The Nepal Digest - Dec 20, 1998 (3 Poush 2055 BkSm)

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The Nepal Digest Sunday Dec 20, 1998: Poush 3 2055BS: Year7 Volume81 Issue3

         S E A S O N ' S G R E E T I N G S ! ! !

Today's Topics (partial list):

        A Nepali Poem
        TND co-ordinator interview (finally)
        Introducing Berea College
        Help needed
        Nepal: dangers to women
        Copyright violations by Bhagat
        Seeking Chris Evans

 ******************************************************************************
 * TND (The Nepal Digest) Editorial Board *
 * -------------------------------------- *
 * *
 * The Nepal Digest: General Information tnd@nepal.org *
 * Chief Editor: Rajpal JP Singh a10rjs1@mp.cs.niu.edu *
 * (Open Position) *
 * Editorial Columnist: Pramod K. Mishra pkm@acpub.duke.edu *
 * Sports Correspondent: Avinaya Rana avinayar@touro.edu *
 * Co-ordinating Director - Australia Chapter (TND Foundation) *
 * Dr. Krishna B. Hamal HamalK@dist.gov.au *
 * Co-ordinating Director - Canada Chapter (TND Foundation) *
 * Anil Shrestha SHRESTHA@CROP.UOGUELPH.CA *
 * SCN Correspondent: Open Position *
 * *
 * TND Archives: http://library.wustl.edu/~listmgr/tnd/ *
 * TND Foundation: http://www.nepal.org tnd@nepal.org *
 * WebSlingers: Pradeep Bista,Naresh Kattel,Robin Rajbhandari *
 * Rabi Tripathi, Prakash Bista tnd@nepal.org *
 * *
 * +++++ Food For Thought +++++ *
 * *
 * "Heros are the ones who give a bit of themselves to the community" *
 * "Democracy perishes among the silent crowd" -Sirdar_Khalifa *
 * *
 ******************************************************************************
********************************************************************* Date: Dec 18, 1998 To: The Nepal Digest <nepal@cs.niu.edu> Forwarded by: tnd@nepal.org <TND Foundation> Subject: A Nepali Poem

        "YATRA SAMIKARAN"

                 by sirdar_khalifa
                 nov 12, 1998

   Sastragyan ko adhyana abhilasha le
   Pahile muglan panse
   Ani artha-tantra ko paribhasha le
   Puna: muglan panse
   Ani ek jug bitechha - ghar, angan ra deshko itihash ka
   Pana ka yada harule jaba ghanti athyayo,
   Chhoto abakash liera swadesh panse!

   Oho! yahan ta unnati ko mula phutechha,
   Lagyo, swatantrata-bad ko chhulko le
   Dharati ra janabasi ko darda mitechha
   Ani chhaskiyera khol chyati pana paltaunda
   Yehan ta diunsai milijuli lut machechha
   Bharaute ra pachaute ko khanaki chalechha
   Ra, bastawikta ko manahus chehara le
   Mero mastiska ma barambar pitechha!

   Yehan ta pet palna
   Mehanat haina, iman-jaman bechnu parne rahechha!
   Pilsidai, naitikta bechnu parla bhanera
   Puna: muglan panse,
   Ani, katkidai sondhe aphulai -

   Kangres, timi magchyou samyabad ko bali!
   Emale, timi magchyou samrajyabad ko bali!
   Arpp, timi magchyou kas-kas ko bali!
   Mawobad, timi magchyou sari panch ko bali!
   Tara, tirkhayeko ganti ra bhokayeko pet kotardai ma bhanchu -

   Samyabad ra samrajyabad ko matra kina ra?
   Sari panch ra mawobadko matra kina ra?
   Mata magchu, chhati thokera
   Yi sara ra ani 205 ko bali!

   Ani, Yehi bali-bhumi ma jotne chhaun
   Jana swotantrata ko hali!

***************************************************************** Date: Thu, 10 Dec 1998 13:15:05 +0500 To: editor contributions <nepal@cs.niu.edu> From: "F.A.H. \('Hutch'\) Dalrymple" <hutch@htp.com.np> Subject: Rajpal J.P. Singh interview (finally)

Interview with Raipal JP Singh, Editor/Founder of The Nepal Digest
(With F.A.H. /'Hutch'/ Dalrymple)

 Note: I had the opportunity recently to meet and chat with Mr. Singh at his
 parent's house in Dhobighat, a district of Paten (Kathmandu), when he was
 here in Nepal on a holiday visit (Tihar and Bi-Tika, last part of October).

 I expected a much older man, but Mr. Singh is but 32-years of age,
 remarkable considering all that he has accomplished in his short life! He
 has lived in the U.S. for the past fourteen years, and thus an Americanized
 Nepali (in terms of speech and manner). A charming man, actually, whose
 dedication to bring democratic change to both Nepal and America is very
 much evident in the following responses to my questions (and our always
 continuing discussion)!

 He, like me, is an 'activist,' in that we believe in actually doing
 something about the world's problems... Not just complaining about them
 (feeling impotent). We believe that one person CAN make the world a better
 place to live!

 His 'visiting' (business) card reads 'Rajpal JP Singh, Senior Systems Engineer,
 Platinum Technology, White Plains, N.Y.'

Quiz question... What do the president of Necon Air and Greta Rana, an
 American living in Nepal for 25 years, have in common...?

HUTCH: Mr. Singh, tell me about your background, and what was it like
 growing up here in Kathmandu, Nepal?

SINGH: I attended St. Xaviers here in Jawalakhel, and was exposed to
 American culture there, books, movies, television programs (documentries),
 and music. I found myself sort of interested with this strange but new
 culture, American culture. But, then I went to New Delhi for what's called
 'high school' in America or 10+2 here. I graduated from TAFS
 (The Air Force School). When I returned to Kathmandu I shared with
 my father that I wanted to further my higher education in the U.S.,
 but he didn't think it was a great idea for two
 reasons. One, it would cost a lot of money, and secondly I could have
 easily gotten a Nepali Government scholarship to study in South Asia or any
 eastern European country because I had done very well in my 10+2 school
 (distinction). In addition, I think he didn't want his son to struggle
 in a new country at such an early age. I think he was just being
 practical and a very caring father. It was, after all, a very expensive
 proposition. But, I was determined to go to the U.S. I thought that the
 best place to pursue further education, especially in computer science...

HUTCH: Where did this desire come from?

SINGH: At the time there was no opportunity to study computer science in
 Nepal.

HUTCH: So how did you over come your father's reticence, and end up in the
 U.S.?

SINGH: First we raised the money by selling some property and my parents also
 contributed from their own retirement fund (my parents are such great
 people!). Next, we fought the visa 'battle.' A family friend of ours had
 attended Northern Illinois University in Dekalb, Illinois, so that's where
 I applied. They have a very good computer program, and I wanted to study
 computers.

HUTCH: What was the thing that surprised you most about the U.S., after you
 first arrived?

SINGH: When I finally got there everything was so different and new. I felt
 'uneasy.' But I felt 'at home,' about a few things, at the same time.
 Everyone was so nice to me, and before long I felt more comfortable. I
 learned to maneuver in American culture, which is different from Nepali
 culture, of course... I was glad to discover you didn't need a facade in
 social situations, nor was there any real protocol vis a vis business. I
 discovered an openness that I'd always hoped that I would find
 somewhere... I sort of liked it. I suddenly found myself in an environment I
 resonated with in some ways... Thus, I spent six years acquiring two
 degrees, a B.S. and an M.S. At the same time I was teaching and working
 as a staff engineer at the University... Then a consulting firm for IBM
 recruited me, because I had a background in the Internet. So, I moved to
 White Plains, New York. But, actually, I wasn't really an employee, but a
 'consultant,' and with a friend we financed a company we called
 'Supernova.' That relationship with Supernova lasted three years. But,
 ultimately, due to the lack of further venture capitol we had to close our
 doors. Then in 1997, I found myself in the job market. But, it wasn't too
 long before I got a job with Memco, another computer company, that
 specialized in computer security systems. Recently they were bought out by
 Platinum Technology.

HUTCH: Why and how did you start The Nepal Digest?

SINGH: Along about 1990, after the 'revolution,' in Nepal, and with the
 restoration of democracy, there was this euphoria! I could feel it from my
 friends all the way in the U.S. It was a hopeful time. I wanted to bring
 some form of expression to this 'feeling.' I wanted to empower the people
 in some way. I had been an editor of a printed social publication, thus I
 immediately thought of print, although it turned out to be too expensive!
 I was looking around for a solution, when I thought of e-mail, the
 Internet... That was April, 1992. I did a few mass mailing to solicit some
 kind of response. The idea immediately caught fire! I remember I'd get 10
 to 15 subscriptions per day and that grew to twenty-five! Within one year
 we had 1,200. Now, it fluctuates between 1000-1,200, and these are all over
 the world, although mostly Nepal and the U.S. But, the amazing thing is
 our WEB site (www.nepal.org)... It's getting 1.5 million 'hits' per year
 now!

HUTCH: Subscription via e-mail is basically free?

SINGH: Yes, as long as you have a computer and an e-mail account. This is
 a service we provide, the 'publication,' on-line either via e-mail, or WEB
 site. You can get the Digest via email, provided
 by the Computer Department at my old alma mater, Northern Illinois
 University . My old professor, Dr. Neal Rickert, an Australian by birth,
 has been very supportive. Without him, I don't think we could have done
 it. Separately, I contribute roughly $1,200 of my own money for the TND
 Foundation website (www.nepal.com).

HUTCH: So, how many people are involved in the everyday effort to produce
 The Nepal Digest?

SINGH: Basically me, though there has been tremendous help from a few folks
 when I needed it... Of course, all the material comes from contributors
 like yourself. I don't edit anything... It probably takes me something
 like 20 hours a month to produce.

HUTCH: How many submissions (articles, etc.) do you get a month?

SINGH: The electronic journal is published once every week and I would say
 there's around 1,200 to 2,000 lines of material in each issue!

HUTCH: And what's the 'story' on The Nepal Digest now, four years later?

SINGH: We've found out a lot, that it's a great way to share ideas... Isn't
 that what democracy is all about? It's a common platform, in which any
 interested party can make unedited contributions. Of course, we get
 complaints all the time about people wanting it this way, or that way.
 They complain about the content, about the length of contributions, but we
 adhere to our basic goal of providing a forum, and letting the chips fall
 where they may. They're aren't many on-line forums like this with Nepal as
 the basic issue, though a few new ones are coming... I feel like I have a
 moral obligation to provide such a forum, so the common man might speak
 his mind.

HUTCH: So, what do you do when you're not providing a 'platform,' for us
 out there who think we have something important to say...? (he laughs)

SINGH: My life is pretty busy here in New York, due to my full-time
 job and the TND Foundation. We have a discussion group, besides The Nepal
 Digest. I have other commitments too. But, I like doing what I'm doing!
 Can there be a better way to spend your time? I also like to ride my
 bicycle, go trekking, and I read a lot. I also love all kinds of music.
 Recently, I'm trying to learn golf... Let's see what happens with that.

HUTCH: Do you think you can ever make the transition back to Nepal?

SINGH: I would hope so... Seriously, I think I will eventually, but I'll
 have to learn to change the things I can and accept the things I
 can't.

HUTCH: What are your future plans, vis a vis, The Nepal Digest? I know you
 and me have discussed getting it printed in Kathmandu, for local=
 distribution...?

SINGH: Well, I'm into issues that affects people's lives... For example,
 the problems with child labor, and girl trafficking/prostitution, and
 raising living standards in Nepal. If there's some group in Kathmandu,
 that shares our commitment and passion, then I'd love to combine forces!

HUTCH: What are your hopes and aspirations for Nepal, the U.S., the world,
 and also yourself? Where and what will you be doing in ten years?

SINGH: In Nepal we are taught to accept our fate, our lives, no matter
 what... In America, children are raised to believe they can change their
 lives, their fate if unacceptable to them, and add to the world. I'd like
 to produce some new mythology for Nepal that would set future generations
 free from a fatalistic, and a deterministic philosophy/religion that locks
 them into, just accepting things as there are. I'm lucky... I was born and
 grew up in Nepal, but then was able to absorb an entirely new mythology
 that set me free in a way! And a personal freedom that has allowed me to
 expand my horizons beyond what most of us back in Nepal could fathom when
 we were growing up... Knowing this, I can see what has held us back in
 Nepal, and I'd like to help change that! But, for right now, let's begin
 by sharing, discussing, expressing any and all views that matter to us-let
 us learn to speak out! Let us become a true democracy in Nepal!

HUTCH: In that case here's your chance to say something to the
 readers/contributors of/to TND, but have never had the 'right opportunity.'
  So, say, away!

SINGH: Never forget that 'Democracy perishes among the silent crowd!' So
 keep expressing yourselves! Additionally, let's not forget that just
 simple love is the most powerful force on earth, and with it we can
 overcome just about anything! And may all the Gods be with us in this
 endeavor!

Kathmandu, Nepal

********************************************************************* From: "tati ya" <pim308@hotmail.com> To: NEPAL@cs.niu.edu Subject: news posting Date: Wed, 09 Dec 1998 23:59:25 PST
                                                                         Visa racket at the Nepal Embassy in Bangkok

I'd like to inform all the Nepal Digest readers - and through TND, the Foreign Ministry in Kathmandu - that the Nepal Embassy officials in Bangkok are involved in an illegal money extortion scheme . I'm based in Bangkok and am a regular visitor to Nepal. For my second visit to Nepal within six months, I decided to apply for my one-month visa at the Nepalese Embassy in Bangkok instead of at Kathmandu airport. I was charged for the visa service US$25, which must be correct as it was the same amount I was charged at Kathmandu airport for a month's visa last April. But here is the extortion: I was asked to pay 1,500 baht at the exchange rate of 60 baht to a dollar and not 900 baht at the rate of 36 baht a dollar, which is the current exchange rate. I pointed that to the visa official. Thai baht was 60 to a dollar in Januray this year. But now it's gone down to 36 baht. So, I should be paying only 900 baht not 1,500 baht. But I was told that was the official policy and I must pay 1,500 baht. Then I asked for a receipt.
" You already have your visa stamped and that is the receipt." I love Nepal and I am used to these things about the country. I know embassy officials are probably very poorly paid and need to make some money on the side. But many new visitors to Nepal will not understand that. I think these Nepali embassy officials in Bangkok are a great shame to Nepal; it surely is downright embarrassing for Nepal that their embassy officials are selling their country's image so cheap. I request the Nepali Government to investigate the matter.

John Carpenter Bangkok

****************************************************************** Date: Wed, 16 Dec 1998 12:18:02 -0500 From: "Gaury Adhikary" <adhikary@umich.edu> To: NEPAL@cs.niu.edu Subject: Re: The Nepal Digest - Dec 15, 1998 (29 Mangshir 2055 BkSm)

To the Editor, TND

Dear Sir

This is in response to Mr. Ashutosh Tiwari's letter dated Dec. 15, 1998 I fully agree with Mr. Tiwari's argument that Nepal needs Basic health = care rather than the sophisticated , costly medicine.=20 ANMF's main goal is to provide information to the practicing health care = provider in Nepal ( Nurses, Doctors, Pharmacists, Public health care = workers etc.) at a teaching center ( TU Teaching Hospital) so that this = information will be disseminated to the rest of the health care providers = of the country. Assumption here is : if people have the knowledge and = skill , they will find the way to implement and execute it. This way a = total body of health care providers in Nepal will be empowered with = knowledge to help the general population of Nepal. This clearly is to = supplement to what is already being done in Nepal; it is never an attempt = to supplant the process in existence in Nepal. As has been mentioned before, ANMF is jointly run by North American and = Nepali health care providers to achieve this goal. ANMF provides the = various materials ( Books, Journals, equipment, Seminars and conferences, = Continuing Medical Education meeting etc.) only on request from Nepali = counterpart: in other words it only attempts to fulfill the Nepali need as = decided by its Nepali chapter What ANMF cannot and does not attempt to do is to provide health care = service to each and every village in Nepal: it is obvious that it would be = akin to running a parallel program to the health services of the government=
 of Nepal. I am sure Mr Tiwari would agree with me that this is simply not = feasible for a voluntary organization to attempt to achieve in a realistic = way.=20 ANMF is in its very beginning and what we need now is support and active = participation from everybody concerned with Nepali health care scenario. = For more information on the ANMF I urge TND readers to visit ANMF Website = at: http://www.mednetsystems.com/anmf Please direct all your queries about ANMF to my e-mail add: adhikary@umich.= edu

with regards, happy holidays, Gaury S Adhikary, M.D. Ann Arbor, MI

***************************************************************** Date: Fri, 11 Dec 1998 12:03:46 -0500 (EST) Forwarded by: Ashutosh Tiwari <tiwari@fas.harvard.edu> To: nepal@cs.niu.edu

Towards Conserving Communities by Anil Bhattarai

BOOK: Communities and Conservation: Natural Resource Management in South and Central Asia Edited by Ashish Kothari, Neema Pathak, RV Anuradha and Bansuri Taneja Delhi: Sage Publication, 1998
--------------------------------------------------

Till not long ago, official, state-led conservation efforts in South Asia, as well as elsewhere in the world, focused exclusively on regulations which were based on codified laws. During the seventies, many countries in this region passed legislation and created institutional structures for the implementation of conservation policies. These policies focused exclusively on the establishment of Protected Areas in the forms of national parks, wild life sanctuaries, and nature reserves, etc., which were very centralized and had little flexibility within them.

There was little room for the participation of local communities in making decisions regarding the use and management of natural resources lying within these Protected Areas. The main assumption lying behind these efforts was that human beings and conservation are antithetical to each other, and that nature conservation therefore requires restricting available natural resources from human use.

This assumption, however, is changing. Local communities are once again coming into the center-stage of conservation. There is a growing realization that conservation cannot be successful without the participation of local people and of the communities who depend on local resources for their livelihood.

        "A sea change is taking place in conservation across the world," write Ashish Kothari, R.V. Anurathd and Neema Pathak in their introductory essay to Communities and Conservation: Natural Resource Management in South and Central Asia. "From standardized policies and programs initiated by centralized and urban-based agencies, a slow but definite shift is taking place towards decentralized, site-specific, community based activities." It is this shift, and many emerging issues within this concept of Community-Based Conservation, that the articles that follow analyze from different angles.

        Communities and Conservation compiles revised versions of twenty-eight papers presented at the "Community Based Conservation: Policy and Practice" workshop organized by the Indian Institute of Public Administration with support from UNESCO's "Man and Biosphere Program" in Delhi from 9 to 11 February, 1998. The book is divided into four major parts.

        The first part includes two introductory essays, which are followed by six country status papers in the second part. The third part includes nine articles which primarily deal with emerging issues in conservation by drawing on the lessons learnt in different countries. The fourth part includes eight case studies, seven of them from different parts of India and one from Sri Lanka. The experiences of Community-Based Conservation have brought into the fore many issues, problems and prospects.
        
        In the book's second introductory essay, Michel Pimbert and Jules Pretty have tried to analyze the institutional structures of conservation bureaucracies and outside agencies. They argue that the current setup "inhibits the devolution of power to the local community." Many other articles call for a change in the state structures currently responsible for conservation. Official conservation policies all over the world were, and in many instances still are very much centralized, and they do not pay much attention to site-specific practices. This oversight has engendered conflict between the goal of conservation and the livelihoods of the local communities which directly depend on the resources within conserved areas.
        
        The emerging experience from conservation at the community level have shown new and promising vistas. New practices and understanding of conservation have led to institutional transformation. G. Raju has outlined the emerging institutions on the basis of the experiences gained in the Joint Forest Management in India and the Community Forestry Users Group in Nepal. Both of these programs are totally different from official structures. They are decentralized, they are run by stake holders, and they are site-specific, and therefore flexible.

        They have also brought into the open the fact that the community is also not a bed of roses. This has had wide range of policy implication as far as conservation is concerned. The threat to conservation does not come from those who depend on the natural resources for their livelihoods. On the contrary, these communities are the ones who actually have real stake in conserving resources.

        Communities and Conservation can be useful to students of various disciplines who seek to focus on natural resource and conservation, and to planners, conservation officials and researchers who are focusing on these emerging practices at the grass roots, and on the changing policy context of conservation.

(Reviewer Anil Bhattarai is writing a Master's thesis on park-people conflict, and is a member of the Management Committee of Martin Chautari.)

Humanity Three Thousand Years After The Bomb by Joel Isaacson

BOOK: Riddley Walker by Russell Hoban First published in by Jonathan Cape in 1980, reissued by Indiana University Press in paperback 1998.

***********************************************************************************************

***********************************************************************************************

Little is spelled out in Russel Hoban's Riddley Walker, but a great deal is allowed to emerge through the broken-down tongue spoken by the population of "Inland" (England in a dark future). This language, invented by Hoban, is difficult to read even for a native English speaker. In the early pages, a gang of workmen are shown working to the rhythm of this chant:

Gone ter morrer here to day Pick it up and walk a way Dont you know greaf and woe Pick it up its time to go Greaf and woe dont you know Pick it up its time to go

London Town is drownt this day Hear me say walk a way Sling your bundel tern and go Parments in the mud you know Greaf and woe dont you know Pick it up its time to go

Heard it and the news of 10 Sling your bundel haul agen Haul agen and hump your load Ever bodys on the road

This tongue is reminiscent of a southern English rural dialect, but its idioms, words, and usages are like scars on the psyche of the speakers. It is a language of refugees, of foraging bands that wander for generations half starved, through a poisoned environment. It is a twisted brutal English shaped by a mutilated world.

Riddley Walker begins in the year 2347 O.C. (Our Count). As the tale unfolds we begin to recognize what can only be the aftermath of a nuclear war. The "Bad Time" is over, but the shredded memories of the holocaust that took place thousands of years before haunt humanity like a nightmare. Ancient legends tell of generations of bent and twisted human mutants who were hunted down and killed by untainted survivors. They tell of mass starvation and cannibalism, of the nearly total obliteration of civilization and knowledge.

        Humanity has crawled its way out of the nightmare and emerged in a semi-literate Iron-Age. As in all oral traditions, history is couched in rhymes, rituals, and chants. The Bad Time has become humanity's central myth. No records or writing survive from before the Bad Time, and the pre-holocaust world is shrouded in mystery, remembered in legends that try to make sense of ruined machines, and of the buildings whose functions have been forgotten along with the technology that created them. No one even knows what caused the Bad Time.

        Now, more than three millennia after the Bad Time, the earth is starting to heal. New soil is forming as the scant woodlands start to encroach on "sour ground." Agriculture has been taken up again, and the semi-nomadic foraging bands that were humanity's most successful social unit since the Bad Time now fight against the pressure to settle permanently on the land.

        The countryside between the new farms and the old nomad stockades is dominated by packs of ferocious, highly intelligent wild dogs. To travel between settlements in a crowd of less than five, without spears and bows, is to risk being "dog-killt." This is a brutal time. Sudden death is commonplace.

        A travelling puppet show is Inland's principle religious act. The show is performed by the two heads of government, the "Pry Mincer" (Prime Minister) and the "Wes Mincer" (Westminster), who travel with their army of "hevvies" from farm to stockade, spreading their party line, collecting information, and plotting against each other. Their obsession with rediscovering two lost secrets from before the Bad Time-"The-One-Big-One" (nuclear fission) and "The-One-Little-One"
(gunpowder)-entangles twelve-year old Riddley Walker in a bizarre ritual quest.

        A mysticism to rival that of medieval Europe pervades Inland. Every settlement, every tribe has its own oracles, its "Tell Woman" and its
"Connexion Man." Riddley Walker is himself a Connexion Man. His role and his skill is to see the meaning hidden in things and events, and to reveal them to his tribe. When he finds himself the focus of inexplicable events (the wild dogs begin signaling to him), the meanings he reveals become prophetic. Like all prophets, he is despised in his own land. His escape from his own stockade, to save his life, starts him on a messianic quest through power places and altered states of consciousness.

        Beyond the magic of the language, the haunting vision of the future, and the bizarre twists of the story, what makes Riddley Walker remarkable is Hoban's ability to imitate and reveal the universal processes of the mind. We see leaps of intuition that are dead-on correct, although they are based on incomplete, corrupted data. It is as though in its hunger for truth, the human mind creates it from whatever is at hand.

        This book demands a lot from the reader. It makes you work. Without a high level of competence in English and some background in European civilization you don't stand a chance of understanding it. Even if you come to it well equipped, you may find yourself wondering what is going on until about page forty. Why bother with it then? Because the book pays you for your efforts with interest. It stretches you. You will not be able to shake its images from your mind. You may never see your world in the same way again.

(Reviewer Joel Isaacson is a writer and an architect living in Nepal.)

Published in KPRB, vol 3 no 14, 8 Nov 1998, coordinated by Manjushree Thapa

AUTHOR: Iyer, Pico. BOOK: *Tropical Classical: Essays from Several Directions*. New York: Alfred A. Knopf, 1997.

                        A Movable Sensibility

                        Reviewed by Samrat Upadhyay

        How do you go about reviewing a book in which the essays range from the black and white texture of New York City, to a portrait of a
"merrily smiling" Dalai Lama in Dharmasala, to a condemnation of the pathetic and apathetic characters of minimalist American writer Ann Beattie, to a witty treatise on how the comma gets no respect? Subtitled
*Essays from Several Directions*, Pico Iyer's *Tropical Classical* comes at you from, um, several directions, mocking, prodding, challenging, lamenting, making a poignant observation here and ridiculing it elsewhere, and, most of all, laughing.

The overall effect is that *Tropical Classical* delights the readers, engaging them with the sights and sounds of as far flung places as Bhaktapur and Ethiopia, and whirling them in verbal pyrotechnics that leaves them, toward the end of the book, craving for Silence, which aptly forms the title of the final chapter with these words as homage to its power: "In love, we are speechless; in awe, we say, words fail us."

        So how does one review essays which aim to, according to the author, "romance the possibility by looking at the everyday," when the everyday zigzags from Bombay to a monastery in California? One, too, has to come at it from several directions.

        A good place to start is with "In Praise of the Humble Comma," for here Iyer demonstrates his love of the English language, the minute details of its make-up that can make or break a sentence. Punctuation marks, declares Iyer, are traffic signs of the literary road: a period is a red light; a semi-colon is a stop sign requiring the writer motorist to halt, then proceed slowly; and a comma is a flashing yellow that warns us to slow down (What about the colon? Although Iyer doesn't say, we can surmise that it's the traffic cop with a shrill whistle, making us jerk our heads).

Iyer's love of language permeates the entire book; for example, the way he catches the odd, endearing ways English adapts to foreign soils. "I am very suffering," moans an overworked driver in Ethiopia. A street palmist in Bombay promises to answer such questions as, "Do I fall in love too easily?" A sign in a Bhaktapur guest house advises customers: "Hot Shower
(Only in Winter) from Morning to 10:30 a.m. Please Deposit your Precious Goods to the Manager for Safety (Otherwise no Responsibility). Cloth Washing is Strictly Prohibited."

        Self-described as "a global village on two legs," Iyer is keen on dissolving, or witnessing the disintegration of, the boundaries between the East and the West, between The Third World and the First, between high and low culture, and between the tropical countries with palm-lined streets and the European "classical" countries with cobble-stones and pillared houses.

        The hybrid global village has preoccupied Iyer for quite some time, from the early *Video Night in Kathmandu*, which contains a chapter devoted to his adventures on Freak Street with its famous pies and drug peddlers, to *Cuba and the Night*, in which he depicts the troublesome romance between an American photojournalist and a beautiful Cuban. "I am simply a fairly typical product of a movable sensibility," he has said elsewhere, "living and working in a world that is itself increasingly small and increasingly mongrel. I am a multinational soul on a multinational globe on which more and more countries are as polyglot and restless as airports. Taking planes seems as natural to me as picking up a phone or going to school; I fold up my self and carry it around as if it were an overnight bag."

        Iyer's reviews of contemporary writers in *Tropical Classical* also exemplify the cross-cultural hybrid of the world. His review of Vikram Seth's *A Suitable Boy* is titled "Jane Austin in Calcutta." Kazuo Ishiguro's *The Remains of the Day*, Iyer says, is written in a Japanese form about six ordinary days in the life of an English butler--"a perfectly English novel that could have been written only by a Japanese."

        Rushdie is a great postcolonial writer because he infuses into an old, stuffy England the sights and sounds of the Indian streets, thereby confusing our notions of what is Indian and what is not: "His is a world in which Indian boys in Kensington sing Neil Sedaka songs to baby girls called Scheherazade; and where diplomats from Asia play out the Captain Kirk fantasies they hatched in Dehra Dun."

        In one of the longer essays called "Nepal: Movie Days in Kathmandu," Iyer chronicles the shooting of the film "The Little Buddha" in Bhaktapur. He is concerned about how the attempt to represent a place in a film drastically changes that place, so that the "real Nepal" exists only in the camera.

        While aware of the controversy generated by the shooting of the film, and the film itself (Westerners making a film about the founder of Buddhism), Iyer warns against seeing the affluent moviemakers/tourists as exploiters and the natives as the exploited. If it were not for the tourists, one local travel agent tells Iyer, we would all be like the beggars. Despite his concerns for the cultural erosion the filming brings, Iyer is optimistic for economic reasons: "Nepal will probably end up $4 million richer ... and [w]e can get a taste of Himalayan magic ... for a mere $7.50."

        In the least, *Tropical Classical* is a fun, fun read, a book that can be, by virtue of its upbeat tone even for "serious" issues, read anywhere--in airports, in the bathroom, in the stark landscape of Ethiopia, in the glow of the setting sun in Dattatraya Square--attesting to the odd juxtapositions of the postmodern world.

(S Upadhyay is a PhD candidate in English at the University of Hawaii.)

***************************************************************** Date: Mon, 14 Dec 1998 19:34:42 -0500 From: "Paramendra Bhagat"<paramendra_bhagat@smtpgtwy.berea.edu> To: <nepal@cs.niu.edu> Subject: Introducing Berea College

Everybody South Asian, please write to Dhruv.

Dhruv, Jit Banjarey is from Calcutta, a notorious Monitor at the most notorious guys' dorm on campus, Hotel Danforth. I moved from there to Edwards recently.
 Berea is a cool place. Try and come here. It is academically strong, some would say VERY strong, but you will be okay, let me not scare you. Socially more accepting of international students than any college I know of in the US - I have friends from my high school days at several other destinations in the US - due to its history as an anti-slavery institution and the shared socio-economic backgrounds of the students who are here: everyone here has financial need. We don't have Rockfellers and the like here, which might be good! Everyone has basically the same-size wallet, kinda small. Everyone works. I have enjoyed working at the Boone Tavern Hotel more than any place else. Your last name tells me you are a Brahmin like Jit, but there will be no recognition of your high- caste status here.

I have a small-town personality. So I fit in well here. Calcutta might be the LA of India. But you might still like it. Plus, you will graduate without any loans on your shoulders. That is a big plus. If you make good use of the opportunities here, and are smart enough - something independent of the college! - you can dream of going to any Grad School of your choice.

You might even learn to cope with Jit. It has taken some time for me to do that, but I have finally managed to do it.

The Economics Department is strong. Very approachable profs. Which might be a rarity at the BIG-name colleges, especially those BIG also in size. Berea is BIG itself. Consistently rated the Numbero Uno of the liberal arts colleges in the South. You will love it. Fly by. Drop your hat. 

This mail is also going to Martie and Iveta at the Economics Dpt. Martie is the Head of Dpt. Iveta, a student from the Slovak Republic, was a White House intern over summer. Well, she was at the Treasury, but that is an attached building. Where do you draw the line?

The College President Larry Shinn has spent time in India. He has been to Nepal as well, which is where I grew up. But you did not miss the mark in calling me Indian. My mother's side of the family IS from Bihar, the Laloo-land.

Check me out at <http://www.geocities.com/CapitolHill/9511> Sign my Guest Book. Say Namaste to your family on my behalf. Amitabh Bachchan, my favorite film star, held a job in Calcutta before he moved to Bombay. "I thought if I do not find a niche in the film industry, I can always become a taxi driver," he said later. But aren't we all glad he did move away from Calcutta to Bombay!

My father once was a regional dealer in Nepal for the Calcutta-based Santosh-SRP Radio Co. But then his shop went down about a decade ago and that phase ended. He went to Calcutta often then. The closest to Calcutta I have been to is Jamalpur beyond Ranchi where one of my maternal uncles - the maternal uncle no. 2 - got married. Rough place, a lot of hawai-fires during the marriage procession that went round town! It was not long after the Hindu-Muslim riots in was it Bhagalpur? But my uncle's (father's elder brother) family were in Calcutta once. Nice place!

Is the Howra still over the Hooglie in the City of Joy!

From: "Dhruv Mookerji" <dmookerji@hotmail.com> To: paramendra@hotmail.com Subject: Help needed Date: Tue, 08 Dec 1998 05:25:17 PST

Dear Paramendra,

    Hi! I'm Dhruv Mookerji from Calcutta (17 years old)., India. I found your name on the Berea home page --- at last. I was searching for names of Indian students in Berea. I too am planning to join Berea soon, probably in Fall 99. I wanted to know a few things about the college. Firstly, I have no friends in Berea and would like your help in contacting fellow Indians through Email. I wish to know about the college from the student's perspective. I wish to pursue Economics and probably communications and . I would be very grateful if you could list a few email addresses of Indian students. If you could help me directly, from your point of view, nothing like it. I would like to know you better, when you joined, how do you like it, and compared to other colleges, what are Berea's strong points.
    Please mail me --- I would appreciate it very much . Please respond at the earliest.
                                                                           Thanks, Dhruv Mookerji.

*********************************************************************** From: kiasma_suomi@my-dejanews.com To: <nepal@cs.niu.edu> Subject: Nepal: dangers to women Date: Tue, 15 Dec 1998 09:56:37 GMT

There is a specific danger to women in Nepal that can be addressed, yet nothing is done.

I know about the dangers in the tourism industry.

This man, Ang Zangbu Sherpa, (also spelt Ang Jangbu Sherpa)who is the owner of Highland Sherpa Trekking and Mountaineering Ltd, has sexually offended against many women, but he is still allowed to keep his trekking company, which brings him into contact with women who think he can be trusted.

This is not libel because it has been proved to be true.

I have been told that Ang Zangbu Sherpa and his staff have been using alternative names to protect themselves now they know the truth is out. Be wary too of claims made by agents and hotels that deal with them, who hope to conceal his offences by adopting a respectable front and who are using various ways to try to discredit the truth.

If action was taken against this man Ang Zangbu, then something more would be happening to promote the human rights of women in Nepal and this would help make it plain that women should not be abused or exploited.

Anna Jdrvinen

****************************************************************** Date: Wed, 16 Dec 1998 13:24:53 -0500 To: The Nepal Digest <NEPAL@cs.niu.edu> From: Brijesh Thapa <bxt118@psu.edu> Subject: Re: The Nepal Digest

I figured that this may be of some help to various domestic NGO's in Nepal!

---------------------------- For Your Information:

Earth Island, along with four other environmental organizations (IRN, RAN, PAN and FOE), will once again be helping the Global Green Grants Fund identify small grassroots organizations in developing countries which might make good use of a small grant. Earth Island Institute has been asked to develop a maximum of 3 recommendations totaling $3,000 for consideration by the GGF Advisory Board - and we are asking for your help.

Global Green Grants was established as an alternative philanthropic channel for getting small grants to places where they could make a big difference in the developing world, at a time when especially the large foundations could not justify making or supervising such small grants. The vision is to get big funders to support GGF and GGF will in turn take responsibility for making and overseeing the grants. A number of existing Earth Island projects have already had sister developing world NGOs benefit from GGF grants.

We are asking all of our projects to both make nominations and work with the organizations they nominate to complete the very brief GGF application forms. Application forms are available by mail or fax. Specific application guidelines are as follows:

1) All applications must include a completed Organizational Information Form, Non-Profit Equivalency Form, and a detailed letter of endorsement from an Earth Island Project. Copies of both forms will be sent to you by regular mail.

Prompt payment requires complete information on grantees. Only fully complete applications will be accepted.

Endorsement letters should include the amount requested for the project, describe the nature of your relationship with them, and describe why their need is compelling. Please remember that EII only has a total of
$3,000 we can allocate so the grants will be small.

2) All applications must be legible (preferably typed) and in english. Please work with the NGO(s) to complete the forms. Or complete them for them and then have an officer of the NGO sign the forms.

3) Program eligibility requirements are as follows:

Grassroots NGO that demonstrates a clear commitment to raising awareness about the threat to the global environment and activist programs designed to address the threat locally and regionally.

NGOs based in developing regions with rich biodiversity of global importance - primarily in the Southern Hemisphere.

Organizations operating in developing economies where alternate sources of funding do not exist and where the value of a small grant is very significant.

Organizations with democratic decision-making structures and strong leadership.

New or emerging organizations with good potential to strengthen the environmental movement in their area.

Organizations with well-defined strategic goals and objectives.

Activities that would be significantly enhanced by a small grant.

Individual leaders or informal groups of activists will be considered when they have the potential to form a stable organization.

Organizations that coordinate or participate in local and regional networks of like-minded organizations.

Organizations with an annual budget under $25,000.

****************************************************************** From: "Diwas Khati" <diwask@hotmail.com> To: nepal@cs.niu.edu Subject: Copyright violations by Paramendra Bhagat Date: Wed, 16 Dec 1998 18:59:43 PST Mime-Version: 1.0 Content-Type: text/plain

COPYRIGHT NOTE
-------------- The content contributors are responsible for any copyright violations. TND, a non-profit electronic journal, will publish articles that has been published in other electronic or paper journal with proper credit to the original media.
--------------

Mr Bhagat.. Have you bothered to read those normal prints at the bottom of TND before you lift the articles from other news-media?
(see: Workshop on NAFTA-SAFTA begins in Kathmandu, MP's murder and investigation and other articles/postings appearing on Dec 18, 98 TND) Just Wondering...

Diwas Khati

****************************************************************** From: "Eknath Belbase" <eknath@ad-co.com> To: <nepal@cs.niu.edu> Subject: submission to Digest Date: Thu, 17 Dec 1998 16:17:24 -0500

I am doing an electronic survey and would *really* appreciate it if you would e-mail replies to me. All names will be removed as a first step and summary statistics will be put on TND as well as soc.culture.nepal. The raw data will be provided to anyone who asks. For any question that doesn't apply or for which your answer is 'none of your business', please write NA. For some multiple choice questions you may want to choose more than 1. My purpose is definitely academic but possibly also commercial/political. Others may use this information for other purposes. please e-mail to eknath@ad-co.com

PS If my guarantee of confidentiality isn't enough, please get an anonymous hotmail account and send the replies from there. If you want to do 1 but not 2 please do 1 anyway. Part I will take less than 5 minutes, part II may take 10.

--------Survey of soc.culture.nepal and TND readers----

Part I. Basic Demographics Please give your

1. Age 2. Gender=M/F 3. Marital Status=single/married/attached 4. Divorced? (Y/N) 5. Sexual Orientation (Het/Hom)

6. Citizenship 7. Current Country of Residence 8. Religion (Hindu, Buddhist, Moslem, Christian, Jewish, Agnostic, Atheist, Bahai, other) 9. Political: Royalist, Social Democrat, Marxist, Maoist, etc. 10. Highest degree earned/field

11. Current Occupation 12. Languages a)spoken b)written 13. Ethnic Group 14. Income ranges, annual: (a) < $12000 (b)12-20 K (c)21-35 K
(d)36-50K (e)51-65K (f) 66 K or greater

Part II. Detailed responses

1. If you are a Nepali citizen not in Nepal,(a)how long have you lived away from there? (b)Do you plan to return other than to visit?
(c)what are the 3 most important factors affecting this decision?

2. (a) Are you interested in volunteering in Nepal (for little or no pay) at some point? In what capacity? (b) Would you be interested in working for a non-profit which pays moderately well? (c)For a for-profit firm in your professional capacity which pays well?

3.(a) Are you interested in investing money in Nepal? In what sectors? (b)Is political corruption the only thing stopping you? (c) If you could be reasonably certain the system was clean how much would you be willing to invest over the next 5 years? (d)Ten years?

4.(a) Are you interested in actively participating in joint business ventures with Nepalis in Nepal? What type are you open to?
(b)Do you have any experience in business?

*************************************************** Date: Mon, 16 Nov 1998 07:57:51 +0000 Subject: Seeking Chris Evans From: dhiser@photoaspen.com (David Hiser) To: nepal-request@cs.niu.edu

Dear Editor,

I am desperately trying to contact Chris Evans. Could you please send me the Email or fax number that he can be contacted at. Thank you very much for your time.

Sincerely, Leila Zeppelin

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