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Thursday, 21 February 2008

Nepal's 58th democracy day sans fanfare

With a populace mired into haplessness, because of the fuel shortage (among a lot of other shortages) in place and hence a lower amount of traffic plying on the roads, I wonder if our 58th National Democracy Day (19 February 2008) celebrations were any fanfare. I hardly saw any of it because I had to make my presence known at the office. Nor did I manage to catch any of it on the late night news, because I along with another few hundred thousand or more Kathmanduities were under the shadow of darkness (because of the 8 hour long load shedding schedule courtesy the Nepal Electricity Authority).

In the evening, I did hear rumors of bombs going off at a few places but did not care to corroborate them, because such rumours are almost normal even if they end out true.

I skipped going home and hung around Durbar Marga (King's Road) waiting on friends. The Royal Palace stood eerily quiet. Across the road, an octogenarian face, stood busily tethering portraits of the Queen onto a white banner 12-15 metres across. This peaked my interest, because the old man also donned a kurta with inscriptions on it.

I took the liberty of taking a few snaps and had hopes of stitching them afterwards into a full sized banner, owing to my recent enlightment on panoroma making software.

On asking the old man (who I later found out to be Mr. Lakshman Singh Khadka, a self proclaimed conductor of Nepal) if he would pose for a photo, he proudly showcased his kurta and banner. On them, were inscribed felicitations for the queen on her 58th birthday wishing the queen a long and prosperous life. Along side inscribed were articulates admonishing the politicos - "licensed cats from Delhi", who rendered Nepalese citizens hapless beggars sans water, electricity, land and identity (citizenship cards).

His rage against the political parties is well justified and well placed. On the contrary, his deference for an almost defunct Monarchy is questionable and I tend to wander if this old man were just a pawn and his presence timed by a 7000 strong crowd who actually made it a point to felicitate the queen.


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