Sunday, April 12, 2009

From Chitwan, Nepal

With electricity eight hours a day at most and internet connections slow and unpredictable, turning on a computer and blogging about a family holiday seems somewhat besides the point. (As the Doctor put it: ""You Two! We're at the end of the universe, eh. Right at the edge of knowledge itself. And you're busy... blogging!", Doctor Who, "Utopia") Nepal is a country which overwhelms, perhaps mostly in the contrast of tragic conditions of most human life here against the spectacle of the land itself, especially the mountains. Outsiders here, whether tourists like myself, mountain trekkers, seekers of one denomination of enlightenment or another, or aid workers in brand-new ATVs too wide for the roads, seem like distractions in a country which has a lot to settle on its own terms, from ecological catastrophes, the numbing divisions of caste, ethnic group, region, class, and gender, the unsettled heritage of regicide, revolution and civil war, to the all-too-common difficuties of the transition from agrarian to urban society. Some of these problems do have an international dimension, for example the effect of climate change on glaciers and the resultant water supply problems. Religion seems an area of relatively calm, with an astonishing fluidity between the various sects in the Hindu and Buddhist traditions, but their are signals that this may no longer be the case, with (ironically, perhaps) the new "non-sectarian" state attempting to control some religious practices - for example, the appointment of priests to temples - in something, for better or worse, like the Turkish model. That said,my overwhelming impression is that the land functions and people survive, if only at a subsistence level, in a complex of informal networks and markets, independently from when not despite the institutions of state. (I think Hardt and Negri's Multitude gets some of this right, but their attachments to some pretty ugly ideological and theoretical baggage ultimately sinks their project.)

All that said, I appreciate the quiet and kindness of all the people I've encountered here. (Even theauto horns, though used frequently, are at least 30 db quieter than those in Germany). The residents of Kathmandu all seem to have a highly advanced sense of proprioception as they manage to negotiate their bodies through streets filled with every kind of transport medium. My children are having a grand time, even sharing a river bath with elephants. And I've learned to cook momos, the local version of the stuffed dumpling. When I'm back next week, I may even have something to write about music.

1 comment:

bhuwan said...

Life in Nepal is what we call a spiritual. We as Nepalese are looking to move forward from the bleak point of bad things being surrounded. If somebody has to look this country, he/she should be familiar with the tradition,livelihood and topography of it. Politics is a point but not everything for us. It is now, from where we have to reach the apothegm from the good wishes of the outsiders. As the insiders, the hard work, determination and commitment are required; which I feel the current Nepal and its subjects are looking for.

Nice to see your comments about Nepal. Happy journey in Nepal, please try to make it environment friendly as possible.