Passport Story and the Sydney Radio

Making rounds of Foreign Ministry with fellow reporter Devendra Bhattarai on Tuesday was quite an experience. As a reporter covering diplomacy for Kantipur, Devendra knows every nook and cranny of the ministry that is housed in one of the famous Rana durbars- Shital Niwas. Man, staffs are terrified because of their leader- Minister Ramesh Nath Pandey. I don’t want to go in details but my impression was that minister Pandey controls almost everything in the ministry- even a small decision needed his approval.

The ministry has banned, on the verbal orders from the minister, issuing travel documents to any Bhutanese willing to go out side Nepal. “Don’t issue travel documents to any Bhutanese without my knowledge and order,” Minister Pandey told officials at the ministry according to a ‘terrified’ official. Ministry was issuing travel documents to Bhutanese refugees for the last 15 years.

By the way, why I was in Foreign Ministry? To make a passport and I have one now. (Yes, minister Pandey doesn’t know that!) Now that I have a passport I can go anywhere in the world given that they grant me me visas. I mean just for short trips because I am in no mood to leave the country for long period in these interesting times. When you are experiencing the history in the making, why do you go abroad to feel non-actor in the developments?

Okay, let me talk some monitory thing related to the Passport. Spending Rs. five thousands for the passport that will be valid for the next 10 years means I will be paying more than a rupee a day to the foreign ministry. BTW, I got the passport yesterday from the foreign ministry thus avoiding my visit to Ramechhap (or Bhaktpur) district.

When I was in the consular section of the ministry on Wednesday waiting to collect the passport, an unexpected person came in the room. Binod Bhattarai, my journalism teacher in the RR College and former news chief at Kantipur TV, was there to renew his passport. We talked on various issues, mostly related to journalism because that was the common forum between us, while a helpful official worked out for our passports.

Mr. Krishu Kshetri introduced us with Mr. Sharad Poudel, considered as having best handwriting in the Foreign Ministry. He was more than ready to fill up details in our passports. “I think I know you,” said Sharad suddenly looking at Binod. “Don’t you recognize me?” My teacher tried hard to gather memories but it was apparently difficult for him to recognize the man. “We studied together in the college in I. Sc.,” Sharad said. “I recognized you from this photo (he was holding Binod Bhattarai’s photo in the old passport.) You were a talent student. I know you.” Now, Mr. Bhattarai seemed to be remembering those good old days. As they became nostalgic and started talking about how they spent time in Patan Multiple Campus, I moved my chair a few inches back so that they could see each other. That was interesting to hear two old pals talking about past.

Okay, I wake up at 7 this morning. I had to select some photos for a photo essay. More importantly, I had to be near by the phone because Rajish Aryal from SBS Radio, Australia’s Nepali Service was to call me from Sydney at 9 am. While talking with him for about 25 minutes, I spoke about Nepali blogging movement and its importance in Nepali media industry. He said that the interview would be aired in the radio sometime next week. That an Australian radio airs program in Nepali was news for me.