the economy function without energy? I was asking my friend, who works in medical transcription sector for foreign clients, how is his company still functioning without electricity for more that 8 hours a day. He just told me casually that they use diesel-powered generator, and have been sourcing diesel in black market for more than 100 rupees a litre!
Its not just about numbers though, its about lives, about survival - as this post puts it. And its not just the woe of the locals, as this migraine-suffering rickshaw-pedalling visitor testifies to. But I have plenty of admiration for the visitors like this lady, even though she seems to have no choice but to travel to Nepal to extend her Indian visa 🙂 , for going back to Nepal again and again despite all the problems. And of course for Charles Haviland of BBC, who has been my main source of news from Nepal whether I am listening to BBC World Service in Africa or Radio 4 in the UK. In a week when he was reporting about the discovery of a potential mass grave near the capital, the news about fuel shortage look far more insignificant in comparison.
A final thought - not on fuel though! Nepali Times is probably the only Nepali (published in Nepal I mean, not the language) newspaper that I read online, although not regularly anymore but still quite frequently. When I told my friend in Nepal once that I only read Nepali Times, and no other newspaper from Nepal - his response what - "how will you know about the real issues in Nepal reading that paper published for the elite and the expats?" I thought Nepali Times reflected the issues quite well then. After a long time, I was checking last weeks' issue online, and found this article suggesting gifts for valentine's day. For the start, "How deep is your pocket?" should have been the title instead of "How deep is your love?" to truly reflect what followed. I deliberately avoided making a post on/about valentine's day this year - didn't want a repeat of last year's rant, although I had enough reasons to have a go at somebody this year too!! And I am not going to write more about this "deep-love" article in Nepali Times - you just have to read it to make your own judgement - keeping in mind though that Nepal is a country in crisis with more than half its population living under the poverty line and almost all affected by the conflict in one way or the other!! I think I now understand better why my friend was telling me why I wouldn't get the real picture of Nepal reading a paper for "the elite and the expats"! I am starting to have second thoughts about the paper myself!!!