Tag Archives: Wagle Reporting

Walking Around a Nepali Village

Clicking some (or all) photos will take the clicker to my Flickr page.

A Nepali Kid, his buffalow and fruit 11

In the morning, in Chandanpur village of Lalitpur district, we decided to take a walk for a while. We wanted to see how people were living in their homes and what they were doing in their fields. We walked uphill for about 10 minutes and reached at a house. Inside, a lady was apparently preparing food along with her son. She turned out to be a MaSiKa (Matri Sishu Karyakarta: health worker on safe motherhood) who talked about her wrok in the village. “The Tamang women are less enthuasistic about getting expert advise and involvement during pregnancy than those of Brahnim-Chhetri caste,” she said. She is a Newar who attended highschool and is from the area of Lalitpur that is nearer to the capital city. “Initially it was so boring to come here in this type of village,” said the woman. “Now I am used to with the life here.” The woman also talked about the disease that was causing serious harm to the corn production in the village. She said many farmers in the village, including herself, have started planting cabbage instead of corn this year. [More about this has been mentioned in my Nepali article titled Motorcycle Diary that appeared in 26 July’s Koseli.] Continue reading

The Motorcycle Diary: Nepali Version!

See the related article [Motorcycle Diary] in Nepali in Blogmandu

Recently I went to some “remote” areas of Lalitpur district pillion riding on my reporter colleague Suraj Kunwar’s Honda Shine. During the overnight trip we rode over the bumpy roads, stopped for tea and snack in small tea-shops and stayed in a dirty lodge. But the food was good. The village was beautiful and we went around the village, sneaked into the residential compounds, and talked to the locals.

The first day of the two-day journey occurred under heavy rain. We continued riding even as the pouring continued as if that would sweep away the hills from where the road went through. The raincoat wasn’t able to save us from the water. That was fun. The leeches were at times scary especially when you found them sucking blood just above the middle of your thigh! There was couple of moments of cultural shock. One included the tea-house lady offering me a glass of local liquor instead of tea because the locals understand that you are asking for the raksi (liquor) when you ask for tea! Continue reading

Phones, Presidential Oath and the Restaurant Bill

It wasn’t predicted. It wasn’t on my schedule. In a way it was like any other unpredictable day in my professional life. As I was heading towards office thinking about what I might do in the newsroom, the cell rang- GSM I must mention, not the CDMA, as I have started carrying two if I am to exclude the third, data only CDMA phone that I put inside my backpack, over the past several days.

Presidential Complex was decorated with Moon and Sun on the presidential oath taking day

There is a convincing background for this, I must clarify. One of the numbers was published in the newspaper, at the end of one of my articles, and the text messages and miscalls (that’s right, not Missed Calls in Nepali usage!) kept flooding in. In addition to that, there are some benefits of carrying two different phones that are enabled by two different technologies albeit their service is provided by the same company Nepal Telecom. The reception of CDMA phone is very good in Kathmandu where the service of GSM is, to put it mildly, unbearable. Plus, if you go to remote places like Chandanpur village of Lalitpur district where I went last week, you won’t see signals for GSM while CDMA works perfectly fine. But, on the other hand, the GSM postpaid that I have is cheap to make calls compared to CDMA/GSM prepaid. So make calls from GSM whenever possible and receive on CDMA! Continue reading

Compensation to Nepalis Killed in Iraq: The Reporting Experience

Media Watch: Nepali reporters and news outlets sometime make jokes out of themselves. While reporting news, they hardly care about facts, those facts that are usually the backbone of the story itself. Rookie reporters and careless editors are often to be blamed for such inaccuracies.

I am talking about the coverage of latest development from Washington DC on the compensation awarded to the families of nine of the 12 Nepalis killed in Iraq in 2004.

Someone called Rajendra Thakuri, “an entrepreneur” based in Washington DC, sent an email to a few media outlets, including to Kantipur where I work, detailing how his neighbor, Matthew Handley and Matthew’s law firm successfully fought on behalf of the Nepalis killed in Iraq. Rajendra doesn’t categorically mention that the court ruling was for only 9 of the 12 Nepalis though he says in his email to the media that “there is better news for some of these families.” But the title of his article in Nepalnews, presumably put by Nepalnews, is misleading and wrong.

Instead of trying to verify the information, which is so easy thanks to the Internet and cheap phone calls to the US, reporters blindly report in many newspapers and web sites today that families of ALL 12 will get the compensation.

Only Kantipur and the Kathmandu Post (not even our own ekantipur) got it right because they reported that the families of only 9 out of 12 will get the compensation [See the screen print version of some outlets via the links at the end of this post.] I shared all the documents that I downloaded from the web site of Cohen Milstein, the firm that represented 11 Nepalis, with Prabhakar Ghimire, who wrote the news for the Kathmandu Post. Both the Post’s and Kantipur’s reporting also includes interview of Matt that I conducted in which he talks about the case and his involvement in it.

The moral lesson: Of course, mistakes do happen because we are all human being [My own mistake, as one reader pointed out, is that it should have been Chicago Tribune, not Chicago Times as I wrote in the report]. But the grand question is: are we trying to avoid them? Reporters, please check facts before writing the story. There is something called Google. Just google it!!

Googling would have taken you to the web site of Cohen Milstein where they have separate section for this case that has PDF files of the many related documents.

Click on the following names to see the screen print of their respective coverage of each of the news outlets:

THT, Nepalnews, eKantipur.

[Nepal Samacharpatra and Rajdhani dailies have also published wrong reporting.]

Here are the PDF versions of the front and third pages of Kantipur: Page 1 and Page 3

Fatalism And Development. The Book.

All photos by Yogesh Khatiwada

I have posted the photos of me looking for, finding and buying the much acclaimed book Fatalism and Development by anthropologist Dor Bahadur Bista who has gone missing since 1997. Continue reading

All About Nepali Press Conferences (Including Two by Jimmy Carter)

The Jimmy Carter press conferences (pic by Bikas Rauniar) were definitely better organized than many of the usual PCs in Nepal that are grossly mismanaged and both organizers and reporters are responsible for such mess.

24 Nov: It’s 10:30 PM and I just finished writing second of the two news items of the day (they will appear in tomorrow’s editions of the paper.) I missed the 9:30 van that was delayed for about 15 minutes. Now I am actually waiting for the next one which will leave the office at 11 PM. It was a hectic day. Thanks to the 39th US President James Earl “Jimmy” Carter, I woke up early today.

It was 9 AM that I finally decided to throw the siraks off. The alarm rang just on time I had wanted it to sing the national song: 7:15 AM. I wanted to sleep more. I set the alarm for 8:30. It worked but still I didn’t want to get out of the bed. It was 9 when I finally decided to get up because I had to attend Carter’s Press Conference that, according to a Carter Center invitation, would begin “at 12:15h at the Megha Malhar Conference Center of the Crowne Plaza Soaltee in Kathmandu, Nepal.” Here is what was in the invitation that made me wake up early: “Due to security protocols, accredited Nepalese media and foreign correspondents are asked to arrive no later than 11:15h using the rear entrance of the Conference Center. Persons arriving after 11:15h will be denied entry.” Continue reading

Bungy Jumping In Nepal: Incredible Experience

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But I have decided not to jump again. I still wonder why people say they enjoyed jumping from the 160-meters-high bridge. All pics by Suraj Kunwar

Am I an adventurer? No need for any such questions. I am, of course. I love traveling, wandering, trekking, going up to a hill and descending back to the plains. I love hiking alone, walking in a group and I love camping and what not. If these activities are not enough to prove my venturesomeness, fine I don’t care. But I have decided, for once and all, I will never do the Bungy or Bungee jumping again! That is, not AGAIN which means I have done that! The jump that I took on Monday, May 7, 2007 was terrible. Not that I crashed down on the George of Bhotekoshi river but the whole experience was so scarier that I am still afraid of even thinking about jumping. Continue reading

Watching a Nepali Movie: An Experience

And the experience was horrible.

arunima lamsal with mom n dad

Actress Arunima Lamsal in a premiere show of her sixth movie Abhimanyu in a Kathmandu theater on Friday, 5 Jan. Pics by Bikas Rauniar

Two days ago, I watched a Nepali movie called Abhimanyu (name of a character in ancient epic Mahabharat who falls into a spiral and is killed by enemies). It was kind of compulsion to go to the theater and see the ‘action and comedy drama’. As a reporter you have to face such situations. People in film fraternity always lament: Why Kantipur is not covering Nepali films? As the coordinator of the arts and style section of the paper, I have to handle such complains. After I got invitation to attend the premiere show of the movie in Kathmandu, I decided to watch the film and, if possible, write something about it.

If you compare Nepali films with Hollywood and Bollywood movies, you will find the former completely avoidable. Produced with comparatively low budget, Nepali films are poor in quality and other benchmarks. An average Nepali film’s standard budget is around Rs. 4.5 million (slightly more than US $ 55 thousands). Don’t compare our films with Hollywood and Bollywood flicks, Nepali film makers constantly warn reporters and other critics. Keep in mind, they say, Nepali film industry and its market is limited. “We are a very small industry and only lower class people watch our films,” said a Nepali film director recently.

Whatever they say, you can’t stop yourself from comparing. First, the theater (Shiv Darshan in New Baneshwor) was a mess. It was a disaster. How can you enjoy a cinema in such a dirty theater? Chairs were filthy and broken. Somehow I managed to get seated in one of those. They were kept in such a congested manner that I had to remain either straight or leaning forward all the time. If I leaned back, my knees wouldn’t get enough space and push the seat in front of me. Walls are dirty and torn out.

There are only three or four good cinema halls in Kathmandu where you find relatively good environment to watch cinemas. For example, Kumari and Jai Nepal are the most sophisticated and clean theaters in Kathmandu. Rests are like this one.

As soon as the movie Abhimanyu ran on the screen people started hooting sarcastically. Credit lines were displayed in reverse. “Oh saala negative po dekhayo,” someone screamed from behind. Then the screen went blank for a few minutes.

naresh poudyal director of abhimanyu Naresh Paudyal is the director of Abhimanyu Just in front of me was a lady with, I guessed, her daughter on her left and her husband on the right. It took me no time to realize that the ‘daughter’ was the actress of the movie: Arunima Lamsal. As the film got rolled, the family started talking. I was more interested in overhearing their chats and whispers than seeing the movie. Father and mother kept asking “where is this?” almost every time the location changed on the screen. Sometime they laughed on the comedy scenes. My impression is that father wanted to encourage his daughter who was playing in her sixth movie. Father, Bikarm Sharma is an auditor, I would learn later and mother Radha Lamsal was a TV actress.

The crowd in the theater was a disaster too. Folks were talking loud and every time the hero came to rescue his girl or kicked the villain, they would scream ‘ho, ho, ho’ and ‘ha, ha, ha’ and clap. Mobile phones were constantly ringing and chaps were talking in loud voice: hall ma chhu ma, film heri ra ko chhu. [I am in the theater watching a movie.] Oh… the conversation wouldn’t end on that note. It would be extended; the caller would laugh loudly responding to the person on the other side. You can’t hear the dialogue of the film properly.

The film sounds so unnatural, at least to me. It’s a paradox that people love to relate a work of fiction with reality they live in. I could easily see the research part of the movie was super flop. Do people use full and formal sentences all the time in their daily and casual conversation? I don’t and no one in my house or office does so.

Documentaries and non fiction films are gaining popularity in urban Nepal market recently compared to feature films. But the director of Abhimanyu, Naresh Paudyal, had a different argument. “We make films for mainstream audience,” he said, “not for the pseudo-intellectuals of Kathmandu city.” So that was his answer for the rising popularity of non fiction films in Kathmandu. He said the audience of such creations was very limited.

The show was over and oh boy it was a big relief. Why did I stay in the theater for the whole show? Because I saw story for my newspaper in the family conversation! I wanted to take their photo and talk to the parent of the actress Arunima Lamsal. That’s what I did and made a story.

[Here is the story that was published in yesterday’s Kantipur daily]

In A Nepal Monastery Ramon Magsaysay Jr. Talks About His Dad

[Here is another report on the visit of Magsaysay Awardees in Nepal]

ramon magsaysay jr in nepal

The senator son of former Filipino President talks about what it feels like to be a Magsaysay. Plus, hear him praising Gmail!! In the photo above, Magsaysay Jr. (right) is flanked by his son Francisco in Kathmandu’s Tilganga Eye Center. Pic by Dinesh Wagle

By Dinesh Wagle

“Many journalists have interviewed you,” this scribe started a conversation with Ramon Magsaysay Jr., the son of former Filipino President, in a monastery in Kathmandu and asked him to guess what my first question could be.

Without thinking much he said “Of course my impression of Nepal.” And without waiting for a follow-up question the 68-year-old Filipino senator rolled on: “It’s very positive. I see a lot of possibilities for Nepal that is facing challenges on peace, poverty and competitiveness in the globalized world.”

As he paused to breathe it was this scribe’s turn to shoot: “But I had a different question in mind. How does it feel to grow up with the brand name called Magsaysay?”

Seemingly puzzled, the man looked toward the horizon for a few seconds but quickly collected his breath and said, “It’s a deep honor.” Then the Senator briefly recounted his personal story fusing the past and present. “My late father started his public service during the World War II. I was a four year old boy. Fast forward to 2006. I am an old man, about to finish my second and last term in the Senate. Many a times I wonder am I being as good as my father or not quite up to him? With this question in mind, I just keep dong my best.”

ramon magsaysay jr in nepal

Photographer Magsaysay: Trying to capture Kathmandu from the Pullahari Monastary in Kapan.

Magsaysay Jr. was 18 when his dad died in a plane crash in 1957. He had no choice but to jump into politics to carry on the family legacy. While campaigning for a congressional post at the age of 27 in the same constituency that once elected his father, Magsaysay Jr. realized how much people wanted him to be like his dad. “People would say ‘oh your dad did this, you should also do the same; he wore wooden shoes, why are you wearing rubber shoes?’ Over the years I have learned to develop patience. Just respond them with a smile and accept whatever they say.”

Though he is a senator, Magsaysay Jr. is essentially a businessman, dubbed the “Father of Cable Television” in the Philippines for his role in setting up blueprint for the sector. Magsaysay Jr., a mechanical engineer by training and a graduate of Harvard Business School, finds it difficult to prefer politics to business. “Politics is interesting,” he said, adding, “You can have bigger and faster impact. But I also like business because your life is in your control. Profit and customer satisfaction are the key.”

Agrees Magsaysay’s son, Francisco, 38, who looks after Magsaysay Jr.’s cable business. “I will not join politics,” declared Francisco, who is in Kathmandu with his dad. “I am hoping to help out the country in a small way. I want to inspire the youth by proving that you don’t need to be in government to help your community.” He argues that politics has changed compared to that of his grandfather’s time. Francisco also shares with his father the experience of being a Magsaysay. “There is the pressure to maintain certain type of integrity,” said Francisco. “We have to conduct ourselves in a way that is commensurate with grandfather’s integrity. My father always tells me to remember grandfather.”

“Why even successful businessmen lunge for a political post?” reporter asked. “Business and politics are interlinked, aren’t they?”

“Yes, yes,” he said and told in detail how he was forced to pay ‘tax’ to the aides of former dictator Marcos when Philippines was under the marshal law. “They are. It helps if you have political connections.” Francisco shared this view but said he doesn’t like to pull political strings to promote business interest.

“Okay,” said Magsaysay Jr. and turned the table against this scribe, “Let me ask a few questions to you. What’s the situation of Internet usage in Nepal?”

This reporter explained him that Internet users, especially the young crowd, in Nepal were growing over the years, and in many colleges in city area you are considered unfashionable if you don’t have an email address. “My recent article about Gmail attracted more than five hundred invitation requests from readers,” said the reporter.

“That’s a very positive sign,” he said and added that increased awareness about technology would be helpful to advance society. Then he had some words of praise for the Gmail, “I also like Gmail because of big space and search facility. Let me give you my private Gmail account.”

[This article appeared in today’s edition of Kathmandu Post and it’s Nepali version in Kantipur]

Maoists Chaseout in Kathmandu

Visit this blog post to read more about these videos: Nepal Maoists and Democracy: From A Protest Venue

Video 1

Video 2