Feeling bored? Nepal to the rescue!

Monotony – a word without a practical meaning in Nepal. You will never get to use this word to describe life in Nepal. Nepal and monotony simply don’t go hand in hand. In fact, I believe that Nepal should be used as an antonym for monotony. That’s how far apart they are.

I have been in Nepal for a bit over two years now, and I can tell you there has not been a boring moment this whole time. I don’t mean that I’ve been having a crazy party-animal time all along. It’s nothing like that – most definitely nothing like that.

It’s like this: there is always something happening in Nepal that makes life entertaining, exciting, frustrating, difficult and edgy. Let me explain this by using some real-life examples. Since I came here two years and 3 months ago there have been:

  1. More than 20 days of bandh. Bandh is not just a regular strike. During bandh, no vehicles are allowed to ply, and the ones that dare are often vandalized. Same goes for the shops. Often times, shops that open get vandalized. This means that people either need to stay at home and use annual leave, or walk to work. Most walk. You would get no vacation days left at all if you use your annual leave each time there is a bandh in Nepal. Kathmandu is not as bad, but in some places in Nepal bandhs can last weeks at a time. The longest one I’ve experienced so far in Kathmandu was 10 days at the time of parliamentary elections. Talk about inconvenience (and exercise)!
  2. Constitution has been almost reached and then the deadline extended 2 times. Each of these times involved a large number of protests, bandhs, gas shortages, and other annoying disturbances.
  3. SAARC meeting meant closing of the main roads in Kathmandu for several days, and traffic regulation on an odd-even licence plate system. Although, in retrospect, this was kind of nice. Not much traffic, and a very clean city.
  4. Earthquake. No elaborating needed.
  5. Constitution promulgation which, the same as no.2, invited a large number of protests, traffic jams and congestion, bandhs and even some violence. Although, it didn’t end there. Months of protesting and political unrest (read: difficulties in finding common language with Indian minority and politicians) have caused one of the largest inconveniences so far. There is no fuel in the country. No fuel means the following: extremely long lines at gas stations (up for a 15-hour wait, anyone? and you only get 10 liters of gas per week); scarce public transport (because everyone is in the gas station line) resulting in overcrowded buses and people treacherously riding on the roofs; no water as the water tankers cannot reach houses without petrol (bye, bye flushing); food supplies in stores running out (and people running to shop and stock up); airlines cutting down on flights as there’s no aviation fuel… and the list goes on and on. It’s crazy how dependent we are on the fuel. One thing affects the other and the other and so on. Currently, Nepal is a perfect example of what the world will look like when it runs out of oil. Although the world will probably be a lot more chaotic than this. Nepalis are so cool about the whole situation. Me – not so much.

If you ever wondered what it feels like to live an adventurous life on the other side of the world, do consider coming to Nepal. It will not disappoint. I cannot promise you will find spirituality and inner peace, though. You’re more likely to discover ulcers.

I simply don’t understand

* Please be advised that these are just my thoughts and are not meant to offend anyone, make accusations, or entice revolt of some kind. I am pro-law and strongly urge everyone to follow the laws and rules of the country and respect leadership and authority. There you have it.

After this short intermission, we now go back to our tales of Kathmandu. I’m not going to lie to you – many a time I get frustrated. I get frustrated because I do not understand (famous line of the Husband but that’s a story in an of itself for another post). I don’t understand how Nepali people can be so indifferent to everything. Don’t they understand that driving in the preexisting lanes and following road rules will only lessen the traffic jam, not increase it? Why does everyone always need to be first on the traffic light when time is not much of a concern here anyways? Don’t they realize that letting someone go in front of you might actually help you move faster? I just don’t get it, and it gets me so frustrated. Sometime in the evenings as I sit in the back of the car being driven home, I just want to jump out of the car, slap other drivers, one by one, across their faces, and tell them they are idiots. OK, that might be a bit harsh. But I do want to roll down my window and explain basics of normal traffic to them. But then I look around and realize it would probably take me months and months to explain it to everyone, so I just give up and try to tone down my frustration.

Why aren’t the police officers exercising their authority in a harsher manner? They just stand there, waving their arms up and down without much effort in enforcing the rules. If they would be stricter, people would obey the rules more. Are they lazy, or simply indifferent?

Fighting traffic in Nepal is a life-risking challenge

Fighting traffic in Nepal is a life-risking challenge

One other thing I don’t understand is why Nepali people are not out in the streets. I mean, they are out in the streets; they’re everywhere, all the time. But, I am referring to protesting. This is a country that barely has any electricity, almost no water (despite the fact that it’s one of the water-richest countries in the world), no welfare or any kind of social security or services for its citizens. And this is all due to lack of good political leadership. Why aren’t people protesting? Why are they taking it so calmly? They are paying taxes, so why aren’t they out there demanding their rights? I don’t understand it and it is getting me very frustrated. I sometimes want to yell: “What is wrong with you people!? Get out there! Protest, demand, ask for what you deserve!” And, no, bandhas (strikes) are not the way to do it. They serve no purpose.

Speaking of bandhas, I don’t understand why no one is doing anything about it. They cripple the country. Because of them, businesses lose money, people lose their jobs, sometimes even their property and lives. Why is no one standing up and saying: “This is enough! This needs to stop!”? Everyone is complaining quietly, in the privacy of their own homes, mumbling something about how they hate walking to work. So, why aren’t people attacking bandha enforcers, instead of letting being bullied all the time? I don’t understand. I simply don’t understand. And it frustrates me.

Nepal is an absolutely beautiful country, sadly without any rules at all. What a shame!