Foreigner’s Eye: Encountered Nepal in the United States

Denise A. Freeman
Denise A. Freeman

By Denise A. Freeman

[विदेशी आँखा- bideshi ankha- Foreigner’s Eye]

Nepal is a country with its heart splayed-open. The massive deforestation, human and sex trafficking horrors, glue-sniffing street children and poverty are all hard to ignore. And with each problem or issue, there are hundreds of well-intentioned NGOs. Each with a mission to tabulate data, document, and or help decrease, resolve or eradicate ‘a problem’. But while many are engrossed with these various projects, others are hiking, climbing, rafting, gliding, flying or just shopping in the streets of Thamel, Jamel or New Road. But behind some of the highest peaks in the world, Nepal has without question, some of the most down to earth people in the world. In fact, for what Nepal fundamentally lacks in, such as a consistent supply of electricity and clean-water, it tries to make up for in hosting and hospitality.

My very first encounter with Nepal began when I went to Salem College in North Carolina. A group of about twenty young, bright Nepalese scholarship students took the college by storm, along with all the top academic excellence awards. They were smart, hard working, ambitious and before long, introduced Momos and Daal Bhaat into the school’s menus. More importantly, each wanted to return to Nepal, to do their humanitarian bit for the country. Over the years, as I came to know more about Nepal through the lives of my fellow classmates, it became evident that the Nepalese also have a great affinity to help and to heal.

A model and pride to the nation for displaying such charitable works and my sole reason for coming to Nepal in February 2010 is Ms. Anuradha Koirala-a formidable woman who has tirelessly helped, housed and offered hope to hundreds of needy children, women and families. My admiration and interest in her and in her good cause, led me to embark on the writing of Mrs. Koirala’s biography. As such, I returned to Kathmandu in December of the same year and found myself in the predicament that many and perhaps most visitors and researchers encounter when they visit Nepal. That is, how does one extend their visa?

How my three weeks in Nepal evolved to four months is of interest to everyone in my life-including my beloved dog that waited for me to return to London before taking her last breath. By the third time I had extended my stay, I had organized Thongba Mondays with my Nepalese mates, Jazz Upstairs on Wednesdays with the expatriates and weekends away via motorbike at Nagarkot, Pharphing, Daman, Kakani, Shivapuri or wherever else my new friends wanted to take me. In fact, at least two Nepalese families had ‘adopted’ me, and one family was ready to have me move into their guest bedroom for an indefinite time. Then there were meals with the parents of friends and their friends and a steady stream of kind and sincere offers for anything I needed, anytime. And there was nothing that was impossible or ‘out-of-the-question’ for a friend, or a friend of a friend to assist me with. Through pure Nepalese hospitality and the sheer desire to help, I was able to interview every single person on my list from former Prime Ministers to the heads of police to various persons in prison. Making my entire trip to Nepal personally and professionally, fulfilling.

In place of the darkness that blankets the streets of Nepal, there is a loving kindness that glows and shines brightly from within many Nepalese. And where there is no heat in the heart of winter, there is enough warmth and open heartedness to go around. Which is why I so easily stayed on for seconds and thirds.

[विदेशी आँखा- bideshi ankha- Foreigner’s Eye] is a column in Kantipur newspaper, Nepal’s top daily in which foreigners who have lived or visited Nepal or are living in the country write about their experience with Nepali society. A translated version of this article appeared in today’s issue of Kantipur (see the pic below).]

Denise A. Freeman Kantipur article
Click to enlarge (ठूलो पार्न क्लिके हुन्छ)

Peaceful Nepal? Number of Armed Outfits ‘Goes Down Drastically’


The Ministry of Home Affairs (MoHA) has claimed that the number of armed outfits operating across the country has significantly come down, thanks to the government’s operations against the groups that were launched nationwide one-and-a-half years ago.

While there were 108 groups earlier, only 26 of them are active now. According to MoHA Joint Secretary Sudhir Shah, who is also in charge of the Peace and Security Division at the ministry, only 10 armed outfits are active in the eastern hilly region while 16 are still operating in the Tarai and Madhes belt. Continue reading Peaceful Nepal? Number of Armed Outfits ‘Goes Down Drastically’

Maoist PLA Integration: Latest Updates

1. The Party decides to end dual security to its leaders (removing Maoist PLA guerillas from some Maoist leaders’ security details. These leaders will continue to receive security from the government police/army)

2. Party hardliners are not happy with the Party decision. They table note of dissent.

3. The Party convenes a meeting where PLA guerillas/commanders are present. PLA men tell leaders to get unified- endorsing the Party’s decision and giving a blow to the hardline faction led by Mohan Baidya.

Here are events detailed in chronological order: (today’s report at the end)

JUN 01 – The United Communist Party of Nepal (Maoist) on Wednesday (1 June) unilaterally decided to end the two-layer security being provided to its leaders–a key demand of the main oppossition, Nepali Congress (NC)–amid opposition from the party’s hardliners. A meeting of the party’s office bearers also decided to bring vehicles being used by Maoist leaders–most of them stolen ones–within the legal ambit through proper registration. The NC had given the Maoists until Friday (3 June) to bring an end to the system where the former rebels get an inner layer of security from PLA men and the outter layer from the state security forces. Over 100 PLA combatants have been deployed for the security of Maoist leaders. There are 50 combatants for the security of Chairman Pushpa Kamal Dahal alone. Continue reading Maoist PLA Integration: Latest Updates