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.