The US ambassador to Nepal is like a celebrity, what she says and does and thinks is a big deal in Nepal but in America? No one has time to meet the Nepali ambassador. Efforts to seek appointments with congressmen and senators almost always go futile. An experience of a Nepali girl who dialed a lot for such appointments only to be disappointed at the end:
By Nepali Keti in Washington DC
Back in high school most papers I wrote started with my obligatory introduction, “Nepal is a small country sandwiched between the giant China and India”. But, until today I had not nearly comprehended what I’d written. ‘Small’ to me described Nepal’s physical stature, her geographic mass- which really is small (absolutely and relatively)…comparable to Florida or one of the Kiwi islands. Today though I got a taste of how small we actually are.
Last year in our senior sem, International Political Economy, a really good friend from Ghana and I had issues with conversations concerning the so called third world or underdeveloped nations or the global south or developing regions…because Nepal and Ghana were never once mentioned. China. India. China. India. China. India. (Not to mention the same thing happening in my current international unit in D.C. again). I’d always try to chip in a bit related to Nepal, but it made little difference to the conversation. I knew my efforts were futile, but I really knew it when my friend passed me a note one day in the middle of a discussion on Bretton Woods. It said “Hey Sradda, maybe your Nepal can apply to be the 52nd State of the US as the United States of Nepal and then you will have some say in IPE”. Hilarious. I laughed at the time.
But, today [18 April] the joke’s poignant point was made. My main task at the [Nepali] embassy [in Washington DC] is to call up [American] congressmen and senators to make an appointment so that the [Nepali] ambassador [Dr. Suresh Chandra Chalise] can made courtesy calls. I’ve called the office of each member of the foreign affairs committee in congress and of the twelve, managed to make two appointments. The calls were spread out over two weeks and two okays were okay with me. After all, I was making the appointments for less then a week in advance and they’ve busy schedules and all. But, yesterday I called every senator in their foreign affairs committee and not one, not one was “available”.
President George W. Bush meets with Ambassador Suresh Chandra Chalise of Nepal, Tuesday, Jan. 22, 2008 in the Oval Office at the White House, during the credentials ceremony for newly appointed ambassadors to Washington, DC. White House photo by Eric Draper.
At the embassy I was laughing and the assistant was telling me how it took her months to arrange for the ambassador of Nepal to meet some high level officials and that she was used to it. And the first or second or third secretary told me how if we were the Chinese or Indian embassy we’d have no problem getting through. But Nepal hardly makes a difference and so they’ll take forever. I thought I’d be optimistic all the same and continued to make those calls…but seriously not ONE was able to make an appointment for me. Oh, forget me…but for the ambassador.
And, then I continued to smile because I, as a person felt small and I was upset but I didn’t know how to express it to the Nepali at the embassy. I felt bad and came home. Nepal is a small country, but I don’t want to feel small…Nepal, just as any nation in the world, has the potential to be a grand figure. The US ambassador to Nepal is like a celebrity, what s/he [currently she, Nancy Powell] says and does and thinks is a big deal… Whattheheck an EX-president’s opinions matter immensely in Nepal. I hate how small I felt today. I don’t think it’s anyone’s fault…it’s just how it is. But, I want to continue saying Nepal is a small country, but I want a certain impression of that word.
Neplai Keti maintains a wonderful personal blog in which this article first appeared under the title sano desh = small country. Here is what she has written about her self and her relationship with Nepal.
9 responses to “Seeking an Appointment FOR the Nepali Ambassador in Washington”
I an quite pleased to see Dr Chalise and Mr.Bush pose together because i personally have had some acquaintance with Dr Chalise..but the news that follows certainly makes us feel small and unheard .It also shows how the big guns of the world perceive a small country like ours..it shows that the world affairs are so power centered that small voices like ours are never accounted. but then it also tells us the need to attain the level from where our voices never go in vain..let us all work together from wherever we are by whatever means we can to make our country better..lets not yield embarrassment for ever…stop swallowing the helplessness and do nothing…lets work for a change…lets be the change.everyone should add every stone to build a solid nation..this generation should wake up…lets make a difference….
I had read once………..’None else insults you without your permission.’ May be this is the case with us.
It’s gonna take hell lot of time before we actually gonna make some difference to others..
The type of treatment bestowed on Nepalese diplomats is not just a result of Nepal being a small country! There is some truth to the fact that we aren’t of strategic importance given the current geo-political circumstances but that is just the tip of the iceberg. Maybe Ms. Thapa should look into what quality of diplomats Nepal sends as it’s representatives to foreign lands. After looking into that she will come to realize that our ambassadors are typically a shameful lot who do nothing but “baijat” to Nepal. It’s not just about being a small country. It’s about networking, trying to make an impression in the diplomatic core etc. If the ambassador looks at his position as a means to enjoy and abuse perks and eat khasi ko masu everyday with the entertainment budget (this describes about 80% Nepalese ambassadors) then yes we will always be ignored. Because really who cares about Nepal if we don’t go out of our way and make an impression? To make an impression you need to have quality, well educated, cultured diplomats who know diplomatic norms. Not ambassadors who get piss drunk and pass out at diplomatic parties or Kleptomaniacs who steal books etc. So please spare yourself this self-pity and tell your Ghanaian friend to grow a pair while you are at it.
There should be certain qualifications for appointing ambassadors. I believe , it would be better if you have people who knows the economic agenda of both countries as to how they can complement each other. The Nepalese ambassador should make and send proposal as to how he can bring American investment in Nepal which is win-win situation for both parties.
These days it is all about economic diplomacy.
Look at China in Africa, China is South America or Australia / New Zealand everywhere for that matter.
I have seen plenty of ambassadors till todate and ask them for some economic vision. The answer Zip – Zero.
Sad and hate to say this , but most of them prefer to stay idle and when you see our ambassadors in other countries’ party , they just look an awful – lot !
It is better , Ms Sraddha write more about what was the agenda for the discussion between the ambassador and the senators.
Just merely hoping to meet aka see them for a small family photo would not suffice our admiration for the ambassador. Would it ?
Yes we are proud of all of them.
In the war of poor against rich surely we can have a better representation NOW.
Goodhearted less hanuman.
The world is looking at small is beautiful, a country that defeated corruption.
Not in Mexico, not in India the pacification has been so admirable.
Ambassadors come and go but the people grow.
Sraddha, dont u think that the background of an ambassadors or his antecedents, rather than the size of the country, mattrers a lot in how he or she is treated by the officials of host government? Nepal in the past had sent heavy-weight Ambassadors to Washungton like former Prime Minister, former Ministers, seasoned and experienced diplomats (including a kleptomaniac, unfortunately). Some of them had succeeded in cultivating senior senators like Charles Percy and Diane Fernstein, to name a few, on a personal level who frequently attended parties at the Ambassadors residence. You can talk to the old=timers who still work at the Embassy and get some tips that might be helpful to the new Ambassador. Dr Chalise is not the only one, there might be worse cases in other embassies, considering the background and the criteraian used to appoint the new ambassadors – the Bhagbanda.
As for the celebrity status of US Ambassador in Kathmandu, why Nancy only, all ambassadors are celebrity and have access to Baluwatar or Shital Nivs or Balkhu or Naya Bazar any time they wish.
first of all, i apologize for the gross delay in my replying to the above posted comments – i didn’t realize my entry on the appointments from my blog had been linked to this website. i’m flattered, but also feel that entry does not do justice to the issue in its entirety. if anybody cares, i’ve tried to respond to a few queries i noted above:
1. nish: yes, i too am please with ambassador chalise and hope to continue working with him to establish a more positive reputation in dc!
2. hopelessly optimistic: agreed ; )
3. madhav regmy: agreed again….but let’s not give up, hoina?
4. bhudai pundit: i cannot completely discard all that you have said, mainly because i am not altogether familiar with previous ambassadors from nepal to the us or ambassadors in general…but as far as ambassador chalise goes, i have much respect for him. he is making a sincere effort to establish official diplomatic relations with individuals in dc. just so you’re reassured, he definitely is going out of his way to make an impression =]
i also apologize if it came across as self pity, i had no intention of insulting you…but my feelings are my feelings and i think it’s fair i write what i felt on my personal blog.
5. prauhang rai: i wish i could say what the objective of those appointments were, but i’m afraid i’m not sure if the embassy would appreciate me writing that on public space. not that i don’t trust this site or you, but don’t worry….things you suggested are being considered!
6. representation: i’m not exactly sure what you were saying so i’m not sure how to respond, so this is it, sorry.
7. baby pradhan: i am afraid i must have sent a false message of the ambassador…i have immense respect for him. he has accomplished much in the academic and socio-economic development sector of nepal. he is also humble and i appreciate him taking time to talk to me. i have great faith in him and hope that i am a part of his efforts to cultivate a lasting and beneficial relationship with various dc-ers. i believe he is capable of changing nepal’s image in dc!
everyone else: thank you for reading my dingy post….i am not sure how much longer i will be interning at the embassy, but if you have further comments/suggestions i am more then excited to learn of them. my personal email is firstname.lastname@example.org and my blogspot is nepaliketi85.blogspot.com – please do contact me!
take care and jai nepal!
wir wunderbar!! – diese webzeit ist auf im deutsh – ganz toll ja!
meine deutsch is sehr schlect, aber ich bin frohlich das leuten kann diese zeite auf deutsch lesen!
und die “translator” ist besonder schnell…ich habe meine antwroten nur in die letze halb uhr schreiben und so ich muss dich gratulieren!