Of Wrestlings and Elections (I of II)

Last week was all about history. I refreshed my memories about World Wrestling Federation Entertainment from Bret Hart to HBK, Steve Austin and CM Punk. Belonging to the millennium generation from Kathmandu I was never a Rock fan. Thus I am trying to mention him less. Much of school life, grade eight, nine and ten, was about WWE, talking about Monday night “RAW” and Thursday’s “SMACK DOWN”. The back stage interviews, entrance music, commentaries made by JR and King, and those awesome rivalries were must know general knowledge. Everyone knew how to draw the bull (pictured below), sketched out in notebooks, text books, and school diaries. My sister would go on to draw it in her school bag, and I know I had one printed shirt of it. It read “ayatollah of rock and rolla” in the most common Times New Roman font – italicized. We took three (or four) days to design this in MS Word ’97. I still don’t know what ayatollah means.


AND thats the bottom line… cuz Stone Cold says so!

Last week was also about my political inclination back in Nepal). Major parties in Nepal including the pseudo-communist beleaguered Maoists, have put their nomination forward for the November election. This is the second constitution assembly for Nepal. There nomination list has some surprises, few misfits, and certain number of dropouts compared to the last election. My supported politician back from 2006/7 elections did not get the ticket this time. She’d won last time. Had I been in Nepal, I’d vote for the Nepali Congress nominated candidate from Kathmandu Area Four constituency. Gagan Thapa is by far the most favored candidate in NC right now. This is what I think. Since I am outside Nepal and won’t be able to participate a direct election I take up an audience seat this time. But why can’t I vote?

So why can’t I vote?

A friend of mine in Facebook mentioned something about 2008 Election commissionaire talking about the foreign Nepali voting right. “He had promised that the Election Commission would work towards this end and create conducive environment for Nepalese residing abroad so they can exercise their right to vote in the future.”  

Why doesn’t Nepal have a workable mechanism devised  so that citizen/s could vote from abroad?

Why doesn’t Nepal have a workable mechanism devised  so that citizen/s could vote from abroad? My one word answer would be poverty (an initial perception). However, I think there ought to be some other explanations as well. Disclosure – no money was required, but some time was spend researching internet.


Voting right for citizen abroad

There is an excellent Gaurdian article by Joseph Mayton (here) from 2010 July which speaks about how you would feel deprived of a say in your country’s future, if not allowed to vote. He gives two country specific examples which are very similar to Nepal’s emigration. He speaks about a theoretical possibility related to Lebanon’s diaspora. Lebanon has some 12 million citizens living outside the country compared with only around 4 million inside – so in theory absentee voters could determine the outcome of any election. Please also listen/read to the Freakonomics podcast on how Lebanese are most successful Immigrants in the world (here), which came out in August 29 of this year. Our second example is that of Mexico, which recently introduced voting right for citizen abroad. The cost factor might be unprecedented for Nepal, but if we are to learn from Mexico’s example; Nepalis should begin to seek out a means to better their native countries.

voting_from_abroad_120This article also refers to Maria Gratschew (co-author) and her handbook, Voting from Abroad, where she argues that “external voting is highly relevant to the many people who are travelling or working around the globe”. This handbook is from 2007, so some of its data might be irrelevant. My next post has some quick read materials that I found interesting in here along with more personal insights for November election. Disclosure – This book is free and under Creative Common License (CC-BY-NC-SA 3.0)

So what has Nepal to gain from its citizen abroad?

I argue that there are three major groups of Nepali outside Nepal.I wrote some part of this in August 2013.(here is the post link). First the hard working labor population representing mostly from Middle East and South East Asia. They are the ones keeping Nepal’s economy well and alive through massive remittance. It not Lord Pashupatinath, its them. There has been a huge spike in this group in the last decade, and boys leave the country as labor population as soon as after finishing grade eight. This is the plight of the Lower Class, a majority in Nepal. Tap into them for voting rights, and most if not all will represent socialist outlook. Presently represented by एमाले (confusing mixture of democracy and communist) and माओवादी (purely communist) parties.

It not Lord Pashupatinath, its them and their remittance that have kept Nepal’s economy alive in this last decade.

Second huge group outside Nepal is the student population – both undergraduates and graduates. Most if not all the undergraduates are money-drain from Nepal, and like the First Group there has been a huge spike in people leaving Nepal for Education. This group of students are have mixed educational and intellectual background when it comes to politics. Most represent the Middle Class family from Nepal, and as progressive they are, all of them might not be the answer Nepal needs right now. Case in point to a blog post written by Pranaya Rana in ekantipur.com (here). The topic was something I’d definitely would have talked/written about before I came across this post. He writes it very well, and he has much better command in the language (better than me). The post argues about the plight of middle class, and how we are limited and disillusioned by our own good intentions to do good. Mr Subedi (read more here) last week was one of the fall guy among this Middle Class hordes. These represent a mixed political views ranging from liberal democracy to hard line communism.

The third group is the indistinct settlers. These are either the upper class or the ones that have first educated themselves in foreign land and then gained experience as much to settle in. The H1B Visa status in USA and the alike. I can’t really say anything more about them as they comprise of the heterogeneous population from all parts of Nepal, and most of them are content with their lives in foreign land. They comprise the brain-drain population from Nepal. Few definitely have done good deeds for Nepal, despite being outside Nepal. Most of them represent the नेपाली कांग्रेस (corrupt-democratic) party. Obviously this is my personal statement and I don’t have hard facts to prove it.

Regardless of my perspective, if the country is to make a situation for voters abroad have their say, it would benefit Nepal. According to the Census report 2011, Nepal’s population stands at 26.4 million, out of which 1.9 million is absentee population. This is 7.1% of those who are outside Nepal. I am short on the total number of registered voters right now, still searching for it and will post as a comment to this page once I find it.

Lastly – reinvigorated love for my N9

Read a post last week from OSNEWS (here) and a link from an original article (here) about the one true mobile phone experience – Nokia N9. He writes – Virtually every N9 owner I’ve ever talked to loves the N9 unconditionally. It could have been the Eve of Nokia’s resurrection. Instead, it became the symbol of its demise. So very true. I do have a constant mobile phone changing experiences averaging eight months – – albeit with budget phones. Until last week I was using Palm Pre II through Ebay at 54 USD. Got it in USA, this July, because it wasn’t available in Nepal two years since it came out. Used it for three months, but now am back to Nokia N9 (got this in early Feb 2013 – second hand shop). It just works.

Next Post – is part two of this one. shorter and fewer tidbits on November election. The tea post is still on, i still am searching for few images (CC-BY-3)

Alcohol in Nepali wedding (10 things I am confused about, at Nepali wedding)

It wasn’t always like this. Fifteen years ago, my cousin’s wedding had class, a delightful environment, with mostly sober people, and food wasn’t everything and alcohol was rarely presented in the wedding reception.

today, a wedding without whiskey is considered a tasteless gimmick from twisted minds

A Nepali wedding in Kathmandu, with it’s diversity in both culture and social aspect, has developed few of the most anarchic ritual that is fun to think about. I present some of my points here

  1. It’s not necessary to invite all the Facebook (read – social) friends to a wedding. Marriage is sacred, and invitation should go to only few important delegates. Any number more than 200 is either a rock concert or a football match. You don’t have to call all your junior high, high school, university friends, and all your work colleagues. There are friends and there are good friends. Call the latter. Make a fixed list of the invitee.
  2. Party Palace/s is not a religious code. Small wedding in a temple is still important and culturally relevant. One does not have to give into a place that has 70% profit margin, with major hygiene crisis. Don’t bow down.
  3. Wedding reception should be all day event, not a four hour race in the evening. Those who don’t get to come, should not come. A bride and groom should not wait for an all too busy third cousin uncle, because he is at a meeting till seven, has to get home, pick his wife and drive to the wedding. Plan a day reception, not an evening or night reception.
  4. RSVP on a wedding invitation is not a gimmick. Confirm it. No one in Kathmandu (as I know) really cares about RSVP, but almost all the invitation card has one. Don’t start/copy something that you can’t take care of.
  5. Why should a wedding reception have chair to table ratio of 20:1. Keep the effin tables, does anyone realize how hard is it to eat food in your lap, constantly switching between a spoon and a fork, with a glass of water (choices may vary between Pepsi/wine/whiskey) near your leg, and a small paper napkin somewhere near by.
  6. How come majority of the guest don’t know where to keep the dishes after there done with the food? Why do we shove it off under our chair, always, waiting for that dirty ragged old cleaning lady/gentleman to come pick it up? How come no one realizes that, this lady/gentleman has a huge problem with personal hygiene, and the worst possible clothing in the whole ceremony, and is the only person not looked upon with judgmental eye for not wearing something clean, on a weeding ceremony?
  7. Why are the chairs kept in a long line? Why doesn’t the organizing committee realize that this is not a movie theatre, or a class room, and people need to converse by looking at each other.
  8. Why is there so much of hard liquor? and why do mom/aunt don’t drink until something is put in there hand? A pleasant glass of wine is something I look forward to, but in a Nepali wedding in Kathmandu, if there is no whiskey, the weeding rating falls down. I don’t get it, and my mother says it to be a fact not fiction.
  9. Almost all wedding have a certain fix food menu. Decorated Rice, flamboyant chapatti, some lentils, a fried veggie with or without the green leafs, two types of chatni, and two to three meat items. Ice-cream, yogurt and/or one sweet cake (mithai). Can’t we have something different? Apparently not, this is the pseudo culture that we have developed in the last two decade and it only changes slowly (as per my mother and father)
  10. Music – the horror of Bollywood and Hollywood. Where is the class? Why do everyone have to listen to the noise pollution from few great Hindi lyrics (Hollywood or Justin B is rare in right now). The conversation becomes abysmal on these high decibels, and yet, somehow, people love it. I simply don’t get this. Where is the classical music? The vibrant cultural Nepali music, that I was invited into, fifteen years ago?

Can’t remember all my complains right now, but there are few more. Will update on it, as memory jogs up. I know, I will end up repeating few of the above complains myself, but will try to change/upgrade on some that I see fit. Wedding receptions in Kathmandu has become an ugly art of western and eastern mixture that lacks tradition, culture and ethnicity. There is a bare minimum presence of creativity and differentiation, and ideological value. Theme based wedding is something I look forward to, but I know its a distance dream.

Few of my friends got married this past year, and the invitation to wedding reception was more like a school reunion. Few didn’t make it, but most were present, and it was fun to meet the gang. The bride and the groom were still the center of attention, but it was great to meet friends.

P.S. – I marry soon, and may be its the wedding season that’s affecting me, all the complains don’t seem really that important right now. There are bigger problems to handle. How do I loose my huge belly fat?

Friday Read – The Great Leap in China, Stalingrad, Eritrea

Almost all of my good friends are out of Nepal, and right now with self-study, life is all about a cooping in my room, with books. Instead of bar, barbecue or cinema, life is more about books, Internet and sleep. No Facebook, Twitter, or LinkedIn for the moment. No emails or calendar utility in progress.

Wikipedia has become one important source of entertainment right now. This huge source of information, and my love for history, presents as a great companion in these time of exile. Last night was no different, and when I was done with my books, I went straight to view world maps. Found some irregular border lines, in two places and began my journey for the search of information. Random reading intrigues me, and as much as I presume it to be useless, I just hope, someday everything will come handy.

I began with a small country situated in the horn of Africa – Eritrea. Smaller than Nepal, and bordered with Ethiopia. It’s a developing country, better than Nepal, and has some great good potential, but as with many African nation has fair share of troubles within and outside it, hence a border dispute and fighting with its neighbor has had its toll to the country.

Next on stop was India and its border dispute with China. Apparently there are two border dispute, and as much as I knew about Sino-India war of the late 60s, there was another land mass, near the Kashmir territory that was in dispute. I finally found out more about the seven autonomous regions in China. Tibet plateau is not alone. A long page on these border dispute and the autonomous regions let to a brief history in China, and how Mao came up with a great plan to kill so many innocent humans. Made me sad, and angry. The great leap, the agriculture revolution by the officials which had killed so many innocents, in the name of politics. Reading about these atrocities in the name of a belief made me think the difference between politics and religion. How few smart people ruled the hordes of uneducated like animals. Comparing the democracy with the communism, and the socialist movement with corrupt democracy. A total of 7 million people starved to death during the second agriculture revolution in China – as per the official government figure. An outside figure estimates this to be as much as 48 million, with more people agreeing on terms with the death total of around 30 million. That’s more than the current Nepal’s population of 26.6 million. I was curious to know if something like this had also happen in an entirely opposite scenario, when
I read about the anti-communist genocide by the Indonesian government in the late sixties, in the name of politics. There is a great documentary being released about this, I hope I can see it someday.

Reminiscent and similar to the internet social media rule – 90-9-1 – that for every original source of an idea by one person, there will be nine that will develop on it and improve/degrade it (bake it into their own formula) and distribute to the ninety of us who, with the lack of proper social structure or hence forth the information gap, will follow it. This, I see in both politics and religion – especially in my country (Nepal).

Recently, I met an old friend from Brazil – Sao Palo this past week. We talked about democracy, president Lua, and the evolution of Brazilian culture with its politics. It was a wonderful insight on this huge nation, and I hope Fernando is right when he says, Nepal right now is what Brazil was 20 years ago. I hope, this country turns out great in the near future.

PS.i. This post is not a foul cry to the democracy in Nepal, or the corrupt leaders. I am however, trying to gain knowledge on the evolution of it, and would want to know the path it will follow in future.