Wednesday, September 14, 2005

The King In Janakpur

The king showed up in Janakpur. There is this photo of him at the Janaki temple. And then there is this photo of him meeting with the "locals," all these dhaka topis.

He sure has been making the rounds.

East, west, now Janakpur. He might as well have started with Janakpur!

Bharat Mohan Adhikari And The Statue Of Liberty

I showed up to show him around town.

121 + 125 Photos.

I had a list of about seven places to go to. The top tourist sites in town. Obviously we were not going to be able to make it to all. Maybe only one, maybe two. The rest was going to have to be tomorrow. I had to end the tour in the afternoon. I had to be some place else. So I asked where he wanted to go.

"Statue Of Liberty."

"What about where the twin towers fell? Ground Zero? That is nearby."

"That too, but later. First Statue Of Liberty."

"We could start with a lunch here in Jackson Heights. Desi food, the kind we like."

"I can eat any kind of food. And I don't really need to eat now."

"You can see most of the city from atop the Empire State Building. But would you rather go first to see the statue?"


So the statue was the one item on the agenda today.

A September 16 Rally Controversy

As long as we are united for the cause of democracy, as we are, it is okay to disagree on the fine details. That cacophony is what democracy sounds like.

This is what I sent off when I hit reply all:

I think:

--- anyone may show up, Nepali or not
--- there is an organizing committee, and it is that committee's prerogative to decide who they will invite/allow as speakers, not that i know all on that committee; i would just hope they will be people with democratic credentials, and people from diverse backgrounds, ethnic, gender and otherwise; after all, we are not really struggling for a repeat of the bahun democracy of the 1990s, at least i am not; if the organizing committee is overwhelmingly bahun, it is for them to decide how they will respond on the diversity issue
--- to be honest with you, i think i should have been selected to be a speaker, but will show up for the rally nevertheless: (1) i was politically active at the national level before i came to the us (2) i am the only nepali who ever got elected student body president at a college in america (3) the democracy cause has been my near full time involvement since Feb, especially since i have moved to nyc (read widely in delhi, ktm, and the US) (4) i am the most vocal nepali on the madhesi-janajati-gender issues (5) i might be the only nepali active in local NYC politics (6) i am the only nepali anywhere who has presented a concrete peace plan in the form of a proposed constitution (at the blog)
--- fyi: bharat mohan adhikari is in town ... he is the most senior democrat to have come this way after 2/1 ... it might make sense to give him 5 minutes
--- the seven parties are leading the movement .... it makes no sense to say you want to go into space and then refuse to get on the space shuttle, there is no democracy sans the parties, if there is it is called "panchayat democracy."

A second email a few hours later:

Friends. We are putting into practice what we are struggling for. We want our compatriots back home to have the same. Our disagreements are okay. Airing them is just fine. That is the democratic spirit.

But we also have to stay united for democracy. We have to show up in large numbers regardless of what the short list of speakers ends up looking like. My personal show-up is unconditional.

Bharat Mohan Adhikari is not speaking. Sanjaya Parajuli is not speaking. I am not speaking. At least that is the picture right now. We should do the best to make the short list the best and the most inclusive. But whatever the committee decides on, I will respect, and I will do so with utmost enthusiasm.

I feel like I am "speaking" on a daily basis through my blog anyways. Text, audio, video. I'd love to speak for five minutes, but I don't have to. At first I did not even know there were going to be speakers. I thought we were just going to march.

I don't think we are the number one reason the king did not show: the Maoist ceasefire is. But we are also one of the reasons. We have already scored a victory. Although the king might have had his sweet revenge by making sure the crowd will be smaller than it would otherwise have been. Nepalis from across America were planning to show up. Many still might. But quite a few are going to now sit it out.

Our common cause is democracy. And showing up matters. That is primary. Who speaks and who does not is secondary. So show up, and do so in larger numbers.

Bahun Democracy

These people would rather not have democracy, than have an inclusive democracy. They want you to sweat over it. They want to move on the issue of social justice one small inch at a time.

Igniting The Imagination Of The Masses

So far the parties have not succeeded a whole lot. It is because they are refusing to work on the details of a political program.

The Real Royal Trap

What if the Bahuns keep refusing to take a look at my proposal for a program: Proposed Constitution ? And the masses do not show up. Months pass by. And the king holds municipal polls, and the turnout is 60%. Voters do not get hurt. Then what? I think the political class, the Girija Graduates, do not like the idea of not being able to distribute tickets for elections, do not like the idea of not being able to raise funds from rich businessmen, do not like the idea of having to make public their family property statements on an annual basis, do not like the concept of a total, transparent democracy. Only the monarchists are more obstinate than the Girija Graduates.

Brave Demonstrators

The photos keep coming in. People with blood on their faces, shirts. People getting arrested. These peaceful demonstrators are the frontline soldiers of democracy. The work that we do at this end is to extend moral support to them.

The King's Brinkmanship

This guy is a hardliner. He is playing you-first. He keeps raising the stakes.

In The News

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