Monday, May 08, 2006

Quite a view

I got this piece of text as forward mail from Vibek dai. It is different from the general Nepali thinking and I know the old lady has got a point. I totally agree with that. I didn't see an intellect face in the protest rallies I evidenced. Please read it all and comment on it if you have any.


From: JC Pathak []
Sent: Wednesday, May 03, 2006 2:28 PM
Subject: A conversation with a mother in Nepal

My name is JC Pathak. I live in Connecticut. Through
various Nepalese websites and friends, I gathered your
email address. The purpose being, I wanted to share
with you all, a 15-minute telephone conversation I had
with my mother recently. My mother is quite a unique
person. I always end up having a random conversation
with her. While risking family backlash, especially
from my Vinaju and uncle, I am sending you all this
email, because for some strange reason, I find it
worth sharing. I understand how much we all hate junk
emails, so I sincerely apologize in advance if the
email catches you at a time of inconvenience.

What follows below is the real conversation I had with
my mother on Saturday, April 29, 2006.

Muwa: Hello?

JC: It's me.

Muwa: Janardhan?

JC: Yes.

Muwa: The line's very clear today. Where are you
calling from?

JC: Where else? From home. What's going on there? You
must be relieved it's all over now.

Muwa: That's what everyone says. I don't get it. How
is it over? It's not like Gyanendra announced he found
unlimited supply of water and electricity. Personally
I would choose water over Girija any day.

JC: I mean the uncertainty is over… at least you can
go outside now.

Muwa: Where can I go? I'm 61 years old. My husband
spends his entire time talking senseless politics with
his hopeless friends. My only daughter lives in
Denver, my only son lives in Contikut. Go where? All
my grandchildren live in Denver or Contikut…

JC: It's Connecticut.

Muwa: Whatever ticket… it's not Putali Sadak.

JC: If you're that bored in Nepal, why don't you come
over here? How many invitations do you need?

Muwa: And do what there? Your son doesn't speak a word
of Nepali. You work 12 hours a day. Banita is too
formal with me. What will I do in Contikut? I can't
even go out for a walk, it's cold even in Baisakh.
Move to Myemi next to Puskar uncle, I'll come.

JC: No city pays MBA like New York. That's why I'm
here. I don't get paid like this if I move to Miami.

Muwa: How's Banita doing?

JC: She's right here laughing, listening to you. We're
on the speaker phone.

Banita: Darshan Muwa.

Muwa: Darshan. How are you doing?

Banita: Not bad.

Muwa: Is he treating you right? I worry more about you
than my money-obsessed son.

Banita: He doesn't have time to treat me badly. How's
buwa doing?

Muwa: Like any 'Kaangresi' here, he's ecstatic. It's
easier to be happy, I guess, when you have a very
short memory. He really believes it's a victory. I
think his blood-pressure drug makes him hallucinate.

Banita: (laughs)… Nishant! Nishant! Come here, say
darshan to hajurmuwa.

Nishant (in the background): I don't feel like talking
to Dad's mom.

Muwa: What's he saying?

JC: He's in a bad mood.

Muwa: How come your son is always in a bad mood? If
his father devoted some time to him, perhaps, his mood
will change. I've never heard of a seven-year-old
who's so eternally in a bad mood. If you have no time
for him, why don't you take him to a child sikatryst
and fix him?

JC: Banita will teach him a lesson, he listens to her…

Muwa: He needs both parents.

JC: Ok. We'll talk about him later. So how did you
pass time during the 'Aandolan'?

Muwa: I knitted a sweater for your father.

JC: Why would you knit a sweater in April?

Muwa: I had to do something… remind myself I was
alive. Unlike your father, I'm too old and too wise to
be animated by watching people protest.

JC: Buwa must be captivated by all this. He must spend
all his time on the phone.

Muwa: That he does. But there's no one on the other
end listening. Everyone's talking here. No one's

JC: That's politics.

Muwa: That's lunacy. We listen to a parrot for god's
sakes. Nobody listens to nobody here. Everyone is
running like a mad man with a flag and an opinion.
This is mental.

JC: But things look different from here. For the

Muwa: I know your CNN is telling you it's a hope. Just
remember my words… in six months from today these
selfish, greedy, shortsighted leaders will be at each
other's throat.

JC: You have to understand, whoever they are, leaders
are important for democracy.

Muwa: Exactly my point. But what we have here are not
leaders. These are protesters. Girija, Madhav, or
Gagan, or who not, these are all protesters. Nothing
more. A leader should be a protester, a diplomat, a
philosopher, an intellect, an orator, and a listener.
These so called leaders here are limited to being
protesters. These people can't govern, they can only
march. And if one party starts governing, the other
parties start marching. It's such a vicious cycle that
depresses the heaven out of me.

JC: Obviously I have not thought this through as much
as you have. But trust me I have lived in a free
country, in the end freedom works. When people start
focusing on their survival paycheck, the country tames
itself out. That's what Nepal needs.

Muwa: Work where? Who's providing the work? You think
we have infrastructure for anything? And don't give me
that American democracy lecture. I too have read
American history. White people who owned black slaves,
revolting against another group of lazier white
people, is not a revolution. It's an irony. If British
white people had revolted to free black slaves from
American white people, then that could have qualified
as a revolution. Your Wall's Tree white executives
have brainwashed you.

JC: For someone who knows so much, how come you can't
pronounce a single name correctly? It's not Wall's
Tree. It's Wall Street. When you visited Wall Street
three years ago, did you see any tree growing out of a

Muwa: I wouldn't know. They didn't teach me
pronunciation in Kanya Mandir. I didn't go to St.
Xavier's. Anyways, I want to be remembered for what I
say, not how I say it. Accent is for people who have
no content.

JC: Well said. Sometimes I wish you were born in this
country… It's weird that you don't seem to be moved by
all this that's taking place in Nepal. What happened
to my radical mother of Padma Kanya Campus 2022 Bikram

Muwa: She grew up to understand that hope too has an
expiration date

JC: I remember you were so excited in 1990.

Muwa: I was only 45. I was naïve.

JC: Would you rather the king have it all?

Muwa: I'd rather, your uncle, who marched for
democracy everyday, not kick his servant in the
stomach for accidentally spilling his tea. I'd rather
people knew what democracy is about, before chanting
and marching for it.

JC: Baldev uncle is a lunatic.

Muwa: Not just your Baldev uncle, everyone here's a
lunatic. Nobody gets it until they don't have it. When
they have it, they don't know what to do with it. So
they abuse it. And they are back to not having it… and
they march and protest for not having it.

JC: You're talking about democracy or servants?

Muwa: You know what I'm talking about. For people
here, democracy is about the freedom to be corrupt.
And those who are not corrupt, like your buwa, they
are gravely ineffective and incompetent.

JC: Muwa listen, I'm being sincere now. People are not
as wise as you are. They need a system. People like
you can operate on your own. Think about it, you
operated in spite of buwa. He doesn't know how to boil
water. He never made a cup of tea in his 66 years.
People like buwa need something to cling on to,
because they don't function from within. You are
self-sufficient and you have this can-do attitude,
these changes won't have impact on your life, but for
someone like buwa, who seeks hope elsewhere, what
happened recently is an achievement.

Muwa: Save that, in case BBC interviews you.

JC: Was it a little over the top? Banita is laughing

Muwa: Kidding aside, you're right. Your buwa worries
me. Sometimes I worry what he will do if something
happens to me. The man takes everything for granted.

JC: Buwa is such a happy-go-lucky guy; you have to
give him that. I've never seen him stressed out about
anything. You worry about everything.

Muwa: Because I think.

JC: Buwa also thinks. Maybe not important stuff. I'm
darn sure he is worried about Girija's health.

Muwa: You know your buwa still suffers from
constipation once in a while. Every time he's
constipated badly, he looks at me as if I'm going to
help him with that too. I don't know how, but I can
see in his eyes, begging for help. I think he wants me
to push for him, I suppose…

JC: (laughter)… You and your buwa jokes. Banita
laughed so hard, diet coke came out of her nose… I'm
pretty sure he is not at home right now?

Muwa: He went for a morning walk. Hasn't been back
yet. Must be somewhere sipping tea and talking

JC: He's a netaa. That's what they do.

Muwa: I don't get it. Someone like your buwa is a
netaa in this country. He doesn't understand how a
family runs. I'll guarantee you he doesn't know where
his shaving cream is. How can someone like him help
the government run this country? Don't you need to
have some kind of experience of running something? At
least some experience of running your own life?

JC: Guess not. Does he still snore?

Muwa: You bet. When your mind is that empty,
everything must clog up on your nasal passage.

JC: (laughter)… Banita is rolling on the floor again.

Muwa: You have a good wife, keep her happy.

JC: Don't spoil her. We're on the speaker phone.

Muwa: How are your didi and the rest in Denver?

JC: Dijju and the kids are fine. I talked to them last
night. Vinaju, like Buwa, is very excited about this
Aandolan thing. He keeps on sending mass emails with
his opinion. He really writes horrible… both in
English and in substance, he's really bad. It's

Muwa: I hear he's pretty good in computer.

JC: He's a very good computer programmer.

Muwa: That's the problem with us Nepali. We just can't
stick to what we are good at. Your vinaju is a
technical person, not an intellect. I don't get it why
he has to show his weakness to the whole world by
having an opinion?

JC: I can't agree more.

Muwa: What else is new in Contikut? Connect-ticket?

JC: It sucks here. You know my grass in the front yard
isn't that good this year. I don't know what to do. I
spent hours last October fertilizing it.

Muwa: You must be devastated. And people say Nepal has
a crisis.

JC: Very funny. By the way, did you guys have enough
food during the curfew?

Muwa: We had enough rice and potatoes. Some days we
ate rice and potatoes, and other days we had potatoes
and rice.

JC: Someone needs to retire that joke, even you
couldn't make that funny… How are our neighbors? How
is Abhay? Any improvement?

Muwa: I wasn't going to bring this up, since you did…
Abhay got shot in the rally. He was in a serious
condition, but they're saying now he will be fine.

JC: Abhay? Who took him to the rally? He's mentally
retarded. What kind of mentally retarded person takes
a mentally retarded person to a rally?

Muwa: Protesters wanted a big number. To cater BBC,
CNN, and Times of India, I suppose. Your uncle took
his daughter to the rally.

JC: She's eleven.

Muwa: How do you think we got the parliament? Are you
not happy we have a parliament now? Everything will be
ok now.

JC: Sarcasm won't solve our country's problems either,
muwa. For an argument's sake, forget about Girija,
Deuba, and the others… this Maoist thing, it doesn't
bother you?

Muwa: I wake up every morning at 5:30. Most of the
days, there's no water to begin my day. I clean the
pooja room and do my pooja, sweep the bedroom and make
our bed. By that time your father's guests start
arriving. I make at least four rounds of tea every
morning. I help Narahari cook and clean. By the time I
get a chance to breathe, it's already 11. Then there
are other dozens of chores with cleaning and gardening
and laundry and what not. I'm still fighting with my
diabetes and blood pressure. Then there are other
headaches like five-hour long load shedding. Tell me
what time of the day should I worry about the Maoists?

JC: You need a break. Come over.

Muwa: Fix your son, I'll come.

JC: Now you're being harsh.

Muwa: I heard him call me 'Dad's mom'. I can't
pronounce like you, but I understand English.

JC: Trust me he will be punished. Banita wants to say

Banita: Muwa, I was praying that you didn't hear that.
I'll make sure he gets punished.

Muwa: You guys are really naïve. How can you guys make
him interested in us by punishing him? When I say fix
him, I meant fix him by fixing yourself. Especially
you, Janardhan. Pay attention to your kid, spend time
with him, tell him about his family, your childhood,
your parents, your sister, make him understand the
concept of being a family. Fix your home first, there
are enough people in the street to worry about Nepal.

JC: It's not like I'm not trying. My work is very

Muwa: No job on this planet is more important than
being a good parent… Your buwa may have flaws, but he
was a great father. When you were kids, you and your
sister enjoyed every second of your time with him.

JC: I'm not that old not to remember that. You don't
know how much dijju and I appreciate that. We were
talking about that even last night.

Muwa: You do the same. Save time for your family. By
the way, you seem to have developed a whole lot of
interest in your country lately.

JC: Because it's everywhere, on TV, on the Internet.
Everywhere. The entire world is watching Nepal. It's
an important event.

Muwa: Trust me it's not important. What you did was
important. Leaving this country was important. I was
looking at the rally on TV the other day; it occurred
to me, any person in that crowd, any one of them, if
he is given a visa to America, he will leave this
country in a heartbeat. Good ones and lucky ones have
already left. What you saw on TV was the gathering of
residues. Those who have not found a way to escape. I
tell you, unless you want to mock us, don't be
interested in us. We have become a zoo. Foreigners
come, take our pictures, and run the headlines: "Look
at these people, even they are trying." I'm telling
you, do your thing. What you're doing is important.
You are working. You are helping the economy.

JC: Now you're generalizing. I'm pretty sure there are
many brilliant people left in Nepal.

Muwa: Of course there are many brilliant people stuck
in Nepal. Most of them not by choice. The strangest
thing is watching these intellectuals trying their
best, so that you don't notice them feel sorry for

JC: I only have a minute left.

Muwa: I have many years left.

JC: I was talking about my phone card.

Muwa: I was talking about the time we will not spend
talking to each other. Like now.

JC: C'mon don't make me feel guilty. You have this
uncanny ability to make my every call a guilt trip.
Send me your writings. Hopefully, Buwa has learned to
scan the papers. One of these days, I'll convert your
writings into English and have my colleagues and
friends read it…

Muwa: Why?

JC: I think your creative skepticism is worth sharing…

Muwa: Don't do it.

JC: Why not?

Muwa: Because writing is as much about language. You
lose the gist in translation. I read the Hindi version
of the Hyaree Pautter. I didn't like it. I bet it was
written for English speaking world.

JC: I should have bought that 30-minute card. I'll
call you next week, same time. Tell Buwa to be at

Muwa: Are you all happy there?

JC: We have water.

Muwa: That's important.

JC: For grass it is.

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