Category Archives: Reader's Vision

Reading Palpasa Café in English

By James Sharrock

Palpasa CafeThe English language translation of the best-selling Nepali novel Palpasa Café by Narayan Wagle is out now. Palpasa Café is the story of an artist, Drishya, who falls in love with a Nepali American returnee, Palpasa and also, via a college friend, sees the effects of Nepal’s conflict in the hills.

Wagle’s book stands out primarily as an alternative account of the war in Nepal and an embodiment of what the central character, Drishya, calls ‘the stand…of the people who resisted the war-mongers on both sides.’ In broad brushstrokes, like the artist Drishya, Wagle too uses the novel to protest ‘against both warring sides…., my colours showing my support for the third camp.’

Wagle best features are in the broader canvas he paints – firstly in the disappearances and general tension of post-royal massacre Kathmandu and then, of the conflict in the hills. Wagle’s descriptions of schools being blown up, emptying villages, indiscriminate bombs, Maoist attacks on district HQs and mourning Nepali families are extremely hard-hitting and powerful. Novels in this form have a resonance than goes beyond anything produced from Wagle’s journalistic day job. Palpasa Café, almost incidentally, also neatly observes the individual stories in many other aspects of Nepal e.g. diaspora Nepalis, Gurkhas, Nepali-foreigner relationships and internal migration for school and work.

There are faults and things perhaps lost in translation. The descriptions and dialogues between Drishya and Palpasa seem, at times, highly stilted. Their awkwardness is intentional but maybe loses something in English. At their first meeting in Goa the repetitive description of Palpasa’s eyes as ‘fresh, juicy’ like ‘slices of pineapple’ sounds downright corny. The vocabulary improves later though. For example Drishya writes a beautiful letter to Palpasa via her Grandmother:

Your hopes are pinned on the gods, the farmers’ on the mountains and mine on you. I made you dance and you were happy.
The day I saw you dance was the happiest day of my life. It was as though the snow on the mountains was melting in the sun and a magnificent rainbow had appeared on the horizon.

Later too the Maoist underground figure Siddhartha and Drishya argue engagingly around the age-old debates of art and politics and whether it is ‘possible to create without destroying’.

Siddhartha, the old college friend and confirmed Maoist, sums up the difference between him and Drishya saying ‘You give too much weight to the importance of the individual.’ Drishya believes ‘in the supremacy of the free individual’ and cannot accept violence and deaths in the name of a supposedly greater communal good. Wagle too runs with this thread and privileges the individual victims’ stories above all other narratives.

There are times when the story comes apart. The description around the killing of Siddhartha, who is alone at the end, appears more much vivid than the bombed bus episode later. We are also asked to believe that Drishya is spectacularly unlucky in terms of being affected by the war. The individual tragedies and conflict inside the main protagonists is not always well connected with the outer violent conflict in Nepal. In general the Maoist figures and security forces have no real role in this novel and are intentionally shadowy, almost non-human ideologues. However, Wagle himself, in his final cameo appearance within the pages, acknowledges with a wink that he might not have done his characters justice and that ‘all written works are incomplete. Something’s always missing. There’s always more to add.’

Wagle’s message throughout the novel seems summed up by a simple boatman who rows Drishya away from death:

The boatman strained against the current. ‘It’s so sad to see war in our country,’ he said. It’s terrible to see our own people die. Don’t you think so, bhai?’

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Wassup Gyanendra? Latest on Activities of "King"

So what is the king doing at a phase when constitutionally speaking, the monarchy is practically in a state of suspension?

By Tilak Pathak

Fate handed Gyanendra a windfall opportunity of becoming king of Nepal twice: In 1950 and yet again in 2001. The first time, he was enthroned for three months, a child-king without any grasp of royal ways.

Opportunity presented itself once again 51 years later in the wake of the palace massacre.
And yet, he could not hold on to his position. The six years following the palace massacre witnessed such massive upheavals that King Gyanendra’s lust for power ended up paving the way for a republic.

So what is the king doing at a phase when constitutionally speaking, the monarchy is practically in a state of suspension?

Is he waiting quietly for the axe to drop on monarchy?

“When the events in the nation disquiets even the likes of us, how can the king stay quiet?” The king’s ADC Bharat Kesar Singh says. “His highness is also concerned. That’s why he meets people.”

Like Singh says, the king’s major activity at present is meeting people- from pro-monarch leaders to intellectuals, journalists and civilians. But not openly, mostly such meetings are underground affairs. The most recent and significant one being the well publicised meeting with Rastriya Janashakti Party chairman Surya Bahdur Thapa in mid-June.

On his return to Nepal after a weeklong visit to India, Thapa “briefed” the king on what India has to say about the political situation in Nepal.

And it is not just Thapa among the former Prime Ministers. Dr Tulsi Giri, Kirtinidhi ista, Marich Man Singh, Lokendra Bahadur Chand, among others have been paying courtesy calls to the king.

Rabindra Nath Sharma, Bishwa Bandhu Thapa, Pashupati Shamshere Rana, among others, have also held talks with the king. Sources state that especially Giri, Surya Bahdur Thapa and Sharma have met the king on numerous occasions.

Aside from those with palace backgrounds, persons form Madhesi and indigenous communities maintaining a “low profile” at present have also been holding meetings with the king.

Nirnajan Thapa, Krishna Lal Thakali, Roop Jyoti and other royal ministers had also met the king in one group once.

A majority of royal ministers had reached the palace to receive tika during Dashain and on the king’s birthday last year. Continue reading

Wassup Gyanendra? Latest on Activities of “King”

So what is the king doing at a phase when constitutionally speaking, the monarchy is practically in a state of suspension?

By Tilak Pathak

Fate handed Gyanendra a windfall opportunity of becoming king of Nepal twice: In 1950 and yet again in 2001. The first time, he was enthroned for three months, a child-king without any grasp of royal ways.

Opportunity presented itself once again 51 years later in the wake of the palace massacre.
And yet, he could not hold on to his position. The six years following the palace massacre witnessed such massive upheavals that King Gyanendra’s lust for power ended up paving the way for a republic.

So what is the king doing at a phase when constitutionally speaking, the monarchy is practically in a state of suspension?

Is he waiting quietly for the axe to drop on monarchy?

“When the events in the nation disquiets even the likes of us, how can the king stay quiet?” The king’s ADC Bharat Kesar Singh says. “His highness is also concerned. That’s why he meets people.”

Like Singh says, the king’s major activity at present is meeting people- from pro-monarch leaders to intellectuals, journalists and civilians. But not openly, mostly such meetings are underground affairs. The most recent and significant one being the well publicised meeting with Rastriya Janashakti Party chairman Surya Bahdur Thapa in mid-June.

On his return to Nepal after a weeklong visit to India, Thapa “briefed” the king on what India has to say about the political situation in Nepal.

And it is not just Thapa among the former Prime Ministers. Dr Tulsi Giri, Kirtinidhi ista, Marich Man Singh, Lokendra Bahadur Chand, among others have been paying courtesy calls to the king.

Rabindra Nath Sharma, Bishwa Bandhu Thapa, Pashupati Shamshere Rana, among others, have also held talks with the king. Sources state that especially Giri, Surya Bahdur Thapa and Sharma have met the king on numerous occasions.

Aside from those with palace backgrounds, persons form Madhesi and indigenous communities maintaining a “low profile” at present have also been holding meetings with the king.

Nirnajan Thapa, Krishna Lal Thakali, Roop Jyoti and other royal ministers had also met the king in one group once.

A majority of royal ministers had reached the palace to receive tika during Dashain and on the king’s birthday last year. Continue reading

Monarchy Popularity Sinking in Nepal, But People Want Ceremonial

Peace Process Update Prachanda hints at breakthrough on arms management (follow this post)
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Opinion Poll: 87 percent of Nepalis think that ‘king and monarchy are becoming unpopular in the last few years’. But 54 percent think ‘there should be space to king or monarchy in future.’

By Tilak Pathak

At a time when Prime Minister Girija Prasad Koirala is advocating for the ‘ceremonial’ monarchy, an opinion poll has concluded that the king and monarchy in Nepal is being unpopular. But a slight majority of people, mostly uneducated, want to continue the monarchy in one form or the other. A survey conducted by a non-governmental organization called ‘Interdisciplinary Analysts’ after the April Revolution concludes, “Monarchy is becoming unpopular in the eyes of people because of the activities of King Gyanendra.” 87 percent of the participants in the poll think that ‘king and monarchy are becoming unpopular in the last few years’. Only 5 percent ‘do not think that monarchy is being unpopular’ where as 7 percent opted to choose ‘don’t know’ option. Region wise, overwhelming majority (91.7 percent) of Central Development Region (where Kathmandu is located) development region feel monarchy is going downward where as 74.8 percent in Far West feel the same.

The poll shows that the palace massacre is the reason for descending popularity of the monarchy (40 per cent think that’s the reason). A statement issued by King Gyanendra immediately after the massacre claiming that the “firing occurred suddenly from an automatic gun” created doubt about him in people. The royal commission formed to inquire about the incident contradicted the king’s claim.

32 pre cent in the poll blame king Gyanendra’s behavior and 17 percent credit royal government’s anti-democratic actions for the declining popularity of the monarchy. 4 percent think that’s because the ‘palace’s conspirative characteristic’ where as 5 percent selected the “I don’t know’ option. The conclusion of the opinion poll signals the uncertain future of monarchy and king in Nepal.

Villagers think palace massacre is the reason for sinking popularity where as city dwellers blame royal regime’s anti-democracy activities for the same. Equal number (32 percent) blame Gyanendra’s habit and activities. Religion wise, 68 percent Kirats, 50 percent Buddhist and 39.2 Hindus believe palace massacre is the reason for sinking popularity where as 16.4 percent Hindus think it’s because of the anti-democratic activities of royal regime that popularity of monarchy is sinking. 33.3 percent Hindus blame king Gyanendra’s habit and activities for the same.

Even as the popularity of the monarchy is sinking daily, the survey says, people want to continue the institution in constitutional or ceremonial form because of the traditional relationship of people and palace. Responding to a question “do you think there should be space to king or monarchy in future?” 54 percent said “yes, there should be” and 39 percent said “no”. “Nepali people are still divided over the issue of monarchy,” said Sudhendra Sharma, Director of the institute that conducted the poll. More people in mountainous and hilly region don’t want monarchy than those in Tarai area.

The more people are educated, the more they are against the monarchy. Only 28.1 percent uneducated said they don’t want monarchy where as 66.7 percent people with masters degree opined against monarchy.

Majority of those in favor of giving space to king and monarchy choose for constitutional (34 percent) or ceremonial (18) form. That means people wanting to give ‘ceremonial in whatever way’ space make 52 percent. Some 28 percent chose “I don’t know” option. 45 percent among those in favor of continuing monarchy wanted to do so because of monarchy being part of tradition where as 17 percent said it’s because ‘the ancestors of the current king unified our country’. 11 percent reason that ‘monarchy is the national symbol of unity.’ The traditional claim of the palace that ‘monarchy is the symbol of national unity’ has been contradicted by the poll result.

38 percent of those who don’t want the continuity of monarchy reason that they think so because monarchy is ‘feudal and barbaric institution’ where as 27 percent feel ‘monarchy doesn’t [help] develop the country.’ And 15 percent think they are against monarchy because ‘it worked against democracy’, 8 percent think monarchy ‘brought about division among people’.

63 percent feel Maoist problem will be solved through talks where as 13 percent don’t think so. 23 percent don’t know about the issue. 59 percent think the ongoing peace talks will solve the problem where as 12 percent said no.

Do you feel popularity of king and monarchy is sinking in the past few years? (All figures in percentage)

Yes- 87
No- 5
Don’t Know- 7
Don’t want to say-1

Where do you feel the obstructing is coming from against solving the current problem?

Don’t know- 50
Current government- 8
Foreigners- 7
King and palace- 10
Maoists-10
Seven Party Alliance-12

Peoples’ understanding of Constituent Assembly

I have heard about it- 59
I have understood- 23
I have correctly understood-18

If you have heard about the constituent assembly, do you think the election of CA is necessary?

Yes- 98
No- 1
Don’t Know- 1

Do you think CA election will be held in free atmosphere? (Asked to those who have heard about CA)

Yes- 54
No- 38
Don’t Know- 7
Don’t want to say-1

Do you think there should be international supervision of the CA election to make it free and fair?

Yes- 76
No- 20
Don’t Know- 4

Do you trust Maoists?

I don’t trust- 17
I don’t trust at all- 17
Dont’ Know- 6
I trust them somewhat- 45
I trust them very much-12

Do you trust political parties?

I don’t trust- 17
I don’t trust at all- 19
Dont’ Know- 7
I trust them somewhat- 45
I trust them very much-11

Do you feel the government is working on to restore peace in the country?

Yes- 66
No- 15
Don’t Know- 18
Don’t want to say-1

Do you feel the Maoist leadership is working on to restore peace in the country?

Yes- 68
No- 11
Don’t Know- 20
Don’t want to say-1

UWB blogger Tilak Pathak is a Nepal Magazine reporter. A longer version of the this story appeared in Nepali in the magazine.

India’s Media Card

Why Indian media are keeping mum over the biggest events taking place in her northern neighbor? Here’s an answer

Indian media are notorious for thronging into Nepal even to cover and sensationalize trivial events. But, they have ignored the ongoing movement. CNN and BBC‘s coverage is far ahead of our neighboring countries’ media. CNN and BBC have shown unprecedented interest in the latest political upheaval. In one sense, these two world-known media know the news value. Continue reading

India's Media Card

Why Indian media are keeping mum over the biggest events taking place in her northern neighbor? Here’s an answer

Indian media are notorious for thronging into Nepal even to cover and sensationalize trivial events. But, they have ignored the ongoing movement. CNN and BBC‘s coverage is far ahead of our neighboring countries’ media. CNN and BBC have shown unprecedented interest in the latest political upheaval. In one sense, these two world-known media know the news value. Continue reading

Interests of Power Centers

Amidst growing maneuvers of International power centers to serve their interest, the political situation of Nepal is getting volatile. It seems there is hardly a meting point among those power centers.

Analysis by Tilak Pathak

The Seven Party Alliance (SPA) have declared four-day long general strike beginning April 6. And the government has made it clear that it would resort to harshest measures to foil such attempts of the agitating parties. What the agitating parties believe is that the strike will help them to garner public support and help give new height to the ongoing movement for peace and democracy in the country. The preparation of the agitating parties to make the movement a success and the measures adopted by the government to foil the peaceful demonstration makes one feel that a big political disaster is looming ahead in this conflict-torn Himalayan country. Continue reading

New Royalist Party Formed While Nepal Is Under Emergency

By Tilak on March 13th, 2005 in Reader’s Vision

While the country is in a difficult political situation, and political parties unable to hold programs freely, a new party has arrived. Former Prime Minister Surya Bahadur Thapa has come up with yet another party called Rastriya Jana Shakti Party. He founded Rastriya Prajantra Party in 1991 and left that a few months ago. In a press conference organized today in the office of the new party, the first formed after the Feb 1 Royal Takeover.

When major political parties are in the state of hibernation, Thapa, a man considered a Royalist, has formed new party. Why? Some say that this is a part of a Grand Design. Some say, this is yet another effort of this clever politician to become the Prime Minister once again. He has already held that top post for 5 times. Some say that his news decision will help the government because this party is group of royalists. The foreign minister Ramesh Nath Pandey is in Geneva currently to participate in the human rights conference. There, he might proudly tell the international community: “Look, we have democracy in action. New party has just come up.”

Thapa has his own explanation: Government didnâ t give permission to gather cadres. So I have to announce the party from this building.

He also declared that he has postponed a ‘Broad National Democratic Conference’ that he had announced to hold at this time citing the state of emergency. According to that announcement, he would convene a ‘Broad National Democratic Conference’ to give rise to a new democratic force in the country.

Differentiating between the State and Nation, Thapa said that State is an administrative structure while Nation is a structure in which substantive equality and opportunity is made available to all the people which his party believes.

2 Responses to “New Royalist Party Formed While Nepal Is Under Emergency”

1. Bishn Chetri Says:
March 13th, 2005 at 7:20 pm

Mora haru Kehi gardainan…party matra ta kholne hun…

2. Peter Francon Says:
March 14th, 2005 at 12:11 pm

Oh here we go… Come along Young Nepalis! Where is the New Blood, where are the New brains and Policy Creaters? Where are all you young bright educated souls?

This aged fool has crept in with yet another blurred image of the same old nonsense party politic. What will he do for the nation! Come on! Ask yourselves out loud! He will DO Nothing!

The newspapers claim “The Party’s Central Work Performance Committee” has finalised the flag! How can Anyone take them seriously. Itâ s laughable.

Where’s the “Road Building Plan” – The “Teachers Pay Structure” â â The Hospital – Improvement/Building Plan” ALL WITH RESPECTIVE BUDGETS… Revenue Collection, why has it taken 200 years to create a pathetic Revenue Collection System.

The King doesn’t build roads, that’s not his job â Heâ s the â State Figureheadâ , it’s the job of Government to build roads, political parties just prioritise such activities. Now the “Fund Stealing” problems are being addressed, letâ s see a new party come up with a strategy to build a viable road network. Roads lead to markets and markets lead to revenue creation. Can you think of a better place to start.

I’m British, the Romans built our roads, but you can build your new roads now the stolen money is coming back into STATE COFFERS (Take note CIAA AND Government Secretaries!) The people WILL NOT accept state theft any longer.
If a new Party cannot present a viable manifesto for progress, they face public ridicule. Beware Mr Thapa, donâ t make yourself a â laughing stockâ !