Tag Archives: wagle weblog

After a Month in Karnali, I am Back in Kathmandu

I am back in Kathmandu. I came here on the last day of February flying from Jumla to Nepalgunj and from there to Kathmandu. I was in Karnali for a month (February). I did travel the Karnali Highway (Jumla-Surkhet) twice this time. From Jumla to Surkhet and from Surkhet to Jumla. I also went to a village in Achham following young boys who were returning from India after working at a cricket stadium constructing site in Nainital.

I had traveled the highway (from Jumla to Surkhet) six months ago.

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Architecture Blog: New York Times Building Vs Kantipur Tower!

New York Times BuildingIt’s 10:22 PM now and I spent most of my last three hours with the Nehru autobiography that I started reading yesterday. The winter has arrived in Kathmandu for I find it very difficult to wake up early in the morning. Like yesterday, I slept today till 12 AM and I have decided to wake up early from tomorrow.

One thing that I feel good about today was reading a report in New York Times about the new New York Times building (see pic by Vincent Laforet via the Times) in New York. I found the story written by Nicolai Ouroussoff and titled ‘Pride and Nostalgia Mix in The Times’s New Home‘ very interesting. The story provides lots of insights about the building and is an example (for me personally) of how stories on a building could be done. A building is not just the block of bricks and cement (and the Times Tower is certainly not!), it’s more than that. It has to be lively and some sort of distinct personality and aroma. I have never thought that a story like that could be written. Nicolai has considered the building almost as a living person (with some star attractions) and has done wonderful analysis of the personality of that man/or woman. He has pointed out the good sides and lacking aspects of the building. My impression is that the building is really beautiful and a cool place to wrok. Continue reading

UWB Gone Astray

Someone other than UWB founders has taken over the Control Panel authority of United We Blog! We request the person to backtrack from the action. Sorry for the inconvenience, if any, caused the visitors of UWB.

Those Busy Days

I woke up at 1:30 PM today. I am surprised. Not because I raised from the bed so late but because I got so early. I had planned to sleep for straight 24 hours. I was that much tired because of the workload in the past two days. I am not complaining about the workload. I am proud to do what I did in the past two days. I always wanted to work like that. I wanted to work to the end where I am unable to move myself. And that nearly happened yesterday night. I was barely moving when my brother Email opened the gate for me at 1:30 AM yesterday and asked jokingly: “Well, are there any raids in other FMs?” He was referring to my late coming the night before when I was busy covering the police raid in Sagarmatha FM. I arrived home 2 AM that day and went to bed at 3:15.

That meant I should have slept until at least 12 AM. No, I could not because of my commitments made a week ago. I had to go to Maharajgung to see a woman in action with her beautiful and command obeying dogs. That was part of my reporting to be published in Kantipur in the next few days. I arrived in office at 1 PM. Stories and other duties were waiting for me. There was a rally organized by the Federation of Nepali Journalists (FNJ) and how could I miss that? I hade to do a follow up story on the Radio Sagarmatha raid. Along with Deepak Raj Pandey, the man who was arrested on the Sunday raid along with four others, was there in Maitighar. I went to Radio Sagarmatha’s office along with Deepak Raj Pandey and my colleague at Nepal Magazine Deepak Adhikari. We talked with RS guys including Acting Station Manager Ghamaraj Luitel till 6 PM. Walking up to Thapathali from Bakhundole was Deepak’s choice and that was strongly supported by the unavailability of three-wheelers.

“This driver must be a great listeners of songs,” commented Deepak after the driver played some beautiful numbers in the bus. That was a good trip from Thapathali to Tinkune. But the stressful routine started once we arrived in Kantipur complex. I had to write the RS story, hunt down sources, and collect info for the other one: The BBC story in Kathmandu. Thank god, Devendra helped me to find the appropriate Radio Nepal guy (Rabin Sharma, the acting executive director of Radio Nepal) to have quote for the story. Khagendra Nepali, the head of BBC Nepali Service, responded my call to London favorably. When sources give quotable quotes, you can make a good story. I think same applied with my story here. As I was writing the story, Post Bahadur Basnet (Vishnu) translated the BBC story for the Kathmandu Post. After finishing my reporting commitments/assignments, I give some time to UWB. That is my passion.

One thing that I have been repeatedly saying in these pages about my profession: Journalism. It demands time at odd hours and yes you don’t necessarily have to be in your office all the time but you have to be with your sources at their time. In addition to that, in some cases you have to be at work even if you don’t really like. I fell into such compulsion this week.

I was planning to write a story about Saraha Giri’s interview but my plan was altered as I as assigned to interview Krishna Pahadi. I did that. No problem. I can do two (or three) works simultaneously. Like, for instance, chatting and writing stories and browsing Internet and talking to persons on phone. And that’s what I did.

As I was about to leave the office finishing the Pahadi story, the news of raid in Radio Sagarmatha came into our newsroom. I have already written more about this incident in a UWB post.

Week Review: Animal Nepal & Judith Miller

I am wondering how my week passed away. I didn’t actually realize it. Only two things I remember is that I worked a lot and I wasn’t feeling very well throughout the week. Did that sound contradictory? Okay, then that’s what is the truth. It’s an old tradition for me that I suffer from cold on a regular basis. Winter has arrived in Kathmandu with a big bang. So, it is not unusual for me to get caught up by the Hurricane Winter. I am trying to defy this. Yes, because I feel I should defy. And I am feeling like being successful in this crusade.

I always wanted to be damn busy- busy with my works. That’s what I am having now- busy days. Sometime I feel too tired but then I feel I wanted this. Sometime I want more hours to work but that is beyond my control.

While doing a story about pet keeping in Kathmandu I met a couple of interesting people this week. They are people associated with AnimalNepal.org, an NGO that has made its mission of creating awareness in Nepal about respectable pet keeping. We have too many problems in our society. Political problem is the biggest. Some people might question the work of AnimalNepal saying that we have much bigger problem than that. But I think we should not bear such cynical attitude while commenting on such people. What I think is that at least they are doing something in a country where very few positive works are being done.

Resignation of Judith Miller from New York Times came as big news for me. Going through Washington Post and the Times about her ’scandal’ was quite an experience. The Post’s analysis about Miller was superb. I tried to translate parts of that report and news published in the Times for my paper. I also recommended the Post article to some of my colleagues. That is a must read because that gives the inside knowledge about how American journalism works. By the way, I liked Judy’s web site as well. I knew about that from her letter to the Times.

No Lukla For The Day

Kathmandu: The dateline of this blog tells it all. I am still in the capital city of Nepal. I was supposed to be in Lukla, eastern region, today. But who can ignore the bad weather? Pilots? No. They too love their lives. Passengers too love their lives. I also wish to live a few years more to see the amazing things happening right now in Nepal.

Anyway, I wake up at 5:30 in the morning, a recent record of sort, and reached at the main gate of Tribhuvan International Airport (also national airport) at 6:30. Sharad Babu Shrestha, Nepal chief of READ, was waiting for me at the gate. (This gives a clue about my Lukla trip. The organization is sponsoring my Lukla odyssey.) We together went to the domestic terminal and then the game of waiting began.

I met two American ladies (Dr. Allison Wren and Suzie Cordero), both associated with READ, and talked with one of them about a few topics like Nepali and American politics. Countless announcements from the airport office about the flight schedules that I heard throughout the morning are still echoing in my head. Most of them were about flights being delayed or, as you can guess from my case, cancelled for the day.

Our Yeti Airlines flight was cancelled after we waited for about 6 hours. Hungry I was like a feeble jackal. But that biscuit and tea helped me a lot. That kept me alive. I think I should rush to the canteen for some things to eat.

Now a few words on READ. This is a campaign launched by Dr. Antonia Neubauer, an American with the aim of “building literacy and communities through libraries.” “She has been traveling back and forth to Nepal since 1983,” states READ Nepal’s web site. This organization establishes libraries in remote parts of Nepal with community involvement. Learn more about the campaign in READ Nepal Page.

By the way, I will again go to the airport tomorrow morning hoping to take a flight and land at Lukla Airport.

Kavis or Poets of Kantipur

The word poet or kavi has become a not-to-be-so-proud-of kind of word in my office. Guys address each other with the title kavi or poet.

Oh..kavi, the usual way of greeting goes like this, how are you today? And the kavi ji or Mr. Poet replies, Oh..kavi ji, why are you calling me kavi? Please, kavi ji, I am not a kavi. Kavi ji, you are the kavi, instead. For example, whenever Gunaraj Luitel, our pleasant and friendly News Editor smilingly greets kavi Devendra Raj Bhattarai, a clever reporter, with Oh..kavi ji, how are you?, the master gafadi Bhattarai (who sometime introduces himself as Rai. And you can guess why I am calling him Master Gafadi.) instantly responds with these words, Oh..kavi sir, I am fine. Kavi sir lai kasto chha? (how are you kavi sir?)

For all of us who lack kavi hridaya (another hit term) or poetic heart, it is very much difficult to decide who is kavi and who is not. Krishna Jawala Devkota was a famous kavi who wrote a long article (and recited that in poetic style making fool of so many veteran kavis of Nepali society) on Nepali politics that never appeared in the paper. I think he is showing his kavitwo or poetic skills somewhere in Europe these days.

Anyway, everyone is kavi in Kantipur’s editorial section. Balaram Bainya, senior reporter, is a published kavi. Devendra is a mahakavi (kavi of kavis) largely because of his wide network among kavis and literary figures of Nepal. Unfortunately, no one has seen Devendra’s kavita or poem yet. I hope we will soon see that. I am sure Gunaraj Luitel will soon find Devendra’s poems and let us read that. Yes, Hari Bahadur Thapa, our chief reporter is not a kavi. He proudly declares that he hasn’t read any kavitas (poems) yet.

Well, how can I forget to mention here that our very own Narayan Wagle, the editor, is a kavi too? But he kindly and shyly declines to be addressed as kavi or even declines to accept that he has written any poems. But no one who has read Wagle’s bestselling novel Palpasa Cafe can just forget the poem that one of the characters of the book writes.

Anywya, lets leave that there. So, with all respect, let me come to Guna Raj Luitel and Devendra Raj Bhattarai. The interesting and ironical relationship between these two Rajs always fascinates me. I have long been hearing Devndra Bhattarai mentioning that Guna Raj Luitel actually published a poem in Garima, a prestigious literary publication from Sajha Prakashan. Timi yeta bata aau, Ma uta bata aauchu was the punch line of Gunaraj’s poem that Devendra Raj would recite wholeheartedly whenever the talk of poems arise.

Gunaraj would never accept that he wrote a poem and published that in Garima. And Devendra would always challenge him that one day he would produce the copy of the magazine so as to prove his point.

And Devendra finally proved his point. Today he emerged in the office with a piece of paper. He excitedly showed that to me. That was the photo copy of the page from Garima that had not only the poem penned by Guna Raj Luitel but also his nice photo. Now its official that Garima magazine of Magh 5056 (6 years ago) actually contains poem of Gunaraj under the title Oh..meri priya Amina (Oh my dear Amina). WAW!

Salam Walekaum Amina
Yo sagarmatha ko chhora ko salam
Timi samundra ki cheli lai
Akhir ma sagarmatha pagladai pagladai
Timi bangal ko khadi mai aauchu
Aauchu amina ma aauchu

Devendra photo-copied the paper and distributed that to all friends. He pasted one at the notice board of Gunaraj’s room. (He was not there when we pasted that and later I found him taking that paper out of the board.) Devendra also pasted the paper on the notice board of Narayan Wagle. He distributed them among the Kathmandu Post people, including Ameet Dhakal, News Nditor, as well.

“You know what,” a smiling but somewhat shy Gunaraj came near me this evening, as I was busy with computer in business bureau.

“Ke, dai, ke?” I asked him. And he continued, “Devendra is a propagandist. He distributed my poem to all and people from Kathmandu Post are calling me. I am thinking about how to counter him.”

I am sure Guna Raj was also trying to find some poems of Devendra!

This whole kavi war is very much interesting. A few weeks ago when someone addressed Balaram Baniya as kavi, he, with a big smile, countered that with this question: “Oh..my dear friend. What crime I did and you are calling me a poet. Please do not punish me harshly by calling me a poet.”

But yes, Balaram Bainya too is a poem. How did I know? Well, when Devendra threatened him that he would bring Balaram’s poem published in Deshantar Weekly and distribute that among colleagues just like what he did with Gunaraj’s. Balaram too counter-challenged him instantly. “I wrote that poem for a cause,” clarified Baniya, the secretary of the Federation of Nepali Journalists (FNJ). “That was a political poem and if you want, I can give that to you now.” Devendra was instantly silenced!

But he kept talking about the Luitel poem. “I spend whole day looking for that particular issue of Garima in the offices of Sajha Prakashan,” Devendra just told me on the phone about his labor of the day. He read out those lines for me as I told him that I was finally writing about the poem in my personal blog (that was his original suggestion). “And I am very happy to find that issue.”

There is a saying that every Nepali is a kavi and they write too much poem. Many people come to the newspaper office wanting to get space for their poems. And the joke is that a poet is always after possible listener. He wants to recite a poem whenever he finds a person in front of him.

I think this all situation has made our good and bright poets in Kantipur feeling shy to come up openly with their brilliant kavitas!

Welcoming Winter in Kathmandu

Kathmandu is exceptionally clear today. Up in North, white and snowy mountains are shining as the sunlight hits upon their cool bodies. The view is clear. It’s beautiful. As I am typing these lines, Guna Raj Luitel is opening windows and praising the scenery that is awesome. Irony is that even though we are proud citizens of this Himalayan country Nepal, we have to wait for these lucky days to enjoy the panoramic view of mountains from Kathmandu. “Oh..ho,” said Subodh Gautam, valley bureau chief of Kantipur, just now. “Kasto ramro rahechha! How beautiful!” Mostly beautiful Himals are covered by thick cloud. Increasing pollution in Kathmandu is also to be blamed for ruining the clear view.

Traffic in the city is comparatively thin, as Kathmandu hasn’t returned to normalcy. Dashain fever is still on. There are not many events happening in the city largely because of the festival. Nepalis love to eat, drink and enjoy but mostly privately. They like to do so in their houses. So nothing exposed on the streets except occasionally (remember Janti or the marriage processions).

Slowly the cold is covering Kathmandu. Winter in so near. Murahari Parajuli yesterday said while drinking black tea: “Oh..it’s so cold.” It is another fact that people like Murahari feel the impact of cold more compared to others because of the body nature. Too thin! I am also not that fat but I can safely claim that my size is middle when if come to comparing myself with Murahari and Girish Giri. “If you feel that a fat man be behaving strangely,” Girish told me while returning from canteen an hour ago, “take him to an eatery and feed him well. The problem will be fixed instantly.” That may be true. He ate a full plate of instant noodles, a plate of pickle and a plate of curry (not to mention a cup of tea).

I can’t explain how much I enjoy sleeping till late morning in winter. I was talking with my brother this morning about the cold that we have started experiencing in Kathmandu in the last few days. Yesterday night, while returning to home, I got approval from our driver that the cold has arrived in Kathmandu. Everyone is feeling it. So, winter is ahead. Let’s welcome it.

The Day in Office, After Dashain

The first day in office after (three-day-long) Dashain holiday means replying to a question that comes from everyone you meet: How was you Dashain? Yes, I have already written about this in my blog last year. This time too the situation was not different. “Mine was black and white,” I replied to one. “Mine was colorful,” I replied to the other. UWB blogger Vishnu asked the same question over messenger. “I celebrated Dashain with Grand celebrations,” was my reply. “Grand Celebrations?” Vishnu was in front of me within a minute curious to know more about that. He was just above a floor, in the office of the Kathmandu Post. “I went to my home,” he said. His house is in Sunsari (I had to ask him about that because I was middle of something and forget about his hometown.)

I would like to mention one thing here. As I was busy updating comments on this website, Girsh Giri came in the office and started grinning, and at times, behaving strangely. Then he went to the windows and started posing like a kick-boxer- bouncing here and there in air. “Oh…set,” he was saying something like this. A minute later he was seated behind my chair and started checking emails. Before a web page opened up, he came near to my ear and started breaking the news. “You know what,” he said. “My mood is totally off. I am angry. I am sad.”

Why? What happened yar? I was now curious to know the reason behind is sadness.

“This morning I discovered that I have gained extra 5 kilos,” Girish Giri was saying this while looking at and caressing his belly. He was 90 KG.

“Oh…come on, Girish ji,” I tried to console him, smiling. “I think this is in deed good news. In a poor country like this where millions are deprived of good food, you are gaining weight.” Ha..ha. That’s was for fun though.

Working in the time of Dashain has its own challenges. For example, where to eat khaja in the afternoon? All shops are closed. No hotels near the office were opened except one that we discarded. Devendra Bhattarai, Girish and I ventured around and found a shop where we had
tea. Then we again went to New Baneshowr with Narayan Wagle for coffee. I eat Mushroom soup there. That gave me power to write two stories later in the evening- one about the Noble Prize winner Harold Pinter and the other about the family of record-breaking mountaineer Babu Chiri Sherpa.

Yes, for the first time I felt hungry even after eating rice. In my house, they put rice for me in a Tiffin box because I always come late from office. Usually, the food is sufficient for me. But today, it was not. That mushroom soup was not sufficient at the first hand.

The Disconnected Day

Yesterday, I had to spend whole day without connected to the Internet. The connection at my home didn’t work. It didn’t work for the whole day and I felt damn lazy to go outside looking for a cyber café. Strange! I made many calls (may be more than 10) to my ISP- Enet. Enet staffs picked up some of those calls. They told me that there was some problem with Nepal Telecom phone line connection. So, they were helpless too. Some assured me that the service would resume in an hour, another told me I have to wait 4 hours.

I waited, waited and waited. No connection. No Internet. What could I do. I keep trying dialing line. I was very much angry with the ISP.

Internet falls in the category of essential service. And it’s been more than two days that Enet hasn’t been able to restore its service. What the hell is happening? Yes, I was really angry with the ISP.

At once I felt like, am I that much addicted to the Internet? What the hell will happen if I am not connected to the web for a few days? I am sure Internet has been an addiction for me.

Yes, Interent has definitely been an addiction to me. Today I tried dialing Enet and I was unsuccessful. Then I called their office. A woman replied that the service wouldn’t resume before Sunday. Before Sunday? Today is Thursday. Oh my God, what is she saying? What kind of ISP is this?

I made a phone call to another ISP- World Link and subscribed their service. Great! I am connected again. There were in fact a few blogs to be posted at UWB. I was more worried about them. My emails were to be checked. Replies to be filed. Anyway, it’s good that I am connected today. Many of the emails were asking me why UWB was down. An American journalist sent me the screen shot of the UWB page that was defunct. Well, that was a temporary problem with UWB server.

Oh..another thing I want to mention here. I slept until 1 PM this afternoon. That was great experience. I slept for such long hours after many months. I love sleeping.