Saturday, October 09, 2004

I had some good news from Nepal this week. My friend, formerly my tour guide to the 'medieval city' of Bhaktapur (see some pictures of this magical place here) has found work to do for a school for underprivileged kids in Nepal. It's good that he's found something which really
fulfills him, and it sounds like a great project. (He also claims I inspired him, which is rather
flattering and I'm not quite sure how to take - I just tried some ideas out after all, and gave them some money to help out with them. We'll see. But I like the idea that he is working on now!)

As an educated man, he also doubles - or is that trebles? - as a translator, reading and writing letters and emails for friends and people in the community, in English and Nepali. (This reminds me a bit of how, in Britain in the age before mass literacy, communities such as villages would depend on one or two educated people to communicate with the outside world - whether by reading the news or pamphlets, or by composing and reading letters This was as recently as the middle of the nineteenth century ; census forms from before that time are full of Xs rather than signatures, as so many people were unable to write their own names - reading a little genealogy can be instructive! )

Back to the school and paper projects...
I'm starting to see all of these ideas as being like seeds of growth. The more seeds are sown, the greate the chances that eventually at least some of them will flower.

In other news, there may be a ceasefire there - both sides seem to want to find a way out of this impasse, but from the point of view of diplomacy, maintaining the initiative for either side, and 'face', combined with a lack of trust, this is difficult for both sides.

Winning the peace. 'Peace is not just the absence of war. Enduring peace will not come just with the cessation of hostilities, it has to touch the mind and spirit of the people with means to ensure social and economic justice. This may be the reason why peace in Nepal has remained so elusive, and with each day that passes the culture of violence takes root in a hitherto peaceful society. '

Some Gurkhas win the right to be British. 'Dhana Lal Gurung was captured by the Japanese in 1941 while he was fighting for the British in Malaya. Taken to a prisoner of war camp in Singapore, he spent four years breaking rocks, carrying sacks of salt and enduring immense hardship ... “It was bad enough to have suffered in the POW camps,” says a still-sprightly 86-year-old Dhana Lal, “but when we found that that the white prisoners received much more compensation than us, that really hurt.” '

We came, we saw, and we fled. What's it like to live in a war zone? 'What happened to us happens to the people of Bajura every day, and they get it from both sides'

Some stories of the disappeared.

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