Category Archives: Wagle Updates

The Kathmandu Post interview: When blogs were Twitter and Facebook

Dinesh Wagle interview with the Kathmandu Post

The Kathmandu Post celebrates its (and Kantipur’s) 21st anniversary today by publishing a 16-page pullout on Nepal’s social media scene. The supplement, titled “Platforms of Change“, explores how Nepalis are using the Internet and its various platforms mainly to express themselves and to connect and share and debate. In the lead article ‘Teleprinter to Twitter’, Editor-in-Chief Akhilesh Upadhyay talks about the impact of technological changes (and a constitutional provision that guaranteed press freedom) in impressive expansion of Nepal’s media.

I was interviewed by the Post’s Weena Pun on my political blogging and journalism days.

Here’s the page as it appeared in the Post (PDF) and the following is the text:

When the then-king Gyanendra imposed his authoritarian rule in February 2005 and later clamped down on all private media outlets in Nepal, United We Blog became the go-to site for delivering uncensored political news. One of the two co-founders behind the blog, Dinesh Wagle, a former journalist with Kantipur daily, quit blogging for the site in 2012, after seven years of running it, but still blogs on his personal site. Wagle talked to the Post’s Weena Pun about his days as a journalist/blogger.

What is United We Blog?

It is a political blog—Nepal’s first—founded on my personal web domain in 2004. Initially it started as a forum to express private feelings and the daily grind lived by journalists and included stories by my friends Ujjwal Acharya and Deepak Adhikari and myself. Later, the site was hosted on blog.com.np and soon became the only uncensored source of political information in Nepal for a while in 2005.

Click on the photo to go to the article

Click on the photo to go to the article for background

Why did you decide to blog?

I was excited by the new medium of expression. In 2004, I had been a journalist with the mainstream media for seven years, and at that time, the new media was still very new in Nepal. Blogs were the ‘social media’ of that time. They provided additional and unlimited space for expressing ourselves, as opposed to limited print and air space of the old media. This ‘limitless’ space was the second reason for me to start a blog.

What has been the difference in your posts before and after the thenking Gyanendra clamped down on freedom of speech?

Before the royal coup in February 2005, our posts were mainly about what we did in our daily lives, whom we met and how we felt about the developments in our not-so-public lives. After Gyanendra imposed restrictions on freedom of expression, our blog posts became more political in nature and were aimed at challenging that stifling atmosphere and advocating for the restoration of democracy in Nepal. For us, freedom of expression and independent journalism became a mission. Soldiers patrolling newsrooms to impose censorship was a strange sight for us, and we expressed our dissent on our blog.

What is the difference between your work as a blogger and as a journalist? पढ्नेक्रम जारी राख्नुहोस्

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announcement and comeback

I had planned to write and post this entry two 40 weeks back. That’s the plan I made six 44 weeks ago. But I could not. Not because it’s a difficult topic to write about (may be it is) but because I was busy. When I was not busy I was lazy.

So the news is this: I have gone into hibernation from active journalism. One fine February morning last year, when I changed my Twitter bio, this was the new first sentence: “A journalist in hibernation.”

The editor of Kantipur, where I worked until 18 Feb 2012, was quick to react: पढ्नेक्रम जारी राख्नुहोस्

Two Years in Delhi, India

SpiceJet at kathmandu airport

A plane belonging to the Indian budget airline Spicejet at Tribhuvan International Airport in Kathmandu. Landing at the TIA was smooth. The change in temperature (from IGI Delhi

Two years ago today (Nov 6) I left Kathmandu for Delhi. It wasn’t planned but here I am, today, back in Kathmandu from Delhi. I am in a hurry now- have to go to play deusi– so I am not writing a detailed entry like I did last year about my life, time and observations in Delhi and around India. I plan to extend this entry sometime in the middle of this month when I return to Delhi. Happy Tihar to all.

Related posts:

1. A Year in Delhi, India
2. Dinesh Wagle Has Moved to New Delhi, India

Kathmandu Valley

kulekhani kids

Sibling conflict and cooperation: These kids were carrying gallons of drinking water in the dokos from a tap some 400 meters below their home in a village in Makwanpur. The younger one (at the front) was crying when we saw them. His brother was trying to put him inside the basket instead of water gallons! Some sort of fighting between the brothers had ensued. The kid stopped crying as soon as we reached and started smiled as realized we were taking his photos.

The arrival was peaceful, the stay wonderful (minus the #MaoistStrike) and the time has come to go back to the sweltering heat of Delhi. What I’ll miss the most apart from the obvious is the ‘air-conditioned’ climate of Kathmandu. Despite all the problems on the streets and the corridors of powers Kathmandu is undoubtedly the place where I feel at ease to be. Kathmandu (and Nepal in general) presents dilemma to its residents. As Bigyan aptly tweets: “can’t live with it, can’t live without it… #Nepal.” [My Reweet.]

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Selfish interests groups and badly manged politics have collectively ruined the economy and state of affairs of the city and the country. Such is the situation that sometime even a staunchly hopeful person like me gets swayed away and thinks we are here to be doomed, that we will never go ahead and catch up with time that is moving so fast ahead of us. BUT that is not the feeling that rules me (and I assume many of us). Just a small opportunity, a moment of peace and the country will surely move ahead. Just a few roads and drinking water projects in villages and the faces of those hills will change for better. Just a little bit of investment, an environment for investors to play with their wealth and the economy will see a turnaround. There is a lot in this country to be hopeful about.

Some of the best moments of my more than two week long stay in Kathmandu were when I ventured out of the valley. Just behind the Chandragiri hills, above Thankot, is a wonderful village called Chitlang. A very old settlement. Suraj Kunwar and I biked through the village one cloudy (and drizzling) noon enjoying the view of farmers busy in their fields, thick forests atop hills, kids smiling and playing with each other and barren lands filled with colorful flowers. It was heavenly- except that on the other side of the hill- below- urban terror was ruling the city in the name of people’s uprising. The so called revolution failed but not before giving the country a bad jolt. पढ्नेक्रम जारी राख्नुहोस्

30

3 and 0. That is, 30. A life that is THIRTY-year-old (or young?). Whatever. Thank you for encouraging me to post this entry.

Which Party Do I Belong To?

Jorpati! Okay, I am kidding.

It’s been quite a while that I haven’t seen this site! Too busy with reporting for my newspaper, fixing and translating for international news organizations and following leaders in their campaign trails in Kathmandu and then keeping myself updated on the election results from around the country. After I returned from Karnali, I went to Gorkha for a day- as a translator for a foreign newspaper. So many things to write about: all those journeys, the personal experience, those fcking tired and exhausted moments. But where is the time? 24 is not enough, I need at least 35 hours in a day.

Anyway, this is a season of political activities and making a choice based on political ideology many other factors. A reader of UWB asked me about my political affiliation and I found that question very interesting. I am republishing the conversation below: पढ्नेक्रम जारी राख्नुहोस्

Time To Be Away from Kathmandu

It’s now time for me to be away from the city of Kathmandu and go back to one of my favorite domains: the hills of Nepal. Being a workaholic ass in the city of Kathmandu means I must take break from regular life to refresh myself and inject fresh energy in the soul of Dinesh Wagle. Yes, that’s true. And the fresh air of Nepali hills (mountains for many) definitely helps me retain the energy!

My New Canon Digital Camera (Plus Obit to My Old DigiCam)

dinesh wagle with canon digital camera
Wagle with new Canon digital camera that displays his own image- the first photo that was taken by the camera on the day he bought it. This photo and the one displayed were taken by Suraj Kunwar on 31 and 19 October. Clicking on the image will display the its enlarged version.

19 Oct [Kathmandu]: I vividly remember that day, some four years ago in the same shop in New Road where I bought a brand new Canon Digital Camera today, I had gone to buy a digital camera. That was Canon A370 camera, two 128 MB memory cards, two pairs of rechargeable batteries and a battery charger. I paid Rs. 27,000 for all that (the camera was 3.2 Mega Pixel).

The camera I bought today the camera is 7.1 Mega Pixel (Canon A570) and the pack included a slim 2 GB memory card, a pair of rechargeable batteries and a battery charger. The LCD is bigger and has more shock resistance capacity. The total cost: Rs. 19000. I could also add the inflation in Nepali market and currency over the last three years. पढ्नेक्रम जारी राख्नुहोस्

Soltini Ko Syau Jasto Gala!!!

Time for me to go to yet another trekking. This is more hiking than trekking actually. For about four days because there is no work for me in the city as the office of my newspaper is closed for that many days. Feels good to return back to one of my favorite domains: trekking on the high hills of Nepal. This not only gives me a great excuse to get away from the city life but also takes me nearer to the ground reality of my society that is poor but honest and kind. The best thing about the village life is: WYSIWYG. I haven’t been there before but hope the Helambu lives up to my expectation. Apples and soltini ko syau jasto gala!!! [Soltini’s aka brother’s wife’s sister’s apple-like cheeks!) For those who will be emailing me or trying to contact me: I am not carrying laptop so no chance of getting connected. Thanks to Suraj for accompanying me. We will definitely have fun 🙂

Ready to Enjoy Elephant Race in Chitwan

I think I have mentioned it already, don’t know where and when though, that work and fun come hand in hand for me. Work is fun and fun is work. Even when I am in stress, while writing stories, I try to enjoy. I feel like man you love this job, don’t you? If you love, why be overwhelmed by the pressure. Don’t buckle down under pressure. Be cool, think hot and decide and do accordingly. When deadline is approaching and you have finished only two (out of possible 5 paragraphs story), you feel the pressure. When you have to edit another story (sometime a badly written one) after finishing writing yours, you feel the heat. But to be calm in such moment is what a reporter needs to do. This much of lecture for the time being. I was about to talk about fun in the job.

Tomorrow, I will be going to Chitwan National Park (Sauraha) to report an event: Elephant race. Isn’t that exciting? I wanted to write more about the event here but I don’t have the paper now and I am not that bright to remember all the stuffs that I read a week ago. But there are some things that you hardly forget. I was in Sauraha years ago (1998) and the only thing I remember is sitting atop an elephant and roaming around the jungle. Rhinos were hanging around. Past several weeks have been disappointing as I have been reading news of rhinos being killed one after another.

So the elephant race must be exciting. I will have to file stories for my newspaper so evenings will not be all fun (though I might say that writing news is also fun!) This is one such special situation reporters find themselves in. They enjoy the game (any game like football or cricket) like all other spectators in the stadium. When the game is over, other spectators go home (or bars) talking about the match. They enjoy. But reporters go to office to work. For reporters, work begins at the same time when others start celebrating! To being a reporter is a kind of celebration in itself! (Afno job ko prasansha ta garnai paryo ni! What’s harm is praising your own job!)

So I will be celebrating my job and enjoying the Hatti Daud (elephant race) in Sauraha. Just remembered, its Christmas time. Timing is not bad too!

On Books By the way, I had said in this blog that I would be writing my impression of the book that I was reading last week: Kafka on the Shore. That was a good read though occasionally that gave me the impression that I was reading a work of pornography. Some of the scenes were graphic but at times the writer discusses on philosophical and world issues that makes the not just another pulp fiction.

From today, I have starting reading “The Story of a Nobody” by Anton Chekhov. This is my second attempt to read the book. A few months ago, I read the book up to somewhere in the middle and stopped turning pages. Not that it’s dull but just felt like not continuing with reading it. This time it’s slightly different. I have started enjoying it. First few pages are full of great lines. Here I quote a few of them:

“I wanted peace of mind, health, good air, a full stomach. I was becoming a dreamer and, like a dreamer, did not know what it actually was that I needed. At times I wanted to retreat to a monastery, sit there for days on end by a window and gaze at the trees and fields; at other times I imagined myself buying a few acres of land and living like a country squire; at other I swore to myself that I would take up academic work and without fail become a professor at some provincial university.”

Exactly my sentiment. I have decided to take this book along with me in Chitwan trip. I hope to find time to read most of the pages if not all.

By the way, here is yet another line from the book:

“Tell me what you read, they say, and I will tell you who you are. That may be so, but to judge anything about Orlov from the books he read is absolutely impossible. It was just a mishmash.”

I have no comment on this.